Local Music Journalist
I was fortunate enough to see one of my favorite bands ever, Duster, perform this past Thursday through the Oblivion Access Festival which took place at several different venues across Austin, one of them being the Empire Control Room and Garage where said band performed. I had ordered the tickets back in late May with urgency as I was surprised that they were going on tour and even more so that they would be stopping in Texas to play their first ever show here. Nonetheless, I quickly ordered my tickets afraid that they would sell out fast. The tickets were part of a multi-venue pass, meaning that there would be multiple bands playing on different stages, that featured a total of six bands: Duster, Spirit of the Beehive and Nuclear Daisies, for the first lineup outside the venue and Narrowhead, Ms Paint and Deep Cross inside. I was quite impressed with this lineup as I’m a fan of Spirit of the Beehive and Narrowhead, as well.
Thursday finally arrived long at last and worried that there would be a long line, my friend and I left around 4pm to get there at 5pm even though doors didn’t open until 7:30pm. However, the line didn’t really start to get long until around 6-6:30pm so we probaby would have been fine getting there later considering the extreme Texas summer weather as we waited outside. Luckily, the people working the festival were kind enough to offer sparkling and bottled waters to combat the heat. Soon enough, we were activating our tickets to readily be admitted into the venue. Once we made it inside of the venue, I quickly rushed to secure the perfect spot near the middle of the outside stage.
The first band to perform was the Austinbased Nuclear Daisies. Although unfamiliar with their music, I quickly became entranced by their onstage presence as the lead singer, Alex Gehring (also the bassist of Ringo Deathstarr!!), swayed her hips and started singing hypnotizingly into the mic. As I listened to their dark and hazy take on shoegaze, I was energized by how much fun they seemed to be having with each other, as well as the crowd. Onstage and off, everyone enthusiastically moved along to the beat of their songs. As one of the guitarists and singers, Rob Glynn, would announce the next song on the setlist, sometimes he would crack jokes about what the songs were about such as, being on drugs or being depressed which I appreciated and found kept me entertained in between songs. I feel like they made a wonderful opener as they set an energetic atmosphere for the rest of the anticipated night.
Next to play was Spirit of the Beehive, which I was quite excited about since I was familiar with some of their songs and was unable to see them last summer when they toured with Animal Collective. Once they were finished doing soundchecks, they got right to it and soon the garage was filled with the chaotic and distorted effects of their opening song “Entertainment” off their Entertainment, Death album. The song then transitioned into a softer, more mellow pace as lead vocalist, Zach Schwarts, began singing the lyrics. A lot of the songs they played tended to start off slow before picking up the pace towards the end or vice versa with an explosion of dynamic effects and colorful reverbs. The venue was also perfect as the flashing lights from the stage matched with the beat of the music, allowing the crowd to be fully immersed with the intense set. Fans especially went crazy when they heard the starting notes of one of their most popular songs “Nail I Couldn’t Bite” off their Hypnic Jerks album, which I really enjoyed hearing live as I swayed to the laid-back rhythm of the song while listening to the languid lyrics.
As much as I loved and enjoyed Spirit of the Beehive’s terrific performance, I was still anticipating the big final act of the lineup and I wasn’t the only one as people tried to shove past me to get even closer to the stage once Spirit of the Beehive announced that Duster was up next. Once 10:30 hit, Duster promptly made their way onto the stage and of course the audience erupts into cheers as they start to play their opening song “The Twins/Romantica” off their infamous Stratosphere album. Next they played “Orbitron” off of their Transmission, Flux album which is one of their more well-known songs, rightfully so, with almost a minute of it being a rhythmic build up of instrumentals before finally transitioning into a quieter more simple rhythm as lead singer, Clay Parton, sang softly to the lyrics.
Shortly into the set, the other lead singer and guitarist, Canaan Dove Amber, noticed that his mic wasn’t working which led to a pause waiting for the sound technician to fix it. I don’t think it ever did get fully fixed, but alas the show went on. Although it would have been ideal to hear the lyrics better, Duster’s droned out instrumentals do tend to carry the weight of their songs , as most slowcore bands do. Luckily the crowd was pretty tame for the most part, relieving my worries of random mosh pits and inappropriate yelling as videos had gone around of previous crowds doing such. Duster is a slowcore band and most of their songs are well… slow; thankfully the Austin crowd mostly knew how to match the energy of the band. Things only really got chaotic for the ending of “Echo, Bravo” with the intense build up of instrumentals, especially the drums, which is when people started moshing and one dude even managed to crowd surf over the gate that separated the audience from the stage. I was forced to do some nonconsensual humping to the poor dude standing in front of me due to people constantly shoving and pushing forward. After the song ended the vibe quickly shifted when they began to play “Stars Will Fall” which is very melancholic and only consists of three slow, dragged-out lines “all we know/Is that stars will fall/And holidays come and go.” As we swayed and nodded our heads along to the song, it felt like a very bittersweet ending to a very memorable night. Despite multiple pleas for an encore and one more song from the audience after they had finished, Duster band members waved a brief goodbye before exiting off the stage.
Once again, I’m extremely grateful to have seen Duster live thanks to Oblivion Access Fest which hosted a bunch of wonderful artists such as Have A Nice Life, Lil Ugly Man and Narrowhead among many others this past weekend. If you didn’t get a chance to go this time around, make sure to mark your calendars down for next year as the festival takes place every year in Austin to highlight underground artists and bands!
Written by: kadencemakenna