The inevitable happened. I fell behind on posting to fit in some much-needed sleep between seeing shows and having a week-long slumber party with some of my favorite ladies on Earth. And, because the High Times Doobie Awards fall on a Sunday this year, there's a built-in bonus day of Shiners at noon and loud bands all day.
If you're in Austin, get your asses down to Emo's this afternoon for a lineup featuring Blower, Valient Thorr, Suplecs, Honky, and the Smokers Club featuring Curren$y. There will also be a special award presented in Dimebag Darrell's honor, with appearances by Pantera/Down's Rex Brown and Dime's widow, Rita Haney.
Otherwise, the last two days have been a glorious blur of live music, endless free booze and even free tacos courtesy of Danny Trejo's Machete and Shady Records. I caught far flung acts like the Kills at Spin's party, Ringworm presented by Brooklyn Vegan at Lovejoys, suffered through Crowbar to ensure seeing St. Vitus at Dirty Dog, plus the solid Profound Lore showcase, Metal Sucks' South by South Death show and a few guiltypleasures in between.
A more in-depth write-up coming soon, gotta get ready for my last day on the town. More pics added here.
One of the most annoying that can happen after carefully planning out your daily band-seeing strategy at SxSW is a time change. Especially if you're not in the vicinity of a venue AFTER you've heard an act you really want to see is going on almost an hour early, and you're still headed downtown. Just such a thing happened yesterday when organizers of Full Metal Texas (an otherwise spectacular show, btw) when buzz-band Kvelertak were onstage a full hour earlier than expected.
What does one do in Austin when your plans go awry? Eat BBQ, of course. So Diane and I chose to head to our traditional meal at Iron Works in lieu of seeing Hull, knowing they'd be at the Ale House for The End's evening showcase. And since it's SxSW, we ran into both Dax Riggs and a dude from Valient Thorr on our way to eat, then sat next to members of Duff McCagan's Loaded while we ate. (Incidentally, tonight Loaded open for Filter at the Austin Music Hall, lolz!)
But once we got back into the action, it was incredible, because we saw YOB. The rarely-touring doom/stoner/awesome band put on an incredible 40-minute long, four-song set. So intense for their first trip to Austin in over five years.
From there, we took a detour to South Austin's Obsolete Industries to see the unofficial Amphetamine Reptile showcase featuring the reunion of Hammerhead. In theory, an excellent idea. But the actual setup was a bit off-putting. The band performed in the studio's print shop, while the audience was relegated to the space's gallery - essentially forcing the audience to watch the band through a glass wall and hear them through a single amp placed there for convenience. Glad I was there, but I was even more happy to head back to the fray of Red River.
Hammerhead behind glass
Once there, the first place to hit was the Ale House for Hull, who put on an intense set that flourished with an extended version of "Viking Funeral." Since the goth venue Prague was only a few blocks away, we headed over to finally see Kvelertak. Were they worth the hype? Sure. Taking their cues from Death 'n Roll-era Entombed and adding their own guitar-hook laden garage-y influences, the Norwegians put on a high-energy set that got a little dangerous at points. I definitely got off easy by only getting conked on the head with the mic.
After that, I went over to catch Agalloch and YOB only to find out that Suplecs were headlining in the next room, and that Weedeater's Dixie Dave would soon be joining them onstage—which he did—but only to do some bizarre scat-growl singing. Finally, YOB blew the night away as the best of the night.
Let's just call them the dirty dozen... the first 12 bands I saw at this year's South by Southwest, that is. The first day, as always, was a study in controlled chaos, with badge acquisitions, cell phone service checks (Hey Verizon, if the incredible iPhone service keeps up, I might name a child after you) and meet-ups to check in to.
And then there's the inevitable Brooklyn Vegan showcase to see. Naturally, I gravitated towards the dark indoor stage where a string of ear-maligning metal bands — and Dax Riggs — performed.
The first band I saw this year were Italy's The Secret, who pummeled the crowd with their tight metalcore set. All the band members were pretty intense, but I loved that you could hear the guitarist's admiration for the first two Machine Head records in his sound. Check them out when they hit NY (or a town near you!).
Up next were KEN Mode, who, for a three-piece, managed to create a much deeper Converge-meets-Today is the Day Sound.
Then there was my beloved Dax Riggs — who I may have stalked momentarily while sampling various Sparks flavors — who ripped through a compact set of "I Hear Satan," "Wall of Death," and "Stop, I'm Already Dead." Cannot wait to see him again in NYC.
After Dax, I went over to pick my badge (missing Trash Talk), but managed to get back to see a triumphant-sound Kylesa, a couple of Surfer Blood songs and suffered through a touch of Peelander Z for a buddy who loves them. And there was a Neal Pollack hazy siesta courtesy of my dear local friend Melissa, which inevitably led us to our first night show....
...Have you ever heard of the Skatenigs? You really shouldn't have. They were a local, half-jokey early '90s act that specialized in power riffs and cheeky social commentary. Think of them as the Southern Scatterbrain. In other words, if you knew them then, you might have found this set interesting and nostalgic. But if you're like me, you found it rudimentary and boring. Seriously, their material has not aged well. And guess what? THEY'RE RECORDING A NEW ALBUM. Just what the world needs.
After that, I checked out Off!, who were really good once Keith Morris espoused the "More Rock, Less Talk" ethos and tore through an incredible set before the Bad Brains hit the outdoor stage. Sure, it was cool to see the legends live — and the set list was a good one — but it sounded like it was being played at half speed. That said, I took the opportunity to see Easy Action, who epitomize the kind of greasy, gritty sexy hard rock that would be ideal for a Robert Rodriguez soundtrack (or some rough fucking). Guys, work on your marketing. Everyone needs to know who you are, and there's only so much I can do.
