Damon Albarn Closes SXSW Day 2 With Career-Spanning Set, But No Hits

By ajcolores

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After a long night featuring sets alternatively blistering (Perfect Pussy, Eagulls), danceable (Kelis), and mind-altering (St. Vincent), somewhere around 1:20 AM, NPR’s Wednesday night SXSW showcase wound around to its headliner, Damon Albarn. The show happened at Stubb’s BBQ, which by SXSW standards is considered a larger stage (or, at least, it has been considered as such over the years), even though you’re essentially seeing an arena artist play in a backyard. Given, Albarn was a pop star and an arena headliner in other contexts — first with Blur, then with Gorillaz — and even though his new solo sets might gesture at the different eras of his fruitful career, there is definitely a certain stripped-down intimacy to the size and tone of the show Albarn’s crafted in the lead-up to his first full-fledged solo album, Everyday Robots, which is coming out in April. Whether because of the nature of his new music or because of the fact he was premiering songs much of the crowd hadn’t heard, it was less a victorious or momentous closing set, and more a subdued, elegiac coda to the night. (This quality might have been exacerbated by the fact that, due to the schedule having gone slightly awry, Albarn’s set was abridged, which he repeatedly apologized to the audience for.)

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