The Parish, Fri., Jan 23rd
seen the name Human in the Chronicle a time or two. I remembered
them because the name itself had such proximity to Hum, one
of my favorite bands. Sadly, when I saw them at the Parish
that Friday they did not mimic the Hum sound I so carelessly
associated with them.
took notice of the crowd right before Human played. It wasn’t
looking hopeful that I was going to hear something new. It
was a cornucopia of stereotypical rock fans. Everyone was
going for the typical rebellious-rock look. I felt like I
was in a bad teen movie, the kind where they introduce the
misunderstood bad boy during a rock show in a club filled
with other "rebellious" patrons.
A pack of girls who looked like they came right out of the
90’s rock movie "Airheads" strutted around
like they owned the place. To my surprise, black leather,
metal belts and big blonde hair are still in. Middle-aged,
mullet-headed rockers were represented too. It just wouldn’t
be a rock show without those guys.
I quit people watching when the band went onstage. There was
some seriously long hair attached to that band. "If you
feel it, scream," the signer said prematurely. I didn’t
scream. But I did count the people who did scream. It was
It was typical hard rock. No, not even that. Human’s
sound was about 10 years old in my opinion. It reminded me
of Alice in Chains, the Dirt album or old Pantera. Appropriately,
some front-row drunk hollered out Pantera song titles all
sound worked well within itself; it’s just not 1992
anymore. Human has dated themselves. If that’s the sound
they’re going for, fine. Viva nostalgia. I just like
to hear new music or variations on new music.
Every song, up until the last two, sounded like they were
building to something. "Something" never came though
and I was left unsatisfied. There were no real dynamics in
the songs. Human kind of methodically marched though the music.
The set was vanilla thus far.
That being said, the last two songs were really good. I then
realized what was missing in their set. They were finally
enjoying themselves. It was about time. Only during the last
two songs did Human start putting on a show. Only then was
the long hair thrown around, rock faces made and the rock
sign held high.
I got the impression they recently wrote the last two songs
and were most proud of them in comparison to the rest.
The highlight of Human was the lead guitar player. He was
old school. He played guitar solos with dramatic vibrato and
classic metal riffs. He had the killer hair, too. "Throw
that mop around, brah!"
Thankfully, they ended the show on a high note, leaving everyone
and me with a good last impression. Otherwise, the show could
have been chalked up to lack-luster 90’s rock. I hope
they keep working to improve on their sound. Maybe someday
they’ll earn a respectable place near the Hum albums
at Waterloo Records.
Ginny’s Little Longhorn Chicken Shit Bingo, Sunday 01.25.04
On any given Sunday at Ginny’s Little Longhorn one can
find great country music, cheap beer, and win some cash if
physics and chicken shit magically transform into lady luck.
Dale Watson is the long-standing and charming host of the
infamous event. Now that football season is over, there is
no excuse for skipping Dale’s weekly show and experiencing
the glory of chicken shit.
Over the howls of bingo fanatics, the sounds of Dale and His
LoneStars playing songs from all stages of their career waft
through the bar. After the chicken, Red, drops his lovely
load on a giant bingo card, one lucky bastard wins about a
hundred dollars. Before all you overzealous animal rights
folks plan some waste of space rally, let me emphasize that
the chicken is loved and pampered. Try one of the pickled
eggs sold at the bar.
I always enjoy seeing Dale and the guys. They play straight
country, completely null and void of the grisly top-pop country
that we all loathe. The LoneStars are Gene Kurtz, Don Pawlak
and Gary Wiesner, and their years of experience and talent
never cease to amaze me. Their tour manager Donnie Knutson
still sucks, in spite of what the band says.
Dream Land, Dale’s next album, will be released this
spring. You may remember from a previous issue (Volume 1,
Issue #17) that Dale is doing the soundtrack for Austin Angel,
a movie with Martin Sheen playing the Devil. Dale is still
up for the lead role in this country musical, “Unless
my acting totally sucks, or someone like Val Kilmer comes
along and wants the role,” says Dale. I will personally
kick Val Kilmer’s ass if he steals the job from Dale,
because only a true Austin Angel would tell me nobody noticed
when I fell and busted my ass outside the bar. Would Val do
that? I don’t think so.
