It wasn't a SXSW-sanctioned show, but for Motörhead, Aftermath will spare the formalities. Last night at Stubb's in Austin, the prolific and iconic punk-metal-biker-doom band turned in a concrete gig to unofficially open SXSW 2010 with a decidedly hellish bang. Aftermath nearly missed the opening song, "Iron Fist," due to believing there was no way on Lemmy's green earth that the band would play before 10 p.m. But sure enough, right as we walked in the gates, the power trio fired up. We scored a photo pass a few days before to shoot the band, so we made our way up to the front of the house to set up shop. Watching Lemmy Kilmister, drummer Mikkey Dee, and Phil Campbell at such a close vantage point, you see how precise they really are live. It's devastating how tight the trio is. This lineup has been at it now for the better part of 20 years, and Lemmy is a notorious workhorse. Aftermath did catch Motörhead at Warehouse Live last September, but we had ingested enough booze by the halfway point of the set for nothing to register other than decibels and fandom. They did spin out "Cradle To The Grave," a B-side from "Eat The Rich," which four of us may recognize as the opening song from The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. A few whoops and hollers came up from the crowd for the long-lost track. Motörhead never closes with their trademark "Ace Of Spades" live, instead throwing it out as the second-to-last song. One full side of Stubb's turned into a steaming, lit-up mass of humanity during "Spades" and the closer "Overkill", during which Lemmy always aims his bass right at us like a leering prison guard. For Aftermath there was no greater way to open up SXSW, plus we found a sweet switchblade on the ground during the show. That's either a sign of good luck or a bad omen for the rest of the week. To us, it just felt about right. It's a kick-ass knife, by the way.
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