What day is it? Friday? Are you sure? OK, well I guess that means I’ve got Front Bottoms at the Palm Door on 6th at 8 … holy crap! Is that a parking space opening up on the street?! Jackpot!
Indeed I did find an on-the-street parking space and indeed I did go to see Front Bottoms at the Palm Door. I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of Front Bottoms really, but I dig what they do. Probably the only thing holding me back from being more into them is that I’m already really into a couple other bands that kinda have the same sound and that are slightly more tuned to my taste. The bands I’m referring to are Dismemberment Plan (except for the most recent album) and All Get Out. All three bands have that sort of nasally vocal delivery and post emo indie rock sound, but I feel like Front Bottoms veer a little bit more in the Weezer direction in terms of approachability and lyrics. This is definitely not a bad thing and they put on a good show, but like I said, it’s just a teensy bit out of tune for my “I love this band!” frequency.
My next pick (and my number one for the night) was across the street at the Dirty Dog Bar, hardcore powerhouse Mutoid Man.
Featuring Ben Koller (of Converge) and Stephen Brodsky (of Cave In), Mutoid Man is the most recent side project for these two metalcore legends. As a fan of both bands and of all Brodsky’s various undertakings over the past two decades, I was psyched for Mutoid Man’s recent album release and even more psyched to see them on the SXSW lineup this year. As a testament to their two decades of experience, Mutoid Man played an extremely tight, face melting set and even found time to cover Black Sabbath and Cave In, making my night more than complete.
After that it was time for something a little different so George and I headed over to the Swan Dive patio (which belonged to Barbarella last year) to check out Ringo Deathstarr.
If you’re looking for shoegaze in Austin, Ringo Deathstarr bring the noise in classic My Bloody Valentine fashion. I’ve been a fan of this band for a little while now, but especially after the release of their 2nd LP, which draws heavily from MBV and similar shoegaze icons. While I definitely dig their music and they play it well live, both times I’ve seen Ringo Deathstarr live I’ve come away with one comment: turn the amps down. I find it telling that it was Ringo and not Mutoid Man that had me wishing I’d brought ear plugs last night. For a band that has so much layering in instrumentation and vocals, it’s a shame to have it drowned out by pointless noise.
Our next stop of the night was a quick jaunt across the alley to Red 7’s patio where Perfect Pussy was playing.
I have to be honest and say that my only reason to see this band was to debunk the hype. Before I ever heard them I had noticed some buzz around Perfect Pussy through various punk, mainstream, and SXSW channels and my first reaction to any band getting a lot of attention is, “Is it deserved?” Hailing from Syracuse, NY and with only a 4 song demo to their name, Perfect Pussy should just be another noise punk band and yet they’re praised on the SXSW page as “one of the boldest and most intriguing projects to surface in recent years” and Pitchfork considers them a rising star. Lyrically there’s definitely something going on here, but musically I can list a dozen bands that do and have sounded just like this for decades. The only reason I can see for people noticing them is that lead singer Meredith Graves looks way more like a pixie than a riot grrrl. I don’t mean that as a dig on Graves (you do whatever you want girl, that’s what punk is about); rather, it’s a dig on the sexist leanings of mainstream media. My feelings about what the mainstream thinks aside (we’ll revisit this in a future Out of Step) I wasn’t impressed with Perfect Pussy. They only played four songs, Graves was unable to both emote physically and sing directly into the mic at the same time, and everything was so amped that any art in the noise was lost in the wash. Perfect Pussy may well become a force to reckon with, but in this punk’s opinion, they’re not there yet.
By this time of the night, the rest of our crew had washed out. After an apparently epic meal and with Chris battling a sore throat, they decided to call it a night. With nothing in my 12am slot and a 1am artist that I can also catch tonight, George and I decided to chuck as well and recoup for our upcoming final day of SXSW music.
– Brian Audette