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SXSW: The Homosexuals at Spiros

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Jesus I’m glad I saw the Homosexuals yesterday. For starters, people have been asking me for weeks now who I was the most excited to see perform at this year’s SXSW. I’ve repeatedly answered this question simply: the Homosexuals. Now to some people that statement made me sound just a little off, like some man that just wants to see gay men in Austin. But to others, and as I intended, it means seeing the English Godfathers of post-punk. I’ve been a fan of the group for some time now and after a couple shows in New York last year, I thought I may actually get a chance to see the five piece at some point in my life. After all, until those recent shows it’d been over 20 years since the group last performed.

I was completely gutted when the group finally went on at tonight’s WFMU showcase. I noticed a rather large age gap. A 57-year-old lead singer, while all the other band members were 20-somethings at best. This was going to be one of those “reunion” shows where there’s only one original guy left in the group. I bit my lip and prepared to make a run for it. How could they possibly be any good?

As it turned out, I would do no such thing that evening. Even though the original band most likely broke up before these 20-somethings were even born, they had the sound down. The bassist had some large shoes to fill and did so rather impressively with his thudding tones, banging on his instrument like an ape. It turns out the band minus the singer have their own thing going on as well under the name Apache Beat, who will be playing a couple shows around Austin Saturday. If they’re half as good as they were playing as the Homosexuals, it’ll be worth checking them out.

But the singer wasn’t just some old punk has-been. As aged as he was, he had charm and a flamboyant manner that made all for just that much more of an interesting show. With all the wrinkles and bleach blonde hair, he did somehow remind me of my grandmother in the best possible way. Of course I doubt my grandmother could rock out quite as well. Before launching into one of their better known songs, “Soft South Africans” the lead singer mentioned “We wrote this song in 1978 for Nelson Mandela but he got out of prison, so we’re considering writing new songs to get someone else out.” – Brett Koshkin

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