SXSW Music 2011 Day 3: Part 2, The Metalliance Tour
Band Photo: Crowbar (?)
The fantastic “South by South Death” earlier in the day would be a tough act to follow, but perhaps the best night show was set for the night of March 18th: The Metalliance Tour.
Following up the best day show yet, was the biggest official SXSW metal show: The Metalliance SXSW stop. The Metalliance tour featured an excellent lineup including The Atlas Moth, Howl, Red Fang, Weedeater, Kylesa, Crowbar, Helmet and Saint Vitus. The show was the first I’d attended at the Dirty Dog. It was a decent sized place, but not exactly laid out well for the crowd that would fill it that night.
I arrived while The Atlas Moth was playing. They had just a couple songs left in their set. The first thing I noticed is that the bass sounded very loud. It gave a groovier feel to their music and most of the bands who played that night for that matter. Their last two songs sounded pretty decent, even if bass-heavy.
Howl was up next and played a short set of their groovy style of doom. Still getting drinks and settled in, their set flew by with little sticking out to me, however.
Red Fang was up next. I’d just seen them for the first time at MetalSucks’ “South By South Death” earlier in the day, but I was glad to see them again. I felt like their set at night was just a little better, actually, since the guitars were not as overdriven and loud as at Headhunters earlier that day.
The venue was filling up quickly and it was quite hard to move around by the time Weedeater took the stage. This was the same time slot that Judgement Day was playing at another club and once again, I decided to stay put for fear of not being able to get back in to the show I was at. The bass still seemed loud for Weedeater’s set, and it was a mire of groovy down-tempo and mid-paced songs for the most part. Not knowing their material and the general muddiness of the sound made the set run together, but it still had enough grooves for some good head banging throughout.
Kylesa took the stage next, and the place was absolutely packed. In fact, it was so packed you could barely move to the bars or the bathrooms (and I pity anyone who needed to use the latter) and people began disposing of their drink cans and cups on the floor itself. The place was filthy in no time and you could barely move without stepping on something.
Kylesa broke into their set and the crowd started getting crazy. A small pit with half a dozen guys pushing each other broke out right up front and next to me. I didn’t mind being on the fringe and probably would have jumped in if I didn’t have my camera in hand. Kylesa put on a good show equal to their performance a couple nights before. It was different though, and didn’t feature the same extended drum segments that the other show did. Equal parts sludgy groove and trance, it was still a great set, however, making them one of my favorite bands I’d seen live at SXSW.
Crowbar finally took the stage and dove into their sludgy hardcore-tinged metal. The band played the heaviest and most intense set of the night, but still had moments of slower sludgy material that fit right in with the rest of the bill.
A lot of people were there to see Helmet that night. The band had some hits in the 90s and was supposed to be playing “Meantime” in its entirety on this tour. But they seemed a little off their game that night and the set lacked much of a punch. By the end of the set I was wondering to myself if I had missed their smash hit “Unsung,” because I couldn’t remember them playing it. (Granted, I did take a lap around the venue and get another drink while Helmet was on). I heard grumblings of this sort from others as well, so I assume they didn’t play it for some reason, which is a big disappointment.
After Helmet was done, the place cleared quite a bit, yet the venue wasn’t letting people in who were waiting to get in and still would have liked to see Saint Vitus. Saint Vitus is a band I’ve been interested in checking out due to their history and style, as I’ve found myself enjoying some good 70’s doom of late. Seeing them take the stage made me recall the first time I saw Black Sabbath reunite.
The band took the stage and looked like a haggard group that just rode in on their motorcycles (as if that was logistically possible). Despite their age, they proceeded to kick our asses, not physically, but with a fantastic performance. It’s hard to give specifics when you don’t know the songs by name, but their delivery of 70s style doom rooted more in rebellion than despair sounded spot on. And the sound and volume was just right as well.
The only negative was that I spent much of the set trying to get some guy who was completely drugged out of his mind off me. He kept doing this thing where he’d lean back and just fall backwards, running into everyone around him. In fact, a small space had opened up of people just to give a wide berth to him. It was amazing that he only fell down a handful of times. Mosh pits, I can handle, but this guy was totally oblivious (and obliterated) and earned the ire of several onlookers in the vicinity, myself included. It’s his loss that he probably wouldn’t remember a thing about the show the next day.
I hardly knew any of the songs, but Saint Vitus’ performance was no less inspiring than Black Sabbath’s reunion to me. If you haven’t seen Vitus live, it is a must-see experience for all fans of 70’s metal.
Despite some chaos and drama with the show almost getting shut down due to overcrowding, and the venue being filthy, The Metalliance Tour was undoubtedly the best metal show of SXSW, capping off a fantastic day that started with MetalSucks’ successful “South By South Death” show.
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