Austin! It's a place that's become part of my plans over the past few years, because WFMU has been hosting a showcase with Aquarius Records regularly. I come for the music, and take away stories that are more interesting than watching a couple of bands and having someone puke on my shoes. At least the puke part didn't happen this year!! I arrived on Tuesday, after getting my bearings, some BBQ and listening to Motorhead soundcheck over at Stubb's, I sat down and made my skeleton plan for a week in Austin!
Wednesday I was out of the gate to EMO's to catch Dark Castle as my first band of this holiday. A crushing 2-piece from FL, they did not disappoint with their sludgy black riffs. I vowed to see them again this week. The rest of the afternoon at Emo's shaped up this way (at least what I saw): the all out assault that is Landmine Marathon, Salome - great crust/doom, Withered (vocalist Mike pictured right)- sinister and cold at it's best, Fucked Up (with a special appearance by Killah Priest and 9th Prince because GZA didn't make it), and Torche (pic left) closing out the day with their unique brand of "Godzilla does pop" - yay! I gobbled down a turkey dog with wasabi mustard and onions while walking and then prepared for the evening. It was already the highlight of my week - Montreal's VOIVOD is playing twice tonight- and the sun hadn't gone down yet! Voivod sighting #1 was at the Austin Music Hall (photograph of Snake, Away, and Blacky below), where my sonic metal heroes took the stage to a paltry crowd, slugging their way through a feverish set in front of Motorhead's backdrop. Michael Monroe followed with some solo material and Hanoi Rocks songs, with an athletic stage performance, a dive into the photo pit and Ginger from the Wildhearts on guitar! Austin never filled their music hall that evening, so I got to see Lemmy and his Rickenbacker closer than I have been in a long time, playing Iron Fist, I Got Mine, Stay Clean amongst my faves. I scooted out of there a bit early to catch Voivod set #2 at Red 7 across town!
One of my Relapse label faves; Tombs, hear a live set from them here; was exiting the stage when I got to Red 7, Brian Posehn (below)- the dead guy in the Cheap Trick shirt in The Devil's Rejects had some fun deviant humor to offer the crowd that were definitely foaming at the mouth waiting for Voivod (SXSW sighting #2 - yes I'm definitely keeping track!). Warmed up after their show across town, Voivod, spit, shook, stormed, stomped and massacred the crowd! Opening with "Voivod," and playing a prime set featuring "The Unknown Knows", "The Prow", "Brain Scan" and "Astronomy Domine", there was no doubt in anyone's mind about if Voivod was still up to par - many hadn't seen them perform since guitarist Piggy's death in 2005. The guy who was standing up front next to me's head was bleeding, I was about 1/4 inch from Blacky's bass headstock at one point and there was stage diving on top of stage diving. It felt like 1987 again! I walked back to my car past the great signage of Club DeVille (right), and headed for...leftover BBQ - the only way to close out the day!
Thursday I started off the day by interviewing AWAY from Voivod for my program - airing on April 22nd, tune in- it's great, I promise! Afterwards I wandered over to Hoek's Death Metal Pizza for a set by Coffinworm; dissonant and sludgy, on a sunny patio, let's eat! I got over to the college area of town, to take a look at the Daniel Johnston wall, and to check out some of my other favorite local signage. Next stop: Encore, to see The Brought Low, who've just released their latest cd: "3". Later on, venue: Prague, became my destination. The club was tricked out with candles, crosses, gargoyles, a psychedelic tv screen/system and Cheetah Chrome and Sylvain Sylvain paired together in their new endeavor: The Batusis! Pounding through Batusis, Dead Boys and NY Dolls material, the band (pictured left) went over like free money in the packed house! The crowd swelled up to full capacity for Jim Jones Revue to see Thee Hypnotics ex-frontman with his latest band, and most stayed to see Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds. I scampered back to Encore for the close of the Small Stone showcase and Austin's own Dixie Witch (right), nailing a great set of their thickly riffed, soulful rock. New Orleans' Goatwhore closed out the evening at Headhunters; I got their late and they were already aurally raping the crowd with their vicious southern black metal with songs old and from their latest release on the Metal Blade label "Carving Out the Eyes of God". Mmmm, happy Easter! Part II of my Austin adventure to be posted next week! In the meantime, you can check out all my photos from SXSW on Flickr!