SXSW Music: Yonatan Gat

Israeli guitar comet shoots the stars

“The people in the fancy seats can just rattle their badges,” winked guitarist Yonatan Gat near the beginning of his trio’s powerful SXSW set Friday night. Rest assured the Tel Aviv native and former axe god for Monotonix, which played legendary SXSW sets, wasn’t being off-putting.

Yonatan Gat (photo by John Leach)

Indeed, he and his band set up right in the middle of the floor of the nearly opaque back room at the Townsend – playing with the audience instead of for them. After a crowd member’s brief poem entitled “Yonatan Gat #5,” its subject led off with a spiraling guitar line hinting at the African acid blues of Tinariwen and Bombino. Then the bass and drums charged forward, adding the kind of drive associated with heavy psych bands like Earthless.

Yonatan Gat (photo by John Leach)

Eschewing any effects that weren’t already on the amp, Gat’s drillbit picking kept the second number barreling at unsafe speeds, which his posse was more than happy to emulate. The third song crashed out of the gate on the back of a drum solo, indicating another ripper, but then Gat surprised with lighter, airier riffing, proving himself as comfortable with subtlety as with bombast. Of course, the song eventually rediscovered its amphetamine stash and the tornado touched down once again.

The fourth song revisited that light approach, with jazzy drumming and poppy guitar lines, but the fifth and final tune was the trio’s most overtly rocking excursion. Gat drove the music into the realm of (barely) organized noise, before abruptly stopping – victim of a late start and truncated set time.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Playback: Biggest Austin Music Stories of 2016
Playback: Biggest Austin Music Stories of 2016
Looking back on the biggest Music news headlines of the year

Kevin Curtin, Dec. 23, 2016

Playback: Welcome to Terrordome: Sixth Street During SXSW
Playback: Welcome to Terrordome: Sixth Street During SXSW
Appraising APD's solution to Sixth Street during SXSW

Kevin Curtin, April 8, 2016

More by Michael Toland
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Feb. 12, 2021

Collin Shook Strikes a Chord With Jazz Pop-Up Series
Collin Shook Strikes a Chord With Jazz Pop-Up Series
Monks Jazz Club improvs a hit for the pop-up pianist/promoter

Feb. 5, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW, Yonatan Gat, SXSW Music 2016, Monotonix, Tinariwen, Bombino, Earthless

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle