SXSW Review: Spirit Adrift, Victim Mentality, March 15, Dirty Dog Bar

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Metal has never been quite a top priority at SXSW, but its presence has come in ebbs and flows. Some years, there have been enough metal and metal-ish bands that you could pretty much exclusively see bands on the heavier end of the spectrum while other years have been a bit of a fallow period. It was particularly notable last year when Metal Injection, a site that has had a presence at SouthBy over the years, put on a showcase featuring not one band that could quite be classified as metal in the strictest sense (and I don’t think the Metal Injection guys were there at all this year). This year was yet again a bit of a fallow period.

That said, there’s always been enough heavy stuff in the lineup and it doesn’t quite feel like SouthBy to me if I haven’t seen at least one metal band, so on Wednesday night I made my way to The Dirty Dog Bar to catch a couple of metal acts – Korean glam metallers Victim Mentality and Arizona doom crew Spirit Adrift (with a couple of brief detours to catch excellent sets by Detroit’s Anna Burch and former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes in between).

Victim Mentality put on a ridiculously fun (and often just kind of ridiculous … but in a good way) performance in all their spandex glory, full of shredding solos and vocalist Krokodile’s impressive high register. Yes, apparently, he goes by Krokodile while the other members go by Skorpion, Die-amond and Cyborg. It was everything you’d expect and then some – while the band has all the trappings of the stereotypical glam band, they incorporate a lot of heavier influences into the sound as well. And they weren’t afraid to sing their own praises either, referring to themselves as the best band at least once during their set.

Upon returning to the Dirty Dog a couple of hours later, I was greeted by the wonderfully heavy sounds of Spirit Adrift, who mixed doomy riffs with a whole lot of early Metallica inspired solos – a winning combination in my books. While doom metal can often come acrosss as funereal or morose, downbeat or depressing, there was something oddly uplifting about Spirit Adrift’s music.

Singer/guitarist Nate Garrett closed out their set with a plug for their merch table that also maybe served as an explanation for why some metal bands have chosen not to play SXSW anymore:

“We’ve got merch over there. Buy something! This has been an expensive trip – SXSW is expensive as fuck!”

Hopefully they sold at least a couple of records or t-shirts. SouthBy don’t come cheap.

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Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest

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