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Alex Jones Interview
EMO'S
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EMO'S

trail of dead

black reble motorcycle clubBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club
Emo’s, September 10, 2003

Here’s what I knew about Black Rebel Motorcycle Club as we arrived at Emo’s on that sultry Wednesday night…their cheeky name came from a Marlon Brando flick called The Wild Ones. They hail from San Francisco and were touring in support of their second Virgin Records release, Take Them On Your Own. They are relentlessly lumped into the same genre as The Strokes and White Stripes and have been blatantly accused of trying to sound like The Jesus and Mary Chain. Most interesting, though, was that they had recently been branded the new “saviors of rock and roll” by a critic who I was sure must be overzealous at best. The saviors of rock and roll? Now that’s one heavy cross to bear.

The BRMC experience began when they hit the outdoor stage just after midnight. An enthusiastic crowd that appeared to fill the club to near capacity greeted them. For the first half of what turned out to be a sixteen song set, the three piece band played song after song reminiscent of the garage punk pop sounds of the British Invasion (think Kinks), hence the comparisons to the aforementioned modern day retro-revelers. But there was something more intriguing in what BRMC was doing and it became apparent that they weren’t ripping anyone off so much as paying tribute to the distinct sounds that made rock and roll great in the first place. And not just the trademark R & B/ blues influenced sounds of the sixties.

This is a band that is not afraid of anything and by that I mean that in the not so subtle undertones of their sexy sound I heard everything from crunchy 70’s arena rock rhythms to soul influenced psychedelic guitar melodies. There were sugary vocal harmonies that came intermittently after Robert Turner and Peter Hayes traded duties on lead vocals throughout the set. There was even a quick surprise Zepplinesque salute to funk and reggae. Sure, these sounds have all been heard before but, clearly, comparisons to other artists were completely unfounded in that BRMC transcends other acts by incorporating the best of the sounds that originally caused rock and roll to steal the hearts of afflicted youths everywhere. But there is even more to it than that. BRMC is great because no matter what they’re playing they consistently teeter on the verge of chaos and is it not chaos that is truly at the heart of rock? One never knows where this band might venture next.

My suspicions about their music were confirmed when, at the end of their set, the band launched into what must be the BRMC anthem, “Whatever Happened To My Rock and Roll?”. While the song passionately asks the question, the signature sound of BRMC taunts the listener with the answer. The best of rock has found a home in BRMC and that is what I knew as the show came to it’s conclusion. Are they saviors? Time will only tell as we see if today’s underground will push BRMC to the commercial forefront as it sometimes, historically, has been known to do. As for me, theirs was a T-shirt I didn’t have but you can bet I bought it because, that’s right, I’m a believer now!

– Tammy Moore/Jason Farmer

clutchClutch/Mastodon
Emo’s, September 8, 2003

Ahhh! The gods of rock bestowed a heavenly show upon Austin this night. Nothing could be more anticipated by metalheads all around than the double bill that rolled into the “Live Music Capital of the World” on an otherwise stale Monday.

Mastodon has been widely hyped in recent months in the mainstream press and I expected a fairly large turnout to see these guys, whom hail from “Hotlanta”, peel away the paint from Emo’s grungy walls with their filthy brand of noise metal. The last time I saw these guys, they had been joined by Relapse label mates Dysrythmia and Uphill Battle. That show had been intense and satisfying. But tonight, playing one of their self proclaimed favorite cities, a subtle competition had been brewing between them and the underdogs of rock themselves, Clutch.

I am gonna have to digress here for a minute. Clutch has become one of my favorite bands over the years. Their funky, hot, start/stop brand of rock has what most bands lack today, and that’s character. Neil Fallon always delivers with his grungy vocals and the other band members are masters of their domain. On the other hand, Mastodon is a relatively young band and in my mind yet to prove that they have the staying power that Clutch has attained. I dig Mastodon’s music, and don’t get me wrong, was happy to see that they were playing alongside Clutch. But, Mastodon would have to work hard to prove to me that they owned the night because I was surely convinced walking into the club that Clutch could not be topped.

clutchBoy, was I sure wrong. Mastodon came out of the gate thrashing their insturments with intense fury. I made my way to the pit when they rolled into “Trampled Under Foot” and left after several kicks to the head and back after they had launched into “Ole Nessie”. Their use of vibrant guitar work and bottom end sounds impressed me enough that I could have released my own pent up anger at some random fan in attendance, but no, that would have earned me a place face down on the pavement outside of Emo’s. Instead, I stood back and enjoyed the sounds Mastodon threw forth, belching and spewing destruction. These gents display such a great stage prescence that it’s no wonder why the crowd wouldn’t exit stage right long after Mastodon abandoned their equipment to make way for Clutch.

