It’s just such a fucking shitshow. So many times when I’m attending this thing I just keep asking myself: Why? Why do I even bother braving this mass of humanity in the attempt of seeing a decent up-and-coming band or, at the very least, some sort of memorable random spectacle. For a severely introverted person, it’s a struggle to force one’s self into this pit of debauchery. It’s just such a jumble of shows and parties and weird promotional gigs all crammed into a week over countless number of dirty and grimy clubs. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. It’s kooky. It’s maddening. It’s revelatory. It’s ridiculous. It’s…well…a shitshow.
At least on paper, the 2019 edition of SXSW was looked to be somewhat underwhelming on the metal front. In past years, we’ve been treated to showcases sponsored by the heavy hitters in the metal blogging word (i.e. not the one you are currently reading) such as Metal Injection, Metalsucks and Invisible Oranges. However, none of these entities had any events this year. Austin’s own Terror Fest put on a couple of showcases that featured Goatwhore and Conan among others. But, by and large, this was just a dry year for metal.
Since there wasn’t much on the schedule that I felt was “must see” fare, I was content to sit back and let my Punk Rock Bride plan out our schedule. And, damn, if she didn’t find some really good gems buried amongst the rabble of bands that hit town last week. First up was the annual Japan Day preview show. This is usually one of the more interesting shows that happens every year during SXSW. It’s a broad variety of bands that are showcased at this event with the only common thread running through it is that all of the bands are from Japan. You’ll see techno, indie pop, doo-wop, metal, prog, punk and weird art rock all represented. The highlight of this year’s show was Otoboke Beaver. This was a four-piece all female noise punk band. They are self-described as being a “Japanese girls knock out or pound cake band”. Which is awesome. They hit the stage all wearing brightly colored floral 60s era go-go dancer dresses and proceeded to destroy the stage at Elysium. Full of rage, this was a very cathartic set.
The other main highlight of the fest was another band from Japan called Asterism. They are a three piece instrumental group made up of a 16, 17 and 18 year-olds. The chops on these kids is very impressive. The lead guitarist sounds as if Joe Satriani passed away and was reincarnated as a 16 year-old girl from Japan. Her playing has a good combination of both aggressive metal riffs and intricate leads. Plus, she has already mastered some very infectious stage presence with some fearsome headbanging skills and metal poses. The bassist and drummer are also both similarly skilled and provide a solid foundation for the band. It will be interesting to see which direction these kids ultimately end up pursuing as their careers progress.