Brandi Carlile brings her band and strings to full bloom at ACL taping

Brandi Carlile and her band tape “Austin City Limits” at ACL Live on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Scott Newton/KLRU-TV/Austin City Limits

There was a moment during “Party of One,” the final track on Brandi Carlile’s new album and also the last song of her set during Tuesday night’s “Austin City Limits” taping at ACL Live, that captured her perfectly. Seated at the piano, she looked across the stage at her remarkable band — the core players supplemented for this occasion by a string quartet — and gave in completely to the moment, lost amid the melodic beauty of the music and overcome with a blissful, peaceful smile.

She has a lot to be happy about, and a lot to be proud of with “By the Way, I Forgive You,” which ACL executive producer concurred is the best record of her career in his brief introduction of the Seattle singer-songwriter. Carlile had been on the program once before, in 2010 after releasing her third album. This time around, she focused heavily on the new record, which came out in February and reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200, her highest-charting album to date.

Nine of the set’s 14 songs came from “By the Way, I Forgive You,” an emotional tour de force that deals with personal changes in Carlile’s life, perhaps most of all her entry into motherhood. “The Mother,” one of the new record’s most poignant tracks, was a highlight on Tuesday evening, in part because it began with her too-cute-for-words young daughter Evangeline strolling out onto the stage to give her mom a hug and a kiss. “We’ve got a rule,” Carlile explained, that if her daughter wants to, “she can come onstage and get a kiss.”

Brandi Carlile tapes “Austin City Limits” at ACL Live on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Scott Newton/KLRU-TV/Austin City Limits

Carlile also made a point of underscoring how important her longtime bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth — twin brothers on guitar and bass, respectively — are to her music. The brothers have been deeply involved in the writing of Carlile’s music since her 2005 self-titled debut. Introducing the song “The Eye,” a trio-harmony spotlight from 2015’s “The Firewatcher’s Daughter,” Carlile said that despite her name being out front, “these guys could front the band on their own.”

Carlile frequently wore her social politics on her sleeve. She noted before “The Mother” that it was meant for parents of all kinds, from straight to gay to transgender. Introducing “The Joke,” the new album’s first single, she said she wrote it as an anthem for “unloved, unaccepted, unnatural, illegal” people who are all too often overlooked or cast aside.

A late-set charge through Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water” made clear the influence he’s had on her music, and perhaps on her fashion sense as well: Though she was dressed mostly in black, she joked that her choice of shiny turquoise shoes was a nod to John’s flamboyant style. The down side to the drawn-out “Madman” jam was it meant fewer songs from her own catalog in the set, which included only one number from her first three records. (That was perhaps understandable, since her first “Austin City Limits” appearance focused on that material.)

Concerned about a loud noise in the studio during the opening “Every Time I Hear That Song” and her own insecurity about her vocal performance on “The Eye,” Carlile opted to do both songs over again in the encore. Closing with the new album’s “Hold Out Your Hand,” she dedicated it to a younger generation of activists who seem to embody the song’s key lyric of determination in the face of adversity: “The devil can’t get my soul.”

Before the show began, Lickona announced that the date for the fifth annual Austin City Limits Hall of Fame show will be Oct. 25, with last year’s acclaimed host Chris Isaak returning as emcee. Inductees and performers will be announced at a later date.

Set list:
1. Every Time I Hear That Song
2. Raise Hell
3. The Eye
4. The Mother
5. The Joke
6. Hard to Forgive
7. Sugartooth
8. Mainstream Kid
9. Most of All
10. Madman Across the Water
11. The Story
12. Whatever You Do
13. Party Of One
Encore:
14. Every Time I Hear That Song (retake)
15. The Eye (retake)
16. Hold Out Your Hand

RELATED: See more reviews and news of “Austin City Limits” performances

SXSW: Cut Copy can’t catch a break in Austin

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Cut Copy can’t catch a break in Austin it seems. In October, the Australian dance act was playing a late afternoon set at ACL Fest when their sound was cut off mid-way through their set-closing biggest hit, “Lights and Music,” as part of a festival-wide Tom Petty tribute. At Lustre Pearl Saturday night, at their only honest-to-goodness SXSW show (two members played a DJ set earlier in the evening), the four-piece wrestled with persistent sound issues.

