Although the location and management of the ever popular Emo's has strayed away from what makes it famous, it's new home on East Riverside provides much more space, better sound equipment, and the same rocking bands. I've had a lot of memories made during my time spent in Austin. One of the memories that is lodged in my head was my first trip to Waterloo Records. The first CD I bought in my soon-to-be new home was The Expendables self-titled Stoopid Records release. Fast forward a year later and I was the lucky one who managed to get in to the sold-out Winter Blackout Tour inside at Emo's on 6th Street. Needless to say I was ecstatic to find out they were coming through Austin once more.
As the crowd began filling in, K Bong took to the stage with an acoustic guitar in hand and began to build a nice crowd connection, providing a quality treat to everyone who showed up early. Following K Bong, Seedless took the stage to some mysterious under-lighting. Seeing the whole group in a straight line across the stage was a pleasant surprise. It felt as though they were trying to bring all their energy as close to the people as possible.
The group started off with a medley jam that moved into 911. They went on to play some new material including the recently released "Bullet". I was blown away by Seedless the first time I saw them, and following their final song "Energy", I was even more convinced that this band is going to be the next superstars of the reggae/rock community. The way these guys mix legitimate rock with subtle reggae elements while swapping off between two excellent vocalists has a wide appeal. The chemistry and stage presence are top tier. I am very excited to hear what these guys have in store for us.
Stick Figure was next, coming into a now packed crowd and completely entrancing them into a slow hypnotic dance. Scott Woodruff showed off his multi-talented nature by switching between guitars and keys while holding down vocals. His backing band took his studio release to the next level and seem to be building a definite chemistry on stage. After playing some crowd favorites, Stick Figure closed out their night with the classic "Hawaii Song".
The main event was next, and after a breif wait The Expendables came out to a hyped-up crowd. It wasn't long before all walks of fans were interacting. The punk/metal moshes, the groove dancing, and the toe-tapping all combined to show just how diverse a crowd these guys can draw. Without any recent releases, The Expendables tore through their large repertoire playing favorites such as "Sacrifice", "Bowl For Two", "Positive Mind", "24/7", and "Down, Down, Down", as well as the newer "Zombies in America" before bringing Stick Figure and Seedless back on stage in traditional Winter Blackout style to close the night with "Burning Up".
The lineup was full-proof and tight and nobody disappointed. The smile on Geoff Weers' face the entire night really captures the mood of the show. The close-knit Austin reggae community had a treat to be proud of and was treated well by hospital staff. Cameos by Coco the Tour Dog were also plentiful, adding a little extra happiness to the energy of the night. If the Winter Blackout hasn't swung by your city yet, you should get your tickets now. Two amazing up-and-comers supporting one of the most respected veterans in the scene. You really can't go wrong on this tour.
Written by Shawn Hallman