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Music with Jameson & Lone Star at SXSW 2009: Day 1 (Golden Cities, Innoculist, Iron Age, Mammoth Grinder, and The Jon Benet )

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Whereupon I learned three things:

One - Walgreen’s batteries suck!
Two - My satchel’s HOA sharktooth button will survive anything.
Third - I look like a complete and utter indie rock pussy to doormen.

I arrived to Austin sans posse. One of my peeps caught a bad bout of food poisoning and wouldn’t arrive until Thursday leaving me pretty much on my own for the day. So after consulting the night’s shows the way I figured it was, if I wanted to take in some hardcore, this was likely the night to do it. But first a little indie rock over at Jay Crossley’s Human Party Virus.

Now, I’ll say that my allergies were kicking my ass and my allergies don’t so much make me sneeze but make me tired and drive like the worst drunk on the road. So, there I was trying to find HPV’s venue, realized it was at the sports bar across the street with the huge wide screen TVs, and, being completely zonked on tree and grass pollen, fond myself turned around and inexplicably heading east on 6th street onto oncoming traffic. Mercifull,y I made it across the street with nary more than angry honks from annoyed locals.

The venue itself, I have to say, was a bit odd. A slick if saccharine sports bar in a faceless shopping center where the patrons (thanks to thick glass) went about their business inside as a small cluster of indie rock fans sat outside. The first band up was Golden Cities whose live performance gave me exactly what I expected - a much fuller and bigger sound than their CD could have contained. I don’t know why but bands like this just work better live that trapped inside a little shiny disc. I have the same issue with Japan’s Mono where I like the CDs all right but live they are phenomenal; Golden Cities is no different. What I think sets them apart from most of the shoegazers is the interplay between the drums and the other instruments. There are these points where guitars and keyboards drift in reverb and the drums flicker about in tight complex rhythms. It’s just a great juxtaposition of sounds and just points to why Lance Higdon is one of Houston’s best and most versatile drummers. Nice.

Inoculinst followed which was a treat as I hadn’t seen them since, jeez, since they played the Proletariat. The band is now a trio and I have to say I really liked how John Hunter’s baritone found it’s perfect compliment with Ashlyn Davis’ soft understated voice though the drummer kept freaking me out as he kept making faces that had him looking like the spitting image of The Band’s Levon Helm. The music was perfect for my red eyed zonked state with that same kind of laid back country-ish vibe you get from the self-titled 1969 Velvet Underground album. Nice stuff and, if I may say so, I really have to say I really enjoyed the new line-up over the original one.

So here is where I get to the batteries. See, I tried taking pics here and then the camera went and died. Crap what the hell? Had my Kodak finally gone to meet its maker? Did Golden Cities create some force field? Well, no actually. See I was talking with Danny Mee about Houston music. He was saying how he thought that Houston Indie Rock bands had one disadvantage and that was production. He thought Austin bands albums sound great while Houston bands sound, by comparison flat. I won’t get into the discussion here because the point isn’t to get into a Houston VS Austin thing but I’ll just say it’s an interesting view but I simply don’t agree. Anyhow, while we’re talking he asks if I have any spare AA batteries so I hand him two. Well, thankfully that happened because Angela ‘s camera also stopped working and a quick look via her IPhone found that Walgreen’s batteries are crap. They pump out too much juice and basically overload your camera. Sure enough, after the show I bought some branded batteries (and some much needed Claratin D) and voila my camera came back to life. So if you are a photographer or just play one on TV - DON’T BUY WALGREEN’S BATTERIES.

OK, enough consumer reports shit. Now that I was finally not about die from my allergies and I was armed with real batteries for my camera - hardcore! So here is the funny thing. I walk up to the doorman with my hat and satchel, present my ID like everyone in front of me and he looks at me and says, “Umm what band are you looking for?”

I’m a bit confused but reply, “Mammoth Grinder.”

He looks at me again, pauses, mumbles an “Um oh OK, I just thought….”, and then trails off unintelligibly. Yes that’s right the doorman took one look at me and thought PUSSY! So, then he hands me the ID back with this look of pity like I’m gonna come out is a stretcher or something AWESOMENESS!

Well, when I come in Iron Age is playing and there is a furious jock mosh pit action going on between the crowd and the stage, so, making like C3PO walking through Storm Trooper laser fire, I saunter through the big thick necked dudes and head right to the front of the stage to stake out my territory. Sure I got slammed, I got sucker punched (unintentionally), and literally held onto my hat as I dodged flying bodies. I took one picture and boom my camera was hit so hard that my batteries literally jumped out. Still, once I got my peripheral hardcore spider sense going I was pretty good and once when one stage diver knocked over my hat someone behind me firmly put my hat back on my head. That’s what I always find is so cool about Hardcore Kids sure you may get sucker punched but it’s all in good fun and they’ll help you up if ya fall or prop ya up if you lose your balance; call it good hardcore comradeship and manners. Iron Age was pretty fun too. Big crunchy metal riffs alternating from fast hardcore 1-2 1-2 to some awesome slow crushing shit. Pretty freaking sweet and after all was said and done no matter how many bodies crashed against my satchel, my HOA sharktooth button (which has outlasted every other button) held firm. It was like the seeing the American Flag during the bombardment of Fort McHenry. That pin rules!

Next up was Mammoth Grinder who may not have been as perilous from a spectator’s standpoint but that’s only because the crowd moved up and gave the moshers no room. And wholly hell did they live up to their rep. Three dudes and a drummer that showed no mercy! It’s like the dude would take this deep breath before each beat-down he’d administer to the kit. Crushing stops and starts, brain hemorrhaging riffs, and the ubiquitous cookie monster vocals. Freaking sweet and in true bad assitude they were done in probably 15 minutes. We came, we crushed, we’re done. So, then after the set, out of nowhere, up comes Matthew Hines of The Easten Sea and then in the course of our conversation he tells me how he played bass for Mammoth Grinder at one point. AWESOME! I love how so many Idie Rock kids have played grindcore and hardcore. What’s with that? Whatever the case, it’s awesome but - between you and me - don’t tell the doormen.

The evening closed with The Jon Benet who, man, are just so freaking incredible. Last time I saw them at Numbers an inadequate PA sucked the life out of their show but here at Red 7 The sound was great and they just pummeled. The thing I love about this band is that sure they play chimp rock but they do so with this - not to put down other bands - but with this generosity and intelligence that is horribly endearing. Can I say that about a heavy ass band like this? Maybe not, but call it what you like, when they are firing on all cylinders they are just incredible and this night only proved that. Now if anyone can bottle what they do live and put that on record I’d die a happy man.

Golden Cities perform at Human Party Virus
while Jay Crossley lurks in the shadows.
Golden Cities performing outside as
patrons of the sports bar go about their business inside.
Inoculist laying down the mellow
at Human Party Virus.
This was the only picture I got of Iron Age
before the batteries were literally
knocked out of my camera.
Mammoth Grinder lives up to it’s name!

Mammoth Grinder.
Shucks, it just gets ya…right here.

The Jon Benet’s Michael Murland
is he not the awesomest frontman or what!


And finally…
Insert your caption here….

My SXSW 2009 Posts:
Jameson and Lonsetar SXSW 2009 Part I: (
Link)
Jameson and Lonsetar SXSW 2009 Part II: (
Link)
Jameson and Lonsetar SXSW 2009 Part III: (
Link)

More Pics on My Flickr (Link)

Also,
April’s recap (
Link)

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