A number of things are in play now.  One, is that with age comes the sad truth that it's more difficult to rebound from late nights.  Thankfully most showcases do not start until later today so there is still plenty of time to rest.  As well…the new essential purchase of a new orthotic insert for my shoes seems to have taken some pressure off my poor old back..it's working well so we rebound quickly.  As I said…sad truth of what comes with age….

Another factor that comes into play is that Wednesday's choice to go see Spandau Ballet was up against a Damon Albarn show at Stubbs.  Turns out it was a good choice as Damon’s show was delayed considerably because of the horrific accident. And today is the day we can finally see him.

We are off to the Radio Day Stage, the pinnacle of comfort available at SXSW.  In the Convention Centre, the auditorium is filling up and with free Wi-Fi, vendors selling food and drinks, and comfortable seats, its a good call! 

Having always sided on the Oasis side of this battle, I would like to say Damon was horrible, but alas, it was very beautiful.  As many as 15 people hit the stage at one point or another.  A full complement of gospel singers, guitarists (all acoustic) violin, cello, piano and ukulele. Damon switched from guitar to piano effortlessly and did a 6 song set all from the new album.  Not sure if I can really do justice to how these 6 songs sound in this environment, very intimate and lovely, it is a great way to be introduced to these new songs.  Plenty of videos available online of the show. Go take a look.

Now we head out, todays plans are up in the air.  A new personal favourite (Chlöe Howl) has announced that her band has finally been allowed into the country so she is doing her first show (should have been her third) at SXSW at the Cedar St Filter magazine party.  Having always been one of my favourites, the Cedar St show is always a lot of fun and it's a great venue so I commit to the showcase and get there early to make sure we see Chlöe Howe.   It's a Swedish theme today and all the bands on before Chlöe are Swedish, and the free food is Swedish which is a bonus! 

Not really sure how to describe the first band?  Its performance art, with guitarist and vocalist dressed in ballet outfits. Lots of dancing around, white face paint, throw in a little singing like Bjork. Really don't know what to think. 

Next up is the more traditional Like Swimming.  Three piece. Upbeat pop and with a huge single over here called “Go Buffalo” they bounce around and are a solid live act but really we are here just for Chlöe and she is up next

Chlöe Howl is going to be huge (if she isn't already).  Just like when we saw the 1975 last year, it was clear as soon as she hits the stage, that this was just the beginning and we were going to see a very popular artist very early in their careers.  Her voice is pure..sultry and popish…she dances about the stage and it clearly looks like she is having fun.  Very soon, everyone on this patio is dancing around with her.  In a style that seems to be a combination of Lilly Allen, Duffy, and Ellie Goulding, she sings phenomenally well.  The fact that she looks stunning is not going to hurt either.  

Her songs bounce off the stage and she exudes happiness even when singing about less than happy events.  No doubt Chlöe Howl will be immensely popular with the kids and adults alike and most likely move on to much bigger venues and bigger crowds but for now, I am just happy to have seen her on a sunny patio in Austin.

Even if you don't like this genre of music. Go online and look for her acoustic shows that show off her voice without the dancing about and the posing and you will see that her voice is pure and stunning.

Now comes the messy part of the day.  It's always a gamble to leave a showcase midway through to try to get into another.  It was a risk I needed to take to see Chlöe  as this was our only chance but now we attempted to get into two other showcases but the line-ups were huge! 

Both were showcases open to the public so it was going to be tough so as is usually the case in Austin, there is always something going on so we head to the convention centre again for Phantogram.  Haunting electronic synths and beautiful vocals, eerie, wonderful songs that seem upbeat but you know there is an underlying theme, these songs force you to listen.  Lush and stunning, check them out!

We knew the British music embassy party would be open so we figured we would head back to latitude 30 and the line-up is solid today.  We no sooner had entered the venue when we ran into a good friend from the UK who runs the Camden Rocks Festival.  That took us away from paying much attention to the bands but here goes…

First is UNKNWN   two piece from the UK, dreamy beautiful voice and hypnotic and dark electronic background which worked well together. Until the Ribbon Breaks a 3 piece doing more hypnotic bass synth driven songs with a hip hop edge, it's actually  quite clever.  

Next up is the highly recommended band Thumpers.  They are what you need late afternoon in Austin, upbeat, danceable, playful..great chemistry between the lead singer and keyboard player it is pure pop dance fun with great harmonies, we would revisit this group later.  Prides is up next, three piece dance synth pop..nice band to follow Thumpers and a good way to finish the afternoon and now some hotel time then a full night ahead.

Our evening showcase is back at Cedar Street for a wonderful night full of rock n roll.  The evening starts with Summer Twins, Beach Boy harmonies dream pop band and a good solid start.  Next up is Naïve Thieves.  A great California rock group, guitars up front with songs like the Strokes but with smile, straight ahead good solid rock with wonderful voices. Polica is up next and having tried to see her perform in the past and missed her that won't happen tonight. 

Patio is packed to hear this woman’s stunning set of beautiful singing, though with plenty of support from two drummers and the band, this singer is one of the finest I have ever seen.  Bringing a drum & bass sound to the crowd that matches her vocals perfectly, this band works well together and is a very positive set of stunning songs. 

Pains of Being Pure at Heart are up next and while it's difficult to match Polica’s stunning show they do admirably in their attempt.  They craft some particularly pleasing indie pop with crunchy guitars and wonderful voice of lead singer Kip Berman.   On the poppy side of my Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain they put on a very solid set of new and old tunes.  

The patio is now completely jammed for the delightful Dum Dum Girls. High on my list to see at some point here they engage the crowd as soon as they hit the stage and perform many of my favourites from the new album. 

They do seem to be possessed of the spirit of many girl garage bands and a little Cramps from their earlier darker work mixes well with their most recent album of softer more melodic songs like “Bedroom Eyes” are fantastic. This girl group consists of amazing bass and lead guitars and stunning vocals and by the end of their set, the crowd has exploded in appreciation and then they are off.

Now..it's hard to really describe the next set.  It's explosive and subtle, odd and manic and seems to be going in every direction possible…it is Julian Casablancas & the Voidz.  He performs one Strokes song (Ize of the World) plus one or two tracks from his solo debut and five from his forthcoming album. He is erratic, rarely facing the crowd, staring at the monitors, his new songs are post-punk and tropical, melodic and fierce, oddly crafted songs that you never quite know which way they are going to take you.

If you are a Casablanca’s fan, you would enjoy the set, even if confused (which may have been done on purpose) when he returned for an encore with the slowest, most melodic song of the evening.  Suppose you shouldn't be surprised at what ended up happening here with his set as he challenges you to think but with this remarkable new band he has, and a sound that would appeal to many and at the same time confused, well its Casablancas and that's what he is all about.  Go check him out and see if it makes more sense to you than it did to me!

now..its 2am..time to head back to the hotel, it's time to pass out.

Jim @totolondon