March 28, 2011


Batillus at SXSW
Batillus at Broken Neck, 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.

"Free" is one of those words that shares the same kind of reactionary quality as "terrorist," "Justin Bieber" or "Blake Judd." It completely strips people of any rationality they may have had. The BrooklynVegan/Feed the Beat party knew this well. Free Taco Bell? A touring band's dream come true. Free Sailor Jerry's and Sparks? Intense surges lead to intense crashes (as Andy learned the hard way.) Free raw food bars? You can be a freeloader without the guilt!

Andy, having arrived in Austin a day before Van, made this his first stop. The following is his account.

Deafheaven made me do a double-take when I saw them. Dischord poster models playing black metal? It works, though. And it works well. They've filled the void that Wolves in the Throne Room left once it became apparent their image couldn't take them everywhere. They use the repetitive nature of the tremelo pick, the workhorse of black metal, to emphasize a meditative quality not found in many black metal bands. Vocalist George LeSage has a searing yell and a confrontation glare in his eye. One to watch for the remainder of the year.

Coming in as a huge fan of The Secret’s most recent record, Solve et Coagula, they lived up to all my expectations. All the ghouls of D-beat, crust and death metal came back to life once their amps were on. Happy hour hadn't set in and my ears were already ringing.

KEN Mode at SXSW

KEN mode were also a pleasantly noisy surprise. Never mind that vocalist/guitarist Jesse Matthewson's black cowboy hat may have led to well-intentioned (if completely wrongheaded) recommendations to Austin's overhyped County Line and Chuy's restaurants, the band let out a fortified attack of metallic noise rock. Everyone looked real into the set, especially bassist Thérèse Lanz.

Austin transplant Dax Riggs served as a palette cleanser for the day. His affiliation with Acid Bath (RIP) will forever link him to metal, but he's all about blues and country these days. Sunglasses are cool indoors as long as you're Dax Riggs. Trash Talk put on a relatively calm set, and I say that because a few days later they would be hurling trash cans at Fader Fort. Kylesa sounded great, but given that I was sailing away on that Sailor Jerry’s, I can’t give you an honest assessment of them.

Broken Neck Brigade

My boy Carmelo "Anthony" Espanola and I decided $25 was an awful lot to pay for hardcore supergroup Arson Anthem, so we took the No. 4 bus down to The Broken Neck, a skate/punk squat in East Austin. The venue is surprisingly conducive to doom metal, and not just because it's BYOB. The bill for the evening was quite stacked.

Long-time readers will recognize former 'cake publisher Geoff Summers behind the kit for of New York's Batillus, whose industrial creep tied the evening together. The YouTube clips I've seen don’t hold a candle to how huge this band sounds live. Even if vocalist Fade Kainer had a crew cut and Brooks Brothers swag, his commanding howl shrieks “Don't fuck with me.” When Furnace is released to the public, it will slay you all.

I cannot get into Hull on record, but live, their three-guitar attack sounds beefy. Prog rock with an emphasis on the rock. They were also filming a video, and had a camera attached to the headstock on one of the guitars. I'm eager to see how that turns out.

Los Angeles' Green and Wood had Skeletonwitch's old bassist and an even older sound. Signed to Austin's Cyclopean Records, their '70s rock revival is more convincing than most. Royal Thunder also had the honor of being one of the mellower acts on the bill. A bit too mellow, perhaps -- my coming down demanded more heavy, not lightness.

Skycrawler had an interesting blend of synths and doom, but by then, I was getting impatient for Dark Castle. Aside from some push-shove, showers-not-growers in the audience, the Floridian doom duo did not disappoint. Their sound tore through the room and through my soul. Were the amps screaming with me or at me? Cannot wait for their new record.

Dark Castle at SXSW

One day down, three more to go.

1 comment:

Andrew Wilhelm said...

Dos XX guy supports Deafheaven: