SXSW Liveshot: Sudan Archives delivers energetic performance at ACL Live

Sage Dunlap, Associate Life&Arts Editor

Brittney Denise Parks, known on stage as Sudan Archives, quickly relaxed the audience, greeting the crowd with a welcoming smile and no shoes. A stark difference from the preceding act — head-banging punk rock group Otoboke Beaver — Parks settled the audience to stillness as the mellow synths of her first song “Home Maker” played out. The singer-songwriter set her violin between her chin and collarbone, and with a strike of her bow, enchanted the crowd and brought the song’s warm melody to life.

The Los Angeles-based artist took to the ACL Live stage Thursday night to join Rolling Stone’s third Future of Music Showcase at South by Southwest. Between acts Otoboke Beaver and Mariah the Scientist, Parks played a 38-minute collection of songs, mostly from her 2022 sophomore album Natural Brown Prom Queen. Though she took the stage as a solo act, the self-taught violinist, who picked up the instrument as a child in Cincinnati, Ohio, gracefully wove her strings throughout the set. 

The four-string savant struck a single brooding note to lead into the buoyant orchestral arrangement of “Confessions.” After celebrating domestic life and self-care with her first song, she frees herself from the domesticity, putting down her violin and singing out, “There is a place that I call home, but it’s not where I am welcome.”

After a series of melodic interludes and grooves, the singer walked to the edge of the stage to scream, “Where are my freaks at?” — an energizing introduction to her performance of the autotuned anthem “Freakalizer,” during which she worked every corner of the stage, strutting between standing microphones and running down to the barricade to dance with fans. 

Naturally flowing between R&B-infused glitch beats to ethereal violin melodies, Parks showcased her artistic range as a performer. Ending her set with sophomore album namesake “NBPQ (Topless),” Parks led the crowd in a call and response of “I’m not average,” assuring just that. Unwinding her celestial, stoic presence, she ended without restraint, yelling out to the audience and even removing her top. Bearing it all, the self-proclaimed “Home Maker” settled into the ACL Live stage, making her stardom and versatility clear and known.