At 10 p.m. Saturday night, Aftermath made our way into Mango's. It was hardly half full, but by the time Indian Jewelry took the stage a little before 1 a.m., we couldn't move. Not that we'd want to, of course, but even if we had wanted to leave, we wouldn't have been able to.
Indian Jewelry, first and foremost, is everything it is hyped up to be. As the first song began and the strobe lights turned on, a member of the crowd pushed his way past us and joined the band onstage. Unfazed, Indian Jewelry kept on.
"The musical portion of tonight's performance has ended," Indian Jewelry's Tex Kerschen told the cheering crowd. He then thanked all the opening bands - Black Congress, Future Islands and Lower Dens and not another word was spoken. The rest of Indian Jewelry's performance streamed seamlessly from song to song; the bass, feedback and electronic background noise continued throughout.
Did we mention that we almost had a seizure during the show? Yeah, but it was worth it.
Black Congress put on a hell of a set, and by the end of it, our voice hurt just listening to Bryan Jackson scream. We're still new to the Rocks Off staff, so this was our first time hearing all four bands. We enjoyed them all.
"We were able to bring [Indian Jewelry] to our college town in 2004 and 2005 for a couple shows, and they blew our minds," said Sam Herring, the vocalist for Baltimore's Future Islands. "We haven't seen them in four and a half or five years, so it's really cool to see them tonight."
Rocks Off noticed that Herring was wearing a black leg brace, which didn't hinder him much from jumping around onstage, but still, our curiosity was piqued.
"This was an injury I suffered last summer," Herring said of his bum leg. "I got tackled at a show in Paris... I was performing as a hypeman, and this kid who was way hyped jumped on my back, pulled me down and my leg was under me... it tore my ACL. It was like waving the red cape in front of the bull kind of thing."
Herring had a pretty positive attitude about the ordeal, though. He said that the kid was just drunk and having a good time.
Aftermath thought the Islands, who recently signed with Thrill Jockey, sounded a bit like an angrier version of Modest Mouse.
"That's interesting," Herring laughed. "I've never heard that, but I like that.
"It's really hard being a musician on the road, because you're following a dream, and that's a beautiful thing, but at the same time it's crushing when you're working so hard and nothing comes from it," he added. "We're really lucky to have caught some breaks recently and press on with what we're doing."
Lower Dens were up next, and since we had meandered outside to talk with Herring, we were stuck at the back of the crowd for most of the set. We managed to make our way back up front for the last two songs, but it took a lot of shoving, and we received quite a few dirty looks as we jostled forward.
The stage couldn't hold all the band's members and their gear, but even with one guitarist standing in the crowd, pushing people back a bit, the packed onlookers grooved to the sounds of the Dens' New Wave drone-pop.
Unfortunately, if you missed Saturday's show, you'll have to wait until July 9 to seem them in Houston again (at Khon's with Lightning Bolt and Guards). If you're willing to make the trip, they'll be in Austin's Red 7 June 26 with Health and Gold Panda.