There were these brief moments during Screaming Female sets when frontwoman _ _ would do what could be considered the equivalent of stage banter. In this incredibly small and mouse like voice she said hi to the crowd and said what the next song was. I bring this up because it was just shocking to hear her speak like this considering during every other moment of the set _ was an absolute monster, from the way she projected every lyric with the might of a jet engine to her unhinged guitar playing, which shoulder problems or not (the Steve Albini guitar waist guitar strap was the only testament to this fact) hadn’t lost an ounce of power or sheer face melting capabilities. The whole band was tight and intense as everyone before me had always said, and I could only imagine that a full set by would have knocked me back senseless.
You could tell to a certain degree that the members of Milk Music were a bit exhausted while playing. Which was fine really, it just meant they played a little looser than they did Thursday night. Which was ironic because they played more into the indie rock roar of their music then the Neil Young guitar burning they could have. The inclusion of more cuts from their Beyond Living EP probably contributed to this as well, which certainly got more heads in the crowd bopping. Milk Music was just as great as they were Thursday, and played with as much passion as they could muster, festival burnout or not. The fact that the guitar strap of the same guitarists fell off once again though served to this fact in a charming sort of way.
If Merchandise’s set on Saturday was bent around their emotional edge, then Sunday was all about the intensity that lurks underneath. The set was almost completely changed up, pulling both from their debut LP and more from the more risk-taking tunes on their most recent Totale Nite EP. The shifts in sound were nicely reflected thanks to whoever was in charge of lighting, who was having a field day bathing the band in dark red and blue lights, with some strobe thrown in for good measure. The damn really burst though when the band started playing _, and they had a member of the audience throw a beer bottle piñata into the crowd. At which point the stage diving started and a mini-mosh pit took hold of the front of the crowd for the rest of the show. It was nutty & chaotic, and noisy & utterly glorious in the best ways in those all too brief 30 minutes.
I had no idea what to expect when I went into see Puce Mary. Being part of the Posh Isolation group (Iceage, VAR, Sexdrome), and having her material describe in the broad terms of “power electronica” I was expecting another emotional, cathartic, and dark set like the likes of Pharmakon. And while intense, Puce Mary’s music was nothing like Pharmakon’s. She leaned on ambience as much as noise, in fact make up almost half the set to slowly building up the pulse that was coming out of speakers with slight temp changes and pitch shifts. By the time she began to incorporate her vocals, in of course a twisted, purely instrumental way, her music had already enveloped the surroundings. It was a shame Puce Mary ended so briefly, the spooky intensity she had been crafting reaching its peak right when she turned it off.
I know Wolf Eyes are noise legends, or at least a staple in modern noise music. But after four days of an absolute blistering attack on my senses, I could take nothing from the set. The moment they started playing, it just felt like an overload switch kicked in. I covered my ears, and left after the first song. I just couldn’t take it.
Lower thrived Sunday night in the dark space of Holy Mountain. Most impressive was the new material they debuted. Having only two singles to their names allows for a lot of material to appear “new”, yet you could tell how much more complex and powerful some of the material in the set was. They were even tighter than they were on Saturday, blasting through their material with this broken passion that I hadn’t noticed before. Frontman Adrian Toubro looked like he was aching at the microphone, as if the power of the songs was about to overtake him at any moment. The rest of Lower channeled all this, playing with a passive intensity that emphasized the darker parts of their intense post-punk. It was gloriously cathartic in the best possible ways.
Take everything I said about Total Control on Saturday, and they were that, possibly even a little bit better. The set was made even better by the crowd, who was even more into Total Control then they were on Saturday, going absolutely berserk the moment they started. Not to say the crowd was in anyway static on Saturday, but here in the condensed space of Holy Mountain people were absolutely flying across the room in total disregard to anyone else. Having the frontman of Los Crudos and Carson Cox of Merchandise going jumping into the fray and going just as crazy made the show that much all that much greater. This set confirmed what I been thinking since Saturday; Total Control are without a doubt one of the best live bands I have ever seen perform.
This was the Iceage show everyone wanted and everyone deserved. In no uncertain terms, Iceage were absolutely incredible, and their festival closing set might have been the best show I saw during the entirety of Chaos in Tejas. From the moment they began and the pure distortion of the beginning of “Ecstasy” rung out, it was obviously that this set was going to be nothing like the one on Thursday. Everything about Iceage on Sunday was more intense, more visceral, as if a band was channeling some mix of carnage and catharsis into musical form. All channeled through Elias Rønnenfelt, who prowled the stage, holding a steely glare that never faded as if everything deepened on this moment. His ability to collapse into the crowd allowed this intensity to be transferred into the crowd when need be, who were already going even crazier than they were during Total Control, a mix of people trying to match the fury of the music and those wanting to get as close to the band as possible in order to experience it in the most intimate/intense way possible. Even when the new songs were performed (a feat for a band who had just released a new record last February), not a drop of momentum was lost. Truly, a better band could not be asked to have closed Chaos in Tejas.