Sure, Austin has a roster of contemporary punk bands that have gained notoriety the last half-decade, from nitro-fueled Total Abuse to artful wranglers Coma in Algiers, but the skin of now-punk in the capital trembles with the likes of Feral Future, who keep one foot planted in the scavenged past while exploring secret worlds at their disposal.
With quick punchiness, Feral Future produce music that bellows, screeches, pummels, and caterwauls but never misses the potential for tough, taut melody. Sometimes, including tunes like "No Means Nothing," they veer towards post-punk sweetened carnage, in close kinship to the likes of early Glass Candy, while their electrifying hit-to-be "Gimme Some" cruises non-stop to a territory somewhere between the Red Aunts (just listen to the stop/start antics) and Avengers, all scarred yelps and zealous speed that ricocheted through Mango's on a bone-chilling night. At points in the tune, singer Relle's (Arielle Sonnenschein) voice crackled and fissured, itself becoming an instrument of shapely distortion.
Missing in action were their more overtly experimental, noisy, and acrid tunes. These included "Hostile (PTSD Love Song)" found on their one-year old vinyl slab Haematic, in which the pitched fury of the vocals reach a breaking point just in time for a Yoko One style interlude where rapturous noise offers tender cosmic solitude, a momentary respite from curt hostility and punk chops. But Relle was not feeling 100%, so their titanic "XOKO" from was left out too. But the crowd, bedecked in winter gear and hungry stares, didn't mind the omissions.
Drummer Hunter Ross, all arms akimbo behind a well-worn Cheater Slicks T-shirt, unfurled walloping, propulsive tempos that fluidly navigated guitarist Kate Moyer's aggression. Her own powerful fretwork, which easily could fall prey to bare discord, is actually methodical, ripe, and lined with adrenalin, much like fellow rockers War on Women, whose music shares similar lyrical matter. In the case of Feral Future, this means using barbed poetry to examine "abuse, rape, alcoholism and the struggle for queer rights," as the Daily Texan intoned last spring.
Meanwhile, openers Vacation Eyes, featuring Jenny Hoyston, former key member of Erase Errata, the uncanny post-punk outfit from San Francisco that once haunted clubs like Mary Janes/Fat Cats with a dizzying musical insurrection, as well as John Baldwin of Wild Moccasins and Mars Varela of the Busy Kids, performed minus their saxophonist. Still, a thrill was evident, especially in new tunes like the nebulous groove of "In the Wild," which proves the band has melded with the minds of Bush Tetras and Mydolls to make a muted, pliable, hip-pivoting rhythmic riot of their own.
Personal Bias: My band played later that night at Mango's...
The Crowd: Wrapped in wool and leather, they propped up few iPhones and danced instead!
Overheard In the Crowd: "Goddamn it's cold!"
Random Notebook Dump: The drummer of Feral Future is an expat from Lansing, MI, and regaled me with tales of rust belt woe!