Clash vs Relentless @ SXSW - the review

Gallows and more at our special SXSW show...
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Sixth Street in Austin: the rock and roll capital of the USA is feeling like a zoo. Each and every type of music lover is strutting their funk up and down the blazing street and the sun has only just made friends with midday.

Clash has teamed up with Relentless Energy drinks to present a seething edge of music in this orgy of rhythm and sound. SXSW is here, the least conventional industry convention to grace our ears. It’s basically a sonic trolley dash around some 60 venues with bands squeezing their sound from every nook and cranny.

This year we have our own nook, and it’s a seedy rockers bar called the Dirty Dog that’s about to play host to six bands looking to make their own noisy impression on the bedlam of different bass adoring creatures.

Turbowolf
Openers Turbowolf are four lads who, in the spirit of fame, have got a bit carried away and decided to plough self-funded into the rock and roll jungle of SXSW. No label, no money, not much of a clue but an irrepressible spirit that wins over the growing crowd. Fun, vibrant and bright eyed, this English quartet surf a buoyant vibe of metal and canonical rock.

Dananananaykroyd
Dananananaykroyd are our online editor’s favourite live band right now, and today this hyperbole is vindicated. Peddling brash thrashed-up walls of intimidation, they temper this shock and awe sound with possibly the most endearing and creative live engagement. Typical of Glaswegians, they are FULL of banter… and it’s not generic chat, rather a heartfelt desire to communicate. From pretending to die on the floor (complete with chalk line forensics), to their singer legging it round to give EVERY member of the audience a hug, they conflict, disorient and seduce. Refreshing in the extreme.

Micachu and the Shapes
Heavily tipped in the UK, the Austin crowds were in for a drenched wave of new-school sound, and detailed wonk is the order of the day. Incredibly progressive in their verve between minimalist sound, percussion, electronics and walls of distorted cacophony, Micachu are far from your average Austin staple. Abrasion with a groove, garage-y yet riddled with electronics, oscillations between gruff androgynous vocals and towering sound - this band is set to soar technical heights that only the cult get to breathe.

Fighting with Wire
An Irish trio with a name as terse as their hometown of Derry, Fighting With Wire are a band that Austin feeds on via American-angled and aggressive metal, forced down your neck at breakneck velocity. This city is built on this and the crowd responds as a unified beast. With their Irish nuance for mayhem and hedonism, Fighting With Wire are possibly a perfect band. They should move to Chicago. Bold green futures await.

Juliette and the New Romantiques
Bagging Juliette Lewis is a coup for Clash and Relentless. Sweet and subdued, she’s normality incarnate. Joy of joys. Yet as she strides to the stage she becomes a tigress. Pacing and uncontained, her opening salvo calls to arms all the fiery women in the crowd; the ones whose love and passion crush everything before them. Lewis has arrived today. Kinetic to the point of spasm, she rules the crowd; yet her new band The New Romatiques will never see the light past their singer’s towering shadow. Yeah, so she starred in Hollywood films, but her band’s commitment to music proves this is far from a vanity project. Her vocal range is impressive, her presence assured and her lyrical content is in keeping with Romantiques’ piquing the tender spots of tragedy and slaughtered hearts. Better than we expected, and we were positively bleating before the gig.

Gallows
With so much funk seeping across the stage, Gallows chose to deploy their aggressive punk message from a human ring on the dancefloor of the gig. Not out of intimidation of Juliette, just so Frank Carter could smash his slight frame across more bodies. Road testing new material from their forthcoming new album ‘Grey Britain’, Gallows soon hit a cantankerous and dangerous flow. As singer Frank targets photographers in the crowd to smash into, the rest of the band keeps a razor-edged sound pummelling the viewers. During third song ‘I Dread The Night’, Frank, already bleeding from his head, manages to break his thumb on a passing crowd member. Immediately he demands the next song be played in so “I can break my other fucking thumb”, yet the pain and on-floor bandaging subdue him mildly towards the end of the set when full-on punk crowd mechanics take over and the punters thrash and mosh into the band with no little recklessness. Closer ‘Crucifucks’ is all the stimulation they need. The venue is wild, and it’s only 6pm. Spit and blood is in abundance as the crowd staggers into the light and another distinct chapter of SXSW is closed.

Uncontained, prowling music ruled the day… SXSW is many things to many people, and today the rule was visceral and uncontrolled relentless energy. It’s day one, and we may have peaked.

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Photo: Phil Sharp

Find a full photo gallery from this show HERE / Video clips HERE

Get more SXSW 2009 content and Clash show details HERE

For video interviews from this show click HERE

Read our exclusive interview with Gallows (preview) HERE

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