Primitive Weapons, all photos by Carmelo Espanola
Crustcake, represented by the intrepid Andrew Wilhelm and Van Damned, spent four days in Austin, Texas, at South By Southwest, one of the world's largest, film, interactive and music festivals. Between the two, they saw 49 bands, ate 10 tacos, four slices of pizza, four gyros, three bratwurst, and drank 52 beers, five whiskey and cokes, five rum and gingers and exactly one shot of tequila. They insist that you come with them to SXSW 2012.
There's a reason people call it South By South Death. By Saturday -- if you've made it that far -- sleep deprivation, liver cirrhosis, indigestion, tinnitus and ear fatigue, and sheer physical exhaustion have begun to take a major toll, putting a serious dampener on your fun-having. Sure it's a bummer, but on the other hand, it'll be a whole 'nother year until this many badass bands roll through at one time. So you gotta get while the gettin's good, right? Right. So grab another beer and make the best of it. You're a sucker if you don't.
Words to live by, and ones Van and Andy took to heart. Perked up from their post-Vitus rest, they headed down to Lovejoy's once more for the Profound Lore/BrooklynVegan day party. Cruscake's final SXSW recap begins there.
Wolvhammer were winding up as Andy entered the room. Mssrs. Pessaro and Bruni deserve major thanks for thawing those Minneapolis boys out to play in Austin. Now sporting a dedicated singer and Jeff Wilson (ex-Nachtmystium) on second guitar, SXSW was given another taste of their new-and-improved, crusty, D-beaten death/black fusion. Does the world need another crusty, D-beaten death/black fusion band? When they're as good as Wolvhammer, the answer is a resounding "Yes!" Van arrived late (again), but in time to catch Deafheaven for his first time. The ink spilled about this Deathwish Records-signed black metal five-piece has grown exponentially in recent months and for good reason. Searing, soaring, euphoric -- these kids will go far, mark our words. Grayceon were the heavier alter ego of Amber Asylum: still rooted in chamber music, but with more of an emphasis on metal. Carm compared cellist Jackie Perez Gratz to Voivod's Piggy (RIP), which is no insult at all. Floridian duo Dark Castle spewed forth an filty stream of shred, scream and pummel, but were hamstrung by a muddy mix. Too bad, too. Guitarist/vocalist Stevie Floyd is a banshee on the mic and nimble-fingered to boot.
But nobody, and we mean nobody, was prepared for just how mind-numbingly loud The Body was. Not even the twisted, funhouse noises made by Bruce Lamont and Eyehategod's Mike Williams beforehand prepared the audience for The Body's never-ending torrent of low-end. In fact, Crustcake was kind of disappointed the floor didn't give out, they were that magnificently loud. Guitarist/vocalist Chip King is soft-spoken in real life, but you sure as hell could not assume that from his yell, which resembled Xasthur at his depraved best. Lee Buford wailed on his North drums, those war-horn-shaped drums bellowing with resonance, adding more weight to the already pulverizing vibrations coming forth. The whole experience felt like a video game boss flaunting your weak point -- in this case your ears -- and The Body kept hitting it over and over and over.
A Union Dissolves
Van and Andy split up at this point, Van to accompany Earsplit PR to the Profound Lore night show at Valhalla, Andy to take on Eyehategod/Pentagram at the Scoot Inn.
Here's Van's report:
Having already seen EHG and Pentagram several times each, I decided to check out some new bands. First up was Yakuza's Bruce Lamont, who pulled out a subdued solo set of sax warp, noise loops and vocal contortions. Castevet guitarist Andrew Hock jumped on stage for an apparent improv collaboration on Lamont's final song. (Lamont later high-tailed it across town to the Scoot Inn, soon after that. You'll hear about him later.) Wolvhammer wowed again -- they're quickly becoming my favorite Minnesotan act since Prince Rogers Nelson first donned a pair of purple tights some 40 years ago. Castevet roared through a powerful set of what I've taken to calling their peculiar brand of post-angular blackness: they're to black metal what McBride Charles Ryan are to architecture. Look 'em up. They certainly were much stronger live than on recent album, Mounds of Ash. Grayceon were even heavier and more majestic Saturday night than they were during the day. It was at this point that I decided to make an early exit. The ever-genial Brandon Stosuy invited me to Stereogum's LiveNation party. We went, got way drunk and heckled the hipsters that lined up in the thousands outside to see such Pitchfork-ready acts as Cults, Gold Panda and Das Rascist. If you're looking for a play-by-play from that night, you'll have to ask Brandon. He may (or may not) remember better than I can.
