by Nate Abernethy
Photos by Alexandra Zimmerman
Following Red Fang’s massive show on Mohawk’s outdoor stage last week, inside things geared up as A. Sinclair and Otis The Destroyer prepared their dual EP release with opening band Chasca taking the stage thanks to 101X Homegrown Live. The crowd was almost entirely comprised of those there solely for the indoor show, and they showed up early and eager. I rarely see such a massive turn out before an opener has even gone on, and I quickly discovered why no one wanted to miss the first performance.
Chasca kicked off the night with what can only be described as Rocky Horror meets rock n’ roll. There was a solid front row presence that didn’t hide their enthusiasm or the fact that they were there solely for the San Marcos band. Let’s skip past the makeup and glam for now and address Chasca’s strongest trait: their seamless ability to transition genres with astonishing precision. Their first track “Tom O’ Bedlam” was reminiscent of ’70s era Bowie, (I could’ve sworn I heard a “Golden Years” riff in there), leading right into tastes of metal that my mother would describe as “Satan-worshipping sparkle.” As if to accentuate the point, their wailing devil-centric track “Nick The Dickens” came complete with a rocking bass line would cause Tenacious D to weep with pride. However, Chasca’s theatrics are not just merely entertaining, but they’re integrated brilliantly into the music instead of overshadowing it. Particularly memorable was glammed out lead singer JT Martin donning an army jacket and helmet, punctuating every drum roll by gunning down the audience with his flute during “So Long Crassus,” then demanding the audience drop to their knees as he crooned and commanded in the middle of “See You In Tea” with a mitre fit for only the most rocking of popes balanced atop his head. Despite merely opening for an elite roster, Chasca easily stole the show and was all anyone talked about at the end of the night.
Otis The Destroyer
Releasing their new EP Dark Arts, Otis The Destroyer clambered onto stage next. The remnants of The Couch feels familiar and fresh at the same time, as the band performed songs primarily from the EP with a few unreleased tracks, (and did I catch a Bowie cover?), mixed in. Although personally I still feel somewhere there’s a group of metal heads that have been robbed of a band name, there’s no denying Otis’s slow but steady growth since its formation. Decidedly more soulful than The Couch’s later entries, the band seems unafraid to experiment with their sound. The inside stage area of Mohawk quickly filled up as fans filed in to hear the EP premiere performed live. Heading straight into the new tracks, the restrained “Gravity Something” started things off; followed by the unreleased “Robot Hands” that had lead singer Taylor Wilkins’s old school bluesy flair seeping through as the crowd bounded about and rocked around. There were surprisingly no Couch song appearances, as the group seems intent on moving forward and shows no signs of slowing down as they build an impressive brand spankin’ new catalog of music. However the solid set seemed to end too soon as Otis chose to close things out with two remaining tracks from the EP: “You’re The Wealth”, which the band just released their first music video for, and the epic-length “Dark Arts” that showcases the bands forays into a more experimental sounds that keeps on rocking.
I recently reviewed A. Sinclair’s EP Pretty Girls, and was intrigued to see how certain tracks would fare in a live performance. In particular I had hoped the poppy sounds of “Pretty Girls and Pretty Tights” and “Suit Up” might be more cohesive with a live energy. While I found myself actually quite enjoying the slightly off kilter “Pretty Girls and Pretty Tights”, a track that had lacked any impact in its studio form, it was clear from the get go as the crowd emptied out that Sinclair’s more mellows sounds didn’t stand a chance following up Chasca and Otis The Destroyer’s performances.
A. Sinclair powered through and performed most of the EP’s new songs right out of the gate, with bassist Brendan Bond of Hello Caller beautifully harmonizing opposite Sinclair during “Shiny Things.” Energy slowly built through the set as they held back more familiar material towards the end, but Sinclair has been in this business long enough to know that it takes a few times for a new venture to catch on. Despite the dwindling crowd the band continued to deliver an incredible performance of my personal favorite from the new EP, “Throwing Up On The Ground,” which seemed to recapture the audience’s attention if even for a brief moment. All in all, the night was chock full of fantastic performances that proved how skilled Sinclair can be with a guitar in his hands, explored Otis The Destroyer’s adept experimentation with genres and showcased Chasca’s well executed theatrics and songwriting.