Frontman Dan Whitford was visibly upset, wincing at the piercing shrieks of feedback and knocking down his keyboard during crowd-pleaser “Hearts on Fire.” Having a seemingly amateur sound issue like egregious feedback tarnish the polish of their slick, carefully crafted electronic sound was no doubt frustrating for the guys of Cut Copy, but they played on and made the best of it, with Whitford rebounding from the apparently unfixable annoyance by focusing on pushing the crowd harder to sing and get moving.

“It’s the last night. If you’re not going to dance now, when?” Whitford asked.

Adding to the mix of sound pains was music pouring over from a neighboring Rainey Street bar. But, as with the feedback, the crowd seemed eager to forgive and focus on dancing. “SXSW is a bit of a battle of the bands sometimes. But as long as you’re on our side,” Whitford said with a smile.

Through it all, Cut Copy kept the packed crowd at Lustre Pearl moving, with hands waving in the air and voices raised shouting along the words from a short run through hits from albums In Ghost Colours, Zonoscopeand their latest, Haiku From Zero.

Maybe next time the band can undo their current streak. Fortunately, fans won’t have to wait long: Cut Copy gets a redo in Austin next Friday, March 30, at Stubb’s. Let’s hope they can find and replace the sound guy before then. (I’ll see myself out…)

Setlist

  • “Need You Now”
  • “Black Rainbows”
  • “Airborne”
  • “Pharaohs & Pyramids”
  • “Hearts on Fire”
  • “Take Me Out”
  • “Out There on the Ice”
  • “Lights and Music”
Crowds line up to get into day parties along Rainey Street during SXSW on March 13, 2018. JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

SXSW 2018: Hinds triumphed over hoarseness in their 13th set of the week

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Contrary to whatever cliché you may have heard, 13 was not a particularly lucky number for Hinds during their Barracuda set on Friday afternoon. First, there was the incessant feedback that’s plagued the Spanish garage pop quartet for years at SXSW. Then, of course, there was the inevitable physical deterioration that comes with playing 13 shows in a week. So, just to be safe, singer/guitarist Carlotta Cosials issued a warning at the beginning of their set.

“Before It gets awkward, just to let you know, we have some issues with the voices,” she said. Fellow singer/guitarist Ana García Perrote chimed in, “Use your imagination with sweet angels’ voices, because that is what we have.”

To which the audience collectively responded with: Girl, please. Hinds could’ve made whale noises and told knock-knock jokes onstage and the audience would’ve eaten it up. These ladies are one of the brightest buzz bands at this year’s festival, and their delightfully rough-around-the-edges set felt like a hard-earned victory lap. What’s a little hoarseness when the band members were shouting triumphantly between songs and hopping around the stage like prizefighters?

It’s easy to see why Hinds dominated SXSW this year. Cosials and Perrote flex their pop smarts with dual lead vocals that recall veteran girl groups of the late ‘90s, while their crunchy guitar leads satisfy the DIY kids who cuff their jeans two inches above their Vans SK8-Hi’s and smoke American Spirits by the pack. Cosials, Perrote and bassist Ade Martín cut rock goddess power stances and aimed their guitars into the crowd, emboldened by the throng of women jumping against the stage and singing their infectious choruses back at them.

In the end, rapturous applause overruled the sound tech’s call to end the set, and Hinds eked our one more song. All they could do was smile in exhausted, ecstatic disbelief as they garnered the loudest reaction I’ve personally witnessed all week. The members of Hinds have earned themselves a solid week of rest — and a bigger venue next time they come to town.

