by Morgan Davis Photos by Photography by Carlos J. Matos
It’s always disappointing to walk into a show and notice the room has more photographers than paying crowd members. Such was the case Monday for Odonis Odonis’ show at Mohawk, despite the hefty buzz the Toronto trio has attracted on the basis of their excellent new record Hard Boiled Soft Boiled. Still, the minimal turnout didn’t have much of an impact on the performances of the three bands compiled for the bill, as each turned in ferocious performances that made it clear that for the few people who came out, Mohawk was a much better place to be than ACL Live.
Local punk quartet Super Thief kicked the night off with a particularly action-packed set as they unveiled a few new songs not featured on their unfortunately overlooked album Faded. Super Thief aren’t your average punk band, they mix in elements of a multitude of bands and scenes from the indie and hardcore heyday of the mid-’80s to early ’90s, from the Husker Du meets Superchunk guitar style of frontman Cody Kimbell to the Jesus Lizard plus Nirvana attack of the rhythm section. But they’re best experienced live, where the juxtaposition of Cody Kimbell’s gonzo slacker persona (complete with Hunter S. Thompson style hat tonight) and the violent chaos of his bandmates makes for a maelstrom of weird energy. Jay Dillick is the band’s not-so-secret weapon, a drummer equally capable of creative fills and anchoring the chaos that surrounds him at all times on stage. The band has only grown tighter since Faded and whatever they release next will undoubtedly be worth checking out.
The biggest surprise of the evening was Shockwave Riderz, a Pittsburgh trio with a silly name that doesn’t quite fit their unique sound. Combining live drums with an array of synths and samplers all in service of Sara Mac’s stunning noir pop vocals, Shockwave Riderz come across as a hybrid of the Kills and Broadcast. Mac is a commanding frontwoman with impressive control who knows exactly when to elevate her voice above the din of electronics and acoustic rhythms and when to dial it back and ride the groove. The band doesn’t have too many songs available at the moment, but “Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway,” a standout from the set, anchors the 12” they released last year. That song serves as a pretty convenient sampler of what the band is all about, with its looping psych-garage guitar riff and the layers and layers of percussion floating around Mac’s enchanting voice. “Young Love” shows off the band’s Kills side though it’s worth pointing out that it had a lot more muscle to it live, where Phil Boyd’s tribal beat made the most of Mohawk’s soundsystem.
Though Shockwave Riderz had raised the bar pretty high, Odonis Odonis definitely didn’t disappoint. Hard Boiled Soft Boiled is notable for how unpredictable it is, shifting between various points of the indie spectrum with abandon, with unlikely sounds emerging from all corners. Going in, my biggest concern was that Hard Boiled Soft Boiled’s sound was due to quite a bit of studio trickery, but Odonis Odonis immediately proved that was an unnecessary worry. The set leaned on Odonis Odonis’ heavier work, which fit the mood of the evening, and the band attacked songs like “Order in the Court” with a perverse glee that truly did justice to the recordings. Tracks like “New Obsession,” one of the album’s best moments, felt absolutely huge live and you got the feeling that if the crowd had been just a bit bigger, they would have felt even bigger. More dynamic songs like “Breathing Hard” functioned as excellent breathing moments between the band’s more intense offerings and it was easy to tell that Odonis Odonis have a great handle on expressing the multiple facets of their sonic identity. Maybe next time, Austin will do a better job of welcoming that identity.