Wednesday marks the first day of the official music side of SXSW and as always it started with a bang. It is unusual for a day party to have such a great line up that you have no need to keep wandering around downtown Austin but the Spacelands Throw Down party at Maggie Mae’s, with its three stages and a good selection of rocking music there was no point going elsewhere.

First up was Local Natives, a five piece indie rock band from Salt Lake City who were a nice gentle start before moving up to the roof top for L.A’s The Mae Shi, although as they’re signed by Moshi Moshi records think we can claim them too. The Mae Shi did there usual punky all over the place stage show including covering the crowd with a canopy. Sadly the roof top stage decided to have some technical problems which kept on cutting out the vocals and this affected pretty much all who played up there. Bands dealt with it in different ways, The Mae Shi just continued to sing in the crowd, Future of the Left kindly pointed out to the sound guy that the roof top venue next doors sound was OK and Aja from Nico Vega found a microphone that was working and sang into that, just so happened to be the mic for the kick drum. With Future of the Left following The Mae Shi it was kind of fun overload, with Kelso stealing peoples hand bags and wearing them while playing, finishing showing off his physique by doing press ups on his bass.

L.A’s three piece, Nico Vega, who sadly have yet to get over to the UK, played a superb set despite the vocal problems but lead singer Aja made up for it with her powerful vocal range and crazy dance routines, guess these people are used to the hot weather. The only band on the roof top that seemed to escape the problems were all girl three piece Vivian Girls. The New York punk / shoegaze band, who have to be one of the busiest here with 17 gigs in the 5 days, played a short yet highly enjoyable set. They are coming to the UK in May with lots of dates then.

Out of the bands that played downstairs, Titus Andronicus were by far the best, nice punky rock. The NY / New Jersey band are well worth checking out but have just toured the UK, another band with a great stage show although the security here were not impressed with bassist Ian Graetzer climbing on the speakers. Be interesting what they do on Saturday when Semi Precious Weapons play there, front man Justin Tranter will be all over the stage equipment.

One band that was spotted at this day party worth a special mention is Austin band The Boxing Lesson. Progressive rock played exceedingly well by this three piece. Sadly the disappointing band here had to be Natalie Portmans Shaved Head. With no Natalie Portman or even any shaved heads come to that, it made this dancey band a bit bland but full of energy none-the-less.

Disappointingly it looked as though we missed Fighting With Wire’s show, we got to the venue in time but no sign of Derry’s finest. Looks like they became the first casualty of a schedule change for me.

With no time for pausing it was straight on to the evening and the official SXSW showcases, which always throw up a complete mixed bag of bands and styles.

First up was another local Austin band Ume. This female fronted three piece were opening up a girls that rock type of evening and lead singer / guitarist Lauren, clearly does with their mix of rock / punk / experimental. Hopefully they get to grow more than just the local music scene.

It was then over to Radio Room to see one of my favourite Australian bands, The Grates. Not having played over in the UK since their second album, Teeth Lost, Hearts Won was released it was great to hear a mix of old and new stuff, with plenty in the crowd singing and dancing along. Lead singer, Patience, who always has a smile on stage marked the occasion of being at SXSW by being blonde and twirling her ribbon in the heart of the crowd for Rock Boys. Before the Grates was Californian band Red Cortez who played a nice set of soulful blues.

It was then over to the Wichita Records showcase at Red 7 Patio where I managed to just miss the end of Lovvers set, not helped by walking into the wrong venue first but was there in plenty of time to see Yorkshire’s Sky Larkin play there usual great indie rock music to a good size crowd. Considering that a fair number of the crowd were there for the following act, The Bronx, they did extremely well to win them over as The Bronx are a full on hardcore punk band. By the time they started the venue was completely full and the crowd, despite being 1am, were going mad.

Elsewhere, occasional R13 writer and Austinite, Zoë Moon, went to check out Hertfordshire’s Gallows and even managed to join the circle while wearing flip flops, now that is hardcore. By all accounts they played their usual full on set, with blood but the crowd did seem a little tame compared to the norm for a Gallows gig. Also seen last night by friends of R13 were Cut Off Your Hands, Temper Trap, Von Bondies, Danananananaykroyd and Manchester Orchestra with, obviously, Scotland’s Danananananaykroyd and Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra both standing out. Good to hear the crowd getting into Danananananaykroyd.

Thursday will no doubt be another mixed bag with possibilities of Frank Turner, Fight Like Apes, Gallows and maybe have another attempt at seeing Fighting With Wire.

Check back on Friday afternoon (March 20) for another update.