I’m writing this from my iPhone at a picnic table at the outdoor stage at Scoot Inn. Soon, Killer Mike will be on out here and Fang Island will go on inside. But for now I’ve finally found some relative downtime to add to the blog again.

I knew that SXSW utilized a lot of local venues that don’t normally host musical acts the rest of the year. I knew this logically. Yet it’s different when I actually show up at a bar I’ve been to dozens of times before to see it radically transformed into a house of rock. And that was the feeling I had when I arrived at Shangri-La on Wednesday for the IAMSOUND showcase there. The venue was clearly the same: the same outhouses, the same skinny staircase, the same guy working the door. And yet it was different. I don’t know if it was the free rum more than the music, but the place was suddenly a legit venue for music.

And the music was great. I was impressed with NewVillager, whose song “Rich Doors” has made it around a few blogs – and yet they decided not to play it! Bastards. DOM, a redhead from Massachusetts followed. His recorded material is fairly synth-heavy, but he had a standard guitar rock incarnation at this particular showcase. He closed with the anthemic “Living in America,” which I highly recommend checking out.

The set kicked it up a fairly high notch, though, with Friendly Fires, a British dance-rock band. They were phenomenal, bringing some amazing energy and filling all their songs with infectious percussion. Immediately afterwards was Foster the People, an LA band whose “Pumped Up Kicks” was one of my favorite songs from 2010. It was reassuring to know that they have a whole set’s worth of amazing songs, and I am highly anticipating their upcoming debut.

When the chance next arises, I’ll update you all about my trip to Lustre Pearl for the Thursday Dickie’s showcase, and we’ll do a rundown of other random bands that we saw that stood out to us. In the meantime, keep checking out the shows and don’t hesitate to share your own awesome stories and finds!