Amsterdam Calling

SXSW Live Shots

top: Venus Flytrap; bottom: Alamo Race Track
top: Venus Flytrap; bottom: Alamo Race Track (Photo By John Anderson)

Amsterdam Calling

Friends, Friday, March 19 What is it with bands that don't rock? It's one thing to be all fretful and atmospheric, but for your songs to be boring and never even show much in the way of vital signs ... that's something else entirely. The Hague's Venus Flytrap played the moody card all night, and whenever they appeared to be on the verge of rawk, your hopes were dashed once more. Faintly psychedelic songs opened with tape loops or samples at times, but never quite gelled into anything memorable. One guitar player used that Eighties tool, the EBow (which activates individual strings magnetically rather than with a pick) for a druggy effect, but it didn't add up to much. Amsterdam's Alamo Race Track, on the other hand, does rock. Brittle and discordant riffs play off melodic vocals, with the guitar players using the tonal contrast of Gibson and Fender guitars to good advantage. Their chunky, pounding intensity calls to mind Jesus Lizard or Jawbox, with a power and gravity the opening band never quite mustered up. Closer "Tell Me What Is Going On" hit a double-time tempo with an urgency that wrapped up their set like a nice little package of arsenic. Veterans Heideroosjes (hi-der-roo'-shes) from the Netherlands have been doing their punk thing since '89 and pretty well leveled the place when they took over. Rather than relentless express-train thrash, they write in some peaks and valleys, with short, pugnacious lead singer Marco bellowing about "Scapegoat Revolution" and other vaguely political topics. True to their roots, there's a song dedicated to the Ramones (complete with "gabba gabba heys") and a number that translates roughly as "Drop Dead," which could pass for a Minor Threat song. By the end of the set, the singer was exhorting the Sixth Street crowd from a window, the bass player was up on top of the PA cabinets, and an anonymous punk rocker was cavorting around onstage. They burn more calories and write better songs than the standard-issue American punk band, and blew the first two bands right out the front door. Now there's a lesson in how to rock.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters/ for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Wednesday Interview
Wednesday Interview
Delta Spirit

Jim Caligiuri, March 20, 2015

Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Bright Light Social Hour
Jude Vol. 1 (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 8, 2019

Texas Platters
Charlie Faye & the Fayettes
The Whole Shebang (Record Review)

Libby Webster, Feb. 8, 2019

More by Jerry Renshaw
SXSW Live Shots
Export Sweden Showcase

March 19, 2004

Wop-bop-a-loo-bop
Wop-bop-a-loo-bop
Rapping with SXSW 04 Keynote Speaker Little Richard

March 19, 2004

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle