Sunday, March 14, 2010
NX35 concert review: Trebuchet and Hogpig
Face melting rock? In Denton? You better believe it.
DENTON Critics can say what they will about Denton's NX35 festival -- the lack of musical diversity, doesn't represent DFW or Texas music, etc etc yadda yadda -- but on Saturday night, there were some excellent shows for North Texas music fans to witness. Besides the Flaming Lips' technical difficulties and Oso Closo's farewell show, two hard rock bands -- one on the up-and-up, one at the end of the road -- represented Texas Rock brilliantly at NX35.
Trebuchet is an anomaly in the vanilla-indie Denton scene: guitar-driven hard rock with plenty of raw emotion. Alternating seamlessly between heavy, pounding Orange Amp distortion and jazz-esque time changes and key changes, Trebuchet captured the decent-sized crowd's attention for the entire 30-minute set.
While the music was terrific, the one drawback was the live show: For a band that puts so much energy into rocking, they suffered from the too-common Denton musician "burying your head in your instrument" syndrome. Great music is about songwriting and melody; great performances are about the connection between musician and audience. If Trebuchet's live show could match what they put out on their double-CD release The Bear and the Moon, this could be one band primed to take over the hard rock scene in DFW.
Hogpig's show at Rubbergloves began on a sombre note: As soon as the band took the stage, a dour-looking Ian Johnson (vocals, bass) announced that this was likely their farewell show as well, even offering two cases of their last CD, Hold Back the Curse, for free at the front of the stage. Cynical fans of the hard rock quartet have been hearing that line since 2007 -- but a busted bass pedal one song in seemed a bit foreboding.
After a 5-minute delay, the band got another pedal and proceeded to rock the mostly-full room at RGRS with their amazing blend of brutal Sabbathy symphonies and sarcastic lyrics. Singing a shortened set to a crowd that might very well have been mostly indie-folk fans (Telegraph Canyon was up next), Hogpig's balls-driven rock cut through the crowd like a +3 Battleaxe through babyfood.
The band knows what most people in this sleepy little college town refuse to admit; that The Sword-esque guitar riffs, thundering bass and cymbal-and-tom-heavy drums cut through the bulls--t and belt you in the face like no other form of music can. The booming, bass-heavy helicopter rhythm guitar riff of "Hammer for One" was the highlight of the show (and the album, for that matter) --it's the kind of music you'd expect to hear while watching Thor use a massive war ha mmer to beat the everliving s**t out of some storm giants in a raging lightning storm.
After "Hammer," the band had just enough time for one more song before closing up shop, although Johnson did note after the set was done that this may not be their last show afterall, mumbling incoherently about how the band "sucked" and the crowd energy was good. So fans of awesome sludge-rock, hopefully, will see one more Hogpig "farewell show" in the distant future.