METZ @ The Mohawk
My last day of SXSW started with the loudest bang possible in the form of METZ. They were one of the top bands I wanted to catch at SXSW above all else, and they did not fucking disappoint. The same monstorous noise rock was in full form at the Mohawk, despite the fact they more than likely had played a billion other shows over the past four days. However, there they stood grinning massively just for getting to play, in between screaming the lyrics until their throats started to shred and pounding their instuments so hard I thought they might shatter at a moment's notice. Frontman Alex Edkins was particularly impressive in his ability flail around and yet create the most headache inducing ruckus I've heard in a long time. No joke, I literally had a headache after METZ's set, and I mean that as the greatest complement possible. The only complaint of the set wasn't with METZ's themselves, but with the audience, who refused to budge an inch during the entire set. I know it was 2:00 P.M. on the last day of SXSW, but it was still doesn't excuse some part of your body should be slamming into someone else's when METZ are on stage. That's just common courtesy.
Toxie @ The Yellow Jacket Social Club
Toxie's set was one of those just pure unlucky circumstances of SXSW. After an hour delay, they got on stage to a tiny crowd and their vocals at a near whisper compared to the rest of the instruments. Worse, the sound guy in charge of it all basically just walked off after their set began, giving the band no chance of repairing their sound or improving their set. Which is a real shame because you could tell Toxie has some wonderful pop tunes under their belt, fully formed for a band that has just one single under their belt. But for anyone who was watching them here, they only got half the experience.
Dreamend @ The Velveeta Room
Dreamend’s records are dense, highly layered pieces of fuzz-folk that swell and burst almost like an orchestra at times. So it was a wonder to me as to how they would recreate that experience in a live setting. And in a possibly very smart move, they didn’t. Reduced to just a guitar and drum duo, the band just bashed on the instruments, with the only allusion to their usual sound being a handmade microphone mask that frontman Ryan Graveface donned to recreate the albums' spooky vocals and semi-creepy vibes. What was still present though, was the amount of catharsis in the music. As distorted as the music and vocals were, the emotions came out crystal clear; anguish, turmoil, sadness, and tiniest hint of rising above all of it. I'll never understand why they decided to only play for 22 minutes; I'm sure they could have gone on for hours.
Experimental Aircraft @ The Velveeta Room
Experimental Aircraft are an old '90s shoegaze band I had never heard of before playing the Graveface showcase. They definitely pulled from the more atmospheric elements of the genre, concentrating on builds and slow songs just as much as the distortion bursts, pushing them more into the post-shoegaze realm. There was a moment near the end of the set where the frontwomen even sat down and started playing an electric autoharp, more than confirming their view on mood vs. intensity. However, they still sound great, especially when they decided to start really utilizing the guitar they had at hand and started blasting int blistering 7 minute sprawls of songs that never let up on their energy. More so, the band set the stage for the dreamy, ear shattering bliss that was going to take over the showcase.