Here's Andy's report:
Pentagram and Eyehategod may hail from opposite ends of the Mason-Dixon Line, but both have singers who have told you that your deification of the "edge" is probably bullshit, so you gotta see them whenever you can. Like the Saint Vitus show, the openers were hit-and-miss, this time more on the miss side. Cough are not so much a band as a cry for Jus Osborn to come to the States. Ancient VVisdom ... fuck, what can I say about that band that I didn't already? Naam were not terrible, they were just ... there. Primitive Weapons, however, did light my fire. As I wrote about them before, they take the best elements of Integrity and Deadguy and make a potent cocktail. Another one to look out for in the days to come. There was a couple ballroom dancing towards the end of their set -- true love. They were happy and didn’t give a fuck about the moshing mongoloids orbiting their celestial body of careless bliss.
Somebody's guaranteed to get a fist or boot to the face at an Eyehategod show. We got a twofer! The person to get punched was Lamont, who didn't seem that mad about it when we chatted about it at the end of the show. Jimmy Bower evidently kicked a heckler during the band's set, which wasn't as crazy as some of the other times I've seen them, but still a worthy show. Austin got its first taste of new Eyehategod material in the form of "New Orleans is the New Vietnam," and it did not disappoint. About time they changed it up a bit. In classic form, they ran over the set time, which was good for the fans, but bad for the organizers. Allegedly, a dude was letting himself get Tasered during the band's set. That would have been a great addition to the stage show?
Question: Why doesn't Bobby Liebling have a style column yet in Decibel? (Or better yet, here? Bobby, get at us, dude!) Editorial dreams aside, Pentagram showed these young buck who's boss. The songs Pentagram played, mostly from Relentless, took on a new life now that Liebling has his partner in crime, Victor Griffin, back. Pentagram also performed a couple new songs from their forthcoming record Last Rites: "Call the Man" and "Treat Me Right." If this is a preview of what's to come, then h-o-l-y s-h-i-t! It's too bad they couldn't have fit any songs from Be Forewarned in their set, as "Petrified" and "Live Free and Burn" would have smoked. "When the Screams Come" closed out the set, and thus, my time at SXSW 2011. Who better to cap it all off then the doom legends themselves? A lot of screams came my way through the fest, and now I was ready for some much-needed silence.
Shout out to all the new and old friends we saw at SXSW – Carm, Rebecca, Will “The Rumor Mill” Hubbell, Fred “Rick Ross” Pessaro, Sam Marble, Headovmetal, Dave and Liz Brenner, Carl Schultz, Pellet, Bruce Lamont, “The Other Andy” Bonney, Kim “Wine and Coke” Kelly, Brandon Stosuy, Errol Schwiezer, Daine "Not Cook" Vineyard, Lev Weinstein, Chris Bruni, Laina Dawes, Aesop Dekker, Chris Weingarten, Stavros G., Darren Cowan, and everyone else who said hi to us!
A special note from Andy:
This day could have gone catastrophically different if a speck of a square had gotten into me. Sporting my Atlas Moth "Drop Acid, Not Bombs" shirt, I arrived at a brunch party in the wee hours of the morning (that’s noon for the non-Austinites) to meet up with some old friends from The Daily Texan. Not three minutes after I arrived, someone tried to hand me a hit of acid. Getting offered drugs is nothing new for me -- in fact, due to my overtly Hessian appearance, I have to accept it -- but the speed of which I was offered the bounties of Leary was astonishing. I, of course, declined, because I had professional responsibilities. This article would have been a lot more interesting had I been trying to engage in celestial tango with Bobby Liebling. Maybe Chris Bruni would have recorded my ramblings and released it as a spoken word album. I would probably have put my own non-coherance on my Top 10 List for 2011.
I hope my readers don’t hate me.