Dale and His LoneStars have a packed schedule as usual. They
recently performed at Sammy Hagar’s Super Bowl tailgate
shindig and are excited about playing the BGGW’s first
roller derby bout of the season at the Thunderdome on February
15 at 8:30 p.m. The band’s usual Austin dates still
stand: Mondays at Continental, Wednesdays at Fadó,
and Thursdays and Sundays at Ginny’s. They are shooting
up to Alabama for a few gigs and then heading back to Grand
Ole Opry where Austin Angel will kick off shooting. Check
out Dale’s website for additional tour dates @ DaleWatson.com
Backroom, Thurs., Jan 29th
lyrics make DRI seem like Shakespeare," my friend Colin
said commenting on the straightforwardness and simplicity
of Sworn Enemy’s lyrics. I couldn’t make the comparison
myself since I couldn’t understand these New Yorker’s
lyrics too well. But who can discern live, hardcore lyrics?
On stage hung three large black banners bearing the band’s
name. It seemed excessive and distracting, really. They were
typical hardcore style with overused Gothic text in an attempt
to look somber and menacing.
Despite coming out strong, their music was predictable. All
the changes in the choruses and verses could be foreseen.
While the music wasn’t breaking any boundaries, it was
tight and performed well.
What I didn’t foresee was the unison pogoing they engaged
in. You have to respect a hardcore band that’ll have
the balls to get the visuals synched up with each other. It
wouldn’t have been such a surprise if they were a pop-punk
band or cock-rock group. For me, it was a first-time experience
seeing a hardcore band do that. They did it again during the
next song at another cut-time breakdown.
Sworn Enemy kept the show driving along. They wasted no time
bantering between songs, except when the singer heralded their
song "I.D.S." This was the crowd favorite. They
shouted "I.D.S." with him during the chorus while
surging toward the band. What did that mean, "I.D.S"?
All the possibilities soon become ridiculous as I used my
power of letter/word association. Whatever it means, it must
strike a chord with their fans.
Speaking of fans, an overwhelming crowd from San Antonio made
the long journey to the show. I must say, San Antonio is loyal
to the bands they embrace. If a band is lucky enough to score
a following there, they won’t abandon the group for
Sworn Enemy did indeed have the sound that Hatebreed has pioneered.
I’d recommend Sworn Enemy to anyone who likes East Coast
hardcore/metal. Musically, their songs were dominated by downbeats
and driving, repeated riffs. The show was performed with all
the passion and fervor one would expect from a touring hardcore
band. I enjoyed the performance, as did the sea of fans wearing
black shirts and hoodies.
Thanks to Deborah Gill from DVO Booking and Management for
bringing the show to Austin. The hardcore kids who made it
up from San Antonio sure did appreciate it. A special thanks
goes out to Byll and Mark at the Backroom as well for the
hookup. See you all soon.
The Backroom, Thursday 01.29.04
The Sanskrit definition of the word ahimsa is “abstaining
from causing hurt or harm.” HIMSA dropped the A, rightfully
reversing the meaning. Everything about the black-clad ones
screams pain. As soon as the band hit The Backroom stage,
an expectant audience met their exemplary brand of metal-hybrid
HIMSA did not disappoint as they artfully fused the “trinity
of heavy music scenes (metal, hardcore, and punk)” with
clean technical prowess and as they delivered a note-perfect
onslaught of aggression in support of their second record,
Courting Tragedy and Disaster. They are violent and they are
heavy, but the songs are so finely crafted, both lyrically
and musically, that it sets them apart from other hardcore
In a world where the battle between old-school and nu-metal
rages, HIMSA blazes defiantly past both genres and delivers
dark sounds that are so unapologetically polished that they
practically gleam and absolutely lure the listener in for
the kill. I predict this Seattle-based band will surface above
their weighty contemporaries, if for no other reason…who’s
going to stop them?
Black Love Song
Flamingo Cantina, Friday 01.23.04
It’s an indie guitar rock world. It may be difficult
to push anything else, but if there are adventurous spirits
among you, who seek to find something fresh, then be prepared.
The underground may soon be ready to erupt again and spew
the archetypal sounds of Our Black Love Song.
the atmospheric music is supposed to speak for itself. Mood
and expression are what is emphasized here. It appears restraint
is practiced in terms of audience interaction between songs.
(There is none this night. However, I was present for the
groups’ debut and seem to remember a more engaging rapport.