Clutch on the other hand seemed to suffer from a rare form of staleitus. Everything seemed to be subpar and I was disappointed. Even the biggest Clutch fan I know here in Austin (Kiki – you know who you are) lamented that the band just didn’t have it that night. The sound was lacking, Neil didn’t seem in top form and Tim Sult (guitarist) had been replaced because of a broken bone or something of that nature. Clutch did manage to play the standard badass songs “Big News I”, “Brazen” , “El Jefe” and “Impetus”, but managed to let Mastodon steal the show, at least on this night. All in all though, it was worth the twelve bucks and I definitely wouldn’t mind this bill coming back to town sometime soon.

-Isaac Friese

MogwaiMogwai/…Trail of Dead
Emo’s, September 15 &16, 2003

Sun Ra wasn’t kidding: space really is the place. And were the infinite majestic vacuum suddenly to do the physically impossible and release a soundtrack, Mogwai - an often-revolving gaggle of Scottish noisters - would certainly have a track or two on it. And, if the swelling youthful, disposable income possessing throng in attendance were any indication, it would sell pretty damn well, too.

Mogwai’s set began on a somber note, a many-limbed whimper limping along for what seemed eternity, when it become suddenly, like someone had pulled my head from the cone of silence, a brawny, bombastic, “fuck you, wake up and drink!” bang. A bang that caused many Romulan coifed hipsters to jump visibly. Hee hee. After that, it was a modern day Scotch noise fest, borrowing from, but expanding dimensionally upon, territory tread by Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and yes, even Tortoise at times. My face hurt from my silly McGrin.

MogwaiLike the vast majority of Psych bands from the rocks across the Pond, Mogwai have short hair. Very unlike the hippy Prince Valiants some of the boys from And You Will Know Us By The Smell We Left were sporting. And what was up with the bass? Was it supposed to sound like an elephant half an hour after eating a wheel barrel full of burritos? I guess that would explain the smell.

The evening was highlighted during Mogwai’s build-up. As they quietly found voice, many of the crowd and staff began “shhhhhh”-ing very loudly, as if to say, “be vewy, vewy quiet, the band is emoting”.

Who raised all of these smart-asses? Is an ever-expanding, ever-quickening global awareness responsible or are we, as a species, becoming bitter at an increasingly younger age as we grope and claw our way up to the next rung of the evolutionary ladder? Gimme another Lone Star, wouldja? I got me some serious thinkin’ ta do.

-Trevor Wallace

Rufio
Emo’s, September 17, 2003

The front stage at Emo’s was surrounded by a bubble-gum army of wide-eyed mall-punks early Wednesday evening (some even being accompanied by their parents) for what would prove to be another lack-luster display of power-chords and powerless vocals.

Rufio, on tour promoting their recent release 1985 MCMLXXXV on LA indie Nitro Records (Guttermouth, TSOL, The Vandals, AFI), have managed to capture a hellacious number of punky brewster fans who pump their fists to the anthemic, heart-on-your-sleeve themes of saturated sob. I’m not sure how old the band members are, but bassist Jon Berry would surely be jailed for acting upon his stage antics of staring and singing to sixteen-year olds and pointing the neck of his bass at every black-shirted virgin in the front row. All the kiddos were chanting the band’s name in between songs the way the youngsters did in that movie Hook, the obvious inspiration of this Peter Pan pop group of high school-starved romanticism. The yearning vocals and predictable patterned hooks were on-time and tight, I just can’t get into this kind of music and I don’t understand how anyone could who is over the age of twelve could do so either. However, the emo brats where bouncing in unison and even formed a little push-and-hug pit. When the show ended, the band signed autographs and gave hugs and it was so fucking precious.

I spent most of the set watching Snatch while reading the subtitles. If you like Blink 182, No Use For A Name or The Ataris, you’ll love Rufio, you sad, sad misguided soul.


-Smitty

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