I'm going to write up reviews for each day. I already did Tuesday in my High on Fire set list
. I bolded the names of the bands in the order I saw them if that makes sense...
The only thing that my lady really wanted to see at SXSW this year was Tycho
, so the best time it seemed to catch him was Wednesday at 1:15pm over at Red 7. They had some free giveaways and free beer so we got there before noon to get in line and got into the venue with no problem. The first two bands were some hipster indie stuff that I found to be quite boring. Tycho
was a really interesting live show if you like ambient electronic music. After that we went and grabbed some pizza from a wood burning pizza oven food truck and then she went home while I headed to ND Studios for the Pitchfork Show No Mercy day party. Since Rwake had to cancel their SXSW appearances this year they moved Pallbearer to the headlining slot of the show. When I arrived Mutilation Rites and Pilgrim had already played and KEN Mode
was on stage. This Canadian band plays a mix of post hardcore noise rock with a sludge bend that would appeal to fans of stuff that could range from Soilent Green to Dillinger Escape Plan. I actually only caught their last song, but I would later see a full set from them Friday night.
played next and was one of the bands I was really looking forward to seeing. Their post-black metal borders on shoegaze at times, but ultimately retains a pretty raw black heart despite a clean production aesthetic. If Deafheaven on record does not entertain you their live show is not going to win you over; but existing fans of their material would really enjoy their scathing show. The day continued to provide a broad mix of sub-genres with the epic sludgy riffing of Black Tusk
. These guys are always a blast and put on a great show. Their set included Brewing The Storm, Bring Me Darkness
, Set The Dial To Your Doom and Red Eyes Black Skies
. After Black Tusk finished I briefly chatted with metal journalist Grim Kim Kelly, she was in town slinging merch for COC and also on a SXSW music panel. I know some people online don’t care for her, but she has always been genuinely nice whenever I’ve talked to her at shows.
The Atlas Moth
from Chicago were the next to play. Their set included several songs from last year’s excellent An Ache For The Distance
. The venue had some kind of video artists doing some really cool projections on one of the walls of the venue which went really well with some of the more psychedelic elements
of The Atlas Moth’s set.
The final set of this day party would be the first of three Pallbearer
shows I ended up seeing this week and that was not by accident. With their excellent debut full length out this year these guys are poised to be the new kings of American doom metal. Both brutally heavy and beautifully haunting
, Pallbearer are a near religious experience to witness for those that worship at the altar of doom. During the beginning there were issues with their bass guitar amp head so the first song of the set was played without bass. They sorted out the issue before delving into their second song and the rest of the set sounded really good. I’m not sure how long the guys of Pallbearer have been playing together but they lock in with each other like a veteran touring band.
With that the show was over and my friend and I had to decide where we wanted to stand in line for the night show. He had missed the High on Fire show the night before and also really wanted to see Nachtmystium and I was interested in catching Intronaut for the first time; so we got in line at Barbarella for the MetalSucks showcase. We first lined up at the front door and were about the fourth and fifth in line and people started showing up behind us pretty quickly. Before long we were told that since the metal show was on the back patio that the line would be moved to the alley. Luckily the bouncer just told us at the front quietly so we could make our way around the building real quick and hold our front spots before the rest of the line could just bum rush the new entrance. As this was an official SXSW showcase they initially only allowed in badge holders and then wristband purchasers next through most of Monstro’s set. Eventually official SXSW staff did a headcount and they figured out how many tickets they could actually sell at the door and we got in for $13 as Monstro finished their last song. Next the young kids of Holy Grail
played some serious old school thrash with metal vests worn as armor with a flurry of guitars and hair. They were alright. Rob of Metal Injection was shooting HD videos of at least a few of the bands, so hopefully some of that video shows up on their site this week.
Onto the second Black Tusk
performance of the day. I’m pretty sure they played an identical set, but they sounded as good as they could at this place and I took some much needed sit down time. The price of beer at this place was totally out of control, which ultimately worked in my favor because it limited to me only one all night. The unfortunate thing about some of the venues during SXSW is that they are not always music venues and are somewhat thrown together, therefore not resulting in the best sound. After struggling through a soundcheck with a lot of feedback issues Intronaut
eventually took the stage. They opened with The Literal Black Cloud
, which I know could have sounded really excellent fell a little flat with the sound that this venue could muster. I would really love the chance to see them again at a better venue. Nachtmystium
were up next and while they also were having some serious problems with sound as well they were able to just power through with ripping black metal that incited some of the first real pits of the night. Their set included Assassins, Addicts, Ashes To Ashes, Hellish Overdose
and Ghosts Of Grace.
Washington DC’s Darkest Hour
thrashing set of melodic death metal brought the biggest pits of the night to the floor. Amongst other songs they played Savor The Kill, Violent By Nature, No God
and With A Thousand Words To Say But One. Frontman John Henry really knows how to command a crowd. Finally the house was packed with quite a few non metal SXSW badge holders that had clearly caught wind that High On Fire
was well worth checking out. Unfortunately the sound problems came back with full force and after another long sound check Matt Pike and company hit the stage close to 1am. Vocals cut out a bit but the sound eventually got better over the course of a few songs. I was exhausted after seeing 3 new songs as well as Devilution before I headed home to pass out since I had to work the next day.