So one is left to assume that maybe it all does hinge on current
frame of mind.) It is like the indifferent calm before a rampant
time the music starts, however, there is an abundance of magnetic
energy as vocalist Jason Farmer dramatically translates his
emotive wordplay, which is made-to-order life-affirming anticipation
set against a raw backdrop of occasionally synth-infused edgy
dance beats—more Joy Division circa post-punk era, though,
than electronica. It then melds with skillfully crafted jagged
guitar riffs compliments of local guitar prodigy, Danny Stapleton,
and is anchored by a popping rhythm section comprised of bassist
Chris Keith and drummer Jason Henderson.
The dynamic diversity of this nervy brand of guitar music
appears to take aim and subvert both the modern pop and indie
guitar rock worlds. Remember the ironic name. This is one
of the bands to watch in the year ahead.
La Zona Rosa 2.03.04
are a mildly entertaining five-piece (formerly a quartet but
the son of Rick Wakeman has joined them for this tour) from
Scotland who combine lush and gooey harmonies with formulaic
mid-tempo lite rock. Imagine Rufus Wainwright with hair on
his balls fronting Hootie and the Blowfish, sans Darius Rucker.
If you're into that sort of thing, then Travis is the band
for you. Their previous Austin appearance in October of 2001
at Stubb's was a goddamned rockfest. I was there. They were
on their way up and they were excited about it. But hey, sometimes
you're on and sometimes you're off. Last Tuesday's show at
La Zona Rosa (downgraded from the Austin Music Hall) was a
study in mediocrity. The first ten songs were barely discernable
from each other. In fact, the band was in danger of being
upstaged by it's light show. Midway through the set things
started to pick up when some girl fainted a few rows from
the front. That was about as exciting as it got that night.
The first encore song was a solo piano/vocal fiasco that seemed
to last forever. Their big single "Why Does it Always
Rain on Me?" was halfheartedly delivered at the end of
the show and then everybody went home. Ho hum.
The Backroom, 2/6/04
Ever seen that symbol of a snake eating its
tail? Probably around the belly button of a stripper, right?
Ouroboros is her name. She symbolizes totality,
the cycle of renewal and the continuous round of existence;
an ancient archetypal stamp inked in depths of man and emerging
on…Death metal? Well sure. Nintendo ain’t usin’
‘em and Jung did have a point.
I contend that Death Metal in general is
one of the more creative and symbolically dependent genres
of music. So it was not surprising to see the snake eat its
tail at the Backroom when Opeth played. However, it was totally
refreshing and that’s when I began to see that it takes
more than Satan to really pack a house.
Compared to other, more orthodox satanic
bands I’ve seen there off Riverside, Opeth had the thoroughly
fanatical crowd singing along and patiently waiting for the
There were more than a few times when Opeth vocally came right
off as a Jethro Tull thang. “Woodsy Folk”, the
fodder of sprites, the dark forest and moribund love tales.
Absent was the flute but then again there was absolutely perfect
metal being played instead. The Rush-like acoustic parts woven
into the looming metal fabric was like blending Farewell to
Kings with Master of Puppets.
Opeth has advanced light years past the morbid
cock paradigm of Death Metal. It seems that 14 years ago when
Opeth was practicing tunes by Death and Maiden over there
in Stockholm, they were destined to advance into a crystalline
world where even an acoustic song amidst the set of tunes
would not only woo the crowd into an emotional harmony, but
satiate a dynamic precedence un-utilized by the likes of the
Death Metallers (though it is clear there are predecessors).
And so really it’s no surprise to see the response of
the crowd (and within myself) to what was clearly the new
wave of metal: the Gothic blended into the acoustic, the mid-tempo
metal camp married to downright light-folk riffing.
Opeth took their time, played ballads and
fist shakers; a third of the set was material never played
in the states before and the thrill coming off the audience
at each of these tunes was immense. I felt lucky to be in
on this show. Not to mention that Opeth takes the cake from
now on. They had culled their sound from Voivod, Burzum, King
Diamond, Bathory, and brought elements of jam bands’
grooves, prog rock intricacy, fusion jazz to the point of
Metheny on Malmstein.
If you subscribe to the idea that we no longer have a “new”,
that the past is re-invented to the point that the original
is unrecognizable and sub-standard, then we must name a few
masters of this simulation and innovation: one of them is
Opeth. So that snake, eating its past to feed its future,
recoils to strike in the timeless nest.
Or, Opeth can make little girls sing along
to Fender Rhodes key stylings while bordering Dave Matthews
so discreetly that the most opposing styles of music can complete
the cycle of what’s hot by simply forcing a mew mood
onto metal with high professionalism. Color me charmed.