A “do not talk to sound guy” sign hangs next to the sound board at Barracuda during the 2018 SXSW Music festival March 17. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Naked Giants’ fully clothed fun jump kicks its way into SXSW’s rock-hungry heart

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I’ve heard plenty of veteran SXSW-ers who bemoan the lack of rock at the festival. With hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music making up more and more of the lineup, many long for a simple drum-guitar-bass setup played loud and played fast. For these, Naked Giants are the cure for what ails. The bombastic Seattle rock trio are an absolute delight, with an energetic live show that is loud, fast, and, dare I say, the most fun to be had at a live rock show at SXSW 2018.

Despite the name, Naked Giants are clothed and of only slightly above-average human dimensions, but their presence on stage is huge, with goofy on-stage antics, high-flying moves, and serious face-melting solos. This is gnarly garage rock delivered with guitar straps worn high and tight and a seemingly endless array of effects pedals. Think: (Thee) Oh Sees or Ty Segall but firmly rooted enough in classic rock basics to appeal to your Stevie Ray Vaughan-loving mother just as well as your record crate-digging music snob pal.

The secret in their mass appeal is the live show sauce. They feel like they’re three buds who just happen to be wickedly talented musicians having a good time together on stage–as well as off stage. Early into their Little Woodrow’s show Thursday at SXSW, bassist Gianni Aiello jumped the railing and played from the sidewalk, holding his bass behind his head and thrashing about, all the while drawing delighted or concerned stares from passers by. My favorite reaction? A child in his caregiver’s arms, smiling while tightly covering his ears: an apt analogy for the Naked Giants gleeful/ear plugs-encouraged live experience. Many smilers turned the corner and walked in to watch the show. (Who needs fliers and email blasts with promotional work like that?) Meanwhile, back on stage, guitarist-vocalist Grant Mullen’s eyes rolled back in his head and his mouth hung open, looking possessed as he sanded down the fretboard with a non-stop spidering of flying fingers. Throughout it all drummer Henry LaVallee played at a frenzied pace, exhibiting superhuman stamina–even more so later during an 8-minute-or-so solo-stuffed jam.

One notable fan in attendance (or at least in the same venue) was Rory McCann–Game of Thrones’ Sandor “The Hound” Clegane.

Naked Giants played SXSW last year but returned this go-round ahead of their upcoming full-length debut, SLUFF, due out March 30.

The most intense SXSW show? A brutal, ear-wrecking combo of Metz and Idles

If you were looking for the loudest, most hardcore, most moshing-est show at SXSW 2018, hopefully you found your way into the packed Barracuda Backyard for an up-close-and-personal, all-bands-on-the-floor bill featuring insane Bristol punks Idles and acclaimed Canadian noise masters Metz Friday night.

Guitarist Mark Bowen and lead singer Joe Talbot of the band Idles perform at the British Music Embassy Official Showcase at Latitude 30 during the 2018 SXSW Music festival in the early hours of March 16. 03/16/18 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The off-stage show at Barracuda is likely one of the more intimate setups you’d catch Metz playing these days—and probably the tightest quarters you’d want to see Idles in, lest you desire to spend an hour feet removed from the floor caught up in a battering human blender of rage-releasing fans slamming together. And that close to the band, no less, who are even more energetic than the frenzied fans crashing around them.

This all may sound like your idea of a nightmare or comical if you think the scene is silly, but Idles’ SXSW 2018 performance at Barracuda may be the best punk show of its kind I’ve ever witnessed. Think: Nick Cave meets Mclusky, gritted teeth and grins, bruises and embraces with strangers, uplifting and angry. It felt like experiencing something people will be talking about for years to come.

Pacing the circle of fans enclosing around him and spitting on the ground, frontman Joe Talbot had the ready-to-strike walk and intense gaze of a man one wouldn’t want to cross. Guitarist Mark Bowen brought a sense of levity and used the combination of wireless microphones and the flanked-by-fans setup to be even more mixed in to the crowd than usual, at times handing off his guitar, climbing on swaying towers of audio gear, or, in the ultimate act of subversion, jumping onto the empty Barracuda Backyard stage behind the band to perform.

“Mike Stand, everybody,” Bowen said, giving an acknowledging motion to a fan holding his mic for him.

