Black Bubblegum’s SXSW-metal recap – part 1
words & photos by Black Bubblegum
Ancestors @ Room 710 in Austin – March 19, 2009
My SXSW adventure began Wednesday morning at the airport. Talk about starting things off on the wrong foot! A woman fell into a diabetic coma (she was ok later that morning) on my 6:30AM flight. That led to an unplanned stop in NOLA which was followed by a layover in a fogged up Houston Airport… to say I was a little late to our own day show at Emo’s was an understatement. Unfortunately, Trash Talk were wheeling their amps out the door when I got there (which meant I also missed Garotas Suecas and Psychedelic Horseshit), but I managed to catch Trash Talk vocalist Lee cruising around, with a microphone grill imprinted on his forehead. His pain, our pleasure…
Ouchie! (more by Jacob Blickenstaff)
Annihilation Time, one of the busiest bands at SXSW, was next on the bill and they pleased the crowd with their beer-soaked nihilism, and there was some serious action going on near the pit. At least one person left the front with a very large gash on his forehead, his face covered in a tricking crimson mask.
Lousiville trio Young Widows, despite van issues on the way to Austin, managed to knock out a killer set of Am-Rep style punk, opening with “Took A Turn”, the first song off of Old Wounds before charging into their current single “Old Skin” (that we debuted here).
In between YW and our headliner, The Bronx, I managed to catch The King Khan & BBQ Show in the adjacent back stage. As obnoxious as ever, yet still catchy as hell, they were great to pass time between our bands. I must say though -no offense BBQ-, that I prefer Khan with The Shrines. Maybe it’s the go-go dancers or the brass section.
The Bronx‘s high-octane punk rock concluded the party with a bang, melting away my 9+ hour journey to Austin with frenzy of fist-pumping punk rock adrenaline. If you haven’t seen The Bronx, make sure and get your ass to Bowery Ballroom or Maxwell’s on 4/20 & 4/22… Trash Talk will be there too.
As the rest of the capacity house filed out, I emerged from Emo’s with a few bumps and bruises, a lost lens hood, and a renewed energy for my next conquest(s), the BV Official at Club De Ville, and the Texas Hardcore showcases.
Olga Bell was already blessing the Club De Ville crowd with her lilting voice by the time I arrived at the BV showcase… the perfect antidote to a day of testosterone and fury.
The beautiful melodies were tempting, but hey, the time had come for some serious Texas powerviolence, so I headed up the street to see what could quite possibly be the polar opposite of Bell, Austin’s own Hatred Surge. The mostly hardcore crowd seemed confused on how to take them, but I knew… these guys were furious.
The show continued with Bitter End – my first live experience with that band. The local hardcore crowd ate it up, and they sold me with their old school take on the genre.
Iron Age followed, and they were seriously great. Looks can be deceiving, and they were, as the boys took the stage looking more Luke Duke than full-on hardcore. Iron Age reminded me a lot of Ringworm, and I can’t wait to check them out with Sex Vid and Mind Eraser.
After a long day, and a pummeling at the TXHC show, I headed back to our party to revel in the country-tinged Phosphorescent, my third or fourth experience with them. Under the clear night sky, I couldn’t think of anything more relaxing (Jacob Blickenstaff took some additional pics of Deer Tick & Phosphorescent).
SXSW DAY 2
Our show, Trail of Dead, Kylesa, and Black Math Horseman, kept my hands full during the day on 3/19. The night that I planned meant the TeePee, The End Records/Metalsucks, and the Roxwel.com showcases to check out Red Fang, Hull, Junius, Tweak Bird, and Ancestors with varying degrees of success (though mostly positive).
The End’s showcase was my first stop, where I checked out the more-post-rocky-Isis-meets-emo of Junius and thundering The End signees Hull, as well as more conventional death-metallers These Are They. Hull was definitely the most impressive of the bunch; the band and their respective amps crowding the stage so that each member was practically stationary… with room for headbanging, natch. Junius was also interesting, with a simple but effective coordinated light show (foot switch?) that added visual atmosphere to the thunder.
Tee Pee Records showcase was my next destination as well as, it seemed, all of the SXSW’s metal musicians. The lineup that night was pretty great, and I arrived at Room 710 in time to check out Ancestors. Much like Hull, the five (and sometimes six, if you include the short-lived instrumentation by a cellist) piece were also cramped for the stage space, with one keyboardist opting for the floor using the stage as a makeshift keyboard stand. The band was much, much heavier than I imagined, with a dynamic live show.
Roxwel.com’s late lineup of Tweak Bird & Red Fang sounded interesting, and rumors were swirling around Austin that Dale Crover of the Melvins would show up to play with Tweak Bird (he produced their record with Toshi Big Business). That, of course, was not to be, but the band’s melodic latter-Melvins approach was fun and heavy nonetheless. Red Fang live definitely represents that sludgy, hard-drivin’, beer-guzzlin’ image cultivated in their recent (and awesome) video for “Prehistoric Dog”.
to be continued…