HEAVY METAL ROAD TRIP, DAY 7: DAY TWO AT SXSW
After 6 nights of non-stop boozing my body was starting to tell me it was time to take a break. When I woke up Thursday morning I was tired and cranky. The first night of SXSW — or any gathering large or small, for that matter — is always a rager, right? Everyone’s so excited to see each other that they all go balls to the wall. Thursday morning I was feeling the cumulative effects of 6 days of boozing and the prior night’s activities and I decided to take a break from the sauce for a while.
I was up at 11 and treated myself to a nice sit-down breakfast at the hotel. I headed over to Emo’s with Frank from Metal Injection to hang our banners at Full Metal Texas before the Noon door time to find folks literally lined up around the block to get in. Word of special secret guest Dillinger Escape Plan had apparently gotten out, as if the free admission and a dozen other awesome bands weren’t enough to pique folks’ interest in the first place. Karnivool, Animals as Leaders, Darkest Hour, Howl, Amarna Reign and Iron Age were just a few of the many bands to play that absolutely killed.
The whole no booze thing was going pretty well. Until I was given a handful of drink tickets. I ordered up a Heineken tallboy and got about half-way through before the dames at RockPit.com accosted me for a quick interview. When I literally stopped mid-sentence because I drew a complete blank on which showcase I’d been at the night before I knew it was time to really put down the booze. Enough. For the rest of the day it was just water for this guy.
Onto the bands!
If I started my account of Full Metal Texas with anyone other than Animals as Leaders I’d be leading you all astray. For me, and nearly everyone else in attendance, it was the first chance I’d had to see this outfit live. I really dug their self-titled Prosthetic debut and, like many, had been e-following them for quite a while. Live, Animals as Leaders didn’t just live up to my expectations — they far exceeded it. Tosin Abasi is a fucking guitar God, and you really need to see the guy live to appreciate it. What’s more is that his style is so completely original that there’s no way anyone can accurately accuse him of being an instrumental wanker; he’s invented a sound and hell to the fucking YES is he selling it well. Animals as Leaders absolutely ELATED everyone packed into the smaller of the two Emo’s stages to see them, and believe me everyone who was there didn’t just stumble into that room by chance. His band more than adequately backs him up; though it’s clear Tosin is the leader, the other two men on stage did more than their share to impress and hold it down. The “bassist” actually played an 8-string guitar, just like Tosin, although he emphasized the bass strings most of the time. The drummer was a positively monolithic groove machine. I can not WAIT to see this band again.
Australian combo Karnivool also impressed, even with the first few notes of their sound-check. Kip and I caught almost all of their set and we’re still going to see them again tonight in NYC. Their brand of pounding, rhythmic, off-time hard rock instantly came across as polished and professional in the best possible way. These guys know how to perform, and I really wish we’d gotten to see them with their full (supposedly awesome) light show in tow instead of backlined on a small stage in broad daylight.
Next I jetted between Howl inside and Iwrestledabearonce outside. One band had all the crusty headbangers watching while the other had the kids karate-chopping in the pit… I’ll leave it to you to guess which was which. I already covered Howl’s alcohol-fueled, energy-filled performance, but I’d like to reiterate that the band sounded great and put in the best performance I’ve seen them play to date. As for Iwrestledabearonce… I will never appreciate them as much as Axl. They were tight live and they put on a good performance. But the band doesn’t get my dick wet the way they do for Axl; I find their act to be competent but ultimately gimmicky. Agree to disagree, mi hombre.
Also worth noting is that Darkest Hour rang in the best show I’ve ever seen them play. Seriously. Guitarist and occasional MetalSucks contributor Mike Schleibaum expressed to me after the show that he was a bit bummed about it — something to do with having to use backline (understandable) and not getting to play a full set — but dude, you had the entire audience in the palms of your hands and the room was feeling it. It was truly intense, and though it was bare bones by usual DH standards it was the way a rock and roll show should be played, hard and furiously. Well done.
I didn’t catch Dillinger Escape Plan when they played in NYC a week prior, but those who did said they had quite the light-show in tow. The cramped Emo’s Jr. stage didn’t allow for such extravagance, but no matter — Dillinger are a sweaty basement show band at heart and they know how to rock it just the same no matter what the conditions. Dillinger played like Dillinger plays — fucking insane — with a mix of material both old and new, including material from Option Paralysis. Guitarist Jeff Tuttle regularly ran into the crowd and onto the bar to spazz the fuck out with the masses. Yup… a Dillinger Escape Plan show.
Though Full Metal Texas was the day’s main event as far as we were concerned, Rob from Metal Injection and I still mustered enough energy to trek across town to the Austin Music Hall to see Stone Temple Pilots. The band was great and Scott Weiland, thankfully, was sober and on top of his game. I documented that show already here.
As a nightcap I decided to check out Goatwhore at Headhunter’s, a tiny hole-in-the-wall joint that couldn’t have fit more than 50 people. The stage conditions and PA were a whole lot less than ideal but Goatwhore rocked it nonetheless. “This isn’t the first sweaty bar show we’ll play and it certainly won’t be the last,” remarked frontman and tooth model Ben Falgoust. It’s almost like you haven’t really seen Goatwhore until you’ve seen them at a show like this one; it was actually kinda perfect.
From there I decided to call it a night a bit early. My sleep efforts were thwarted by Kip’s snoring, but I discovered that earplugs were a mighty fine remedy.
Tomorrow: SALT LICK BBQ with East of the Wall and Goes Cube! Epic times.
The Story So Far:
Day 6: Day One at SXSW
Day 5: A Crazy Night in Dallas with a Bunch of Horny Metal Dudes
Day 4: Memphis BBQ and The Walmart Parking Lot
Day 3: Louisville Sluggers and Nashville Honky-Tonk
Day 2: Scion Rock Fest
Day 1: The Calm Before the Storm