Before writing this post, I took a look back at the recap I wrote for my first year at SXSW and couldn't believe this would be my sixth year attending. A lot has changed in those six years, both personally and with the festival itself.
One thing that was immediately noticeable this year was that it seems like there was less focus on big brand pop-ups like the infamous Doritos stage.
Another thing that was noticeable was a seeming thinning out of heavy metal showcases this year. Whereas in years past, there would constantly be at least two or three concurrent metal shows happening, at some points in the day, we'd be lucky to have at least one show happening. Thankfully, Metal Injection brought the heat in a big way at our showcase, as did our friends over at MetalSucks. With that said, let's get to the day by day breakdowns.
I arrived just early enough to be able to grab some food and be able to catch a new band, Publicist UK, featuring members of Municipal Waste, Revocation and Goes Cube and sounding nothing like those bands.
The first big showcase of the event for me was MetalSucks' annual South by South Death showcase which featured Myrone, Fallujah, Allegaeon, Norma Jean and many more. Every year, my squad fawns over one act in particular and it becomes the artist of the event for us. Last year, it was Future Islands and this year that honor went to the opening act of the MetalSucks showcase, Hugh Myrone. Myrone calls the music he creates #softshred, a throwback to the solo guitarists of the 80s and 90s. To celebrate the occassion, my squad decided to ride the nostalgia wave by purchasing some Zubaz pants. These pants basically made the entire trip for us, it unlocked a power of partying that was simply not there before. Here is a shot of us moments after putting our 'baz pants on:
We look good!
As for Myrone, I was absolutely blown away by his performance. I was acting as if this was Van Halen in 1983 and it was me up front. The best part was turning around and nobody else reacting anywhere near the way I was. However, I did notice some of the other bands on the bill were digging his shit, namely the dudes in Fallujah. Somebody got it! Speaking of Fallujah, man have they picked up steam since I saw them at Summer Slaughter last year. These guys are tighter, heavier and deathier than ever before. Other highlights include Allegaeon bringing out a human crab for their very crab-core part (which you can see here) and Norma Jean proving once and for all that they are the masters of the breakdown.
The night wrapped up with the Zubaz squad getting drunk all over downtown Austin before calling it a night.
Thursday started with some much needed breakfast. After getting some food, we headed to Wonderland to catch United Nations (featuring Jeff from Thursday) absolutely rip it. There is something that feels so right about watching a band in the daytime, outdoors and United Nations was the perfect band for that. The band informed us that we should stick around for the next band, Vanishing Life, which features Walter from Gorilla Biscuits and man, am I glad I did. It was one of those unexpected, but pleasant SXSW surprises. The band brought their blend of post-rock with hardcore elements hard to SXSW and converted me into a fan. Here's a recent release they posted:
After grabbing some Mexican, it was time to head to the Metal Injection showcase featuring Moon Tooth, Mantar, Full of Hell, KEN Mode, Felix Martin, Cancer Bats and Veil of Maya. Moon Tooth kicked off the show throwing some foam swords into the crowd that would continually be a source of entertainment throughout the night. Following Moon Tooth's set, I spotted Rolling Stone editor David Frinke at the show and I was curious who he was here to see at the Metal Injection showcase, and turns out "a lot of people in the know" told him not to miss Mantar. These people were right. Mantar is a German duo who you will be hearing a lot more about. Their first US appearance was not a disappointment in the least. Speaking of surprises, I couldn't believe how young Full of Hell were. Deathgrind with a sax player? Yes, please and thank you. I was in full party mode, hanging with Brett from Revocation, and raging:
A photo posted by Robert Pasbani (@robinjection) on
KEN Mode delivered as always, with some people I spoke to saying they were the best of the night. It's hard for me to choose. Felix Martin continued to turn heads with his fourteen string assault. Cancer Bats packed the place out and brought a ton of jams and a ton of fun to the show. Finally, Veil of Maya closed the show in a big way with some monster grooves that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Overall, the Metal Injection showcase was a huge success.
At this point, the drinking really started to catch up with us. It was really gross out in Austin, with rain pouring down on our fun basically all day. We took the first half of the day really slowly, until once again making out to Wonderland. We were all pleasantly surprised by a hip hop act, Black Milk with his backing band Nat Turner. Their performance was unbelievable. I can't find any video of it, but this should give you a good idea:
I caught some of the next band, Boyfrndz before retreating to my only panel, which was "The Art of the Interview" featuring Chuck and Godless from the MS podcast and Ryan Downey from AP. There was some interesting insight, but it was mostly geared towards artists being interviewed. The most exciting part of the night was getting a chance to speak to Downey after about his incredible scoop last year on the Tim Lambesis interview and all the fallout from it. After grabbing some dinner, I headed over to the Tone Deaf showcase. I was infinitely bummed that my dinner forced me to miss Ruby The Hachet, but that's what happens at South By. The Tone Deaf showcase featured Weedeater, King Parrot, Lazer/ Wulf, The Skull, and Stinking Lizaveta. I got there just in time for the most Texas band of the night, The Skull. These guys were good old fashioned stoner rock. Lazer/Wulf followed and man, these guys just get tighter and tighter. I remember at one point in the night seeing a drunken African-American little person with one eye stumble out of a bathroom stall and thought, wow, it's not every day you see this. Later on, when the same guy was on stage rapping with Weedeater, I realized I had just crossed paths with the legendary Bushwick Bill of the Ghetto Boys. Seeing as though this was my third straight night of partying, it was catching up to me and my crew. I almost called it a night There was only one solution. Grab the Zubaz! I ran back to the hotel and put mine on, and grabbed the rest for the squad and instantly, we were back into the party. It might've helped that we downed about four drinks each in an hour because immediately after, we. were. drunk!
It was 2AM and the bar was closing but the party didn't stop for us. We spilled into the streets, shooting the closing of our video report, with lots of Zubaz and lots of rowdy fans in the street joining in on the fun. If you have seen Frank's SXSW video recap, you already know what I'm talking about. If not, stick around to the end of this video…
Well, I was done watching the shows. Now it was time to head to the BBQ. Every year we make an excursion outside of Texas. But before we did that, we had to rent a car. And when the Zubaz squad is rocking a new car, we have to test out the sound system and dance!
This year, we went to Smitty's, a fine establishment serving incredible pork ribs, hot links, brisket and the most tender pork chop I've ever had. I'll let the photos do the talking here…
And that was our trip. It was a really fun time, but again, it's surprisingly how little metal there was this year. Hopefully next year, some more outlets will bring their awesomenss to SXSW because we sure as hell will!
If you went to SXSW, share some of your favorite moments, and don't forget to check out our video report.