Justin Timberlake’s SXSW Secret Show As Much About ’20/20 Experience’ As Old Hits

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JT takes the stage at his Myspace Secret Show on the final night of SXSW (March 16). (Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Myspace)

JT takes the stage at his Myspace Secret Show on the final night of SXSW (March 16). (Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Myspace)

When Justin Timberlake was confirmed to be the headliner of the last MySpace Secret Show, it was no surprise that it would be the hottest ticket in Austin – well, besides Prince – on Saturday night (March 16). Hundreds of people who were lucky enough to get a wristband gathered in front of Austin’s Coppertank Events Center in hopes of getting a good spot to watch the singer and now MySpace co-owner do his thing onstage.

The RootsQuestlove kicked off the show at 10:45 p.m. with an hour-long DJ set that warmed up the crowd. Although his spinning skills and mix of old-school Michael Jackson tracks and Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” could only hold off people’s anticipation for Timberlake’s arrival for so long before you could feel the excitement for the headliner brewing.

Just after midnight, the stage revealed a large band including four backup singers and a brass section known as the Tennessee Kids, Timberlake’s backing band as of late. With guitar in hand, Timberlake strutted out casually and kicked his show off with “Like I Love You.” Dressed in a tuxedo t-shirt, blazer, dark jeans and hat, Timberlake soon found himself overdressed despite ditching his current look of choice, a Tom Ford tuxedo. “No one told me it was going to be this f***ing hot,” he told the crowd.

Timberlake himself brought the heat, taking the audience on a journey through his evolving career with hits like “Señorita” (below), “Cry Me a River” (also below) and an acoustic version of “What Goes Around.” One of the performance highlights was JT’s jazzy rendition of “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” which transitioned to a cover of INXS’ “I Need You Tonight.” The mashup left fans floored.



Of course, Timberlake couldn’t go through his set without treating fans to tracks from his new album, The 20/20 Experience; from the lengthy pop opus, JT performed “That Girl,” “Pusher Love Girl” and lead single “Suit & Tie.” Timberlake helmed “Suit & Tie” solo, freestyling some rhymes during Jay-Z‘s verse.


After chugging what looked like a Guinness in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Timberlake ended the set with an extended version of “SexyBack,” complete with a remixed section that added some salsa flair to the smash hit. As the song ended, he did what any star of his caliber would do — thanked the fans, dropped the mic and walked off smoothly, knowing JT done good.

Although fans didn’t get to see live versions of all the new material from The 20/20 Experience, the show served as a reminder of just how big of a hitmaker this man really is. Moreover, at the star-studded affair that this year’s SXSW turned out to be, JT’s “secret” set served as the perfect end to the festival.

- Emily Tan,

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