SXSW 2010: A Chilly Fade To Black
Braving the chilly weather, Classic Rock gets to see Void play a shortened set, hang out at a Harley Davidson party and also see Priestess live. Just another crazy day at SXSW.Words: David Glessner
As outdoor temperatures took a freakish plunge toward freezing cold, Classic Rock awoke on Saturday to face another mad quest for parking at Austin’s SXSW. Circling the city for what seemed like eternity, we finally found a distant spot and charged into the chill on our way to see legendary Canadian prog thrashers, Voivod.
Preparing for business beneath an outdoor tent, Voivod were set to play their third and final SXSW gig before driving home to Montreal and then on to Russia. As luck would have it, Classic Rock strolled right into the band’s backstage area, where drummer Away was cracking his knuckles and doing warm-up stretches while an onstage announcer praised the history of Canadian metal bands including Exciter, Anvil, Killer Dwarfs, Helix, Lee Aaron et al.
Gracious enough to offer a quick chat and a photo pose, Away was all smiles and hugs before getting onstage to pound the assembled Iron Gang. With trademark guitars that looked like medieval weapons, Voivod slammed into their first track with hair-whipping ferocity. Original bassist Blacky was back in the fold, after briefly being replaced by Metallica’s Jason Newsted. Front and centre, singer Snake delivered his robotic lyrics while wearing a Down T-shirt. Taking the place of deceased guitarist Piggy was a guy who looked like a curly haired version of his predecessor (Dan Mongrain). While bone-chilling temperatures swirled with relentless clouds of nicotine, Voivod launched into The Unknown Knows as the hooded black masses pumped their fists in unison.
As the song came to a close, the guitar amp spewed forth a godawful screech of feedback that would knock the band out of commission for some 20 minutes. Offering apologies while milling about onstage, Voivod decided to give it another go as a frustrated Blacky smashed a beer bottle as if to cue the next song. Shaky but determined, Voivod hammered out a couple more songs before cutting themselves short following an enthusiastic tribute to Piggy in the form of Pink Floyd’s Astronomy Domine The set was short, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Next up was a hurried walk to a Harley Davidson party where Classic Rock met with some publicists whose clients include Scorpions, Ted Nugent, Michael Monroe and Ozzy. On a day when temperatures caused teeth to chatter following gorgeous sunny skies, the Harley gig was another outdoor affair. Onstage were Montreal’s Priestess, who dished out some serious sweet leaf-inspired beard metal circa 1975. Obliging a request from the audience, Priestess dug into their archives for a song singer Mikey Heppner confessed had not been played in nearly two years. The band exchanged a few puzzled grins, but managed to get through the song in fine form, and were obviously having fun. All told, Priestess were solid and highly recommended for fans of Sabbath, Mountain, Dixie Witch and Fireball Ministry.
As the cold and exhaustion took hold, Classic Rock called it an early day and took a break to get rested for a round of evening gigs. Unfortunately, the passing hours led to collapse and sunrise as SXSW entered its final day. To be (or not to be) continued…
Tags: Anvil, Away, Black Sabbath, Blacky, Dan Mongrain, Dixie Witch, Exciter, Fireball Ministry, Helix, Jason Newsted, Killer Dwarfs, Lee aron, Metallica, Michael Monroe, Mike Heppner, Mountain, Piggy, Pink Floyd, Priestess, Scorpions, Snake, Ted Nugent Ozzy Osbourne, Voivod