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SXSW: Dios And The Black Angels Warm Up A Frigid Saturday Night

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Saturday night was a frigid one for the last full night of SXSW, and Aftermath's musical choices seemed to fall directly in line with the torrid temperament of the weather gods. The night before we found ourselves dabbing sweat of our brows, and exactly 24 hours later we were doing whiskey shots under a venue tent and wearing three layers of clothes to keep some semblance of warmth. We decided to stake our claim over at the Galaxy Room for a series of sets that, naturally, couldn't be anywhere but outside. The venue had two stages, and it was just our luck that our preferred stock of the night was in the cold. It wasn't even that icy, it was just that the wind had been beating us like a beast most all day. The only real warmth was in the heart of crowds or close to the stages. Dios, who hail from Los Angeles, are essentially the mascot band of influential rock blog and record label Buddyhead. We had always seen the band being touted by BH label head Travis Keller, but never got around to giving them a shake until Saturday night. The band was plagued with sound issues from song one, but from what we heard we were instantly converted by their slow-motion garage and woozy drone. Dios' latest album, We Are Dios, is that mythical album for all of us that aren't as patient with My Morning Jacket's Jim James as some. We always thought that everything after 2005's Z was a crapshoot anyway. Hell, let's just call Dios the "Wilco for guys who take a few more pills than they should now and then." We felt at home watching Dios, as if they were just buds sitting around burning a few and jamming. Most of the showcases one sees at SXSW are plagued with stunted snobbery that makes us pretty much want to jet to another venue. But Dios is front-porch rolling rock, and we were happy to find them on the closing night of a widely sporadic SXSW week. Austin's Black Angels are making their next album run in the next few months and Saturday night's show showcases some new cuts for the hometown crowd who were more than receptive to anything and everything from Alex Maas' crew of psyche-rockers. The band instantly creates a mood wherever they land, and Saturday night seeing the band on their home turf they brought forth all their Hawkwind and Thirteenth Floor Elevators fuzz that made us fall for them in the first place. "Black Grease," just two songs in, brought out something fierce in the assembled throng, who all rushed the stage like it was a Black Flag show in 1983. Not many heavy-lidded bands like the Angels exist that can create outright human contact like that. Maybe Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or even the Warlocks can do it, but not with as much leverage and energy as the Angels. The new material was menacing and we can't for another record, but for now we will settle for the band's appearance on the latest UNKLE record.

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