Southern Rock Opera

SXSW 02 Music Fest Wrap-up

Alabama Thunderpussy

Emo's, Saturday 16 SXSW bands can approach set lists by either performing their most accessible material, in the hopes of simultaneously pleasing their fans while appealing to a general conference crowd, or by playing whatever the hell they want, including rare and unreleased material. Alabama Thunderpussy, Richmond, Va.'s masters of moonshine metal, opted for the latter, and with outstanding results. Aside from their third number, "Dryspell," the band didn't touch their chock-full o' whup ass River City Revival, although that tune came off fresh thanks to harmony fretwork. Otherwise, the band sampled from their handful of albums, including Staring at the Divine, soon to be released on Relapse Records, host of this evening's showcase, and home to metal, hardcore, industrial, grindcore, noise, and dark ambient. Given the band's penchant for heavy music and interesting looks -- the drummer was hieroglyphically tattooed, and the Flying V guitarist looked like Jesus if he was born in the swamp and played guitar for Ministry -- Emo's main room was full of heavily body-arted Amazon goddesses and blokes with tags like "Lunatic" and "Stinky" on their shirts. Good thing Emo's recently expanded too, since the last time ATP played at SXSW, the venue was at fire code capacity with folks who came to hear the band's ionospheric riffed-out jams. The new "Hunting by Echo" was, like ATP's entire set, nothing less than a master class on heavy duty rock & roll.

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