The Austin Chronicle

Free Week Live Shots

Beerland, Jan. 4

By Libby Webster, January 13, 2017, Music

Wednesday's Free Week offering at Beerland belonged to the Red River venue's regulars – the gritty, propulsive punks that have served as the mainstay venue's lifeblood for more than a decade.

Flesh Lights, beloved DIY trio that's moved into a polished, poppier sound on 2014's Free Yourself, revisits its chaotic, gritty roots regularly. Though his vocals were buried, Max Vandever's instrumental mastery remains unparalleled. The guitarist churned out solo after manic solo during an explosive battle to be heard over Elissa Ussery's pulverizing percussion and Jeremy Steen's bass.

Xetas, a trio that's never met a sound system it didn't eviscerate, wove in new cuts from a forthcoming sophomore album, which sounded poised to deliver the same salient, throttling noise as 2015's The Redeemer. "The Gaze," equal parts vulnerability and rage, found bassist Kana Harris taking aim at street harassment, while "The Body" skews hard and fast. Drummer Jay Dilick carried the latter tune, simultaneously hollering lyrics and walloping his kit.

As good as their studio work comes across, Xetas live is required viewing, the dynamics of their stage presence displaying the spectrum of intensity. Guitarist David Petro plays like he's on the verge of splitting apart at the seams, a frenzied blur of constant thrashing. Given Dilick's pummeling, both men reddened and dripped sweat by the end of the quick set.

For her part, Harris anchored it all with a heavy, throbbing bassline and cool composure, each line delivered with steely concentration. "Shut the fuck up and listen," said her stage presence. Happy to oblige.

Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.