Everyone wants a piece of James Blake

Everyone wants a piece of James Blake.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day (or Patty’s Day as they say here) and the silly hats and green Guinness beads are out in drink-soaked force. No different from back home then, apart from the sweltering Thursday heat around Austin, that made much of the afternoon difficult to navigate. With Paddy’s Day in full swing by afternoon, venues were crushed with demand as party-hard Austinites swelled the SXSW venues. There were also set changes, time mixups and slot updates throughout the day which scuppered some of the gigs I attended. But… day two finished in spectacular reverence in a church on 8th Street East.

Austra @ Emos

Wow. Wow. WOW. Recent Domino signing Austra totally blew me away. A highly accomplished set of spectral dark electro delivered by a group of sexy people with glitter on their faces and hair in their eyes. The comparison between Katie Stelmanis’ bleating timbre and Fever Ray is even more obvious live and the Canadian seems to be drawing from some Scanadanavian well in the process, but who cares when the songs and the synchronised dancing is this good.
Key Track: ‘The Beat & The Pulse’:
Austra – Lose It

Tune-Yards @ Central Presbyterian Church

Stonkin’ yodelling, looping, African-influenced songs from Merrill Garber. Was she always this good? Within minutes of her set, she has the audience on their feet from the pews whooping and hollering like a real congregation. Jittery half-time drum beats and Garber’s looped yodel are the foundation for the brass duo to add some Afro-funk into the mix. ‘Bizness’ is predictably one of the highlights of the festival so far.

Key Track: ‘Bizness’:
Download: Tune-Yards – Bizness

Twin Shadow @ Central Presbyterian Church

As much as I try I cannot get into Twin Shadow’s album Forget. Live though, it’s a different proposition and it’s hard to imagine anyone not being swayed in some way by these ’80s-referencing synth pop songs. Twin Shadow had already established themselves as a class act here having just come off-stage playing to thousands before The Strokes down at Auditorium Shores. George Lewis Jr’s crooning deep baritone voice is a highlight. There’s also so ’80s Molly Ringwald style dancing in the aisles. In a church. Awesome. For their last song, the band are joined by debut album producer Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear on ‘Forget’.