March 20, 2006

SXSW Report #2: The Arm @ Emo's Inside Stage

I began Wednesday (the first official day of SXSW) by watching local favorites the Arm play an afternoon set. I have frequently referred to them as Austin’s best answer to the Fall, but they’ve become so much more than that over the years. First of all, they play with the kind of speed and force that Mark E. Smith and company could never muster, not even in the late ‘70s. Second of all, front man Sean O’Neal can actually sing when he sets his mind to it. On one of their new songs, he hit notes that I never thought he was capable of reaching! It also helps that they’ve gotten better at utilizing dissonance without becoming unlistenable. Because of that, their sophomore album Call You Out (which comes out next month) is my most anticipated local release this year. Despite the fury of the Arm’s performance, though, I ended up paying more attention to the young child dancing in front of the stage as if Emo’s was his favorite playground. Between songs, he shouted “Yay, Daddy!” at the drummer. It was the festival’s most heartwarming moment.

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