Show Review: Crystal Antlers @ the Mohawk (10.19)

Crystal_Antlers-4Sometimes Austin can disappoint you.  I don’t know if it’s the post-ACL hangover or the onset of cold weather, but I was expecting a sold out crowd for Crystal Antlers on Saturday night, especially after the release of their excellent Nothing is Real LP. Sadly, it was half-empty (shame on us), but that didn’t stop the bands on stage from killing it. Read on for some reflection. And thanks to our friend Bryan for the photo! Hundred Visions won me over.  I’ve caught the band before, and perhaps I just missed something because the band on stage Saturday was so rad it’s hard to describe.  They had sharp hooks in every track, though the band’s penchant for killer guitars riffs Austin obscured that fact…in a good way.  It’s an old school sound that few bands seem to master, though many have imitated, reminding me of an edgier Replacements.   All the people bouncing around in the audience seem to have agreed with me!

Up next was the Zoltars, opting to mellow things out for a bit. I don’t mean to imply that they were playing mellow jams, just a softer style.  My ears recalled a calmer version of the Babies, using male/female harmonies and a surfy-garage sound.  I dig what the guys are doing, though a dosage of energy would surely propel them to the front of the local scene.

And while I loved the opening sets, I’m going to come out and say that I can watch Crystal Antlers a hundred more times, and never grow weary.  After listening to Nothing is Real for the last several weeks on a pretty steady rotation, I couldn’t wait to hear tracks like “Rattlesnake” or “Licorice Pizza” live, which I was awarded. There’s something about the group’s balancing act that is so endearing, bridging this weird ground between noisy psych stylings and anthemic arena rock.  Oh, and if you’re in need of energy, then you don’t really need to look beyond this group.  Johnny Bell’s a furious front man, yelping as his sweaty hair somehow manages to become unglued.  Oh, and the fact that they threw in some hits from their earlier LPs definitely didn’t hurt my opinion of the band.  For me, they’re the Californian answer to Les Savy Fav (minus the antics).  I only wished more people had seen what I saw, so we’d all be able to rave about what a great musical night it was.

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