Arts Desk

SXSW Recap: Friday

Medications: When Medications performed at Fort Reno a few years back, I told drummer/bassist Chad Molter that I thought his band's new songs sounded sort of like mid-'70s Fleetwood Mac, in a good way. I'm not sure he really liked hearing that, though. At any rate, when they played Friday, at this funky art-space/theater, the new songs were a bit more heavier and more progressive. So, maybe more like Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac?

Earthless w/ J Mascis: The San Diego-based psych-rock trio, augmented here by Dinosaur Jr guitarist J. Mascis, basically improvised a 30-minute space-rock crescendo that never stopped, it just got louder and louder.

Metallica: Metallica is pretty much the last of the superhuman mega-bands, at least in my opinion. Any personal obligations that they might have as grown men with families seem totally secondary to their lives as rock stars. Metallica will always go the extra mile for rock. Like, if you're sick and dying and you love Metallica, I feel like there's still a chance they would show up in your hospital room and surprise you with an autographed guitar. Not a lot of bands will do that anymore, certainly not a lot of the bands playing at SXSW. But the line was long–all the way around the block–so I skipped the show.

Eagle Twin: DC might be where I live, but Salt Lake City will always be my hometown. And Salt Lake City only really has three nationally recognized musical acts: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Osmonds, and Iceburn, the now defunct progressive-atonal-jazz-metal band. So, I kind of feel like it's my duty to listen to any Iceburn related project that drifts my way. Guitarist Gentry Densley's duo Eagle Twin was performing over at the Southern Lord showcase, so I went to check it out. It was heavy, of course. Three giant Earth amplifiers and a drummer who pummeled his kit with every ounce of his body-weight. Watching Eagle Twin, it occurred to me that Utah–with its mountains, wastelands, toxic weapon testing ranges, and relatively affordable rent–must be a pretty great habitat for heavy metal.

Mi Ami: My second Mi Ami show of the trip, this time at Touch & Go showcase. Awesome show. The New York Times agrees, apparently. So was Captain Morgan, who strutted through the club doling out shots of rum and greasing the party vibe. This seemed weird at first, given that Daniel Martin-McCormick was screaming his head off and beating his guitar to death on stage. But given Mi Ami's swampy and sub-tropical vibe, the Captain's presence made a little bit of sense, or at least more sense than, say, Bartles & Jaymes.

Wino: There must have been some sort of band/gear screw-up, because Wino–the Maryland stoner-guitar hero–wound up having to perform a solo acoustic set. Maybe he couldn't get that Orange speaker-cab securely strapped to his Harley. He seemed a little grumpy about it too, or maybe it was just that the intimacy of his performance didn't pair very well with Emo's monster PA, which was constantly feeding back. Wino made due, though, plucking out a few adequately furious songs, despite the circumstances.

All The Saints: Initially, I liked All The Saint's Fire On Corridor X because it tapped in to several things I had forsaken, like early Verve records, and made them seem cool again. But the live show was something else, something heavier and angier. Eventually guitarist Matt Lambert jammed his guitar into the blades of the ceiling fan and that was is. So ended, barring unforeseen circumstances, the final Touch & Go label showcase. But between All The Saints an Mi Ami, not a bad way to go out.

Major Stars: Major Stars played so loud that I felt like the PA was pounding my face in, sort of like that scene from The Godfather where Sonny trounces Carlo. Eventually I admitted defeat, backed off, and took a seat outside of the fray. So yeah, victory for Major Stars, who played a brutal three-guitar psych rock. The audience may have maxed-out in the low 20s, but that didn't stop Wayne Rodgers from rocketing back-and-forth across the stage amid squealing and screeching guitar solos. Kind of wanted to check out the late night Dinosaur Jr show, but after this, there really wasn't much point.

Crystal Stilts: Watched two songs and got sleepy, so I called it a night. Guess I'll catch them in DC.

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