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Metal From Montreal, Rockabilly from Spain

Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 07:30 AM

Priestess at Emo's Annex

Priestess at Emo\'s Annex

With 1,900 bands in Austin, it's pretty easy to hear just about anything at South by Southwest. I caught about six shows on my first evening in town, and I can now tell my grandchildren I once watched a Québécois metal band and a Spanish rockabilly act.

The metal band, Priestess, gets the award for my favorite show of the night. I think I needed to blow off some steam, having spent most of the day in trains, buses and jets. And Los Coronas, the four-piece rockabilly act from Madrid, was fun (Dick Dale and flamenco-style guitar are kind of a natural combo) but a little too polished. My Austin sherpa Vic and I walked over to the outdoor environs of Emo's Annex -- and the blazing firestorm known as Priestess.

Friends have verified that Priestess could be heard more than a block away -- an impressive feat considering the cacophony that is Sixth Street during SXSW. Vic and I were drawn in by the band's dual appeal. On one hand, they might appeal to hesitant metal fans like me -- the Sunday drivers who like bluesy stuff like Queens of the Stone Age. On the other hand, for guys like Vic who sleep, eat and breathe metal, Priestess' chops and technical ability rivaled old-school dark-lord lions like Anthrax and Judas Priest.

The crowd loved them. And they loved back. Guitarist and singer Mikey Heppner told the crowd the band drove all the way from Montreal. According to Google maps, that's a drive of 30 hours.

Priestess bassist Mike Dyball

Priestess bassist Mike Dyball

I also caught two acts with connections close to home. Brooklyn-based songwriter Maya Azucena did jazzy and soulful stuff on the patio at Mohawk. I heard only Azucena's last song, but it was the perfect late-night soundtrack. And the folk rock outfit Deertick closed out the showcase sponsored by essential-indie-info blog Brooklyn Vegan.


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