Rebel Motorcycle Club
Emo’s, September 10, 2003
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
Emo’s, September 15 &16, 2003
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.
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
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.
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”.
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’
Emo’s, September 17, 2003
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
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.
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.