Rough Francis

SXSW Showcase reviews

Live Shots
by John Anderson

Rough Francis

Holy Mountain, Wednesday, March 13

Despite a half-full house, Rough Francis opened the indoor portion of Enabler PR's showcase with an intensity fit for Detroit's Grande Ballroom. The Vermont-based sextet – featuring three sons of bassist/vocalist Bobby Hackney from Motor City protopunk sibling trio Death – draw deeply upon their heritage while giving it their own unique spin. Vocalist Bobby Hackney Jr. cut a commanding presence as he alternated between the fist-skyward militancy of Ian MacKaye and the floor-writhing acrobatics of Iggy Pop. The stage barely contained the four guitars on board; it's a wonder no one took it on the chin from an errantly swung neck during loin-stirrers like "Don't Look Back." While Rough Francis' sheer sonic onslaught got your attention, drummer Urian Hackney kept it with a solid backbeat and acrobatic, Keith Moon-inspired fills that landed on spot but kept you guessing the whole way down. The band's rendition of Death's "Freakin' Out" came off like an exploding teapot. From there, they summoned a fuzzed-out garage-blues groove that held and released its way to an epic closing climax. Whatever their draw with Nick Cave playing down the street, they laid it all out and earned a few more jostling, sweaty shoulders for next time.

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