The MetalSucks SXSW 2013 Metal Recap: Wednesday, March 13
Number of bands seen: 15 (Encrust, Batillus, Inter Arma, Pinkish Black, Vattnet Viskar, Mutilation Rites, Maserati, Royal Thunder, Trash Talk, Pallbearer, Skeletonwitch, A Life Once Lost, Pinkish Black, Junius, Power Trip)
Highlights: Batillus, Skeletonwitch, Maserati, A Life Once Lost
Biggest surprise: Power Trip
Number of tacos consumed: Zero
Thanks to Corey Mitchell’s exhaustive SXSW metal previews I arrived in Austin this year without any plan, only a few sheets of printed paper in hand. SXSW is best experienced when you’re not scuttling around between shows halfway across Austin to try and catch different bands at different times; just wake up in the morning, take a peek at what’s happening that day, head out, park yourself at one show for the duration of the afternoon and order a Shiner promptly at 12pm. Repeat at 7pm for the night shows, stumble home, pass out, and do it all over again the next day.
I spent the entirety of the afternoon of Wednesday, March 13th at Pitchfork’s Show No Mercy showcase at The House of Vans / The Mohawk. I arrived just in time to see Brooklyn’s own Batillus — whose entire new album Concrete Sustain is streaming in full right now on MetalSucks — play the second half of their set’s last song, the positively infectious “Concrete.” That Batillus were one of my favorite bands of the entire day and I only saw half a song should tell you how locked in the band is right now; they are absolutely KILLING it, firing on all cylinders. The rhythm section — which in this industrio-doom outfit includes drums, bass AND guitar — is a lock-step, virgin-tight killing machine, throwing lightning bolts into the crowd with each thunderous bass drum and snare hit. Frontman Fade Kainer is the perfect vocalist for this band, a man possessed with just the right amount of scary and crazy, and a mesmerizing stage presence to be sure.
Other highlights from the afternoon included new Relapse signees Inter Arma, Royal Thunder’s soulful blues-rock (for whom Rolling Stone’s David Fricke was in attendance) and thrash-punk stalwarts Trash Talk. At one point I ducked out of The Mohawk and walked down the street to “The Main” (formerly Emo’s) to check out post-rock groove outfit Maserati, who were fantastic as always. But the afternoon belonged to Skeletonwitch, who made clear why they were worth whatever Pitchfork and Vans ponied up to get them to come out of their Ohio hibernation to fly down to Austin to play just one show. Watching Skeletonwitch perform is to feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself, one big, happy, beer-swilling, weed-smoking, pussy-eating family of blackened-thrash metal lovers that’s gathered together for a reunion. It was glorious, and a perfect way to end the afternoon.
Check out footage of the bands performing the outdoor stage at Pitchfork’s show here via Ustream, and isolated footage of Skeletonwitch performing a new song below via Metal Injection:
Wednesday night I attended the Metal Wreckage showcase at the Six Lounge downtown. The show’s biggest band, A Life Once Lost, opened the show. The Six Lounge’s rooftop bar, smack in the middle of Austin’s newly skyscraper-ized downtown downtown made for an absolutely epic setting; at one point frontman Bob Meadows climbed up on the rafters, which I’m sure was even cooler for him than it was for us. I really can’t feel what the buzz is all about on Pinkish Black, but I enjoyed their set slightly more than I had when they played Pitchfork’s show earlier in the day. Junius are always fun; I love the hell out of that band, especially live, but since the venue had nine giant brightly-lit TV screens behind the stage with Sony logos flashing about, unfortunately the band’s light show didn’t pack quite the same punch as it usually does. The biggest surprise of the night was
Austin’s own Dallas’s Power Trip, a pure thrash band who absolutely DESTROYED the place, so much so that the venue — which couldn’t have been larger than 50 feet by 50 feet — shut down the show a few songs in on account of the raucous mosh pit. We took this as a bad omen and decided to pack up and leave, which unfortunately meant we missed Call of the Void; I guess the venue decided to let them play.
Tomorrow: Thursday’s coverage, including Goatwhore at the MetalSucks South by South Death showcase!