Photo By Gary Miller
Mink LungsRed Room, Wednesday 13
Not to be too critical, and purely for the benefit of future SXSW patrons, but if you're the sound guy and you can't hear any vocals, isn't there a knob somewhere you should turn up? That's no joke, as the person next to me expressed surprise halfway into the set when he noticed the problem and then deadpanned, "Oh, I thought it was an instrumental." Fortunately for Mink Lungs, it wasn't a completely devastating, uh, oversight that not a single word from any one of the four singers was audible. Seriously, if these guys ever get bored with lyrics, they could easily forgo all words and just flat out rock. It was like Don Caballero with too much smarts -- something akin to Elephant 6 arena rock perhaps, or grad rock, or even prop rock; they did have a Chinese yo-yo and hula hoops, and also made excessive use of answering machine samples, but who's counting. And for a band that comes off on album a bit like Lou Reed's prophecy regarding the first Velvet Underground album ("not many people bought it, but everyone who did started a band"), live, they kicked like a Canadian power trio. There were about three songs in the middle of the set that could have passed for a theme and variation on Rush's "YYZ," complete with serious riffage, weird time changes, and a guitar player that looks like Jack Black. Okay, fine. Alex Lifeson looks nothing like the actor-comedian, but at least his body double is in a band that actually does merit a chuckle or two -- when you can hear what they say -- and doesn't blow to boot.