off the street

Stubbs BBQ, September 20th

I got to the long awaited Ween show around 7:30. You could feel the anticipation for the show in the air. Most of the diehard fans even left their expensive, privileged spots at the ACL fest to get to the show. Apparently Gene and Dean were enjoying the feeling of anticipation because they didn’t come on stage until about 9:30. I was amused to see the crowd scream and yell “Yearrrrraaayys” every time a sound person or a stagehand came across the stage. The crowd erupted when Gene and Dean finally came out and Gene made reference to the fact that they were playing with REM the next day with a snicker.

The sound coming form the stage was very compressed and reflected the sound from the albums well. They ran through many of the favorites. From “Ice Castles” to “Baby Bitch” the crowd was getting their fix. The rain was coming down reflected in the lighting at Stubb’s outdoor stage and I must say it was damned beautiful. Ween was cheese without all the whine. With songs like “Piss Up a Rope” and the like Gene is relaying a message. Ladies, don’t piss this guy off.

Going from songs such as “Most People Are Not Ok” and “Waving My Dick in the Wind” Ween made grown men wiggle and do more than rock out with their cock out. I am not sure if I have ever seen so many grown men get giddy and gyrate like little school girls at a boy band show but that was part of the entertainment. I even yelled like a girl when “Voodoo Lady” came on. Either way, Ween does not need the radio nor do they need to play that one song from way back to sell records or sell out shows. All they need to do is tell the bitch to get lost, do some blow while eating bananas and remind us the “most people are not ok”, suggesting that “Z-O-L-O-F-T” is the answer.

They gave the crowd their encore wish with the “HIV” song, “Booze Me Up and Get Me High” and finally “Fat Lady”. It was a surreal moment to see people crowd surfing to a song that repeats the chorus “HIV” over and over again. Don’t try searching for a message to cling to with Ween. Just let them come in and out of your life and enjoy the music.

-Christopher Head

Nile/ Kreator/Vader/Amon Amarth/ GoatWhore
The Backroom
October 3rd

I remember a friend rattling off a reduction of all that is speed, black, or death metal and it came out like this: for lyrics-- “Kill your Mom, Kill your Dad, flush a baby down a toilet!” For the music—“it all sounds the same.” Like Herpes, it depends on who you’re talking to.

Dear Non-Metalhead,

The Backroom was full with black metal freaks. Mostly men with black tees, a slogan like “Persecute the Holy” in large white letters across the backs. There were horned hands aplenty, sweaty pit freaks with testosterone distribution probs, and those guys who cuddle their quaint Goth girlfriends amid the whole flurry. Yes, people were dragged out by security and yes, there was a smoke machine. Yes, every band twirled their hair.

The bands played their hearts out to the easily revved dudes who came out to watch five of Metal’s touted bands egg them on with goofy tuff faces, evil stares, thinning hair, and flying V Dean Guitars.
The music was at tip top quality and covered the full range of metal’s history. Put it this way: these bands all own albums by Slayer, Venom, Celtic Frost, Emperor, even Judas Priest.

Dear Metal head,

Goatwhore opened the show. Ben, who also fronts Soilent Green, was screaming and growling like usual, but some of GW’s songs feature him doing the “speak-singing” parts which live came through thin like a lambskin condom. I have to give it to him; he is the best pantomiming metal front man in the biz, complete with finger pointing, slashing throats, and a swing of the arm to show devastation. GW had the classic Swamp sound going. Not the bluesy aspect, but the swarming speed into old hardcore riffs method that creates jarring juxtaposition. Like Soilent Green, the songs got a little repetitious ¾ of the way through since I hadn’t had time to listen to the studio stuff to pick clean the multiple parts.

Amon Amarth took care of mid tempo warring. They are the most straight up heavy metal out of this tour. With their albums all dedicated to Odin I wasn’t surprised to see a Thor’s hammer round the necks of most of these guys. I thought of Rotting Christ and late Carcass. The music is more emotional than blazing, with a double bass that tricks the ear into the sense of really fast tunes. These blonde burly guys had tapping solos and a Fuckemo’s dirge. I was amazed to watch these Norwegian’s carry on the real music that drives fans to literally burn churches.

From Poland and no joke at all was Vader. This was my fave no doubt. They rarely slowed down. This set was like having Reign in Blood be 35 minutes longer. The solos were textbook J.Henneman/ K.King, pinch harmonics with whammy in all. The double bass sounded just like an AK-47 with an endless cartridge. I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys the Slaytanic sound.

Kreator, the German delegation. They played the faves: “Extreme Aggression”, “Flag of Hate”, “Betrayer”. They are very anthematic in their true speed metal service. Back from a time when Yngwie Malmstein tapped his way to Headbanger’s ball, when Metallica was respected for forging ahead, when gallop picking made a fuck, when poweramp outweighed technicality, when muffling the power chords was innovation, Kreator stood present. The crowd went nuts for this stuff and rightly so. We’ve been listening to their albums for almost 20 years now.

