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SXSW Metal Report

[Read my recaps of Day One and Day Two. -Ed.]

The always-wise Antonin Skullia Esq. said to me on Friday that there’s no such thing as a “first annual,” just a “first ever.” Indeed. So please don’t think I’m gloating when I say that the first ever MetalSucks SXSW event South by South Death was a big success and surely worthy of creating a “second annual.” Meek is Murder, Wormrot, Red Fang, Havok and Kvelertak teamed up for for an excellent day of headbanging, beer-swilling, and sweaty, dirty metal in the cramped punk-rock confines of Headhunters.

And for the night-cap, the definitive most metal of non-metal bands: Chrome-E-Oh. Ohhhhh ohhh!

Before we get into the recap, three very quick things:

1) Thanks to our generous sponsors, NARM and
2) shot every band with multiple cameras, so expect excellent video footage in the coming weeks.
3) BIG thanks to Havok for loaning out their gear to Red Fang and Kvelertak. Without their generosity we wouldn’t have been able to have either band play. Thank you thank you thank you!

Now, onto the show.

There’s not much to say about Meek is Murder’s performance that I didn’t say yesterday other than that bassist Sam Brodsky seemed much more comfortable with an actual floor to stand on instead of a raised stage. I was happy that so many people turned out to see them at the relatively early hour of 2pm, all willing to start their day with a loud dose of grind.

Wormrot followed with their typically tight set of spastic grind. These dudes are so entertaining live that their gigs haven’t grown old to me yet. I love the little shimmy vocalist Arif Rot does with his body between lines. Zexy!

By the time Red Fang hit the stage, the room went from about 3/4 full to packed to the gills. I’d only seen Red Fang once prior, but they sounded tighter and bigger on this day than the last time I saw them. Perhaps the packed, sweaty, excited vibe of the room played a part, or perhaps they just brought their A-game rockage, van breakdown the night before in Dallas be damned. Whatever it was, they rocked the house. Set-closer “Prehistoric Dog” of the infamous beer-can battle video was a big crowd pleaser.

I don’t know quite what it is about Havok that makes them a cut above the other so-called re-thrash bands… but they just are. One thing’s for certain: this band is tight. Three year-old virgin’s asshole tight. Williamsburg hipster’s jeans tight. Balco trainer Greg Anderson’s lips tight. SO TIGHT. And so much fun. More than any other band, I think Havok turned the most heads in the room, made the most people go “woah, that band is awesome! who are they?” Sleeper hit of the show, one could say.

No disrespect to Kvelertak of course… as I stated yesterday everyone at the festival was drooling all over their testicles. But by Friday people already knew what to expect, having had two opportunities to see them already, so their South by South Death headline show was more like an opportunity to come back for one final dose of a highly, highly addictive drug. The tiny Headhunters stage could barely contain these six Norwegians, but Kvelertak aren’t to be contained by puny stages! Bassist Marvin Nygaard and vocalist Erlend Hjelvik often came down into the crowd to party — their infectious energy percolating all the way to the back of the room — moshing with the headbangers up front, just the way a punk rock show should be. Unfortunately the fun was to be curtailed by a 6pm venue curfew, but the half hour of Kvelertak rockage we got was enough to tide us over until their next U.S. tour.

Back to the hotel to rest and save up our energy for…. CHROMEO!

I first saw Chromeo four years ago at SXSW at a tiny venue called Flamingo Cantina. My, how times have changed… now they’re headlining La Zona Rosa, a big venue outside the main E. 6th St. party area that I’d say is, oh, 50 times the size of the former. Chromeo brought their A-game — this band is SO MUCH FUN! We were the subjects of some odd stares, whatwith our black hoodies amongst a sea of color, but such is the universal appeal of Chromeo. Some kind folks even chatted us up and told us we “looked interesting.”

But perhaps even better than watching Chromeo was watching Rob from Metal Injection enjoy the show. I turned Rob onto Chromeo a few months ago, and since then he’s jumped head-first into their world. So this performance provided him with an opportunity to see the band live for the first time at the HEIGHT of his obsession with them… which, as you all should know, is pretty much the best / most exciting kind of concert there is. Let me tell you… that boy danced his pants off. Dancing to disco/funk/synth = METAL. Don’t you step (But please do two-step).

Tomorrow, for the fourth, final and MOST METAL day of South By… a BBQ adventure highlighted by an epic journey home, followed by Hull, Batillus and Pack of Wolves.


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