Racebannon

w/ Helen of Troy, Season of Death

Tues June 10, 10 pm, $5.

It was 1:00 a.m. in Austin on the last night of SXSW 2003. Most of the music-industry weasels had planted themselves at bigger bills, or holed themselves up in their high-class hotel rooms, getting one final fix before crumbling back into reality. But I was waiting to see Bloomington, Indiana's Racebannon, masters of crumbling their own reality within minutes of plugging in. Upstairs at the spacious Buffalo Billiards, Racebannon unleashed swarms of discordant music on all of five fervent fans, kicking the empty room in the gut with such a frenzy that the pissed-off soundman pulled the plugs with disgust at the end of their show. It was heaven, really.

Racebannon are brokers of instrumental chaos, conceiving new incarnations of noise with their tools and slapping the afterbirth across the eardrums of everyone within earshot. Their music is an avant hardcore combination of metal, post-rock, and industrial, with a steady, bottom-heavy rhythm section maintaining focus like the eye of a tornado as everything else is uprooted and swirling around it. The band's frontman, Michael Anderson, maintains the look of an acid casualty on a terrible trip, babbling in incomprehensible tongues, pacing the stage, and rolling his eyes upward like a man no longer tethered to reality. With Dave Brits scratching records on the turntables, by the end of the second song at Buffalo Billiards, all the excess commotion turned their set into an overwhelming experience--like standing under a fleet of uncoordinated rocket launches as dark melodies lurked in the distance.

The band has released two full-lengths on Secretly Canadian so far, both in 2002--the equally caustic In the Grips of the Light and Satan's Kickin' Yr Dick In. The latter focuses on the schizoid downfall of a diva named Rhonda Delight, a man-turned-woman-turned-pill-popper who creates her own breakdown in a concept album that spits out a montage of histrionic babble and rabid-animal effects. If you're drawn to the barbed experimental fringes of acts like the Blood Brothers, the Melvins, and the Locust, Racebannon is a name you should burn to memory immediately.

jennifer@thestranger.com