Tonight: A Place to Bury Strangers at Walter's on Washington

On the final night of the 2008 South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, unassuming downtown patrons filed into Cedar Street Courtyard for a casual drink. Within minutes, A Place to Bury Strangers - most recently in Houston opening for Nine Inch Nails back in August - cleared the place, ushering an absolutely deafening set of loveless, shoegazed psychocandy.

"I Know I'll See You"

The effect is intentional. Guitarist/singer Oliver Ackermann owns and operates Death By Audio, an effects-pedal company whose gear has been used by everyone from U2 and Wilco to Lightning Bolt, and helped establish the trio’s reputation as the loudest band in New York City while securing an opening slot on Nine Inch Nails’ last tour. Formed out of the ashes of Skywave, A Place to Bury Strangers self-recorded, eponymous 2007 debut played out like a vicious flashback through the darker recesses of the Eighties, mainly Suicide’s confrontational drone and the throbbing nihilism of Joy Division. Yet, beneath the grating layers of distortion are bona fide pop songs, bleeding to be heard.

Earplugs required. Seriously. - Austin Powell

With the Sian Alice Group and Ringo Deathstarr, 8 p.m. tonight at Walter's on Washington, 4215 Washington, 713-862-2513.

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