Show Reviews


  • Kip Wingerschmidt

sxsw2009Now that we had made it through an acclimating day one with a big finish and an extremely metallic day two, it was truly time to ROCK. So many different kinds of music and events are represented during the always-craysee SXSW week in Austin, and on this third day we really began to take no prisoners.

After a very pleasant early afternoon networking BBQ at a bar downtown with plenty of free food n iced tea, I downed a couple shots and gathered a crue to head over to my fave metal bar in Austin, Room 710, where a handful of years prior I finally got to see Baroness live for the first time.

On this day, at this time, in this venue, we were treated to a healthy dose of one of Austin’s greatest secrets, the bluesy psychedelic force that is Tia Carrera. No, I’m not talking about the Hawaiian ‘bombshell’ actress who entranced Wayne’s heart way back when as Rob Lowe tried to steal her away, and then once again as Christopher Walken got in the middle, enducing Wayne (and Garth) to organize and execute the legendary Wayne-Stock Music Festival. But I definitely thought the same thing when I first went to SXSW and saw (the band) Tia Carrera’s name everywhere — “That’s crazy that the chick from Wayne’s World is playing so many underground rock shows in Austin this week…” I thought at the time.

Due to the onslaught of musical acts of all different shapes, sizes, and styles, I actually really didn’t give it too much of a second thought. Once I finally figured out the nomenclature mix-up and got to see the exploratory stony jamz attack of the Austin band, I was immediately hooked, and I now try to see them every chance I get. Too bad they don’t travel very much, cause while you can certainly dig on their recordings online, their largely improvisational live show is really where it’s at.

Now that our appetite for ROCK had been whetted, what better way to satiate the devil’s desire than to see an arena-rock band fronted by 7 or 8 varied frontmen? Yes, naturally I’m talkin bout Beantown’s Bang Camaro, who up til this point I had only heard on recordings, and lemme tell ya, the experience is much, much more awesome in a live setting. Sure, it’s a bit of a gimmick, but the band can definitely play, the singers can certainly carry tunes aplenty, and the unit as a whole clearly rocks to the extreme. I’ve been told that at its most populated, BC’s stage show will reach ten to twenty lead singers — now that’s ridicucockulous, no?

Up next was one of my favorite non-metal bands I saw throughout the festival, Austin’s White Denim, a rollicking, boppy, rootsy garage/groove-rock unit made up of a few good ol’ Texas boyz who really bring something exciting, energetic, and new to the over-saturated market of indie plop. I have seen these guys a few times, and they never fail to impress — by all means check out their recordings online, but again if you can see them play live, you shan’t be disappointed.

At this point I found myself to be rather drunk, which is both a blessing and a curse at 6pm. So I retired to a friend’s hotel room for a quick toot n chill before heading back out into the nonsense and once again to Room 710 for Brooklyn’s Tombs. The first time I saw these guys I was really excited by their experimental hardcore sound (a la Neurosis meets Converge with gruffer vocals); since, I’ve become a bit less enthused (especially since they parted ways with their old drummer), but they’re certainly picking up quite a bit of steam out there and are definitely worth your while to check out and hear fo yoself.

The next few hours are a leel blurry for me, but some of the bulletpoints I do recall are:

–catching a couple tunes of the legendary Wino playing a solo acoustic set which I could barely hear (but his recordings, playing, and general joie de vivre still rules)

–watching some seriously aerodynamic karate kicks in the pit for Whitechapel, whose hatehatehate-core didn’t do it for me in the least (as we left, I actually turned to Vince and said, “This may sound ironic, but I like my metal positive!”)

–standing outside the massive outdoor venue Stubb’s with a few hundred folks n listening to the masters of old-fartedness Metallica play a few songs that actually didn’t sound too shabby

–an impromptu meeting of mighty metal bloggers (Vince n myself + metal dude from Brooklynvegan + metal dude from Pitchfork) during Wolves In The Throne Room, who helped me figure out once again that I no lika de blak metale…

And then, strangely, as proggy atmospheric rockers Dredg fought their way through quite a few technical difficulties at the setup for their 1am Buffalo Billiards show, I began to wonder “do I know the bass player from somewhere?” Eventually the band took the stage n killed it (despite their frustration with the venue’s technical issues), and I realized about halfway through that I had played music with Dredg’s bass player ten years ago on a boat trip around the world. Crazy.

After the band finished and I unsuccessfully attempted to track down my old friend, Vince and I both received text messages from our local boyz telling us about a huge outdoor party on a bridge where bands were playing and tons of kids were moshing, fighting, drinking, and generally fucking the fuck around. The actual text message read something like “Come to the bridge for a huge party — this is what the festival is truly about” ….c’mon, how could we possibly pass that up?

And yeah, it was a rockin good time — the first sight we saw when we first walked up to the maniacal late-night scene was some dude fully removing all of his clothes and jumping into the river (!). We couldn’t help but wonder how, and if, that guy would be getting his duds back, but obviously it set a hilarious tone for a wild party in the middle of a bridge.

Apparently there’s one outlet that works in the direct center of the bridge (hence the electricity), and the raucous mosh pit during one of the bands (we caught Vivian Girls and Trash Talk, and apparently Annihilation Time had played earlier) was actually making the bridge sway a bit, which should have been unnerving, but in the moment people seemed pretty excited by it….yelp!

After an hour or so the music died down — the locals in attendance seemed in disbelief that the cops didn’t shut the party down as usual — and peeps started to disperse. It had been another long day of rockin out and drinkin up, and most folks seemed ready for a healthy rest before the last day of insanity arrived.

In our final moments on the bridge, a bike messenger bag’d mysterio appeared out of nowhere and sold us a peculiar rice krispie treat which would be sure to add to the final daze BBQ and non-BBQ outrageousness that was to follow mere hours away.

Thankfully Vince and I caught a cab with little difficulty, and upon return to the flophouse, recapped the day’s craziness a leel before heading off to dreamland.

“Get ready for tomorrow, my friend…” I drunkenly uttered to Vince, “the last day is always the most metal.”


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