From there, I decided to seek out Brooklyn's own A Place to Bury Strangers. The perfect marriage between Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine, their Exploding Head record has been a staple for months now. But I had the nagging feeling that they would suck live, not being able to pull off their textured sound without additional studio tracking. But after hearing two respected folks compare them to MBV, I had to be there. Arriving at the gargoyle-embellished goth club, Prague, I wasn't so sure. But APTBS managed to set off an intense, though slightly murky set. And yes, it was super noisy, which made for lots of hipsters covering their ears. Amateurs.
Almost appropriately, my last band of the night was Austin's own Okkervil River. At that point, my dogs were barking and I just found a seat in the back. With tons of musicians onstage and a preview of their forthcoming album, the locals made for the perfect happy-sounding, folky pop nightcap.
That's all for now. More pics here. Today: more meat and Full Metal Texas.
With no less that FOUR showcases masterminded by Brooklyn Vegan's Black Bubblegum and 1000 Knives, plus the Converse/Thrasher parties at the Scoot Inn, Full Metal Texas and Metal Sucks' South by South Death affair (and that's not including actual label showcases), it'll be pretty hard to ignore all the glorious blast beats and feedback coming at you. I look forward to seeing bands like Kvelertak, Off!, Arson Anthem, Easy Action, the Body, YOB, and Hull. And if Agalloch get to squeeze in more than two songs, I'll be impressed.
There are definitely some non-metal attractions, too: Yuck, Okkervil River (don't front), A Place to Bury Strangers, Dax Riggs, the Kills, Wu-Tang Clan, Duran Duran and Queens of the Stone Age.
2. Bro Hang
So many metal bros, so little Shiner Bock... I'm really looking forward to sunny, 85-degree days with my dudes from Metal Sucks, Metal Injection, Metal Insider and friends from Metal Blade, Relapse, Prosthetic, plus bands like Red Fang, Eyehategod and the Sword. (No shit: I'm meeting up with someone who currently lives three stops from my apt, yet the last time we hung was at ATP NY.)
3. Bra Hang
I also get to stay with my bff4eva Merilee 666 and watch her play with her band, Blower at the High Times Party @ Emo's on Sunday night. Stoked. If that weren't cool enough, my partner in crime and hearing loss on this trip will once again be WFMU's Diane Kamikaze (also, administrator of our legendary 666 tats). Plus, the fabulous Samantha Marble and Kim Kelly will be there. Hella stoked.
I'm fairly sure that a vegetarian plate in Texas generally means "chicken." Brisket, ribs, sausage... oh my!
5. Keep Austin Weed
I'm covering it semi-formally for High Times, so hit their site to check out daily updates. Doooo it.
I get why the kids don't dig Slayer these days. They're not kvlt, the speed records they set in the '80s have long been surpassed by bands with four-word names, and one can't deny that they're quickly turning into the AC/DC of thrash.
Yet it's hard for me to think of any other song besides "War Ensemble" that gets my heart racing in the same way, inducing goosebumps even after its 1,000th spin. So here's a little six-minute long reminder of why it is that people scream "Slaaaayyyeeeer!!!" at shows across the world—regardless of who is playing.
If I were creating an eyeshadow inspired by Motorhead, I think I'd go with a glossy black creme, the kind that Taylor Momsen would smear over her Living Dead Doll eyes.
M.A.C. Cosmetics chose to go another route when they bequeathed the name. The brand's version of Motorhead—part of their limited-edition Jeanius collection—is described as "a midtone dirty blue with copper pearl." Get yours now!
The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Westboro Baptist Church's right to protest at a soldier's private funeral has infuriated me to the point of physical pain.
As someone who thoroughly relishes their freedom of speech, it kills me that this "church"—this blasphemous, hateful, attention-whoring collective waste of human organs—enjoys the same rights as the family of a child who died for that very freedom. Instead, founder Fred Phelps chooses to provoke, antagonize and outright prey on innocent peoples' heartstrings for monetary and media gain. All while enjoying tax exemption.
Now that I've pried myself away from the latest Charlie Sheenmeme, I'm settling in to start on one of my most dreaded tasks ever: transcribing. But it's all worthwhile, since it's for a feature on Eyehategod. Besides getting them a much-deserved full page in High Times, it presented an opportunity for me have a good long chat with frontman Michael Williams, someone I've admired ever since my internship at the pot mag at age 20.
I also used to stalk him from afar. OK, not really. During the '90s in NYC, there was a district flush with magazine publishers that stretched along Park Avenue South, from Union Square all the way through the lower 30s, and west to 5th Avenue. Through a piece of misdirected mail, I discovered that the iconic Metal Maniacs was directly across the street from HT, a mere three-minute walk away. This was during the classic Katherine Ludwig era, with Alicia Morgan and Williams rounding out the editorial staff. While I never saw the elusive Ludwig, I'd find myself running into Mike at the deli between 16th and 17th streets that once housed Max's Kansas City (all the while avoiding Source staffers who stuck out like sore thumbs with their giant diamond chains). And though I never had the balls to dork out on him while on line to pay for my salad bar plate, I'm almost certain at one point he shot a "the fuck you looking at?" look my way.
We've crossed paths at several of his shows since, but I still never got to ask him all the stuff I've always wanted to as a journalist and fangirl. And the interview went better than I could have imagined. So while I suck it up and transcribe, enjoy some Southern-style sludgecore on me.