Words, Photos and Video by Lindsay Krause
The evening at Hotel Vegas for the LEVITATION showcase continued on a more international note as the sun escaped the horizon, with acts from Canada, Italy, Israel, England, and even German krautrock legends Faust all gathering in Texas for SXSW.
After a relentless 4 years of international touring, Italian fuzz punx Go!Zilla made their SXSW debut this year. What stood out in their live show was how the four piece alchemically transformed their vehement garage propensity into displays of melodic departures, telling tales of flying over the Sun and melting on the beach. They had a way of anchoring their intensity, with “Pollution” off of their latest LP Sinking in Your Sea building progressively from quick fiery licks, into wailing vocals and rounding out on a lovely distorted note. I had the chance to chat with singer and lead guitarist Luca about their US tour.
What is the rock and roll landscape like in Italy/Florence?
Luca Landi: We’re a bunch of bands (Elius Inferno and the Magic Octagram, The Vickers, Plastic Man etc) that are touring and also organizing shows and trying to build a scene… Not easy, but is actually going pretty well right now. Me and Mattia recently created a label called Annibale Records proposing psych, folk, rock and garage sound.
Is this your first SXSW? What acts are you looking forward to seeing?
L:Yes! We re so excited for that, it’s probably the main reason why we re here (in the states), but we’ve also got plenty of good shows and festivals……but Sxsw is so big and important that every musician aims to perform there. I think we ll have a look a Iggy Pop concert and maybe some other smaller acts. I like the idea to run into some crazy band without having planned it.
You all have been on the road touring extensively for the past few years. Are there any moments that stand out in your mind?
L: Yes we had a lot of shows as Go!Zilla, I think we re close to 400. The best so far it was probably the Binic Festival in France, Marvin Festival in Mexico and for me, the first show that we played at Empty Bottle (Chicago) where it all started when I first discovered Night Beats.
What will the remainder of 2016 hold for Go!Zilla? Are you working on any new material?
L: We re working on a new album as 4 pieces, we have a 7″ that will go out soon via Stolen Body Records (UK) and finally we ll take a bit of time for looking into some US label.
Go!Zilla will play at this year’s Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia in September.
I was able to briefly catch Tel Aviv’s Yonatan Gat whilst awaiting Elephant Stone. The group opted to play on the dusty ground with the crowd encircling them, which seemed like the appropriate method of delivery for the barrage of sounds. Formerly of Monotonix, guitarist Yonatan Gat composed a multi-textural sonic spree with last year’s album Director venturing through bossa-nova, ambient, experimental jazz, and energetic spurts of hammering guitar-driven takes that tell a story through every note. Staying closer to the ground gave the group a better stance to propel their story straight into the chest of the onlookers.
The outdoor stage was taken over by the celestial liquid lights of The Mad Alchemy Light Show, providing a surreal enclave for the sounds reverberating into the air. Montreal’s Hindie-rock aficionados Elephant Stone seemed to glow in front of the acidic landscape, and delivered a new song, “In Your Shelter”, with a guest appearance from The Black Angels’ vocalist Alex Maas. Singer/guitarist Rishi Dhir, who has appeared playing sitar with The Black Angels and Temples, took to the stringed instrument later in the set, rounding out their performance on an entrancing note.
An exciting departure from the more rock-oriented acts of the day was heralded by electronic shapeshifter Blanck Mass. His set contained many tracks from 2015’s Dumb Flesh, providing a innovative and enjoyable looping haunt that at times bordered on blood-curdling perturbation. The seemingly non-sensical vocal samples had an almost repetitious tribal quality about them, provoking one to dance in the allure of it’s forboding symphony.
Wandering in mid-set, I was greeted by an industrial wave of grinding, screeching, metallic sounds commingling over a determined bass line. It could only be the classic experimental eccentrics Faust! The mechanic echos (and the accompanying arc welder) seemed to bewilder some. However, when “Fresh Air” saw singer Jean-Hervé Péron panting into the mic demanding oxygen it became apparent that Faust are still more than capable of making a social statement. The contrast between the thumping, machine sounds and environmental warnings left a striking impression, ending with a trumpet call into the night sky.
The final show of the evening saw Seattle’s Night Beats closing out with a devoted crowd in tow. After playing newer tracks off of this year’s Who Sold My Generation such as “No Cops” and “Sunday Mourning”, it became apparent that the three piece have embraced the element of danger. Each track was filled with a quaking, untamed tremor of sin….only highlighted by the drawn out solos that seemed to stretch the night further into the darkness. It’s rock and roll for the modern road warrior, best served on a midnight drive.