In the heart of the festivities of SXSW, Thursday night’s Absolut™ Art Bar combined music, visual art and mingling to perfect effect, blending fresh & spicy like a perfectly stirred cocktail.

Celebrating the eighth edition of Absolut Limited Editions portfolio, Absolut Texas™ illustrated once again that Absolut™ goes well in every environment. Absolut has been releasing a limited- edition flavor based on an American city since 2007 but this is the first Limited Edition dedicated to a State. As such, Absolut Texas™ Ltd Edition, is the perfect response to Southwestern cuisine, combining the freshness of cucumber and Serrano pepper into a classic Absolut recipe of something clean, crisp – and with a touch of Texas kick. Visitors coiffed refreshing cocktails from the “Rodeo Ride” (featuring Absolut Texas™ Ltd Edition, jalapeño, cucumber, honey syrup and salt) to the “Texas Cucumber Fresca” (mixing Absolut Texas™ Ltd Edition, Orange Juice, simple syrup, soda and an Orange or cucumber twist) and got the room going.

Co-sponsored by Bed Head, makeshift salon booths were set up to style visitors’ hair. The hair product brand gave visitors numerous products emphasizing their “look good without acting like you worked for it” aesthetic. Large paintings by Cruz Ortiz brought the texture of Street art to the indoor space. Indicative of SX’s evolution/modernization towards including electronic dance music, the evening began with a great warm-up set by Samo Sound Boy. Next, Little Boots DJ set moved the room with vintage disco, minimal dance music and electro Pop, keeping the mood buoyant and upbeat. The first live band of the evening, Austin’s very own Speak, played an energetic brand of polished synth-pop followed by Brooklyners Oh Honey. The five-piece specialized in acoustic-guitar driven pop aimed at stadiums. Reminiscent of Edward Sharpe and Mumford & Sons, the group reveled in rousing, anthemic choruses and even surprised the crowd with an energetic rendition of TLC’s “Scrubs”.

Headliner Charli XCX, however, was undoubtedly the star attraction. Coming off her recent collaboration with Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, Charlie (born Charlotte Emma Aitchison) glowed in New Wave tones, reinventing the sleek, electronic style of her recorded material group as a spunky, pinky quartet recalling Adam & The Ants and Bow Wow Wow - the group even covered that group’s Burundi-meets-Bo Diddley-beat classic “I Want Candy”. Supported by a three-piece all-female band - and, on occasion, a computer generating backing track - the group played an exuberant performance, Charli’s long, curly mane flipping here and there, she brought a little bit of London pizazz brought to Austin and showed what we already know: Charli XCX is poised for big, big things.

Text: Alexis Georgopoulos Photo: Sesse Lind