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September 2014
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The (Abbreviated) Best Guitar Performances of SXSW 2013

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The (Abbreviated) Best Guitar Performances of SXSW 2013

Steve Austin, Today is the Day
Brooklyn Vegan held a two-stage, one-queue event at the space formerly occupied by 6th and Red River stalwart Emo’s. While Nashville metal trio Today is the Day played for a sparse crowd at “The Jr.” (the indoor space), Dallas non-metal concern The Polyphonic Spree entertained a capacity crowd in the larger area, leaving a handful of Today is the Day fans waiting outside for indie pop fans to exit. Fortunately, those in charge recognized the jam and let the metal folks advance to the small room.

Like his band, Steve Austin’s playing is kinetic. He wasn’t trying to win a shredding contest on the Jr.’s stage, and he probably wouldn’t. That’s beside the point. This metal band deals in volume, heaviness, and intensity, but they’ve always delivered these staples with varied rhythms, tempos, vocal styles, and even instrumentation, replacing bass with keyboards and samples on 1996’s self-titled LP.

Bassist Ryan Jones’ sound is just dense enough that Austin can solo without making the music sound thin, but he generally didn’t. Instead, he favored short fills and leads that often joined drummer Curran Reynolds in transitions, rather than grabbing the spotlight.

Dripping with sweat, Austin played and sang his agonizing songs with total sincerity and intensity. Frankly, songs like these would sound pretty corny otherwise, but he nailed it. He quarreled with the soundwoman throughout the set, perhaps grist for his mill, and he finished the show by snapping all the strings on his black beater PRS.

Watch Today is the Day at SXSW 2013:

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