“Don’t ever give us wireless microphones again,” Talbot said.

Beneath the surface level of barely contained chaos, Idles’ performance felt urgent and like a needed catharsis—not just for weary, worn-out music fans nearing the end of a long week, but for the world at large—touching on anger, humanity, sexism, politics, poverty, and love in that sometimes surprising way that only visceral rock music can.  

“I know things are [expletive] right now, but remember to love yourselves and the people around you. Love conquers all,” Talbot said as the set drew to a close.

Weirdly, I almost felt bad for Metz to have to follow such a show.

Guitarist Mark Bowen of the band Idles takes his performance out onto the bar top at the British Music Embassy Official Showcase at Latitude 30 during the 2018 SXSW Music festival in the early hours of March 16. 03/16/18 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The calm before the next coming storm was short, and Toronto-based trio Metz soon entered the pit of fans, unleashing a blistering barrage of pure melodic noise, rusty razor-wire guitar squeals, and speedy, piston-pumping bass to a backdrop of jumping and moshing and flying cups and cans.

Grungier than grunge rock played at a volume that would make even hardened shoegaze fans flinch, the static contortionists of Metz unleashed their signature sound of eardrum-killing klaxons of minimal bending guitar screeches that rise and fall like passing sirens, touching on the best bits from their three albums to date, including their latest Strange Peace.

The show began to really come into its own a few songs in. “This song is for dancing, so move your [expletive expletive],” said sweat-drenched vocalist-guitarist Alex Edkins, launching into the explosive “Get Off.” (Side note: While I agree—it is for dancing—I couldn’t help but think this must seem a hilariously confounding moment for any uninitiated listener roped into going to the show with a friend: “This is for dancing?!?”) Dance the crowd did, as event photographers on the frontlines cradled their gear and up-front fans tried to hold the door against the thrashing bodies slamming against their backs to avoid trampling guitar pedals or tripping on monitors past the invisible barrier between fan and band.

As the last bit of feedback faded away, the ringing in the ears came up in the mix. Fans assessed themselves and their belongings, turned and smiled to talk to strangers, and headed out: nothing was broken, no one hurt.

The doubleheader of hearing-ruining ruckus followed sets from “semi-legendary” (as described by frontman David Gedge) British indie icons The Wedding Present and wild, positive political punk newcomers Life. Entry to Barracuda slowed to a crawl well before Idles hit the floor, with long lines of fans inside waiting to move between the inside stage to the outdoor one. The show marked the final set for Idles at SXSW this year. Metz plays Saturday afternoon at the Thrasher X Vans Death Match party at 6 p.m.

SXSW 2018: SOB x RBE engage a lethargic Fader Fort with a little help from ‘Black Panther’

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Shame on you, Fader Fort! Some of the latest and greatest names in hip-hop are performing right before your very eyes, and you’re too busy chatting with your neighbors, blowing strawberry daiquiri vape rings and trying in vain to refresh Twitter to even notice! (Wait, that last one was me. Sorry.)

Luckily, SOB x RBE proved undaunted by the lethargy and even wrung some signs of life from the Fort’s Thursday night crowd — all it took was a little help from the biggest superhero of all time.

Photo courtesy Ryan Muir / The FADER

“How many of y’all seen ‘Black Panther’?” they asked to mild applause. “How many of y’all bought that ‘Black Panther’ album?” Slightly more applause. The Vallejo, California foursome promptly tore into “Paramedic!”, the blustery banger off the Kendrick Lamar-curated soundtrack to the highest-grossing solo superhero film of all time. Finally, the most applause.

RELATED: Check out the 2018 SXSW unofficial party guide

Photo courtesy Ryan Muir / The FADER

The members of SOB x RBE — short for Strictly Only Brothers, Real Boi Entertainment — are all between the ages of 19 and 21, and they just released their debut studio album, “Gangin,” last month, but they already boast a boisterous, fully realized sound and infectious stage presence that suggest years of studying their craft. (Yhung T.O. and DaBoii used to rap into their phones and put them over beats through a PlayStation.) Their production quirks are brash and unpredictable, occasionally hearkening back to ‘90s West Coast rap stalwarts Mac Dre and E-40. They spit schoolyard taunts and outsize boasts with gleeful tenacity, bars tumbling over each other and threatening to derail the songs at any moment — but never quite doing so.

