SXSW 2011: Day SixPosted 04/19/2011 06:04AM by explodinginsound as Show Review
Sunday finally arrived, and with it the last day of SXSW. While the festival officially ends each year on Saturday, those who know better stick around for one last day of shows. The selection isn't nearly as overwhelming as the other days, with only a handful of clubs putting on showcases but it's worth it for someone like me that is attempting to see so many bands with not nearly enough time in the week to see everyone.
I headed bright and early to Beerland for the annual Panache Booking "Hangover Breakfast" showcase to catch San Francisco's Burnt Ones. The trio plays a woozy brand of psychedelic garage rock, which pretty much set the tone for the day. I first heard the band shortly before last year's SXSW, but unfortunately due to van issues they failed to make the Killredrocketrecords showcase. This year, however, the band was there and ready to rock. Their lo-fi, reverb drenched songs are perfect for singing along with, as they played many songs from their full length debut Black Teeth and Golden Tongues including the infectious "Gonna Listen To T. Rex (All Night Long)" and the retro JAMC-esque "Bury Me In Smoke."
(photo by Dave Spak)
Next I headed over to see Austin shoegaze heavyweights Ringo Deathstarr, who had inconveniently changed their set time and left me unprepared for what to see next. I made my way over to Headhunters all day showcase where a Spanish band called Lüger were playing a raw psychedelic space rock jam that was pretty cool. The five piece band cites Hawkwind as a major influence, and it's no surprise when you hear them. Their mind expanding hallucinogenic music is almost entirely instrumental with occasional vocals echoing through the mix, with no trace of hooks or verses. The band's second percussionist is what truly made them stand out, however, as he bashed on what looked like an aluminum sheet held up like a keyboard, making an awesome layer of noise and denting the living hell out of in the process.
(photo by Spak)
Heading back over to Beerland, we arrived in time to see Nashville, TN dynamic duo Turbo Fruits and their partners in crime Pujol. Turbo Fruits went on first, tearing out their jangly garage pop with punk rock enthusiasm. The band was loose and having a good time, as they cranked their guitars through the sludge blues of "Volcano," the quirky and unbelievably catchy "Mama's Mad Cos I Fried My Brain," and eventual closer "Broadzilla." The band's mixture of stoner rock and 60's guitar pop is the kind of thing that needs to be witnessed live for full effect as the solos bleed into your consciousness while the guys fully engage the crowd in the fun.
(photo by Spak)
Pujol went on next with a similar spirit but a decidedly more lo-fi and less riff heavy set. The quartet brings their fair share of noisy guitars, but the songs have a further reaching sense of nostalgia and classic garage rock tone. Their punk rock charm was in full effect as they played the infectious "Butterflyknife," the good time snarl of "Black Rabbit," and the surf rock tinged "Keeper of Atlantis." I can't wait for the band to release their next full length, as they are absolutely a band to watch out for in the future.
(photo by Spak)
Back over at Headhunters, Grass Is Green were playing the last of their eight SXSW performances, and delivered a raw set as always for the generally exhausted audience. The band seemed to pick up on the sluggishness of the afternoon, playing a slow downed version of their track "Gallery Place" which they had renamed "Sludge Gallery." The alternate take was heavy with overdriven grunge styled guitars, providing incredible counterpoint for their mathy post-punk approach. The guys played several new songs from their sophomore effort Chibimoon including the title track and the scathing closer "Dark Horse."
(photo by Spak)
Closing out SXSW was the annual Radar Recordings "Goodbye South By" showcase at Emo's, and while Constants were sadly missing from the bill, their friends in Caspian, Junius, Mose Giganticus and more made up for their absence. Bridge Farmers opened the show, and may have been one of my favorite new discoveries of the week. The guys' sludgy metal meets psychedelic grunge is always dark and hazy, though varying greatly in intensity. The band opened with the explosive demolishing of "Ummo," a long winding alternative metal song with enormous shouted vocals and blazing guitar riffs that would make Kim Thayil proud. The Austin locals strayed into calmer territory on "Equus," though never lost momentum as their warped riffs became increasingly hypnotic and consistently more stoned.
Heading inside to Emo's Jr., Austin psych rockers Shapes Have Fangs were taking the stage to a packed house. The band recently released their debut album Dinner in the Dark on The Black Angels' own Reverberation Appreciation Society, and it's pretty clear to see why The Angels are big fans. The quartet played with so much fuzz it's amazing their melodies are so bright. This is psych pop loaded with noise and feel-good rhythms that will make you want to dance. The band had the crowd moving as they rocked through Stooges on acid inspired garage anthem "Dinner in the Dark," new song "Under The Bridge," a cover of Wanda Jackson's classic "Funnel of Love," and closer ""Shapes Theme / Only Blood." Expect to hear a lot from Shapes Have Fangs over the next few years.
Back on the main stage I got to see Junius for the second time of the festival, and this performance made their other show look like a rehearsal. Maybe I was just standing closer, or perhaps the sound system at Emo's is superior to Valhalla's, but for whatever reason, Junius came and conquered. With their own lighting creating a dark red ambiance over the entire venue from low on the stage, the band ripped through a crushing set opening with "Birthrights by Torchlight," before breaking out their Hum cover "Firehead" to enthusiastic cheers from the audience. The guys have made that song their own, and it sounds phenomenal in the Junius catalog. With everyone transfixed on their beautiful and crushing carnage, the band treated fans to Martyrdom favorites "Elisheva, I Love You" and "Stargazers and Gravediggers" before closing with the old yet impressively mighty "Forcing Out the Silence."
(photo by Spak)
Mose Giganticus took the stage next, playing a brutally metallic set of their synth featured metal. Gang shouted vocals and occasional vocoder effects make the band unique, and the set the stage for fellow Relapse Records band Tombs who came next with their doom and hardcore assault on eardrums that were already long overworked for the week. My ears rang for three days after SXSW had ended, and while I'll miss those pitches, it was well worth it.
(photo by Spak)
Caspian closed the festival in grand fashion, playing post rock so furiously beautiful it's mesmerizing. Listening to their albums really doesn't compare to seeing them live, as the guys move with orchestral precision while throwing themselves around the stage during intense crescendos. There are few that can create such tension in post rock's soft-to-loud dynamics as well as Caspian, and watching lead guitarist Philip Jamieson in action is unreal. The man towers over the stage, putting his entire body into the music, proving why Caspian are one of the genre's most revered bands. The band opened with "La Cerva" and closed with an all-star drum jam during "Sycamore" and kept the fans jaws dropped the entire time. The perfect closing to an absolutely amazing week.