SXSW Aftermath: Wild Moccasins Strike, Ray Davies Quakes, Deer Tick Boogie
Photos by Craig Hlavaty
Aftermath roused ourselves from our quick hour-long vegetative session after Thursday's day-party frolicking to venture into another night of SXSW music, that would include a local band's breakthrough, a legend reconnecting with his base and two indie-twang bands having a laugh at the industry.
First up was Houston's own Wild Moccasins. The band is ramping up to the release of May's Skin Collision Past LP, and their set at Friends Bar showcased a handful of tracks from the new album, sturdy songs built for maximum hook and heft. Co-singer Cody Swann's vocals were pushed slightly closer up in the mix to compensate for Zahira Gutierrez's bout with throat troubles.
There was a sizable crowd assembled, and the band definitely made an impact. The band later played a free Houston-centric show across town for folks without SXSW badges or wristbands.
After a valiant bout with a cheeseburger at the Jackalope, we hoofed it down to La Zona Rosa to see legendary Kinks front man Ray Davies do a two-hour set of his solo work and his massively influential canon with that seminal band. The venue was running slightly late, pushing Davies' stage debut until nearly 11 p.m.
When he did emerge, the quick-witted and dry Davies ran through a hearty two-man acoustic set with a sideman. He opened with "This Is Where I Belong" from 1966's Face To Face, an album which would get more love as the night went on. Each subsequent song, from the hidden gems like "Apeman" and "Nothin' in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl" unfolded new pockets of happiness from the crowd.
"Victoria" brought about an epic sing-along we haven't found ourselves inside of in quite some time. Davies was chatty throughout, introduced songs with small anecdotes like a history teacher schooling us in Kinks 101. He even gave a shout-out to recently departed Alex Chilton, performing one of the Big Star singer's favorite Kinks cuts, "Till the End of the Day." His newer solo work like "In A Moment" and "The Tourist" got a better than warm reception.
An hour into his set Davies brought out opener The 88 to back him through hits like "You Really Got Me" and "Celluloid Heroes," with the venue virtually quaking with all the dancing going down. Backed by the young L.A. power-pop quartet, Davies was buoyant. Maybe we should start studying now for a future Kinks reunion show?
A long walk back east brought us to the Palm Door for Free Energy and headliners Deer Tick at the Rolling Stone showcase. Free Energy is a young, exuberant band painting in boogie-rock, even closing with a Bachman Turner Overdrive nugget. We will let these guys marinate for awhile, and they look promising.
Deer Tick came out their usual rough and ready selves, opening their set with of all things, ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses". Maybe all the Lone Star and barbecue had gone to the band's brain this week, because in between sprinkling new tracks from the upcoming LP, Black Death Sessions, the Rhode Island group managed to turn in some stellar southern-inflected jammery.
There's just something in lead singer John McCauley's rascally yelp that keeps us coming back for thirds, tenths, and twentieths.
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