March 27, 2006

SXSW Report #25: Volcano @ Ruta Maya

After the Bats’ set, I drove even further into South Austin to see Chicago trio Volcano play at Ruta Maya. If there was one band that I and my friends were all hell-bent on seeing, it was this one...and for good reason! Their debut album Beautiful Seizure was released in November; a mere two weeks after buying it, only the Weird Weeds' Hold Me could keep it from being my Album of the Year. Beautiful Seizure couldn’t be more aptly named --- it basically sounds like Thom Yorke at his most spastic fronting Deerhoof at their most aggressive.

Volcano’s live show was exactly what I expected from them. As soon as drummer Sam Scranton counted in “Easy Does It,” it was on like Donkey Kong in my life. My friends couldn’t believe that there were only three people on stage making that big of a noise. Scranton crammed tumbling fills everywhere, stretching the meter of the songs like rubber bands. He augmented his kit with an assortment of bells, blocks and bowls until it serves as both timekeeper and sound effect generator. Aaron With stood at the back of the stage, cooing and wailing and thrashing at his guitar like his plectrum was caught in between the strings. Bassist Mark Cartwright stood behind two tables’ worth of laptops, mixers and gadgets. When he wasn’t playing bass, he created sheets of white noise that ricocheted around the venue’s large PA system until it felt like we were being engulfed by ocean waves.

Volcano played five songs from Beautiful Seizure, as well as an excellent new song. They sounded great, but it didn’t surprise me that half of the audience left before the first song ended. I, on the other hand, kept eating the free tacos and enjoying the music.

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