Here’s a look at seven punk and metal acts that will play during South by Southwest, some at official showcases, others at side parties.
Gatecreeper. Arizona’s Gatecreeper are a melting cauldron of death metal, taking from several different classic styles, most notably the buzzsaw guitar tone of Swedish bands like Entombed and Dismember. There’s also plenty of Obituary-esque, old-fashioned American bull-headed attitude thrown in. In addition to being a totally sick vocalist, bandleader Chase Mason is also a Red Bull connoisseur. If there’s a new flavor on the streets during the week, he’ll have an expert opinion. (1 a.m. March 15, Dirty Dog)
Spirit Adrift. Gatecreeper guitarist Nate Garrett’s solo project Spirit Adrift will also appear at SXSW, though they take from sounds you may be more familiar with. Garrett takes the soaring highs and melodies of Dio-era Black Sabbath, adding a touch of Black Album-era Metallica crunch. It’s a total nostalgia trip, but Garrett also has a serious knack for hooks. While Gatecreeper have made the streets flow with blood and Red Bull a few times in Austin now, this will be Spirit Adrift’s first Austin show. (Midnight March 15, Dirty Dog)
Andrew W.K. Look, Andrew W.K. has ridden the "party party party" wave of "I Get Wet" even thinner than Metallica has stretched their first four albums into a career. In his defense, "I Get Wet" is still one of hell of an album, and its big ’80s metal hooks have aged a lot better than anything the Strokes or whatever bands were "saving rock" at the beginning of the aughts. When "Party Hard" comes on, and you know it will, you’re under that song’s command: Hedonism and good vibes are the law. He might even break out his Taco Guitar — exactly what it sounds like — for a lick or two. (11:15 p.m. March 14, Hotel Vegas Patio)
The Dwarves. If you like it fast, if you like it loud, Dwarves are your band, and why would you have it any other way? Their output in the 1990s was not known for its subtlety — it was big on sleaze and speed and little else. They haven’t changed much over the years and are still as dirty as ever. Regression? Stasis? Who cares? (11:45 p.m. March 17, Hotel Vegas Patio)
Temple of Angels. They aren’t quite metal or punk, but they have plenty of solid local credentials, featuring current and former members of the Leash, Uruk and CSSS. Some of the best dream pop to come out of Texas, or anywhere for that matter, in a long time. The hooks are ’80s British sadness, the look is Austin house show circa now. They’re so aggressively beautiful. (11:45 p.m. March 17, Hotel Vegas)
Total Abuse. Austin’s noisiest punk miscreants aren’t going away anytime soon, despite whatever disinfectant you might throw at them. They specialize in claustrophobia, alternating between lurching passages that recall Flipper at their most dank, and clusters of rapid-fire, feedback-laced bursts. You’ll feel like you’re watching them in the bathrooms at the old Emo’s. The bathrooms might be gone, but Total Abuse have adapted for survival. (March 13, Hotel Vegas as part of Hotel Hot Burrito Day Party)
Völur. Toronto’s Völur are powerful, and they’re a trio, but they’re not quite what you think of as a power trio. They’re led by Laura Bates, who shreds on electric violin, honoring metal’s classical influence and subverting metal norms all the same. She makes their doom even more creeping and heavy, and yet adds a delicate melodic touch your average guitar ensemble doesn’t. If you’re looking for an immersive experience that will drown out the rest of the SXSW noise outside and in your head, their ominous black robes and penchant for fog will help you arrive at a riff-filled peace. And for the post-rock heads out there, drummer Jimmy P. Lightning also plays in Do Make Say Think. (March 14, Spider House Ballroom as part of SX Stoner Jam ‘18, 10:15)