When Meg Myers performed at the COMPLEX Complex early on Thursday afternoon at SXSW, we were already planning a more intimate performance for later in the day. The Complex house was a small spot down a side road, so we scoped it out and decided that the quaint front porch was the perfect setting.
Meg came back for the performance, but by this point the situation around the house had changed. The street was lined with people trying to get in, guests were coming and going, security was telling people that they weren’t on the list and to get the fuck off the yard, and there was music from packed venues across Austin filling the air with noise. I was worried the performance wasn’t going to happen. I was worried that Meg would say that it’s too hectic, or that we’d have to move things inside, away from that nice little porch that I was imagining her playing on. Meg said it wasn’t a problem. She calmly sat down with her cellist, Ken Oak, we turned the cameras on, and she started playing.
For a lot of musicians, a live performance feels like a calculated effort. These are professionals, and they know when to raise their voices, close their eyes, sway back and forth, and engage with the camera. For Meg Myers, it’s something different. When Meg starts singing, she taps into something deeper. At times, it’s almost uncomfortable to watch, because when she sings, “I gotta bring you to my hell/Baby I wanna fuck you/I want to feel you in my bones,” you lose sight of the fact that you’re watching a performance and you feel like you’re watching someone rip a piece of their soul out and present it.
That’s the way I felt watching Kurt Cobain scream out the chorus of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” during Nirvana’s Unplugged in New York concert, and it’s the way I felt standing in front of this small porch in Austin, Texas, watching Meg Myers sing “Desire.”