Southern Rock Opera

SXSW 02 Music Fest Wrap-up

Rye Coalition

Buffalo Billiards, Friday 15 Walking into Buffalo Billiards at the end of a very long day, foggy-headed and bleary-eyed, to the sudden burst of thunder that was the Rye Coalition, provoked one thought: flee. Run away now before it's too late. Go see some nice singer-songwriter. What about some nice jazz? That's when a beer was purchased, and another 10 minutes guaranteed. Thanks to that beer, the Jersey City quintet rocked this reporter's ass -- hard. Two ear-shredding guitars, a rhythm section like an overloaded freight train, and a lead singer with a growling caterwaul like Bon Scott made for one of the most satisfying surprises of SXSW 02. It was a vicious attack they launched on the audience, who responded enthusiastically, swelling slightly to fill the room by the end of their set. The urge to flee turned to mild interest turned to head-bobbing engagement turned to beer-raised woo-hooing worship. The guitars were relentless, quick riffs firing off in outstanding synchronization and not a single note wasted. The drummer played like he wouldn't be happy until he beat a hole into his snare. Try though he might, the drum held up, supplying a gunshot for every bash and a jackhammer beat for every song. And that singer, through sheer determination and volume, won the day, especially as they tore through "Whole Lotta Rosie," perhaps the best single rock moment of the whole weekend.

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Rye Coalition

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