Thursday, Feb. 19, 1998: Andy Langer and I begin our evening at the Frank Erwin Center for teen country sensation LeAnn Rimes, 15, then scoot down Red River to Sixth Street on a buck cold night.
Fat Tuesday’s has set up a 4-by-4-foot stage out back, some 12 inches off the ground. There’s maybe 50 people there.
At the appointed hour, Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell hit the “stage.” They take in the sorry scene, blow wintry breath over their heads, and kick it: “Sucker M.C.’s,” “Rock Box,” “King of Rock,” “My Adidas,” “Walk This Way,” “It’s Tricky,” and on and on. For well over two hours. Maybe they forgot “Christmas in Hollis.”
Jam Master Jay got murdered in 2002, and from a two-hour Lil Wayne tour de force at the Travis County Expo Center in 2008 to Pharoahe Monch lording over Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010, for me no hip-hop’s ever touched that icy Run-DMC set. Only Johnny Cash at Emo’s matched the rap trio in terms of outsized Austin performances.
On Friday, “Run” and “DMC” reunite for their second performance since Jay’s demise, tougher than leather. – Raoul Hernandez
Against Me! (Black stage, 7:05pm)
The politically-charged Florida punk quartet stops at FFFF on its first dates since bandleader Tom Gabel became Laura Jane Grace in May. Undergoing transitional surgeries, she’s wary of tracheal shaves, a process that would whittle down Grace’s Adam’s apple, and possibly alter her voice. Against Me! remains loud and aggressive, though one of them will be wearing a skirt. You go, girl! – Abby Johnston
Tomahawk (Black stage, 6:10pm)
Led by Mr. Bungle/Faith No More vocalist/keyboardist Mike Patton, this scabrous avant-rock supergroup also features Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison, Helmet drummer John Stanier, and Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn. Patton’s fricasseed worldview splatters and sizzles against quick right turns and cinematic aural malaise on tunes like “God Hates A Coward.” Oddfellows – follow-up to 2007’s Native American music exploration, Anonymous – is due in January. – Greg Beets
Yellow Ostrich (Orange stage, 12:30pm)
Toothy, loud, and anxious, Brooklyn indie rockers Yellow Ostrich write for feelings, not thoughts. With warm, voluminous drums and shattered guitars, recent album Strange Land rattles from a very tender place. Lots of musicians write about love, but Alex Schaaf’s intense navel-gazing transcends cliche. Scratchy anthems like “Elephant King” and “Daughter” are gloriously vivid. Misery and nerves can sound so good. – Luke Winkie