Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2011

James Blake

London producer, DJ and performer James Blake had some of the biggest hype going into South by Southwest this year. He arrived with his band at the beginning of a tour to support their debut album, and he says the back-to-back shows in Austin gave him time to perfect the set. "It's really early days," he said. "We've only been doing [the set] on 10 or 15 gigs." His first SXSW showcase was on a bill with veteran and more up-tempo acts like Rafael Saadiq and Duran Duran.

The 22-year-old's dubstep club-music past informed the brief, melancholy set (a voltage issue with a drum pad delayed and shortened his time on stage) which included a cover of Feist's "Limit to Your Love," a radio hit for Blake in the U.K. A second show — at an Austin church sanctuary — proved a better venue for this talented vocalist, whose emotional falsetto is at turns plaintive and, with the aid of electronic effects, soaring, mimicking a multivoice gospel choir.