SXSW Review: Vampillia, March 16, Elysium

I hope it’s not seen as lazy writing on my part to lump metal/noise/art rockers Vampillia in with the other Japanese act i saw earlier that day (that would be Peelander-Z), but besides their shared national heritage, the bands do seem to have a lot more in common. They also share a penchant for adding a great deal of weirdness and theatricality into their music. Though one could argue that both acts’ weirdness is a result of their being Japanese. A lot of strange bands have come out of Japan over the years.

However, while Peelander-Z’s weirdness comes across in more of a fun, Saturday morning cartoon ,sugary breakfast cereal, pro wrestling kind of way, Vampillia has more of a dark, David Lynch goes to a death metal carnival vibe. Which is to say odd and a little bit menacing, but still with an irreverent sense of fun about what they’re doing as well. After all, when one of your guitarists is nearly nude and covered in symbols and your singer wears a top hat and long coat while carrying around a big plank of wood and a saw (which he would occasionally “play” by sawing on the wood very quickly), you know these guys can’t be taking themselves entirely seriously.

Their music, however, they take seriously enough. The show opened with the drummer alone onstage, showing off a bit with a drum solo over some prerecorded backing tracks before being joined by the rest of the band, who then proceeded to set the mood with some moody atmospherics – some solo piano at first, followed by a solo guitar buildup that was reminiscent of something by Explosions In The Sky or This Will Destroy You. Appropriate for Texas I suppose. It was only after a few minutes that their main vocalist emerged from backstage and proceeded to sprinkle his own brand of craziness all over everything. They were definitely an eccentric bunch, incorporating elements of all sorts of music into their music (including some operatic style vocals), all while keeping it still pretty heavy and rocking throughout. This was definitely one of the more memorable shows of my SXSW experience.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest