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Melt Yourself Down go wild on Rainey

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Eric Pulsifer

Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 16, 2014

If you go as hard at any one thing as Melt Yourself Down does at performing, you’re probably really good at that thing.

Friday night on Red River Street, I passed a ring of people surrounding a group of street performers. Two men wailed in unison on saxophones while a handsome bearded man with pulled-back long black hair pogo-ed around shouting foreign-sounding words in a megaphone. Inside the circle, pedestrians became dancers, and the circle grew wider as more joined. It took me a second to recognize the song over the spectacle, but then it clicked in my head: This was Melt Yourself Down.

A good way to get people talking about your band at SXSW is to show them rather than tell them what you do. This is especially true when you’re an awesome act with a hard-to-swallow description (experimental jazz-punk isn’t exactly burning up the pop charts). I’m not sure how many patrons in their Saturday-evening’s finest were at Icenhauer’s backyard specifically to see Melt Yourself Down. I suspect the couple profusely making out in the one chair in the backyard weren’t diehard Melt-heads, nor the woman who danced so intensely and provocatively with one of the band members that I felt I should almost avert my eyes. (I didn’t — journalistic duty to report and all.) But, I feel fairly certain based off the crowd’s reaction, whatever brought these people out, they were glad they ended up in this old house on Rainey.

The London six-piece’s insane show began as many shows do. The wild front-man attempting to hype the crowd, and the crowd evaluating whether they will listen to the noisy stranger with the microphone, or return to their previous affairs. Then, the saxes hit; honking heavy; the drums, Latin percussion with a tribal feel; the bass guitar to add a little funk; and then the vocals, punk in delivery but with the sound of a revolutionary’s protest yell. The band spent as much of their time off the stage as on it. The two saxophonists played in a mosh pit (while moshing), singer Kushal Gaya spun from the tent poles and rallied the crowd to scream and chop along, and by the end, the band waved the audience onto the tiny outdoor stage to dance along.

SXSW 2014 marked the band’s first time in the U.S., and hopefully, if word of mouth works, it won’t be their last.