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SXSW 2012 MetalSucks Metal Recap

I’m back from a week in Austin, once again, at the annual adult Disneyland event known as South by Southwest. Holy crap! What a shitshow! In the best way possible. It’s hard to explain what SXSW is like to someone who’s never been; it takes over every building, rooftop, parking lot and back alley in downtown Austin. Music emanates from the pores of the city. And thankfully for us, metal has enjoyed a boon in popularity in recent years at a festival once dominated by everything but.

Since I arrived Tuesday night but didn’t actually see any bands until Wednesday, I’ll wrap Tuesday night’s shenanigans into Wednesday’s “Day 1” post. Tuesday night we had a fun drink and smoke sesh with dudes from Metal Injection, The Apparatus and MS reader KeepItWolfson, drank copious amounts of delicious (and free!) Tito’s vodka at The Syndicate’s Conflict of Interest party with the dudes from Family and longtime MS reader Pickaxe Bobby, and then called it a night. Here are Wednesday’s stats, with writeups after the jump:

Number of bands seen: 12 (Deafheaven, The Atlas Moth, Pallbearer, Primitive Weapons, Saviours, Monstro, Holy Grail, Black Tusk, Intronaut, Nachtmystium, Darkest Hour, High on Fire)
Best band of the day: The Atlas Moth
Best moshpit: Darkest Hour
Best free drinks of the day: Titos vodka at the Syndicate Conflict of Interest party / anything anyone bought me at South by South Death

I’ve long said that the key to a successful SXSW is starting every day with a good breakfast, because it’s very likely that’ll be the only real meal you eat all day. Wednesday started with the gigantic Don Juan breakfast tacos at Juan in a Million, recommended by our friend The Rev of famous burger blog Burger Conquest. Stuffed with potatoes, eggs, cheese and bacon, I was only able to plow through about half of this big boy before boxing the rest and eating the leftovers for dinner at 7pm and a late-night snack at 3am — all my meals in one day for $4 = win!

And then the real shit began. I headed to Pitchfork’s “Show No Mercy” showcase in time to catch atmospheric black metallers Deafheaven. The mix was really poor so it was hard to judge the band, but everyone else seemed to like them at performances later in the week; I’ll reserve judgment for next time. 45 minutes and 3 Lone Star tallboys later, I was in the front row furiously headbanging to The Atlas Moth’s mindblowingly tight and incredible sounding set. They first caught my eye exactly two years ago at SXSW, so it was only fitting that I finally got to see the band that wrote my favorite record of 2011 in Austin once again. So tight, so powerful, so unique. God, this band is so good. They deserve all the success that’s about to come their way.

Next I headed over to the Thrasher/Converse Death Match Day Party at Scoot Inn to catch the last 3 songs of Primitive Weapons’ set. They’re from Brooklyn, but for some reason I need to go to Austin to see them… and then do so three times in the same week. ANYWAY, that I saw them three times should tell you just how good they are; their live sound is so forceful and big, and frontman Dave Castillo is an absolute beast of a performer. Wednesday’s show was a great performance, but it wasn’t even their best of the week. I headed to the inside stage to catch a few bluesy heavy metal jamz by Saviours, watched the skaters at the impromptu Thrasher half pipe for 10 minutes, then headed out.

I had just enough time before heading over to South by South Death to set up to catch a song or two by Pallbearer back at the Pitchfork show. Everyone’s been raving about this doomy band, and though they weren’t as tight as The Atlas Moth I liked what I heard and will definitely be paying close attention to these guys.

Onto Barbarella Patio to set up for MetalSucks’ own showcase, South by South Death! Big thanks to Corey Mitchell, the dudes from Metal Injection, Metal Insider, Tiger Flowers, Meek is Murder and all the SXSW and Barbarella venue staff for helping set up and making this event so fucking killer. And big ups to Peavey and Ddrum for providing us with gear for all the bands to use. The line to get in to South by South Death:

Suffice it to say, Monstro, Holy Grail, Black Tusk, Intronaut (DAT RIFF!), Nachtmystium, Darkest Hour and High on Fire all absolutely killed it, and kept the venue packed to capacity all night. Metal Injection filmed every band and will be releasing that stuff soon, but for now here are some photos I took and some fan-filmed YouTube vids (more will be added as they come in):


Black Tusk:


Nachtmystium, “Ashes to Ashes”:

Darkest Hour:

High on Fire (feat. Matt Pike in his favorite t-shirt):

Tomorrow: Norway’s Shining, Gypsyhawk, Pilgrim, and more.


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