Thursday started, as you would expect in a reflective space with news from the previous night’s accident still filtering through. Some of the the shows were moved from the affected areas and we were all answering plenty of questions from friends making sure we were all ok but, the show must go on I suppose and it was another sunny day in Austin and plans are in place for yet another hectic day as we head off to a venue we have never been to before but have heard great things about.

Hotel San Jose is on South Congress. 30 minute walk from our hotel and a good distance away from the madness of 6th street which is the hub of SXSW activity.   South by San Jose is a mini music festival open to all …no badges necessary and based in a big parking lot with independent vendors, great food and craft ale and some pretty spectacular music

A good solid crowd of kids and adults, very comfortable and ideal for seeing bands, the person responsible for picking the bands has done a fantastic job

First up is Steelism, a band centred around a fantastic pedal steel guitarist, originally from London England who now lives in Nashville.  Upbeat,,fun,playful and without vocals. This band does with their instruments what many try with lyrics.  It's a fantastic set of music designed to get you engaged and warmed up for a day of bands.  

Next up, Spanish Gold, a super group consisting of members from many bands including My Morning Jacket. Their set is full of influences, and it sounds fantastic.  Sweet, smooth, funk, rock, it goes all over the place and sounds quite good at this outdoor venue.  

Up next a band from Calgary, Alberta called Reuben and the Dark, a great Canadian rock n roll…with a taste of Neil Young and a great blend of classic rock, it's wonderful to come all this way to see a band that I should have known about living in Toronto. Their drummer who plays standing up comes out front to do a song they had not planned on doing (keyboards were not working) for the last song and it's a stunning song, 5 part harmonies, a beautiful track called Rolling Stone and it will be remembered for some time. I am looking up their tour information here to see if I can catch them again soon.

Now comes a personal favourite, Temples, this young British band were phenomenal at their Horseshoe show and I expect nothing less from them here at this venue.  Beautiful Psych Rock on a sunny afternoon is perfect. Perfect blend of harmonies and great rock n roll, their songs draw the entire crowd in and they clearly know how to please an audience.  They feature pretty much their entire Sun Structures album in their set and happy to say I am not disappointed. Their 60s influenced sound is fitting for tshirts and shorts weather!  

Now comes the most anticipated show of the day, the wonderful St Paul and the Broken Bones. A very big band with horns, great bass player and guitarist and picked as the must see band this year at SXSW and they deliver! The lead singer reminds me of Drew Carey (when he was a little bigger) he comes onto stage after his band play a wicked intro and he kills it!  This guy is being possessed by every classic soul singer and dances like a madman. He is like a TV evangelist when he performs and is completely mesmerizing and captivating.  He sings doo wop style at times and runs around the stage challenging people not to have fun…it's impossible!  Everyone is dancing around and their set comes to a close far too quickly. Like Alabama Shakes times 10 this is a fantastic band that has to be seen live.  

Then to cap off the afternoon, the new kid on the block, a spectacular new performer Benjamin Booker, think Black Keys, White Stripes, a two piece with explosive sound and fantastic dynamic between guitarist and drummer.   This kid knows how to play and if you watch his videos, he can croon as good as the next guy but this two piece tries to overwhelm you with a full on rock show and they succeed.  But sadly, it's almost 5.30, time to get that much needed hour or two of hotel rest time so that we can start our evening off refreshed!


The evening starts out at Latitude 30 to check out Thumpers!  Great wall of sound band with a distinctive dance groove, it's fun and playful and the trade-off of vocals between lead singer and keyboardist is fantastic.  It is also a great venue to see this band up close and you can see why these guys are getting rave reviews for their live show.  Now it's a walk over to another part of the city to stand in line for Kurt Vile and Cody Chesnutt.  Again, having seen Kurt a number of times over the last year or so, and knowing there were a lot of people in line to see Kurt. I stop by Bar 96 for a fantastic set by British act Bipolar Sunshine.  This guy has a very positive spirit which is a great way to prepare for Cody Chesnutt and his voice is fantastic.  It's an upbeat groove on another small patio and I am lucky to have chosen to sneak in here. Fun & Funky. A fine set and now we are off to Cody.

We can hear Kurt finishing his set from outside (appears he was only doing acoustic shows) and he sounded good but we were really here for Cody.  Having seen Cody back in Toronto and having loved his upbeat positive show, we really wanted to see him again.  He brought his full band and filled the stage with classic soul sound and funked the place up!  He cruised through most of his most recent album and spread his positive vibe tunes to the crowd.  He has obviously turned a corner out of his troubled ways and we gain from his new found spirit with hearing an amazing set of songs influenced by many including Marvin Gaye.  This guy is something to see and I would highly suggest you do!.

Now it's time for Sandra to head back to the hotel, and I am off to watch an incredible set by Glasgow band Honeyblood. Think Neko Case singing for Black Keys, it's another magnificent two piece band that packs a lot of wallop into their set.  Fantastic singer and solid drummer, these two lovely ladies really put on a great show and it's still early days for these two I can only imagine what will come of them in the future. 

As I leave the venue (Holy Mountain) I am hit by a dance groove of such magnitude, I couldn't leave.  The inside stage was featuring a band (artist) I had no knowledge of Slow Magic.  One guy with a funky mask that lights up. A set of drums in front of him and a completely transfixed crowd.  This kids does a lot with a little and its fun, powerful and another brilliant accidental find.  Not necessary something I would go and see all the time but something that stumbling upon at SXSW has become known for.

I wander the city streets with the intention of going to see Cloud Nothings but on her way home, Sandra noticed a twitter message that said Cloud Nothings were only doing an acoustic show tonight.  Thankfully she passed that on and as I approached that venue, a long line up awaited me and it was all people going to see Cloud Nothings!  Meanwhile having checked the schedule already, I knew that this venue also had an upstairs stage and featured up there tonight. At 1am is Bob Mould.

I am in…and I catch a full set of classic Mould but…with a new album coming out soon, I get to hear most of it live and its fantastic!  If you like Mould, you will love the new album based on what I have heard tonight.  Part Husker Du and sounds just like you want it to be.  And as an added feature tonight he also plays a number of classic Husker Du songs and the crowd goes bonkers!  Is there a better way to finish my Thursday night I don't think so. Now…I stumble home, its 2am and I am smiling but I need rest

More to come…

Jim  @totolondon