Friends of the Dead Fall Fest w/ ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Eagle Claw, Garrett T. Capps, Lord Buffalo, Greenbeard, Think No Think, Band of Bastards, Narrow Haunts
In 2002, hometown legends …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead released Source Tags and Codes – a fiery, autumnal grasp at immortality that is the band’s consensus masterpiece, and in this writer’s opinion the greatest album of all time, period. Across 11 tracks of existential anxiety, Conrad Keely and Jason Reece seized a brief major-label moment to rage against, well, the briefness of moments, crafting epic art-rock tapestries that swell towards the stars but never betray their origins as hardcore dreamers.
For me, no other album – and certainly none of the group’s succeeding seven – comes close, and on Saturday they may very well play zero songs from it. Accepting that fact is what defines true fans of this ever restless band.
Even as they shrink to successively smaller labels, Keely and Reece will always describe themselves as climbing an upward arc. In 1994, the band pitched a tent far above their heads with the intention of one day filling it, and understandably dismiss the resonance listeners find in the gap itself (especially circa 2002). Instead, they probably perceive last year’s ornate, layered X: The Godless Void and Other Stories as the closest they’ve come to bridging it completely. Let’s hope they never do. As the bands supporting them Saturday will surely testify, Trail of Dead’s ambition, passion, and reckless self-belief IS Austin music.– Julian Towers