If my suspicion that scaling down is the best way to rise up needed any confirmation, J MASCIS’s set at Saturday night’s “Fucked Up and Friends” show at the Red 7 Patio did the job. Seated within an arc of pedals, his amp tilted to point directly at his face, Mascis could have been on a front porch the whole time (albeit in a very noise-tolerant neighborhood). He ran through a hit list of Dinosaur Jr. favorites (“The Wagon” was stunningly sweet), launching abruptly into scorching solos that needed little accompaniment other than the rough loops he committed to one of his boxes. In isolation, his solos writhed and growled anew, following their own order and faithful only to the cues of instinct.
Of course, while no given is safe at SXSW, no theory is, either. Moments after Mascis left the stage, FUCKED UP materialized on it: three screaming guitars, an unstoppable drummer, a bassist who steered her sound like a high-speed train, and about 270 pounds of howling Pink Eyes, nude but for his boxer briefs, stuffing the mic into the frenzied front row as kids leapt from the stage and lost their phones. They ruined our ears, one speaker cab, and, ultimately, the whole premise of my article: this was a rock band in full force, cramming every inch of sonic space full to the point of splitting. Less might have been more than usual this year, but newness notwithstanding, more is always more.
Michael Brodeur, the Phoenix’s music editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit thephoenix.com/sxsw for videos and photos of some of the performances listed above.
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