SXSW: Totally Ridiculous Band Alert -- Dark Meat

AUSTIN -- Did I just get hit on the head with something?

That's what I was thinking as Athens, Ga., weirdo collective Dark Meat was setting up for its Thursday-night set at the Vice Records showcase. It turns out I did indeed get conked. By a bouncy ball. You know, the kind you used to get at Giant for a dime when you were a kid.

It wasn't that I was particularly unlucky to get hit. Soon, all kinds of random objects were flying from the stage as the dozen-plus-member band started playing its extremely heavy, brass-infused, psych-skronk-rock. One band member's lone task seemed to be throwing the objects into the crowd. After the bouncy-ball supply was depleted, bendable glowsticks, shakers and confetti followed. It was as if somebody set off a bomb in the party-favors section of the dollar store.

The assembled crowd of 60 or so wasn't content with getting pelted. They pelted back. OK, we pelted back. I couldn't resist. As quickly as glowsticks flew off the stage, they were flung right back at the band. It was all in good fun. I think.

It doesn't even matter, since the band members were off on another planet. When frontman Jim McHugh stated before the first song that the band members "all did too many drugs last night," not only did I believe him, but I'm pretty sure they did too many the night before that and the night before that, as well. The band member's outfits varied from a marching-band suit to a sailor's suit to something that Jesse Ventura might have worn to the ring in 1983. Many of them sported some sort of face paint.

The band's first three songs succeeded thanks to this simple rule: People getting hit in the face with stuff is funny. And this happened over and over and over. Glowstick to the noggin. Thwack. Repeat. Repeat. Once we used up all of our bendable, bounceable ammunition, though, things became less exciting. There was always enough musical mayhem to keep things interesting, and some of their jams were H-E-A-V-Y, but without the audience interaction, the performance was just like watching acid fiends break into the high school's collection of musical instruments and wreaking havoc.

There was one highly entertaining moment toward the end of the set. A saxophonist, whose eyes were bulging during the entire set, decided he would crowd-surf. But you can't crowd-surf without a willing crowd, and after about 10 seconds of half-hearted pushing, he fell into the arms of a single audience member, who cradled him and carried him around for a few seconds. In some countries, those two are legally married now.

I had no intention of seeing Dark Meat (the band happened to be playing after Jay Reatard, whom I just needed to see for a second time that day); but it might be the performance that leaves the longest-lasting impression. And speak not just of the welt from that bouncy ball.


By David Malitz |  March 14, 2008; 12:35 PM ET SXSW
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Great story!

Posted by: Vince | March 14, 2008 1:31 PM

Now that's a concert going experience that I'd like to participate in.

Posted by: T.D. | March 17, 2008 8:32 AM

these guys are AMAZING!!!!!

Posted by: chris | March 19, 2008 12:24 PM

I was there. When the glow sticks ran out I needed something else to throw. I crapped my pants and threw it at the band. I had a lot to drink and it seemed OK at the time. The band didn't seem to mind and / or notice. I smelled bad when I woke up.

Posted by: J | April 10, 2008 11:17 PM

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