Failure SXSW

Failure SXSW 2015 Concert Review at Yahoo’s Brazos Hall

Failure SXSW 2015 Concert Review at Yahoo’s Brazos Hall: reunited space rockers create sonic euphoria on a rainy Austin evening.

Heading into the Yahoo SXSW Showcase at Brazos Hall, felt like going into a time machine. I went it in the year 2015, and emerged back in the mid-1990’s.

This was fitting, given headlining space-rock kings Failure. And while the supporting acts were much younger in years than the veteran act, they carried on in the alt-rock tradition.

Nashville’s Bully’s offered scrappy grunge, Philly’s Creepoids delivered woozy shoegaze and Speedy Ortiz offered a quirky brand of off-kilter alt-rock that brought to mind vintage Placebo.

But all acts worshipped at the altar of Failure: and the L.A. alt-rock trio brought finely detailed noise into a bruising, yet beautiful set.

Click here for my interview with Failure’s Ken Andrews

Not surprisingly, their set-list leaned heavy on Fantastic Planet, an album that grew in critical acclaim long after the band broke up in 1997.

The lumbering Saturday Saviour started things off on dynamic footing, with much of the crowd singing along and swaying to its peculiar, yet hypnotic rhythms.

Another Space Song highlighted Kellii Scott’s bravura drum skills, executed with automaton like precision.

But it wasn’t all 90’s nostalgia: Failure frontman Ken Andrews offered a progress report on the band’s upcoming album (entitled The Heart is a Monster). He couldn’t resist doing a Cheap Trick Live at Budokan reference before debuting new track Hot Traveler: I’ve always wanted to say this: This is the first song on our new album!

It was a magnificent track, with a new wave dance beat dialed up to metallic intensity. After more vintage slammers like Frogs and Magnified, they caught fire with the narcotic power ballad The Nurse Who Loved Me and their sleeper hit Stuck On You. The latter had a false start due to a technical glitch, but once fixed it was a transcendent moment, with multi-instrumentalist Greg Edwards pulling double duty on bass and keyboards.

Minus that sound snafu, it’s worth mentioning how stellar the band’s sound mix came across live. Unsurprising given a band made up of sonic perfectionist rock producers: each note and nuance cut through the din, and Andrew’s vocals were clear as a church bell.

Failure finished the set with an encore that fittingly closed out with Daylight, a stratospheric tune with a jet blast guitar solo and pulverizing drums.

The audience left Brazos Hall elated, ears ringing and all smiles, filing out into the rainy Austin streets, catching one of the most memorable sets of SXSW 2015.


Saturday Saviour

Dirty Blue Balloons

Another Space Song

Hot Traveler (Live Debut)


Wet Gravity




The Nurse Who Loved Me

Stuck on You


Smoking Umbrellas


About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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