This year Austin’s SXSW festival had its share of American Idol contestants who graced the stage of the once popular singing competition reality show when it was actually producing stars such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Adam Lambert. Word spread of performances by season eight winner Kris Allen and season nine winner Lee Dewyze, but it was season six runner-up Blake Lewis who people were talking about after he showed off his impressive beatboxing skills and performed new songs from his upcoming third studio album.
On top of the Vyclone double decker bus in the middle of the afternoon, braving strong winds, Lewis entertained a diverse crowd of young teenage girls, lovely, old couples and everyone in between on Friday. The former Idol contestant decided to focus on showcasing music from Portrait of a Chameleon, his soon-to-be released third effort starting his set with “Survivor“, an inspirational tune where the artist sings of escaping the darkness trying to take a hold of him once again. His supporting band’s instrumentals, vocals and tricky production effects came together for a great set.
Lewis only dug into his old catalog of songs once to perform “How Many Words“, the second and final single off his debut album Audio Day Dream. The artist became a force to be reckoned with on his season of Idol because of his eye-opening beatboxing abilities and he incorporated those skills into his SXSW performance while still focusing on his vocals. The guy is a master at multi-tasking. He followed a loud applause with a cover of The White Stripes’ popular “Seven Nation Army“, which also garnered a positive response from the audience.
Blake’s current dubstep-influenced single “Your Touch“, released four years after his last full effort, was next on the set list. It may be hard to believe, but the artist performed it exactly how it sounds on the recorded version. So in other words, it was perfection. Two other brand new songs were played to close the show. “She Loves The Way” and “Not Today” embody different inspirations for the new album. While the former has a tame reggae vibe, the latter was recorded due to his love for acapella music. Both songs represent the growth of the artist and the desire to have fun and try something new.
He may not have won American Idol or been able to sell millions of copies of his records, but Blake Lewis put on a show that entertained the SXSW crowd. The artist is gearing up to release a new album under Republic Records, so what could be the better place to test the new material? According to the artist, Portrait of a Chameleon is eyeing an April 2013 release date, so fans will not have to wait much longer for the new era of the pop/electronic/beatboxing artist.