Phases and Stages
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of DeadBig Orange, July 15
It's an inferno in here, and Sound Team is hosting and playing another of its benefits to pay the rent at Big Orange, their self-made studio/practice space off East Fourth. There's only one problem: The old record-pressing plant isn't air-conditioned and has become a giant, stinking sauna. Following the pounding beats of A Tiger Named Lovesick, the party pours into the humidor to watch Austin's anarchist sons, Trail of Dead, rock a new lineup and a batch of tracks off their recently completed Mike McCarthy-produced LP, set for a late-September release. "If we're gonna play this shit, we really need to be fucked up," Conrad Keely warns before introducing new bassist Danny Wood of the Rise and fellow drummer/Nashville native Donnie Schroeder. The intro of new track "Will You Smile Again" shakes the cinder-block walls with a fury expected from TOD, demanding the attention of those too smart to step into the above-100-degree garage. A slower, immediate romp shaped by the double-drum assault, "Smile" epitomizes the new material: clean, a bit poppy, and begging for a sing-along, miles away from the chaotic mess for which TOD is known. After a second new rocker, the local now fivepiece launches into HBO-favorite "Relative Ways" as the room gyrates and thrashes like 15-year-olds at a Minor Threat show. A Mohawked Jason Reece's newbie "Caterwaul" follows shortly after, pumping fists and screaming like Ian MacKaye circa 1982. Just when the scales begin tipping in Clear Channel's direction with the crisper and tighter TOD, Reece scolds the crowd with an expletive-riddled diatribe hardcore fans know and love. "Richter Scale Madness" courses through the veins of the moshing, testosterone-driven men surrounding the facing drum kits as they wait for destruction. The band that now headlines festivals and fills arenas is more at home in this sweaty, Lone Star garage surrounded by friends and fans that have been there since the duo days. This is punk rock. "Kill, kill, kill!"