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SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT, VOL. 2: A BOOZE-FUELED FRENZY THRU FOUR DAZE OF SCHLOCK N SHLOLL AT SXSW 2009

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sxsw2009After the antics of the first day of the festival, I felt more than ready to get into day two with a healthy dose of music from the beginning. Unfortunately, that was not to be so for me, as at the time I thought I would be continuing on after SXSW into further ridonkulousness, all the way to a family vacation during Spring Break in Mexico….and today was the day that my renewed passport was meant to be FedExed to the flophouse where Vince and I were crashing.

When I had returned to said flophouse the night prior and to my surprise found an open couch in the living room right by the front door (where I was told FedEx homeboy would appear bright and early), I figured it prolly made the most sense to sleep right there on the ground floor as opposed to the stank upstairs sweat lodge where I would be sure to miss any sounds of door knocking.

Sadly, no FedEx arrived in the morning as promised — I was actually awoken by a phone call from Vince around noon wondering where the hell I had ended up last night. After a couple more hours my passport finally arrived, at which point I had to wait at least another hour for a cab to take me down to the action.

HOLY SHIT.

Eventually I made it to the well-attended and totally wicked Full Metal Texas 2009, where our very own Anton Oyvey held court over a killer line-up of rather diverse ends of the metal spectrum. Of course due to my passport/cab-waiting extravaganza I missed the wicked triumvirate of stoner aggression that I was most looking forward to — Black Math Horseman, Kylesa, and Skeletonwitch. Oh well.

The first band I actually saw was Fact, at SXSW all the way from Japan — an interesting, allbeit kinda cheesy blend of tight drums n riffage and alternating emo-clean n growl (although much more delicate and balanced than the usual good cop, bad cop bullplop). Essentially bubblecore pop metal (with sampled beats thrown in every now and again) for the kiddies.

(Not being a kid anymore,) I decided to move onwards in search of something a little more different and challenging, and I definitely found a unique (if not always so listenable) sound in Los Angeles’ Health, who combine bombastic diy-ish tribal drums with alternating lush angular ethereal vocal-drenched soundscapes and grating screechy effect-laden spastic punky freakouts. These guys have definitely been coming up quite strongly in the indie noise rock scene over the last couple years, and currently reside on Genghis Tron vocalist Mookie Singerman’s own record label, Love Pump United, which also is/has been the home for many an underground unit of rock, including AIDS Wolf, Child Abuse, USAISAMONSTER (soon to be R.I.P.), and GT themselves before they upped the ante and joined the Relapse brigade.

From the Health show I mosied back to Full Metal Texas and caught the last few tunes from Greeley Estates, screamo-core-ers who really got the kidz goin wild — young’ins moshin? Bitchin!

And then it was time for the annual metal dinner, where all of the folks who work in metal that are representing SXSW get together to eat tacos and drink margaritas, and, well…..talk about METAL.

Whaddayou think?!?

From there on for me it was a bit of a ping-pong match between the kick-ass showcase we were co-sponsoring with The End Records and an excellent showcase MetalSucks Maniac Pick-Axe Bobby happened to be throwing right nearby for Roxwel.com — the epic list of bands I caught bits n pieces of is/was/be as follows:

Junius

Howl

Hull

Goes Cube

He Is Legend

Red Fang

Tub Ring

Early Man

highlight of the night: HOWL — This Providence band slays, and you will surely be hearing more about them very soon… In the meantime, you can see footage of the show I saw at SXSW right here.

biggest disappointment of the night: GOES CUBE — The derivative and oft-misdirected music of this band definitely has a lot of room to grow before it will escape perpetually feeling tepid; in addition, the trio really ought to add a frontman who can actually sing/scream well and cut down on the unnecessary and unwarranted arrogant banter. Just my opinion, but it had to be said.

pleasant surprise of the night: A very nice chat with the guru of all things scream, vocal coach extraordinaire Melissa Cross. This woman has (re)trained the frontmen of Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, and tons of others; you can check out her DVD series entitled The Zen of Screaming (2 editions out thus far), and [attempt to] unleash your inner kill by means of your VOICE. Much, much better than a meat cleaver.

biggerest disappointment of the night: The inability to find a cab at the end of the night and therefore having to walk all the way home…..our homies in the bands that played were either still packing up gear or getting skirted off in packed cars to local beds in which they were sleeping (and perhaps boning). We didn’t especially feel like partying any more, so with the additional extra strength of some very special gum enamel I had acquired in my travelzzz, Vince and I hoofed it through the quiet part of town all the way back to the flophouse.

“I guess if my heart doesn’t explode in the middle of the night I’ve successfully survived half the festival so far…” I thought to myself as I lay down in our thankfully-air conditioned room. “Just two more daze to go and then I’m off to Mexico…”

Or so I thought.

-KW

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