Show Review: Megafauna at Empire Control Room

by Joel Greatbatch

Photos by Richard Hoang


Austin’s own Megafauna have been steadily gaining attention since their 2010 release Larger Than Human, and now with their recently released fourth album Welcome Home they are on another live music journey to share the fire and finesse of their recent release.

“We are a power trio from Austin, Texas. We melt faces” is what their description says on their website, and live in concert it’s a declaration they deliver on. The band held an album release show on June 11th at Empire Control Room & Garage, but with another 11(!!!) acts on the bill it was more of an album release festival. Luckily the establishment’s multiple stages eliminates the case of that number of acts having to wait in one line.

The outside stage is where Megafauna were to rock, and they were preceded by the blues and electric infused folk of The Warplanes, the absorbing post punk energy of Young Tongue and the self-proclaimed jungle rock of Migrant Kids. Each have a distinct sound and style from each other, serving as great introductions to a band who also don’t operate on one singular level.

When Megafauna began the usual onstage commotion of getting all your beloved instruments and gadgets in working order, the distinct sounds of the night were also reflected in the distinct look of each of the Megafauna members. Elegant frontwoman Dani Neff strode on with tastefully dyed purple hair and blue short dress with white dots upon it while well-mustachioed bassman Will Krause looked like a fabulously long haired Tom Selleck in sleeveless shirt and jean shorts, new guitarist Winston Barrett appeared as the everyman member with t-shirt and fedora, and long white haired drummer Zack Humphrey would appear as a slightly intimidating fantasy movie character if not for his smiles and friendly disposition. As they were about to start they came together in a huddle, the four becoming one, and although there was no NBA style hand raising from the middle, they looked set to go.


It started with the increasing hum of a guitar feeding back, drums starting to slam out a rhythm underneath it, and then a wall of Zeppelin style riffery coming to the fore. A formidable noise but not needless sounding noise, it was infused with an engaging melodic intent, further steadied by the entry of Dani’s cool and crisp voice. And cool and crisp the weather was not. It was a typically humid Austin evening and both Will and Zack’s sleeveless attire now looked rather sensible. It was only a few songs in that sweat began to dutifully expire from each of those on stage as well as us in the faithful crowd below.

While they played a number of tracks from their increasing back catalog, they relevantly played a number from the new album Welcome Light, with its opening track “Desire” getting a dealing to, the dreamy but sturdy chorus of “Panpsychist” keeping things different, and the initial tinkles of “Don’t Ask Questions” eventually drifting into Dani busting up some righteous guitar licks. Every time she picked out a quick burst of guitar solo skills it was always met by an appreciative roar and throwing up of goats from many dudes in the audience. Though she was often not alone in her lead guitar soloing, with Will and Winston often joining in with their own guitar fret noodling alongside the serpentine sound coming from Dani’s own guitar. Introducing a song named “Monster Sleeping” piqued my curiosity of how a monster actually sleeps. Their explanation was through gnarly guitar chops, cookie monster with drum sticks in hand, eventually a huge crescendo of guitars to what sounded like the end of the song, a crowd clapping its apparent conclusion, and then being brought down with a lullaby of soft guitars and vocal melodies. It’s a great experience to hear a song title and its music match before your ears.


And that’s what can sum up the night really. Life is a multi-dimension of  varied events, people and material, not a single file of the same old thing, and Megafauna and their fellow acts provided a fine musical interpretation of that. At the close Dani said to “stick around for Blockhead”, and it’s cool when a “headliner” reminds you you’re not here just to hear them, but to hear what Austin music provides as a whole. Well done.

Check out Joel’s interview with Megafauna here, and Brian J. Audette’s review of their album Welcome Home here.

Joel Greatbatch is a Kiwi, but please don’t eat him.