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Faceless Werewolves / DeathRay Davies
Emo’s, Friday, Dec 19th

The No-Wave movement out of New York in the early 80’s brought us such luminaries as Lydia Lunch, James Chance, John Lurie and the Lounge Lizards and, by extension, Sonic Youth. By the time the 90’s had reared their ugly head, the movement had gone the way of the saber-toothed tiger. Now, the genre known for its quirky, arty abrasiveness has found its champion in the form of the Faceless Werewolves, a 2/3 female combo who take apparent joy in deconstructing the traditional musical form that is rock and roll and slapping it back together with black electrical tape and some bondage gear. 8-Eyed Spy is an obvious comparison; the drummer had a very Lunch-like quality to her howl and the guitars were grating and seemingly self-taught, but that didn’t stop the ever-increasing crowd from shaking it till it was at least sprained.

Death Ray Davies rounded off the evening in typical road horror story fashion. After the first song, the singer announced that their guitar player was somewhere outside of Waco. It stuck me that there were already six people on stage - and more than one guitar – where the hell would he stand? Didn’t matter. The band (which seems to have a different line-up and configuration every time I see them) tonight were sporting some fancy keyboard and theremin work, bringing an additional dimension into the Kink-y mix. Even sans one guitar, DeathRay Davies made 1966 come back full-steam ahead, albeit a bit warped by science fiction.

–Trevor Wallace

The Rise, At All Cost, America Is Waiting, Fancy Feast
Emo’s, Friday1/2/04

Free Week at Emo’s means no cover for adults and a nightly slew of exceptional local acts, a holiday treat offered once a year by owner/Arkansas native Frank Hendrix and his heart-warming, hospitable staff. Electro-hardcore hybrids The Rise was headlining after an eleven-month hiatus. I was stoked to once again hear the fusion of cyber-charged metal with anti-elitism grit, an admirable concept that has made the sound of this progressive punk outfit fresh and promising.

First up was Fancy Feast. I knew nothing about the group and didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that a young lady with a microphone decided to do her best to sing and scream over programmed techno/house beats. Half the time inaudible/half the time annoying, this pseudo-sassy pop tart obviously wasn’t too sure of herself or her music. At best, the set was a poor impersonation of the electro-assaults championed by Canadian raunch-queen Peaches. The shy and nervous femme (this might have been her first show) performed in the crowd, just off front stage, obviously surrounded by friends (and the only people in attendance actually applauding). Closing with a Justin Timberlake cover didn’t save her performance and nor was anyone laughing.

I’d been hearing a buzz about America Is Waiting from various peers and scenesters. Although the name of the band annoys the hell out of me, the moody discomfort of this local four-piece did indeed draw comparisons to Dischord anchors and indie-rock saviors Fugazi. The choppy and turbulent rhythm section rolled cohesively tight with the bristle of the gritty guitar work and the bi-polar thrust of the frontman’s raspy screams and feminine moans. His voice often sounded like that of Conor Oberst, cracking and shaking with distress, as the Shellac-esq drum ticks kept the music unpredictable, yet sharp. The guys in this band aren’t doing anything new or original, but acceptable and punctual nonetheless. I haven’t heard the new record, but with The Paper Chase’s John Congleton tending to the production duties (Baboon, Explosions In The Sky, Aaliyah), this band might soon be buzzing on to bigger beehives.

The reason for the plethora of minors in attendance that warm January evening became all too apparent when Austin High graduates At All Cost took the stage, sparking a pit that Slayer would be joyously proud of. The Cost, having just returned from a brief tour of our Lone Star State, ripped through the set with noisy, half-time metal marches of raucous rant and hardcore husk. The monstrous sound of this hungry, youthful group of black-haired soldiers could play as the soundtrack to an episode of the weekly Alex Jones show. The lead singer paced back and forth across the stage, preaching a sermon of bombastic yells and pleas. Accordingly, the large crowd screamed back every word and frenetically swiveled with an angst-driven energy that might frighten the Powers That Be. These kiddos put on an impressive show and have continued to heighten their sound, proving themselves as an integral force within the local hardcore scene.

The Rise had a surprise, pre-show appetizer that included lead singer Cory “Cocoa” Kilduff and a new member of the band doing their best impersonation of the Chemical Brothers. Through a one-on-one laptop battle of programmed beats and time sequences, the two pushed and plugged a handful of head-piercing processions that included techno and drum-and-bass synths to the surprise and satisfaction of the crowd. The two young lads even managed to create a remix of “Fallacy Of Retrospective Determinism” the opening track off the 2001 A Call To Noise full length. At that point the crowd was really in the mood and The Rise didn’t disappoint once their entire outfit took the stage. The six-piece sounded swift and prepared, ripping through all the crowd favorites and a couple of new songs. Yes, this band borrowed heavily from the now-defunct Swedish band Refused. However, they are successfully shaping this sound into a crisp and
progressive movement that many electro-heads and hardcore hooligans alike have embraced with wide eyes and open ears. Stay tuned.

-Smitty

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