The Needle Drop Showcase – A Hidden Gem
By: Mitch Sawyer
Austin’s Museum of Human Achievement played host to a TERROREYES.tv showcase on Thursday, March 13, 2013. Curated by Anthony Fantano of music review blog The Needle Drop, the party featured secession of up-and-coming bands personally selected by Fantano himself from among the artists he has recently given favorable reviews. If there’s one thing that speaks to Fantano’s abilities as a music critic, it was the consistently high quality of the bands chosen to play this series.
The building itself, a warehouse turned creative space turned concert venue, seemed to perfectly match the tone of the acts it hosted, with darkly ambient lighting, hardwood interiors and industrial accents adding to the intensely intimate feeling of the performances. The fact that the venue was located deep in the outer crust of downtown – far east from the venues where most SXSW attendees spend their time – meant low attendance that made for an extremely personal concert experience.
From the first screaming chords of hardcore art punk group, Creative Adult, the showcase began and rolled on without pause for the next six hours. BADBADNOTGOOD followed with their sinister fusion of jazz and instrumental hip-hop. This act was perhaps the biggest draw of the showcase: at this point the crowd was at it’s largest, though still small enough for the set to maintain it’s personal touch. It’s enough to say that BADBADNOTGOOD performed fantastically but beyond that, they knew exactly how to work an audience. The set-list included their riffs on “Putty Boy Strut” by Flying Lotus and “Bugg’n” by TNGHT, both of which were exceptionally well received by the crowd. Before BADBADNOTGOOD’s final song, a version of Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade,” the band took a minute to encourage the crowd to “really get into it.” The audience immediately broke into a whirlwind of bodies that would have been more appropriate at a Black Flag concert than a jazz performance. Participation in a jazz mosh-pit was honestly something I never expected to do but is something that I am infinitely thankful to have experienced. (I was took two hard blows to the ribcage and scraped up my elbow. It was great.)
Nü Sensae, who I first discovered by way of a t-shirt worn by Mac DeMarco’s bassist, played next. The bassist’s apparent endorsement was not with out merit. I was completely blown away by Nü Sensae’s noisy brand of garage punk. Their performance was largely instrumental with the occasional vocals sitting low in the mix, something that worked well for the band’s sound despite having (from what I could hear) a very strong vocalist. Next was Burger Records signee, The Coathangers, who make some really solid garage rock with a very subtle rockabilly influence and less subtle punk influence.
Label mates Open Mike Eagle and Milo played next, dropping references to Pablo Neruda, David Crosby and Cobra Commander. This was my first experience listening to Milo. There are elements of humility – and at times, vulnerability – in Milo’s music that are rare gems to find in hip-hop. Despite the serious tone that these songs can sometimes take, the set was still a lot of fun, with the rapper jumping and running around the stage and interacting with his fans.
Other notable acts worth checking out include bedroom chillwave producer Mister Lies, lo-fi 90s boom-bap revivalist Antwon and worldly, abstract hip-hop group Young Fathers.
The set wasn’t completely without fault. Anamanguchi’s set was unfortunately canceled due to missing equipment, though these sorts of accidents are understandable and no one was really to blame. The only real disappointment in the evening was Clipping, who I was initially excited to hear based on the hype surrounding their album Midcity. The washes of static in Clipping’s instrumentals were well done but were tarnished by vapidly aggressive trap lyricism. Noise-hop can work well when the lyrical content derives from social consciousness, as with B L A C K I E, or when coming from feelings of intense desperation and fear, as with Death Grips but In the end, the combination presented by Clipping did not sit well with me.
Still, the small dissatisfactions were negligible compared with the overwhelming majority of the showcase. My props go out to The Needle Drop, TERROREYES for finding such a fantastic group of artists.
Creative Adult – 8.5/10
BADBADNOTGOOD – 9.5/10
Nü Sensae – 9/10
The Coathangers – 9/10
Mister Lies – 9/10
Open Mike Eagle – 8/10
Milo – 9/10
Antwon – 8.5/10
Clipping – 5.5/10
Young Fathers – 7.5/10