By Grace Wartman
Local Music Journalist
In the summer of 2019, I was introduced to the beauty of surf rock while sitting in the passenger seat of my cousin’s Toyota Corolla. The song “The Trouble with Those Mothra Girls” by Daikaiju, a kaiju-themed instrumental surf rock band, came on and I walked out of that Toyota Corolla into the sauna that is a July evening in North Texas with a newfound love for the great subgenre of surf rock!
Friday, Aug. 25, I got to see Daikaiju live with three other bands at the Coral Snake in Austin. Queen Jane, an Austin-based rock band, kicked off the night. They had a relatively short set but had amazing stage presence, tons of talent and a clear enjoyment for what they do. For a band that released their first single just last year, the group had an excellent overall sound. The band also had a girl drummer, which as a former girl drummer, brings back fond memories and is always very cool to see.
The next band up was Ole Creepy, a rock band from Austin who certainly live up to their name. With hints of inspiration from Deftones and Sisters of Mercy in their sound, Ole Creepy started their set with some guitar and drum instrumentals that were so soothing that they were almost hypnotic despite the fact I was standing right next to both the drummer and the speaker. Then a guttural, raspy set of vocals added into the tune, causing the collective sense of ease and slow swaying amongst the crowd to come to a halt. But this turned the heads of everyone in the venue, which all great performance does, and juxtapositions amongst elements of a song are always interesting.
Crystal S**t, a fellow instrumental surf rock group from Dallas, went on next and put on an incredible performance. After the show, I checked out their Instagram and saw that the band went as Daikaiju for Halloween a few years back. Opening for an idolized group must have been surreal, and I’m excited to see where these guys go in the future.
After much anticipation, befriending fellow concertgoers and getting my hands on some free nachos, Daikaiju began their set. The masked quartet is notorious for pulling some stunts in their performances that I haven’t seen anywhere else, such as having the crowd carry their drummer, instruments and all, as well as setting their tour van aflame while playing on top of it. While there weren’t any flashy stunts that evening, the band had two drummers playing so in sync that I didn’t even notice there were two until five minutes into their set, which is extremely impressive and difficult to execute so effortlessly. They engaged with the crowd so incredibly well and were more than willing to let crowd members play with them. Mastering live performance goes beyond just having a good sound – a big part of it is having the crowd and performers feel like one, and Daikaiju is the perfect example of that. They allow their audience to feel like part of the product and not just an observer of it.
This show was the perfect end to August with the sweetness of surf rock music and nostalgia of previous summers. I’m stoked to see what lies ahead for these four talented groups.
Written by: Preethi Mangadu