Hearing the news today that Prince passed away was truly heartbreaking to even the most peripheral of fans of The Purple One. Austin was lucky enough to have witnessed one of his amazing performances during Samsung’s SXSW party in 2013. For those who were there, it was a night that they’ll never forget.
I’ll never forget what he said about our city, either. “Austin, Texas,” Prince mused to an enthusiastic crowd. “It’s just like I pictured it.”
Sadly, it was also a no-cameras-allowed show, by order of Samsung. The photo above, of the crew setting up Prince’s stage, was all I could get. Thankfully, someone managed to record his performance of “Purple Rain” and posted the video to LiveLeak, which was revived by our friends at the Facebook page That’s #SoAustin.
You can watch it right here…
That night, Prince and the New Power Generation put on a truly epic show. He sang. He danced. He flirted. And he did it all for nearly three hours. Naturally, the audience ate up every second of it. He played until 3 a.m., in a city where everything shuts down at 2 a.m.
“You heard of 5 Hour Energy?” he joyfully asked the crowd. “Because my middle name is 11 Hour Energy.”
Prince was definitely not joking. His best line of the night came in reply to a thunderous roar from the crowd as he began one of several encores. “Don’t make me hurt you,” Prince said. “You know how many hits I’ve got?”
For me, that show definitely hurt. I ended up bedridden, with sinus cavities full of hate, all because I was so drained from that show. It was 100% worth it though. Even as I write this, looking over my notes from that night, I’m giggling over my descriptions of all of the various outfits he changed into.
At one point, a girl standing in front of me (I was basically second row, right next to his piano) handed Prince a note that actually made him blush. Never found out what it said, but today I realize how very fortunate I am to have witnessed that exchange. I stood next to a God among men for a few hours as Prince lit up the stage at La Zona Rosa. It’s a memory I will always treasure, especially since Phife Dawg — from a little band known as A Tribe Called Quest — opened for Prince that night… And he also recently passed away.
Austin RnB station 96.3 is doing a 30 years of Prince music marathon today, which seems fitting. I’d also expect to see Austin’s Latin funk band Grupo Fantasma do some sort of tribute show, as they served as his backing band on a variety of occasions. Watch the Austin.com community calendar for what’s sure to be a torrent of purple-clad events around town, too.
Good night, sweet Prince. I hope that you and Bowie are working on an outrageously glam super group in the sky. For all the rest of us, we’ll just have to savor his final performance here in Austin.