On the first day of the annual Solstice Festival weekend, I spent that night hopping around downtown Austin. I was peering into local bars and venues, keeping an eye out for whatever hub wouldn’t kick me out for having X’s on my hands (looking at you, Empire). That night was a night of firsts for me, and I saw some quality acts on stage.
My boss had hauled me over to Sidewinder to check out whoever was playing the outdoor stage. I’d never been to Sidewinder before so while they laid down some serious funk covers and the two girls up front tore up that tambourine, I went inside to check out the indoor stage.
Now, I didn’t know this at the time, but what was going on indoors was actually much closer to standard fare for the Sidewinder bar. What I estimated to be at 50 leather-clad spectators were packed like sardines indoors, leaving about three or four feet between the innermost attendees and the stage. On the stage itself was a group named Bust, a brilliant, three-piece, crust-punk group that screamed and shouted into their microphones, sludge figuratively oozing from the sound equipment they’d brought with them. While their performance itself was certainly entertaining (their bassist was laying on her back for a good while), I noticed something pretty quick—they were all wearing braces! I managed to speak with them afterward and got a few answers to my few questions.
John, the guitarist sporting a brilliant shiner, explained to me that their oldest member was the sixteen-year old bassist, and both John and the drummer were only fifteen. I couldn’t believe it. I shook their hands, got their contact information and headed elsewhere, but not before recommending that if they were ever in Fort Worth to attend a show at the 1919 on Hemphill street. I was especially thankful for the opportunity to see Bust because, while I’ve seen plenty of music down here, I hadn’t managed to make it to any hardcore or punk shows yet.
After being barred from Empire and missing the opportunity to see Toro y Moi live, I found myself at the Mohawk, catching the tail end of the Holiday Mountain show. Holiday Mountain ended what I imagine was a brilliant set with a few brilliant closing tracks. The energy was infectious. Two of the sweat-drenched, nearly naked band members climbed down to dance in the crowd while one vocalist remained on-stage, belting out emphatic vocals to pulsating rhythms.
After Holiday Mountain was Night Drive, a band I’d heard online but hadn’t had the privilege of seeing in person. Night Drive is synth-filled esotericism with atmospheric tendencies reminiscent of Depeche Mode and M Machine, with a touch of Devo and a pinch of Soft Cell thrown in for good measure. The group is two people, the mohawked Rodney Connell and the dark-haired Brandon Duhon . Conell held his hand out to the crowd and I watched the veins bulge on his neck. He sang about dreams, going home, and going somewhere else. Duhon was a pilot at the controls, crafting the framework that Conell’s lyrics were built upon. The two worked in perfect unison amid the smoke and flashing lights.
(Photo courtesy of Holiday Mountain’s Facebook.)