And finally, Nile. Curses from the Fertile Crescent echoed through the Backroom. I didn’t enjoy this as much I thought. The sound moved faster than my ears heard. Nile’s albums are really full, with Egyptian instruments, Mummy moans and quality to back the fan-picked neo-classical riffage. Live, this was as hard to translate as hieroglyphs by lantern light. They did overdub choral singing parts and ambient mood soundscapes. This helped add flavor to the mung. They were tight like a tomb. Dead stops on dimes were the dynamics of the show. Sometimes I wished the bass player could play the root notes and not riddle the melody like...oh you know what’s coming…the Sphinx.

Sincerely, Kevin Stack

Huns Riot Reunion
Cafe Mundi, September 26th

Austin contains a lively punk rock history. On the 26th old punk rockers came together to commemorate one of the finest moments, the Huns Riot. As legend has it, when the police arrived at the Huns show, lead singer Phil Tolstead kissed a police officer. This led to his arrest and the incitement of the crowd, plus many great memories. The riot took place at Raul’s, the original punk rock hang out on the drag. The reunion show allowed old friends to catch up, many of whom hadn’t seen each other since the days of Raul’s, while listening to some great music.

First up, Ultra Violet Wave, led by Larry Seaman, formerly of Standing Waves. Steve Marsh of Terminal Mind also joined him. These guys prove to the world that punk rock will never vanish, maybe evolve, but never fully die. They never missed a beat, but rather played exceptionally for more than an hour. Can one actually believe them when they claim they haven’t played some of these songs in years?

In between sets, “Biscuit” Turner regaled the crowd with his witticism and memories of growing up punk in Austin. Next to entertain the crowd were the Punkaroos. Lead singer, Dottie, shows the world what punk rock is all about, in your face and overflowing with fun. She demanded to know when the riot was going to start. In response someone threw a chair and the show took off full of force. Kiddies beware this isn’t radio friendly punk. As Dottie put it, “We’ll never be cool. That’s what’s cool about Austin punk.” All of these musicians should inspire us to maintain the scene here; so we can all have something to celebrate in another twenty-five years.

-Misty Sweet

American People
Hole in the Wall, September 25th

Prescott Curlywolf cancelled, so rather than face an endless string of Pavement wannabes at Beerland, I hustled up to the Hole in the Wall to catch a rare performance by Mike McCoy and his travelling political open forum, the American People. Although bassist Hunter Darby was the only regular member present due to various scheduling conflicts, drummer Bryan Bowden, and the guitars of Andy Thomas (Rockland Eagles) and Jennings Bryant (Wannabes) were more than adequate replacements as the backdrop for McCoy and his twisted anti-Fireside Chat.

McCoy, in his demented genius, has looked long and hard at the sad state of this country of ours and designed a rock and roll pulpit from which to report his findings. The ever-irritating attitude of teenagers, capitalism, money hunger and the ritualistic abuse of fun seekers everywhere fall under his scrutiny where they are dissected and revealed for what they really are: an illustration of the ridiculousness and futility of the human condition. Solutions aren’t forth coming, nor is that McCoy’s responsibility. He’s here not as a faith healer but as a correspondent of man’s war with himself.

And what a correspondent! Our foibles are laid to bare, yet the Fever of Dance has possessed us all and we couldn’t help but get reeeaaallly drunk and dance ‘til we dropped. Or in certain audience members’ cases, until we got knocked off our feet and thrown into a table.

The most fun one can have being preached at. Now get out there and vote.

-Trevor Wallace

AFI/ Hot Water Music/ Bleeding Through
La Zona Rosa, October 2nd

I have a confession to make. I have a man crush on Davey Havok, and I’m not the only one. Everyone at La Zona Rosa, regardless of gender, could not help but to be infatuated by the presence he had.

With that being said, AFI lived up to any expectations I might have had previous to Thursday night. The energy they brought to the crowd, with their fist pumping anthems and melodic sing alongs had me convinced that they are the greatest performers on earth. Maybe the booze clouded my judgment a little, but nonetheless, it was a stellar performance.

They played an even mix of old and new songs to appease both the dedicated and not so dedicated audience. The night was highlighted when Davey Havok did his best Jesus impression and walked into the crowd by walking across the top of the crowd about five feet in. He stood over (and on top of) the fans as AFI finished their energetic set. AFI fans are, well, fanatical. Their website is a host to over one hundred and fifty fan tattoos of various AFI symbols, and an AFI tribute album which, for a band just over ten years old, is impressive.

In light of the band’s recent ascend into the limelight, I asked drummer Adam Carson why he thought so many people were drawn to their band. “I don’t know. I mean, I think there’s a level of honesty, and we truly are passionate about it, and I think that hopefully comes across, and maybe that’s what people are seeing in us, because we really do feel it, and we really do love to play music, and love to perform, so perhaps they pick up on that, but we feel really lucky.”

It was a great show. AFI, a seemingly average punk band showed a depth and charisma that places them far above the Warped Tour staples they are commonly categorized with. Hot Water Music returned to Austin in top form, redeeming themselves after a sloppy performance with Sparta early this year that had left a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouth. Bleeding Through, a California metal band, opened.

-Richard Knox


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