RELATED: So many bands! Our music team makes some SXSW recommendations

Photo courtesy Ryan Muir / The FADER

At this stage in their early careers, SOB x RBE’s calculated recklessness would probably serve them better in a more confined space, where they could rage with their audience unimpeded by a barricade or elevated stage. But it’s a testament to their rapidly rising profile that they managed to headline Fader Fort and engage an audience that drowned out Raekwon’s brief surprise set just minutes earlier with its chatter. The kids are alright — and they’ll keep getting better.

With a little Luck Reunion, the SXSW week takes on a sun-tangled glow

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The sun was shining brightly when Kevn Kinney took the stage in the Revival Tent at the Luck Reunion a little before noon on Wednesday and sang a tune that could’ve been the theme song of this entire event on the western outskirts of Austin. “Welcome to the Sun Tangled Angel Revival,” goes the song, which Kinney wrote years ago for a record with his band Drivin’ N’ Cryin’. “You can go everywhere, you can see everything, in the world.”

The possibilities indeed seem endless when you arrive in Luck, Willie Nelson’s fictional western town in the hills around Spicewood. These all-day bashes, coinciding with all of the South by Southwest action every mid-March, consistently present quality music in an atmosphere that combines quintessential Hill Country scenery with the cultural sensory overload of SXSW week.

Micah Nelson leads Particle Kid at the Luck Reunion on March 15, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

The Luck Reunion isn’t an official SXSW event; it’s more like a big party for Spicewood locals, visiting artists, and various VIPS making a one-day escape from the downtown madness. But it does in some ways feel like the early days of SXSW, when it was still small enough to run in to everyone you wanted to see and have great conversations all day long. In that respect, it’s a social event as much as a musical one.

But the music punctuates everything from 11 a.m. till well past sundown. A fourth stage (dubbed “Music From the Source”) was added this year, similar in size to the Revival Tent which has room for 200-300 people. The World Headquarters stage is the primary gathering spot (capacity in the 500-1,000 range), but perhaps the coolest spot is the tiny, old-west-picture-perfect chapel, which holds less than 100 people yet featured some of the best performers at the reunion.

Highlights for me on this day were plentiful. Kinney and Courtney Marie Andrews stood out in a pre-noon song-swap on the Revival Stage. Poking my head through the window of the chapel, I heard just enough of Lilly Hiatt to be quite impressed. Austin singer-songwriter David Ramirez drew an overflow crowd to the Source stage a little later and might have been the day’s big winner at Luck, likely winning over a lot of fans who’d not previously heard him. Aaron Lee Tasjan played tuneful rockers on the main stage, and brought the day full-circle when he brought his former bandmate Kinney onstage for a set-closing jam.

Willie’s sons Micah, with Particle Kid, and Lukas, with Promise of the Real, played as daylight faded over now-cloudy skies, with their dad’s closing set still to come after dark (along with a last unbilled special guest in the chapel who was rumored to have been Margo Price). We had obligations back in town and thus didn’t stay till the end, but we’d already had an ultimate Willie experience: a special invite to board one of his historic buses for a sneak-preview of “Last Man Standing,” his new record due out next month on Sony Legacy.

RELATED: Willie Nelson rolls on with another new album

And yes, the boarding time was 4:20. Willie’s also launching a new “Last Man Standing” line of his Willie’s Reserve marijuana brand in California to coincide with the album’s release. Your humble Statesman scribe was on the job and thus refrained from any free samples that may or may not have been passed around. Let’s just say that when an assistant opened the bus door to come aboard at one point, I’m pretty sure the view from outside of billowing smoke pouring from the bus approximated that classic Jeff Spicoli VW van scene from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

Welcome to the Luck Reunion, aka the Sun Tangled Angel Revival. You can go everywhere, you can do everything, in the world.

