Literal translation: “grilled slaughter.” METAL AS FVCK.
We spent Friday considering the drive with some trepidation, as Dallas was experiencing a record snowfall of “a couple of inches.” Mountain of Smoke posted this photo by way of explaining that their show at the Red Blood Club on Friday night was cancelled:
Meanwhile, Melissa looked up traffic conditions:
UM. But by Saturday morning, the forecast was for (barely) above-freezing temperatures and non-frozen rain for the rest of the day, and Sean assured us the roads were in reasonable shape, so off we went. And indeed, we arrived to find that Dallas’s condition had been upgraded from “frozen hellscape” to “winter wonderland.”
We were a bit early, so while we waited, we moseyed over to Method (which is apparently the only coffeeshop anywhere in downtown Dallas that is open at 4 PM on a Saturday), where Sam, Jamie and I got coffee and Melissa got some manner of lavender-flavored something or other, which seemed to turn from revolting to delicious and back again with each sip.
Back at the Double Wide, James Magruder was marshalling the troops. He drafted me to set up the backline drumset and I think had no idea he’d just made me the happiest little boy in the whole wide world.
I admired my handiwork for a moment and then got the fuck out of the way as James and his crew raced to finish setting the stage.
The Double Wide (Dallas), Carnage Asada showcase, February 28
All of the bands used backline equipment, and with little gear to wrangle, we were free to relax and take in They Say The Wind Made Them Crazy, an experimental duo consisting of Gregg Prickett on guitar and Sarah Ruth on vocals, harmonium and HAMMERED MUHFUCKIN DULCIMER! (I really should have got a picture of them but my phone was charging. It’s OK, I’m sure there will be lots of pictures taken by real photographers up soon.)
TSTWMC stretched three songs that seemed largely improvised into a full half-hour set. The first song paired Gregg’s complex guitar chords and some Spanish-sounding finger-picked stuff with some almost operatic (and some more out-there) vocals from Sarah. The second was based on a simple ostinato on the hammered dulcimer, while the third used a guitar loop based on a simple octave for rhythm and overlaid it with harmonium chords and some very boss shrieking through heavy delay. I really liked the way that these guys based each piece on a simple, memorable idea, and that they left a lot of space in the music for contemplation. I hope to see more of them in the future.
We were up next. Since we had just played to some of the same audience at No Thanks Fest back in November, we leaned heavily on new material in order to provide some variety. Setlist:
Last of the Green Vial
Welcome to the Adders’ Land
A Cruel Weight, Thy Wound
Melissa went for it on the mic a little too hard during Blackjaw and almost fell over, but she recovered easily, and aside from the skin on my little finger splitting open and bleeding all over me, there were few other miscues. (Moose, who ran sound during No Thanks, was on the board again, and doing an admirable job as always.)
After the chaos of getting offstage, we had a chance to check out The Angelus.
These guys were really interesting- sort of a spooky slowcore type of thing, or like an occult version of a folk-rock band from the ’60s or something. Sam thought he heard a bit of Nick Cave. Their vocalist, Emil Rapstine, has a downright beautiful voice, and drummer Justin Evans’s harmonies fit in just right. He later told us that at least two of them have been playing together since the late ’90s. I think it shows.
Also Emil was playing this odd-looking guitar:
With the mismatched head and body, the switches that look like they came off a rackmount computer chassis and the downright unusual bridge, it somehow reminded me of my brother, who used to pick up random weirdly configured guitars on occasion. But he just thought it looked like a Jaguar. Oh well.
Next up were Sans Soleil from Austin, who share at least one member, violist Eva Vonne, with Dead To A Dying World. For some reason I didn’t catch a lot of their set, but what I did see was dense, heavy and powerful.
Jamie and Sam had to work Sunday morning, so unfortunately we had to split, but before we did we managed to catch a good portion of the spectacle that is Unconscious Collective. I was pumped to see these guys, because I had seen bassist Aaron Gonzalez and drummer Stefan with their father Dennis’s band, Yells At Eels, a couple of times- the first time way way back in 2001 at the Tenth More Or Less Annual KTRU Outdoor Show, when they (like me) were just kids. Well they’re all grown up now, and they delivered the goods. Sarah and Gregg from TSTWMTC joined the Gonzalez bros onstage, along with a viola player, all (minus the violist) naked except for loincloths and painted with abstract tribal symbols. The set began powerfully with Sarah keening high notes while the other band members pounded on and prodded her body. It was not like many things I’ve seen before, at least not in a rock club.
After a couple of minutes of this, Dennis, Stefan and Gregg launched into furious jazz-metal fusion, with accents from keyboard and viola. They were still going strong when we packed up our merch and hit the road- but not before I snagged what I’m told was the last copy of their first LP.
We got back to Houston around 3:30 AM, and Sunday morning, once the fog had cleared, we all agreed that Carnage Asada was the most fun we’ve had in a while. Our warmest and most sincere thanks to Sean for inviting us to play, James for making the whole thing happen, Moose and the rest of the technical crew, Cyrus and everyone else who provided the backline gear, everyone who made the CRUCIAL vegan tacos that were the only thing I ate between noon and midnight, everyone at the Double Wide, and most of all everyone that came and watched the show.
One final thing: in their preview of the show, the Dallas Observer noted that, unlike most of the bands on the bill, “Omotai are from Houston (don’t hold it against them).” Ha! Well, you know, this whole rivalry between Houston and Dallas is all in fun, and like many Houstonians, I have been know to harbor irrational feelings toward the city to the north, in some kind of weird civic bonding ritual. But over the past year, I’ve had a chance to actually spend some time in Dallas, hanging out with people and watching bands from Dallas- the Tofu Carnage folks, the guys in Mountain of Smoke and Space Beach and other bands- and I have never been anything less than impressed with the generosity of spirit and artistic commitment of the people there. So I’d like to take this opportunity to retract anything bad I ever may have said about Dallas. Dallas is fucking great. I can’t wait to go back.