(Freelance writer Chad Swiatecki was on the scene Monday night when the Red River District took on a heavy sound.)
One of the great post-South By Southwest traditions in Austin takes place the Sunday after that festival’s end, when a few dozen local punk bands take the stages at venues along East Seventh Street for a day that, in a way, takes the city back from the hordes of visitors.
There was a whiff of that sentiment on Monday night along Red River Street, although with a different aroma, in a pair of shows – the Danzig-headlined Blackest of the Black metal fest at Stubb’s; and a package tour from Insane Clown Posse’s Psychopathic Records roster at Elysium – that were a sort of middle finger to the well-mannered acts and audiences of the previous weekend’s Austin City Limits Music Fest.
The scene at Stubb’s was par for the heavy metal course; lots of long beards and bald heads on hand to see a package tour fronted by Danzig, with former Pantera front man Phil Anselmo’s Superjoint Ritual, Veil of Maya and Prong lending support.
For a certain portion of Austinites, Danzig front man Glenn Danzig will forever be associated with his 2011 debacle at Fun Fun Fun Fest, where he threw what has been described as the mother of all rock star tantrums, taking the stage close to an hour late and trying to incite a riot when his set was cut short by the fest’s noise curfew.
He’s been back to Austin at least once since then without incident and on Monday night could not have been more cordial – there’s a weird adjective for a metal singer – or professional for the 90 thunderous minutes he and his three-piece backing band were on stage.
The beginning of that set started a bit shaky, as the singer’s vocals sounded weak on opening songs such as "SkinCarver" and "Hammer Of The Gods." This was worrying since Danzig’s bellowing screams are pretty much the main attraction live, though the blazing guitar work of longtime band guitarist and Prong member Tommy Victor was superb throughout.
Somewhere around the 15-minute mark, however, the singer found his voice and was a peak performer for the duration, leaning into the lines of "How The Gods Kill" and covers of Elvis Presley and Black Sabbath tunes that are part of the band’s forthcoming "Skeletons" covers album.
The closing run of "Not Of This World," "Twist Of Cain" and "Mother" was ferocious, with the band and singer locked in as a circle pit nearly 40 feet in diameter raged just a few rows of onlookers back from the stage.
Given the singer’s horror-punk past in Samhain and the Misfits, there was a bit of a letdown in an encore that kicked off with "She Rides" and stuck firmly to the Danzig catalog, but that was a minor gripe. Sweaty and spent, both singer and crowd ended the night in a good place.