RELATED: Photos from Willie Nelson at private Farm Aid event the night before Luck Reunion

 

 

 

 

 

you can go everywhere,

you can see everything,

in the world

Drab Majesty’s alien post-punk make them SXSW’s must-see act

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Los Angeles’ Drab Majesty are a post-punk duo who dress themselves in white leather jackets and futuristic shades like intergalactic bikers, have a slew of songs about the UFO cult Heaven’s Gate, and kicked off their set by eating white roses. That may not be what you would expect for one of the most memorable performances of the fest, but their show at local electronic label Holodeck’s (founded by S U R V I V E member Adam Jones) showcase last night at Hotel Vegas proved that their unconventional approach to a well-worn genre is what makes them a must-see act.

Drab Majesty (photo by Andy O’Connor for the American-Statesman)

Led by vocalist and guitarist Deb DeMure, the alter ego of Andrew Clinco, and augmented by keyboardist and backing vocalist Mona D, aka Alex Nicolaou, Drab Majesty sounds simply heavenly, with bright guitars and warm synths out lushing the lushet dream-pop group. What separates them from most post-punk bands, and why they have nowhere to go but up towards celestial heights, is that even with their left-field presentation, they know how to rock. Deb knows a hot lick at first sight, even when it’s dripping in reverb and shimmer. He would occasionally get close to the crowd and point his guitar triumphantly, bringing a whiff of 80s guitar god into their voyage. They’ve always been a mesmerizing presence just from their appearance, and this is another step towards expanding their live presence. For just coming off a massive European tour, they had energy to spare. Their set emphasized their more propulsive tracks, like “39 By Design” and “Kissing the Ground,” the latter of which has lines that would be nervous if not for all the gorgeous effects. “Cold Souls” is an anthem for life beyond death, and its driving melody making gutsy rock into something beautiful and cosmic.

RELATED: So many bands! Our music team makes some SXSW recommendations

A Drab Majesty set is a study in contrasts: it’s aggressive and will have you feeling light-footed, there are 80s sounds abound and yet they sound like they come from a world where time is void, it’s inspired by space and makes you feel closer to the Earth. Even if you killed all your idols, Deb is beyond charismatic. Hotel Vegas became not a teeming pool of garage rock and quarter-baked psych like it usually is, but a space where new possibilities flourish. It’s stupid to predict the future in music, and I’ll say it anyway: Drab Majesty have what it takes to become a much bigger act than they are now.

Drab Majesty just released “Cannibal” through Holodeck’s compilation Holodeck Vision One, which also features tracks from S U R V I V E’s Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, as well as local experimentalists like Troller, Michael C. Sharp, and Bill Converse. Austin isn’t just a hotbed for off-kilter electronic and rock, it knows how to cull from the best.

Thrasher brings metal back to SXSW

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Thrasher Death March’s absence the past two SXSWs has been the biggest loss for fans of metal and hardcore, as there wasn’t a better day party for them. This was the day party on the pulse, bringing the hottest new talent and the most righteous veterans together, and just far enough from the downtown chaos to make it worthwhile. Its return — at Weather Up, a cocktail bar that doesn’t seem like an obvious choice — heavily makes up for the anemic presence of the official lineup by bringing heat from Texas and all over the nation.

Spirit Adrift (photo by Andy O’Connor for American-Statesman)

Arizona’s Spirit Adrift made their Texas debut as people were starting to trickle in, and though the crowd was a little sparse at this point, they brought an arena gusto nonetheless. Lead vocalist and guitarist Nate Garrett was sounding fresh with his high vocals — the wear of the fest hasn’t gotten to him yet. Spirit Adrift were especially founding with the Trouble-Metallica fusion of “Curse of Conception,” Garrett’s catchy metal synthesis will get them better fest slots in the future. He was also pulling double duty playing guitar for death metal band Gatecreeper, where his bandmate Chase Mason takes over on vocals. A much larger crowd had came in by then, and when Mason ordered a circle pit for “Desperation,” a track that’s Swedish death metal gone hardcore, he got one. Despite having come through quite a few times in the past couple years, enthusiasm from them or Austin hasn’t waned. (Both groups will also play an unofficial show at Lost Well on Saturday.)

