Murder City Devils/Sparta/American Steel - live in Austin (Cover Artwork)

Murder City Devils / Sparta / American Steel

live in Austin (2001)

live show

Thursday, American Steel, Sparta, and The Murder City Devils

Emo's tagline, alternative lounging, is justified: the line-up was as eclectic as the Led Zeppelin, Grand Master Flash, and Police sampling by Sean "Puffy" Combs in his heyday. On Oct. 5, Austin, Texas was host to East Bay punkers American Steel, emo driven Sparta (ex-members of At The Drive In), the melody/screaming/hardcore of Thursday, and the broken bottle rock n' roll of The Murder City Devils.

I initially circled this date on my calendar for American Steel; Jagged Thoughts is my favorite album of 2001. With that said, I arrived having missed Thursday, but in time to catch American Steel one song into their set.

I was complacent with the American Steel set: not disappointed, but not moved either. The boys weren't as aggressive or fierce when I saw them last year on the Lookout! Freakout Tour. In addition, it was disappointing to hear, "This is an older song," and watch them play something from Rogue's March; by older I was expecting something from their self-titled on New Disorder Records. I was surprised by the fan response to the songs they played from Jagged Thoughts, an album not as well received as their previous records for not being "punk" enough. Maria, a ballad from Jagged Thoughts, got fans singing along and bouncing in a circle pit. A circle pit for a ballad? All in all, it was good to see American Steel get deserving recognition from fans and I was satisfied once they played Optimist.

Sparta took the stage after American Steel. They boast three ex-members of At The Drive In. I was not impressed by their set, but I didn't like At The Drive In either. Sparta has three guitar players, which I think is excessive. All I remember from the set is the singer breaking down and screaming (c'mon is this surprising?) and a song titled Water in which they used a keyboard to synthesize sounds that created a connation of the Middle East with me. I didn't like the set, but I endured to see Murder City Devils.

The Murder City Devils took the stage with a jump in their step that said, "We are going to rock your ass tonight." I think I'm justified when I say the recorded material by the Murder City Devils is weak in comparison to their live show. Other than Dancin Shoes, I cannot remember any of the songs they played. I was numbed by the energy of the band, and got hooked like a fish with a smile on my face. All I recall is jumping to the crunching guitars, driving bass, rapid drumming, echoing keyboard rhythms, and the screaming of Spencer Moody. For 50 minutes, all my worries attached to the outside world didn't exist; I was apart of something.