SXSW showcase reviews
Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., March 20, 2009
Emo's Main, Wednesday, March 18
NME named Gallows' sinewy, ink-stained frontman, Frank Carter, "the Coolest Man in Rock" back in 2007, following the release of the Hertfordshire, UK, quintet's lacerating Epitaph debut, Orchestra of Wolves. That's akin to People christening Iggy Pop "Most Hunky Ex-Junkie" and proves once and for all our theory that NME is DOA. That said, Gallows' Emo's gig was, all hyperbole aside, the aural and experiential equivalent of biting down hard on a six-string shotgun shell and loving the consequences. Gallows, with a new album (Grey Britain) due out any day, combine the ripping guitars of classic hardcore with Carter's unhinged, unloved songs and South London shriek. That would've been impressive enough, but Carter – along with guitarist Lags Barnard – spent much of the set off the stage, on the floor, trying desperately to incite a mosh pit. Alas, Gallow's prime audience, "the kids," were badgeless and outside, but that didn't stop a crush of Nikon-wielding journos from joining in, cameras be damned. Passing off the mic to the crowd on blistering singles "In the Belly of a Shark" and "Abandon Ship," Carter, shirtless and drenched in everyone else's sweat, incited his own offstage cyclone: wild, feral, dangerous, and the most gutter-heroic thing to happen to UK punk since the Pistols. It was all squall, zero filler, the stuff South by Southwest showcase legends are made of. Gallows: well fucking hung, indeed.