Find fun things to doin the Austin, TX area
Posted: 10:58 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012
By Chad Swiatecki
Black Stage highlights
Against Me! (7:05 p.m.). This Florida punk act made big headlines earlier this year when singer Laura Jane Grace (previously Tom Gabel) announced her sex change, which brought about lots of curiosity about how her presence in the band would change. The early verdict has been not much, as the band’s tight, anthemic songs like “White Crosses” and “Thrash Unreal” are as powerful as ever.
Napalm Death (4:25 p.m.). If there’s one thing Fun Fun Fun Fest is secretly great at, it’s throwing legendary cult/fringe acts into the fray. This extreme English metal band that’s headed into its fourth decade (with a fluid personnel history that’d take a 3-D flow chart to diagram) is a classic example of that, and certainly one of the fest’s loudest bookings, of this or any other year.
Torche (2:15 p.m.). Stoner rock for the Mensa set? Something like that. This Miami outfit has all the pummeling guitar and power of genre heroes like Kyuss and Baroness, with a feeling of precision and complexity that makes it attractive to a much broader base. The best chance all weekend to see heshers rocking out in close proximity to software developers, with neither bunch feeling self conscious about it.
Fidlar (1:05 p.m.). This bunch of Los Angeles skatepunks has a 30-minute set, which should be interesting since their entire discography clocks in at about 20 minutes of pure nihilistic abandon. Songs with titles like “Wake Bake Skate” and “Cheap Beer” need no explanation and are really just vehicles to play everything loud and fast, with close to zero to attention paid to skill and acumen.
Refused (8:50 p.m.). The biggest punk reunion of the year that’s not called At the Drive-In, this Swedish band became faves of the indie set for throwing all sorts of time signature changes and jazz structures into its angular racket. “New Noise” is as unlikely a generational anthem as there’s ever been, and it’ll be interesting to see how singer Dennis Lyxzen has meshed with his bandmates after more than a decade apart.
The Sword (8 p.m.). Everything written above about Torche applies also to this Austin band, which adds a funky push and pull to its riffage on the new “Apochryphon.” After laying low for most of the past two years following the sudden departure of drummer Trivett Wingo, Fun Fun Fun Fest offers a high-profile return to the spotlight.
Seaweed (5:30 p.m.). Easy to smile at the resurgence of this Tacoma, Wash., band that sort of fell through the cracks between grunge and post-punk during the ’90s alternative rock gold rush. Seaweed trafficked in catchy, noisy songs that had too many moving parts to take hold on modern rock radio. But their songs still bite as hard as ever.
The Spits (3:15 p.m.). This prolific, no-frills Seattle punk band is exactly the kind of scruffier Ramones pogo bounce blur you’d expect to have littering the catalogs of indie labels like Dirtnap, Nickel & Dime and In the Red. Nothing much to think about here; just wander up and thrash about to songs that try to do their business in two minutes or less.
(Expletive) Up (7:55 p.m.). If the Who were a hardcore band with three guitars, they’d sound something like this ambitious Toronto group that’s not afraid to get epic on record. Last year’s “David Comes To Life” was an 18-track post-modern anarchist romantic tragedy that held up under its weighty sprawl. Live, they just pummel you, in the best way possible.
Japandroids (4:20 p.m.). Warning from a friend this spring that accompanied a link to this duo’s then-new single “The House That Heaven Built”: “Be careful. After listening to this you’ll feel so pumped up you might start throwing cars into nearby buildings.” The thing is, he wasn’t far off. I have no idea how the grandiose noise of the new “Celebration Rock” will come off live, but if it’s even half as powerful as on record it’ll be a highlight of the weekend.
Valient Thorr (3:35 p.m.). An incredibly skilled, versatile and over-the-top metal band from North Carolina, Valient Thorr has toured with the likes of Motorhead, Mastodon and Gogol Bordello, which makes every bit of sense when their guitar histrionics come rocketing out over crowds. Not many bands can get away with a jam called “Rezerection” that’s both juvenile and high-minded, but damn if they don’t pull it off.
Cheap Girls (12:20 p.m.). With a new Hold Steady record nowhere in sight, fans of literate bar rock should show up early and bend an ear toward this Lansing, Mich., foursome. With a dose of Cheap Trick power-pop added to the mix, the hooks of songs like “Ruby” and “Mercy Go Round” are as big as all of outdoors, and should win over some new fans by the time they’re done.