RELATED: Check out the 2018 SXSW unofficial party guide

When New Orleans sludge metal pioneers Eyehategod last came through in May, it was a bit of a disaster — vocalist Mike Williams left the stage after three songs because of exhaustion, and fans got up and sang the rest of the set. This time, he looked much healthier and got through a 30-minute set with nary an issue. He authoritatively announced they were playing a four-piece, minus guitarist Brian Patton, and jokingly called themselves “Black Flag,” a quartet that is one of their biggest influences. Not having Patton on board was no problem for guitarist and original member Jimmy Bower, who handled all the sludgy grooves himself with ease. Even with Williams in better standing, it was grim to hear him say “We’re on tour forever, and ever, and ever.” Staying on the road can take its toll, and for a guy like Williams, who’s lived Eyehategod’s lyrical themes of addiction and living on the margins, it can be especially painful.

Texas had an especially strong presence at Thrasher. In between sets on the West Stage, chopped and screwed music played over the PA. Punks and metalheads sure do love their DJ Screw, a contrast to the familiar fast and loud. Army are a new hardcore band from Austin, abundant with youthful energy and rage. It’s a simple name you’ll see on a lot after this week is over. Total Abuse blasted through a set of noisy hardcore, and the claustrophobia they bring surprisingly worked well outdoors. Dallas’ Mothership were a total 180 from both, opting for boogie-heavy stoner metal that careened towards Motorhead speed and scuzz. Thrasher knows how to bring variety in addition to quality, and that’s why its return bodes well for the state of heavy music at SXSW. It may be still close to the edge, but it hasn’t fallen off.

SXSW 2018: Speedy Ortiz shows who’s boss at Clive Bar

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Sadie Dupuis is tired.

Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. The self-proclaimed “frontdemon” of Massachusetts indie rock band Speedy Ortiz is tired of “people who say they’re allies, but you end up having to do a lot of emotional labor for them”; tired of people “not respecting other people’s space or agency”; and extremely tired of people who have not seen Frankie Shaw’s Golden Globe-nominated comedy “SMILF,” but still have the audacity to attend its SXSW showcase.

Andy Molholt and Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz also performed at The Fader Fort during SXSW on Wednesday March 14, 2018. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Dupuis aired her grievances between songs at Speezy Ortiz’s Clive Bar set on Thursday night. It made for some heady stage banter, but the singer, guitarist and former University of Massachusetts writing teacher isn’t one for small talk. She mixes her ruminations on sexism, addiction and music industry sleaze in a cocktail of buzzsaw guitar riffs and cymbal crashes, which she chases with snide, singsong vocal hooks. Oh, and the band brought a saxophonist on the road this time, because why not?

The audience at Clive Bar eagerly lapped up Speedy Ortiz’s grunge-pop concoction, watching and listening intently so as to not miss any of Dupuis’ knotty lamentations or threats, both figurative and literal. That proved a challenge on the bar’s humble outdoor stage, which was ill equipped for such a visceral performance and suffered from painfully loud feedback in spots. Noticeably frustrated, the band soldiered through the set, refusing to let sound problems halt their momentum.

RELATED: Check out the 2018 SXSW unofficial party guide

Did Speedy Ortiz deliver a joyful set? Maybe not in the conventional sense. But they delivered an empowering set, establishing their mission statement with their opening song, “Raising the Skate.” “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss / Shooter, not the shot / On the tip an fit to execute / I’m chief, not the overthrown / Captain, not a crony,” Dupuis sang in the anthemic chorus, a concise tell-off to people who try to dismiss or oppress powerful women because they’re intimidated by their talent.

Nobody challenged Dupuis’ proclamation on Thursday night. Nobody dared to even try.