Sia plays her first headline show since 2011 at SXSW with Elle King

On the announcement of her addition to the Coachella 2016 lineup, Australian artist Sia seemed to confirm her return to the touring scene, some four years after calling it quits on her live shows – which would go onto create her much talked about “blonde bob” alter ego for 2014’s acclaimed 1000 Forms of Fear, which she didn’t tour, and then the “black and white bob” alter ego of this year’s similarly celebrated This is Acting. So far, beyond Coachella, the artist otherwise known as Sia Furler has only announced a string of festival performances – though all over the world – with one exception of a headline performance in Moscow.

Today at the annual SXSW music, interactive and film conference in Austin, Texas, she warmed up for the upcoming shows, surprising fans by performing her first set since releasing This is Acting, and what was her first headline show since 2011. The appearance closed out the Samsung Galaxy Life Festival, happening alongside the tech company’s SXSW pop up events and venue at the festival. Earlier in the weekend, the Samsung festival also featured the likes of The Strokes – also a rare appearance in their own right – plus 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne (as ColleGrove) with Public Enemy. Fans lined up from early in the morning to get wristbands to the event, only available to Samsung phone and/or select SXSW badge holders.

Rising rockabilly star Elle King opened the night with her four piece band, performing her surprise hit “Exes and Ohs” alongside “Under The Influence”, “Last Damn Night” a cover of one of her favourite songs, The Beatles’ “Oh Darling” and her oft covered “My Neck, My Back”, originally by Khia, which closed the set.

The young talent – who was frustrated by a less than attentive crowd, telling the crowd she was “pissed off”, with this her only SXSW show, and remarking “if you don’t turn it up, then fuck you” – has had an incredible 12 months, launching from relative obscurity to playing the biggest events in the world. She’ll be making her debut in Australia later this month for Bluesfest.

"The Samsung Studio At SXSW 2016"
Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Samsung

Sia hit the stage, bob with oversized bow and all, with an amazing dancer by her side (this would later extend to multiple dancers), launching into “Bird Set Free” and playing to a backing track. Fan favourites like the stunning “Breathe Me”, recent single “Alive” and “Elastic Heart” were included, with the on stage dancers recreating the iconic music video of the latter. She also threw in tracks like Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, which she wrote for the R&B star. Her David Guetta collab “Titanium” also made an appearance, much to the delight of the crowd. The entire, well choreographed set, lasted just over half an hour, with ten tracks and a closing performance of “Chandelier”.

"The Samsung Studio At SXSW 2016"
Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Samsung

Unable to hit the high note in the song, Sia apologetically attempted part of the song again at its completion, singing the popular track acapella before thanking the crowd and walking off stage.

Unlike Elle King, who was frustrated by the lack of audience participation, Sia appeared unable to wipe a smile from her face between tracks as she thanked the crowd. Listening to the backing track (which she had to ask to be turned up quite often), and having her eyes covered by the wig (which also meant she couldn’t see the setlist, saying “I don’t know what song comes next until I hear the track!”), it would have been easy to be unperturbed by a talkative crowd, but Sia’s voice sounded impeccable. We’re excited to see the acclaimed Australian artist back on the live stage.

"The Samsung Studio At SXSW 2016"
Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Samsung

No Australian dates have been announced for Sia yet, however many are hoping for the artist to play Splendour in the Grass at the end of July. To find out where you can see her next, however, head to siamusic.net/tour. Some of today’s performance will air on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

For more on SXSW head to SXSW.com

Headline image by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Samsung.

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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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