Destruction Unit playing

Destruction Unit Destroys Austin

Andrew Nogay
Web Content Contributor

Destruction Unit setting up.
Destruction Unit setting up. Photo by Andrew Nogay.

This past Saturday, Destruction Unit played a show at the Mohawk in Austin. If they aren’t the best band in America, they very well might be the loudest. This was the third time I’ve seen them live, and like all the other times it was an experience. They play an aggressive offshoot of psych-punk that uses noise to the point of disorientation, or tinnitus.

It was also the smallest venue that I’ve seen destruction unit play at, as they had to play on the inside stage of Mohawk since the Geto Boys were playing on the main, outside stage concurrently in a completely different concert. The small, enclosed room caused the noise of Destruction Unit to be amplified, and I heard a ringing for a solid day afterwards. However, I regret nothing. It was as interesting a show as I’ve ever been to.

Destruction Unit doesn’t fit in neatly into any one genre. They’re one part punk, one part psychedelic, one part noise, one part experimental, and several drops of insanity. The variety of bands I’ve seen them play shows with exemplifies this. The first time I saw them, the Austin hardcore band Glue opened for them. From that show, you get the sort of abrasiveness and energy that Destruction Unit plays with. The next time I saw them, they played with post-punkers Institute and Nothing, and they fit in with the arty, complex side of punk just as easily. This time, they played with punkers Total Abuse and the very strange electronic group Future Blondes.

Future Blondes on stage.
Future Blondes playing. I swear, I normally know how to focus my phone’s camera properly… Photo by Andrew Nogay

Total Abuse went on first, and they were nice and loud. Their guitar-heavy sound melded nicely with their singer’s passionate vocals, making for an interesting and well-played set. Future Blondes on the other hand were unlike anything I’ve seen live before. First off, they were the most eclectic-looking group of people and instruments I’ve seen in a band. They had a gray-haired woman as their singer, a young woman as a guitarist who never faced the audience, and two guys who played keyboards, synthesizers and tape. As far as their music, that is difficult to describe. Their set was one continuous song, basically changing all the time as they added and dropped sounds as they went. My friend I went to the show with described it as best as I could imagine, saying they were like ambient music, but instead of mellow it was very harsh. They were so discordant that they actually gave me a headache. Total Abuse and Future Blondes were on completely opposite spectrums, which just goes to show how unique Destruction Unit is that these two bands were reasonable to play with them. Total Abuse shares punk and instrumentation; Future Blondes share experimentation and noise. Somewhere between these two, was an absolutely amazing show.

Destruction Unit themselves were worth price of admission easily. They play with three guitarists, one of whom is also the vocalist, a bassist and a drummer, so their sound is always pretty full. Having three guitarists allows them to have very interesting textures in their songs, as well as three different instruments to make screeching sounds with. Using pedals, distortion, and god knows what else, Destruction Unit makes their guitars sound unlike any other I’ve seen live.

One of the coolest things about this particular show is that I didn’t recognize a single song Destruction Unit played. They have a new record coming out later this year, so I think that their set was made up pretty much of new material. If what they played last Saturday is the entirety of their new album, I could see that being one of the best releases this year. Easily. Until that comes, I guess all I can do is remember this show and what a trip it was. A deep trip, even.

Destruction Unit playing, red lights.
Destruction Unit makes my phone see colors man. Photo by Andrew Nogay.

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