Southern Rock Opera

SXSW 02 Music Fest Wrap-up

Lift to Experience

Red Eyed Fly, Saturday 16 For half an hour the congregation waited patiently for the church of sound to commence, and for half an hour they were denied. The silence was deafening, and the anticipation palpable as the crowd watched the two big bearded fellows in Lift to Experience amble across the stage, past the cowskull on top of the guitar amp, in no hurry to cater to the whims of the masses. Finally, at half past one, Josh T. Pearson grabbed his guitar, and suddenly things began to change. Like the biblical Leviathan, the sound was monstrous, deep, and downright dangerous. The swirling, cavernous din that emerged from Pearson's rotating Leslie amp saturated the air on the outside Red Eyed Fly patio, threatening to level the place through sheer force of sound energy. It was the standard Lift opener, the instrumental rendition of "Just as Was Told," so it wasn't until 1:40am that Pearson even said a word. When he finally did, the din subsided briefly for "Falling from Cloud 9," a standout from the group's The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. Unfortunately, Pearson's guitar was so jacked up that his vocals were nowhere near the level they should have been. This undermined the songs slightly, but certainly not the sheer presence of Pearson, whose face was Sasquatch-like between a new, full beard and huge mutton chops, all tucked underneath the bent brim of his Al Jourgensen-style cowboy hat. To Pearson's left, Andy "the Boy" Young damn near tore apart his drum kit, set up at the lip of the stage. By the roaring climax of closing anthem "These Are the Days," the crowd (those who could handle the volume) were whipped into a tizzy, Pearson triumphantly holding up the cowskull to the delight of the buzzing throng. Bombastic, to be sure, but then it takes some bombast to close out a SXSW Saturday. Bombast, a cowskull, and tons of volume.

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More by Michael Chamy
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