SXSW Music 2011 Day 2: Part 2 - Agalloch and YOB at Night
On the second day of SXSW Music, there were more options for metal shows at night. I enjoyed bouncing around between shows on the first day and hoped to catch a few bands at different shows this evening, such as Christian Mistress, Agalloch, and the Alex Skolnick Trio. It didn’t pan out exactly as planned, but was a good night nonetheless.
As I wandered a few alleyways, looking for a few of the more obscure venues where these bands were playing, I stumbled upon the Barbarella Patio first, which is where Agalloch would be playing later that night. Upon entry, Amber Asylum was playing and I literally went back to the gate to double check the lineup posted there. They were so mellow that I thought I was in the wrong place. The band did have a couple of slightly heavier moments toward the end of their set, but overall they were far too mellow for my tastes.
Checking out the schedule, I saw that there were a few bands that sounded intriguing, so I stuck around for more. Worm Ouroboros was up next, and while the band was described as combining metal, doom, folk, progressive, and dark ambient, they were a bit too mellow for my liking as well. The band apparently shares members of Amber Asylum and the drummer from Agalloch. While the band did have a few heavier moments, it felt like they stuck to the folk and dark ambient end of the spectrum most of the time, not conjuring up the energy to get my full attention most of the time.
The venue was filling up more as the hour grew later and it was at this point that I realized I wouldn’t be leaving to catch Christian Mistress for fear of not getting back in to see Agalloch.
Witch Mountain took the stage next, playing an interesting style of 70’s style classic metal/hard rock with female vocals. The classic 70's guitar tone was what I liked most about their sound. Despite a few decent jams and solos, the music was lacking in aggression and energy and the female vocals didn’t really work for me. The music soon faded to the background of conversation, as I awaited Agalloch, who was up next.
As I moved closer to the stage for Agalloch I realized I’d forgotten my ear plugs, and being next to the left stack of speakers, I hoped I wouldn’t regret it too badly. Up next to the stage, you could see the night sky between the tent overhead and the stage and there was a cool breeze in the air. It was an excellent setting for a show. It was my first time seeing Agalloch and I expected something more extreme. They came out playing something more ambient, and layered a mid-paced blackened metal riff into the mix. The music was somehow relaxing, even trance-inducing at times, during both ambient/post-metal segments as well as many of the more black metal segments. The raspy vocals fit right in, perhaps providing more of the blackened feel than the music itself. There was never a blast beat to be heard the entire set (that I can recall).
Without knowing the songs themselves, most of the set blended together, but it was an excellent and highly atmospheric performance. While I’m told that the atmosphere of their regular shows is what makes the experience, I found this show under the night sky to be a perfect introduction to Agalloch. The volume was just right, and I felt no ill effects when their set was over.
I decided to stay and see YOB again since I never did find the venue that Alex Skolnick was playing. And if it was crowded there, I could very well have been stranded from the shows I wanted to see if I was unable to get in there or back into Barbarella Patio.
I had no intention of standing in front of the speakers for their set, so I moved back slightly and toward the middle of the floor. It was a good choice, as YOB was definitely louder than Agolloch that night. It felt like YOB’s set was slightly longer than their earlier set, and they played some different songs from that set as well, some of them shorter, allowing for greater variety. With all of the trance-inducing doomy and long-jam sections, it’s hard to remember many of the details, but it was a non-stop headbanging set. Their second set was just as good as the first, however, if not better due to the setting.
By the end of the set, it was 2:00 am and there was a chill in the air. It was time to head back to the hotel and rest up for another day. But after sleeping in that morning and the last two excellent performances, I was wired and hardly tired at all.
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