Ain't That Love
Live review of Scratch Acid “reenactment” at Emo's East
By Raoul Hernandez,
5:20PM, Mon. Dec. 12, 2011
Tension. No truly great act ever thrived without it. Saturday at Emo’s East, the tension onstage in Scratch Acid translated into 80 minutes of Austin post-punk history revisited. Given that the band didn’t seem to be enjoying itself particularly, that might be the last time a reunited Scratch Acid rears up with all the danger of boots on a crowd surfer.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, playing its biggest show, channeled any nerves it might have had into a 30-minute opening squall, the locals’ strum and drone, slash and drang, powered at times by four guitars, bass, and double drums, one of them manned by Craig Clouse of UK/USA noise showers Shit and Shine. Led by vocal exorcist George Dishner, the Dinos spiked rhythmic jags with stabbing riffs, the right angles clashing in a pummeling update of 1980s post-punk.
“Welcome to the 2011 reenactment of Scratch Acid,” offered David Yow once Austin’s seminal post-punk architects were assembled onstage. Stage left, guitarist Brett Bradford pumped out sheets of hornet sound in an open-legged stance, while his counterpart on the other side of the stage, bassist David Wm. Sims, a bit of distinguished gray at his temples, wielded his pulse instrument like a battering ram. In back, Rey Washam gave a band tech a hard time all night long, and upfront Yow screamed so hard that he was literally lifting himself off the stage.
At one point, simply counting off a song, tensions flared between Bradford and Washam, as close friends as Yow and Sims in the Jesus Lizard, but as soon as the band had annihilated the song, the drummer lept off his riser and planted a kiss on the shredder’s cheek. Washam’s obvious displeasure at sound and lighting fueled the performance both in his cathartic precision and the icy attack of the band. Yow worked himself into his patented vocal frenzy and flail, his job the hardest physically and also the best executed. He deserves those 16-ounce beers he no longer flings into the audience.
“This next song is really good,” said Yow over and over, and by the time the main set closed with a withering “She Said,” Scratch Acid had reached its corrosive peak, savage – self immolating. You could feel the band’s relief to walk off stage after the encores. A full house felt the exact same thing exiting into the cold full moon night.
See David Wm. Sims’ full set-list in the picture gallery, and note his passing on that, “We switched the order of ‘For Crying Out Loud’ and ‘Crazy Dan.’”