Already a queue and it was only 10am. Whilst no-one admitted it out loud, the only reason so many were hankering for a SXXpress pass was for one venue, or specifically one performance. Following the confirmation that Muse were indeed playing a set at Stubbs later today, the whispers were over and excitement had soared. Which would probably explain the nervous looks for those desperate to avoid the queues and partly guarantee their spot. Within ten minutes the orange slip of paper was in my hand and I could breath a sigh of relief.

If you were to read the official publications you may think that the action did not commence until 7pm. Wrong. Of course, the best parties are not advertised and a quick stroll around town should bear fruit. Or free beer and barbeques which is possibly why this sort of event would never happen in the UK. Granted, few places actually declare the freebies but notice the casual air around people at the bar and the eventual lack of money changing hands. Nah. That exchange I cannot actually envisage back home but typifies SXSW.

My stroll took me to the Filter Magazine party at Cedar Street Courtyard where crowds blocked the entrance and any real line for badge holders was lost amidst the bodies. As for the performance itself, the Americana rock of California’s Delta Spirit was heard well but not at all seen. Back into town and the iconic venue of Maggie Mae’s where breaks between bands simply do not happen. You see, the bar itself has two floors and two separate stages. Upstairs, Canada’s Jets Overhead entertained with an anthemic, and, at times, mesmeric set. Time only to grab a drink and head downstairs where The Broderick proved that despite their tender years and Indiana upbringing, a testosterone charged performance could be both raw and tight. It was a wonder the band were allowed into a drinking establishment and even more eerie that lead singer Max Mullen should sound like Daniel Johnson. Another trip on the stairs to see Bear Hands. Despite their ‘just out of bed’ appearance, theirs was a poised set; evoking calculated 80s rock and a penchant for driving beats.

A rest was in order and after scoffing enough meat at an Argentinean restaurant to outstrip Tesco for a day, it was back out for the main event. Muse lest you forget. This all sounded too good to be true. A stadium band at, to all intents and purposes, a bar’s outside patio at Stubbs’. Metric’s support slot was pleasing enough with the Canadian outfit’s guitar pop gaining enough feedback to let you forget they were only the appetizer and front girl Emily Haines enthusiastically bouncing about the stage with the look of a child having consumed too many sweets.

Surprisingly, Muse’s start was as inauspicious as possible. The lights dimmed but on they strolled without any fanfare, exploding flares or rotating satellites in sight and simply bulldozed their way into The Uprising. New album, The Resistance gained some heavy play with the title track gifted a reverb drenched Star Spangled Banner as an outro. Hardly Woodstock but the gesture worked. Of course, some extravagant effects were used, mainly green lasers for a spectacular rendition of Stockholm Syndrome which saw many capture the action on whatever device they could as the light danced off the trees like fireflies. This was still SXSW and there was still a curfew set up meaning their encore consisted of only Knight of Cydonia, but what an encore.

Granted, it was Friday night but town had a mischievous feel in the air so off I went to find solitude and whilst there was no place like home but a close substitute was Latitude 30. Manchester’s Everything, Everything pretty much packed, well, everything into their set. Flitting between pop to hip-hop to rock in the matter of seconds, mainly via lead singer Jonathan‘s bizarre, acapella tinged voice. It became a challenging experience trying to keep up with time signatures and what the hell they were going to do next. The Drums were far more conventional, faced with an expectant crowd following enough hype to fell lesser bands theirs was an assured set, typified by the diva posturing Jonathan Pierce. Their summer tinged ditties like the playful I Felt Stupid or the Beach Boys-esque Let’s Go Surfing were contagious enough to entertain and confident enough to impress.