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SXSW Live Review: Real Estate + The Districts + St Paul and the Broken Bones - Spotify House, Austin (14.04.14)

Though the bright green Spotify House has been part of SXSW for a few years now (this is the third year they've been at the event), 2014 marked my first visit to the venue's electric lineup. From Blondie's Deborah Harry joining Dum Dum Girls to hosting the hottest emerging talents - there was no shortage of quality entertainment at Spotify house this year.

I made it into the venue on Friday afternoon and was lucky enough to catch a few bands on the bill. First up were St Paul and the Broken Bones from Birmingham, Alabama. Without a doubt this seven piece (brass and all!) had become one of the event's most talked about artists by the time I had the chance to see them here today, and they did not disappoint, reminding me of some early experiences I had with Alabama Shakes.

Indeed, they exist in a similar realm, with a wonderful soul and funk experience on show, supported by ferocious energy from their lead, Paul Janeway. He jumped into the crowd and did just about everything he could do to get the crowd moving, which was achieved with great success. The band is tight, the sets are hugely entertaining and it's easy to see why they're getting the buzz they are. A highlight of the set came with the appearance of special guest vocalist Lizzo for a brilliant cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come". Definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Hailing from Lititz, Pennsylvania, four piece The Districts followed, a band who you just knew you'd heard before, but couldn't put your finger on it. Maybe it's just they remind you of groups like The Kooks or The Vasco Era... but ultimately I just think their music has been floating around for a few years now and it's made its way into my ears. Tracks like "Long Distance" and "I've Gone Away" were highlights of the set, and the appearance of the harmonica was a brief but much applauded addition to their repertoire.

Closing the House today were Real Estate, who just released their new LP Atlas. The set opened with "Had to Hear", which opens the new record, and a personal highlight of the set was "Primitive", off the same. The five piece aren't the most energetic band in the world; but the music will tell you that. What they are is a solid unit, who produce some stand out music and in return have themselves a dedicated an enthusiastic fan base, many of whom were here today. Though they didn't offer the same sort of excitement that St Paul mustered up earlier in the day, the vibe was electric all the same, and it was a wonderful way to bring our afternoon at the House to an end.