Friday, June 14, 2013
Chaos in Tejas 2013: Thursday
For once I finally experience Chaos in Tejas properly. After years of picking and choosing an off day or showcase to attend, I finally dived in and made it each progressively more grueling day. I don't know how, but I managed to escape without a broken nose or broken bone, though my ears were ringing for days after, and several black and blues appeared on my body that weren't there before. And it was incredible. Running around Austin, jumping between venue to venue in a desperate attempt to not miss anything or band, not to mention seeing performances by artists you never thought in a million years you would ever see, unfolding before your eyes mere minutes after another. Something in the Austin air shifts; the mix of incoming summer and a culture that is not often nurtured here taking root for a small but highly concentrated amount of time. It's right there in the title. It's chaos, and it is absolutely perfect.
Iceage’s set should have been the show that kicked Chaos in Tejas with a massive bang. They were returning Tejas champs who absolutely killed when I saw them exactly a year ago right before they opened for Moss Icon, despite playing a set mostly filled with then just recorded and unknown You’re Nothing songs. Yet here, Iceage had everything going against them. They were playing E115, a giant, un-air conditioned warehouse with poor sound which mulled the power of most of their songs rather than adding some possible DIY charm. The crowd was also insanely unresponsive toward the band, not even glaring cross armed, but just standing still, barely a most push to be had, even when “Collation” kicked in. A bad Iceage show is still better than a quality show from an indie band, and Iceage still were still awesome in that way only Iceage can be. But having to pause for 5 grueling minutes in order to mix a microphone problem sort of sealed their fate; when the band walked off stage, they were a bit defeated.
The UV Race
In a word UV Race was absolutely absurd. Five Aussies who took the stage, ragged and seemingly drunk who played the most sloppy, art-damaged post-punk imaginable, with a front man who instantly stripped down to just his underwear for the entire set, and a guitarist who switch to a saxophone for half the band’s set. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought the band was playing a massive joke on everyone. But absurd as it seemed at time, UV Race was awesome in the most unserious way possible. They knew exactly what they were doing, and blasted their music through the murky and terrible mixing at Red 7 with drunken disregard to everything but the ruckus they wanted to make.
I was not expecting Parquet Courts to be this good. Parquet Courts shouldn’t have been this good. But Parquet Courts were that good. Spending a year touring behind Light Up Gold more than likely tightened the screws on anything loose with the band because they played not with some haphazard, whatever attitude, but a genuine “fuck it, we are going to play are silly songs as passionately as possible” mindset. They were great, the intended intensity of their songs that wasn’t there on their album was blasting out of the speakers Wire twisted indie rock glory. They were also the band to finally get the crowd moving, the 1-2 build-up of “Master of My Craft” to the burst of “Borrowed Time” triggering a small but impassioned mini mosh-pit that the band retained for the rest of the set. The band closing on “Stoned and Starving” should have been a come down, but they instead warped the song into an increasingly intense and knotty post-punk loop of noisy guitar and spoken words that was something to behold.
Milk Music were the perfect come down from the manic energy of Parquet Courts. Druggy enough so you could get lost in it, but Dinosaur Jr noisy enough so that the music was never boring. The set defined how much Milk Music has changed since they released the Beyond Living EP. The rhythm is so much sturdier thanks to their bassist, and their new guitarist is the heart of the band, never letting up on playing, even when his strap broke right during the beginning of a song. They get lost in sections; a riff they hold steady, a solo that goes on and on. This might make it seem like they spent their 40 minutes on stage noodling, but that was so far from the case. Milk Music rocked in a way that felt deeply old-school, but wasn’t cliché or an annoying indulgence into the past. It wasn’t captivating or energetic the way mostly everything else at Chaos was, but it did leave my ears ringing in just the right way.
It’s hard to say what was so awesome about seeing The Bats live. It was just four, fifty year olds playing tight pop after tight pop song. Technically, nothing more. However, almost exactly like when the Clean played last year, it more seeing the fact that you were seeing something you never thought you would see, a once in a lifetime performance in Austin of a band that always only existed in record form. Maybe it was just that, legends getting confirmed as legends because The Bats were so good. Just song after song from their massive discography that rang in the ears for those perfect 150 second before they went onto the next one. They must have played over twenty songs, and each one was just as catchy was the one that came before it. It was jangle pop in all its greatness and everything it can be, crystallized, and performed to a rabid audience. It was just great.