Saturday arrives and it rained!  Austin on Saturday was cloudy but it doesn't last long enough so that you started to wonder whether it was a day to get soaked at the various showcases.

Fortunately, our new favourite venue (Hotel San Jose) has plenty of cover but because of the rain there is a slight delay so we stumble upon a Avi Buffalo show right across the street. Lovely little band, great sound, solid straight ahead rock with plenty of tempo changes to keep you guessing. . This was a great accidental find in typical SXSW style.

Back to Hotel San Jose and we sit back at our picnic table and settle in for the afternoon.  First up is lovely rock outfit Tina & the B sides. Good lead singer that reminds me of Joan Jett doing classic rock songs, they try to dry out the crowd with some solid rock. Districts are up next a brilliant little 4 piece that reminds me of the Cold War Kids or Spoon. Soul/rock that gets loud when needed and with solid musicianship I now regret missing them when they opened for White Denim in Toronto a few weeks ago! 

Up next is Syd Arthur again!  Now is my chance to see these guys when the sound is working well and it's sunny again so it's perfect.  They are a wonderful quartet from Canterbury England who got their record deal after performing in Austin at SXSW2013.  Bringing psychedelic rock into 2014 they perform magically beautiful songs in a hypnotic style similar to what you expect from Tame's very whimsical at times but always sounding a little more orchestrated.  Its a beautiful set of high energy textured songs that quickly remind me of how lucky I am to see them when I can hear the full effect of their complicated sound. 

A quick set now by PAPA..a wonderful full rock n roll band who have been around for a while..soul/rock/punk..a good blend of tasty stuff with a bit of a swagger by the whole band they are very confident and sound pretty solid.  

Now it's a perfect transition to yet another band that I had to see in Austin. One of my top albums of 2013 was by San Fermin and here they were performing on an outside stage in the was perfect.  The band has grown from its original size to a commanding full sound with 8 members.   Trumpet, saxophone, two guitarists, three vocalists one on violin, drummer, it's a wonderful sound.  The songs are sung tag team style mixed between female and male vocalists and the harmonies are wonderful.  The songs were composed with themes in mind and they were created with almost a classical orchestral feel.  They each had a life of their own and even a new song that they had not played before was welcomed by a clearly overwhelmed audience.  They really put on a fantastic show and its somewhat heartwarming to see a personal favourite go over so well at this venue considering the talent on this stage over the last few days.

That's it for the afternoon entertainment so we go back to the hotel for a little quiet time and then it's off to our favorite restaurant, Moonshine for some solid IPA’s, a wonderful meal, and Gary Numan and his wife sitting beside us. (didn't say hi, he was too busy eating).


We decide we want to finish SXSW 2014 with a guaranteed positive vibe so we knew we would see Cody Chesnutt.  Did some research in advance and loved all the bands playing at his showcase so we headed back to Holy Mountain for the evening. 

First band of the evening was Desert Noises. These guys rock and were one of my top live performers this year. Think a mix of Fleetwood and Petty. Psychedelica with some blues and Americana mixed in.  Brilliant band with wonderful roots melodies and stunning songs sung by this 4 piece really hope to see these guys in Toronto soon. They are fun to watch, great to hear and hope this is just the beginning of my history with seeing them! 

No it's still early and this venue does have two stages so we jump from one to the other but trying to describe all the bands would be unfair…but I can tell you that if you love acoustic guitar, Americana, rock n' roll, you would have enjoyed both stages…we settle in outside as it's become very busy and we watch a full set by Ballroom Thieves.  A beauty of a three piece with the drummer standing and hammering the heck out of his kit, they have attitude and produce some wonderful folk rock and mix it with blues and stunning harmonies. They have energy on stage and it's great.  Next up outside is Sister Sparrow. Clearly a favourite as this venue is now crammed. Sister Sparrow is a band let by a stunning female vocalist, Arleigh Kincheloe and with a amazing 7 piece band behind her.  Classic Soul/rock blend sung by a woman who commands the stage, powerful and effortless, these guys and girl reallyrock. It's a great show of kick ass tunes that everyone enjoys.(even attempting Zeppelin covers)

Next up is Shakey Graves. A local favorite and already has his own officially proclaimed day in Austin (February 9th is Shakey Graves day) he is a one man show using his hand made kick drum built from an old suitcase and expertly playing his guitar and belting out some wonderful tunes.  It's a raspy smouldering rock show and he packs a punch for a one man show and here today, he tries out some new angles to his music and invites a young female vocalist to harmonise with him and a drummer. He is building on his already highly touted live show and though it looks like I am late to this game. He is one to check out again when he comes to Toronto.  His youtube videos online are fantastic.

Finally, Cody Chesnutt comes on for what is his 4th or 5th show of the day.  His voice is going but he still performs pretty much every song off his last full album. He is a brilliantly positive performer who gives everything to those watching.  He comes with a full band of great soul/funk musicians who help him perform his songs in a way that you know he is telling you a story, about where he was, how he got there, and how he has moved on. 

He is a soul troubadour and when he plays “Till met Thee” and “What kind of Cool", his voice, while strained, comes through with a passion and strength that makes it clear that the songs he sings mean a lot to him. This show may be not as energetic as the first time we saw him here or back in Toronto but it's a solid beautiful way to end this showcase for us.

Now..its time for that messy, pre-arranged last show of the night and the festival…meeting many friends at Latitude 30 for the British embassy show featuring Drenge!

Massive and messy, drony and elegant, these two boys make incendiary rock n roll with guitar and drums and they pack a punch. It's loud but sweet, and they don't let up, we all agree that this is the way to end our festival.  These kids really do perform great guitar music that is part grunge, punk, metal and rock. It's all there and the vocals just make it even better. The vocals actually add a layer that pushes a lot of the songs over the top and prove to me that these guys can perform up to the level I was hoping for after hearing their music online. 

Now it's time to say goodbye to my Canadian and British friends and head to the hotel as it's an early morning flight back to -18 degrees and snow.

 Jim @totolondon