March Madness during SXSW…or why I am such an asshole. (Day 1)

Once again, as Austinites, we survived another yearly invasion of hipster hordes and industry blowhards as they descended upon our fair city with their skinny jeans, man-purses and entirely overblown senses of self-importance. Normally I look forward to SXSW because there is usually quite a variety of different musical acts that I am excited about catching live. This year, however, left me feeling a little bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, as there were some good acts in attendance this year, but many of the showcasing bands, especially those of the metal genre, have played here several times already or do so with such regularity that it made it difficult for me to get too overjoyed. In 2010 SXSW brought us Voivod and last year delivered Saint Vitus and Pentagram. So what incredible acts were in store for us this year? Job For A Cowboy, Devil Driver, and Impending Doom! Oh boy!

With all the hype and hoopla that SXSW has managed to generate over the years it seems only natural that the festivities gradually begin to start sooner and encompass more days than before. What used to span only a few days has now begun to take over the entire week and this year it was certainly more apparent than ever. On Sunday, March 11th immediately after band practice, Vincent and I decided, since it was an incredibly beautiful day, to walk downtown and check out the scenery…er, douchebaggery. Seriously, what reason could there possibly be for so many men to be walking around with purses? What could they possibly need to carry around that they cannot fit into their pockets? More hair product and a couple of changes of clothes? Ten more pairs of skinny jeans? My mind recoils in horror at the thought. The only person that has ever looked cool with a purse is Indiana Jones, but he fought the fucking nazis fer chrissakes…and he had to have somewhere to put that goddamn golden Fertility Idol that he snaked from the Chachapoyan temple before being chased by that giant boulder in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Initially, my plan was to head downtown to Headhunters later that night for the Ossuary Industries showcase, but since my friends in San Antonio sludge band, Pillcrusher, informed me that they had to drop off of the bill at the last-minute, the idea of witnessing a whole night of brutal death metal seemed like more than my already volume-damaged hearing could handle. After walking by Headhunters to survey the scene of black-attired longhairs, Vincent and I milled around for a bit on Red River and then made our way towards 6th Street. Just outside of the old Emo’s location we were stopped by a girl holding a stack of flyers. “Do you guys like metal?”, she glibly inquired. To which her friend retorted, “They ARE metal!” Once on 6th, I ate a hotdog and we decided that it was time to quench our ever-increasing thirst. If we were going to subject ourselves to the onslaught of the hipper than thou throng then many cold libations were definitely well in order. We opted for the decidedly unhip surroundings of the Dirty Dog Bar due in no small part to the fact that there was no cover charge to enter said establishment, but after a couple of beers and several minutes of gratingly mind-numbing modern metal miasma we hastily opted to depart the premises. Next up was Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub. We figured we’d have a couple more brews here and since we were only two bars away from Headhunters it would be the ideal spot to meet up with the two Pillcrusher members that still chose to make the trip to Austin for their label showcase. After a quick text message we were joined by Pillcrusher bassist, Marilyn, vocalist, Beer Reebs, and our mutual friend, Jaylen. Hugs and verbal jabs were exchanged and before long a general agreement was reached to repair to other more happening digs.

Apparently, those more happening surroundings happened to be found at The Jackalope on 6th. This place is a good spot for hipsters and punk rockers to converge and make fun of each others hairstyles, and there is usually a fair amount of lovely young ladies in attendance, though I am far from being hip or punk enough for it to make any difference. After a couple more drinks Vincent decided to call it quits for the evening, as he had to work early the next day, and not long after Jaylen decided to return to Headhunters for a good ol’ ear-raping.  I walked with her back to Headhunters and decided that the $10.00 cover was more than I wanted to pay for a night of blast-beats, buzzsaw guitars, and pig squeals, so I opted instead for the show at across the street and a couple of bars over at Beerland.

My good friend and guitarist/vocalist for The Blood Royale, Tim Corken, was working the door at Beerland so I talked to him a bit before venturing inside. Apparently, since I was too drunk to remember and I was primarily there just to check out the band Entropist, the bill consisted of Immerse, Entropist, Fed of Me, and Adamastor. I don’t know anything about the other three bands so therefore I have nothing more to say about them. Once inside I had just enough time to order a beer and a shot for myself and Tim before Entropist started their set. I believe that this was their second live performance and for such a new band they did a fine job. In contrast to the extreme and unrelenting brutality that was on display across the street, Entropist displayed a much more old-school approach to their death metal and it showed in their very riff oriented style of writing. Vocalist, Oscar Martinez, delivered the death proclamations competently and guitarist, James Hardin, is an excellent lead player, though I think his guitar was a bit too loud in the mix. All in all I was fairly impressed with the band and I will definitely try catch them again at some point when I am less inebriated.

Finally, after Entropist’s set I retired directly across the street to Valhalla for last call. After chatting with my friend Mel over a beer it was time to head out the door. A few people did come over for a bit of after hours festivities before I finally called it a night. It was going to be a long week and I definitely needed some rest. Though, as I expected, I was going to be getting very little of it.

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