By Paul Stinson
Playing to six people at SXSW or two-hundred at a record release kickoff, Austin’s XETAS’ brisk arsenal of melodic punk rock anvils fall just as a hard. Those anvils are now headed across America, including May 11 at Seattle’s Funhouse.
Famously disposed to letting their instruments do the talking, the unconfirmed illuminati trinity capable of transforming the power of 3 into 100, the Austin band isn’t long for playing the game nor overcrowded festivals –content to hone their craft and make you wonder if this is what Metal Circus/Zen Arcade-era Husker Du + Wipers would sound like now.
After realizing a lifelong dream of playing before six people at an official SXSW 1 a.m. showcase in the heart of a Sixth Street that needs no encouragement to be intolerable, what would have been a cardinal disappointment to many became a late night practice en route to packing out Waterloo Records for an in-store release show five weeks later.
Such are the perils of being a remarkable band in a saturated setting. That’s SXSW. And so it goes any day ending in ‘y’ in Austin.
A week following their 40-minute in-store performance to celebrate the release of “The Tower,” Xetas vaulted to the top of the vinyl charts at Austin’s landmark record store, and #3 overall.
Look out Father John Misty and Spoon, Xetas breathing down yo’ neck. For a minute, anyway.
Hailed as “the most dangerous DIY letter in the Greek alphabet” by their 12XU label, the openly enigmatic power-trio lives up to their tattoos, but don’t get all up in your grill about the ink on their skin, or the ink they should be getting in the papers. They know their worth, and you should too.
That’s the band in a nutshell. Do your thing. Don’t broadcast. Just Be. Don’t worry about SXSW or other constructs of the traditional plot arc. Play to the dedicated followers, take donations for Planned Parenthood at the show. Work Austin jobs, save up for gas. Feed the Econoliner. Make sure the town you just left remembers your name.
Face-melting album-opener ‘The Gaze’ is nothing less than the urgency of Husker Dü’s ‘Something I Learned Today’ punctuated by the eerie personal safety concerns raised by Metal Circus-era “Dianne.”
Do you need a ride?/Where do You Work?/Do you have a boyfriend?/I wanna know/I wanna know.
Jerk doesn’t know he has about ten seconds before getting destroyed by the collective power that is XETAS.
‘The Lamb’ is one of the best songs of 2017, a blisteringly cathartic melody line delivered by D., counter punched by the head-banging stops and starts of a steely rhythm section forged by K. (bass) and O.D.Jay (drums). Who knew head-banging happened at a punk show?
XETAS are punk in the traditional sense. And in another sense, this is punk in a manner that is something else entirely in it’s accessibility. Rewarding listening. Check out “Tether” from their first release, that’s crazy good too.
4/29 Austin @ Beerland
4/30 San Antonio, Tx @ BBSC
5/1 Marfa, Tx @ The Lost Horse Saloon
5/2 El Paso, TX @ the Monarch
5/3 Tucson, AZ @ the Flycatcher
5/4 Tempe, AZ @ Palo Verde Lounge
5/5 San Diego, CA @ the ‘Til Two
5/6 Los Angeles, CA @ The Forest
5/8 Oakland, CA @ the Golden Bull
5/11 Seattle, WA @ Funhouse
5/12 Boise, ID @ Garden City Projects
5/13 Salt Lake City, UT @ JELLY PIPE
5/14 Colorado Springs, CO @ the Triple Knickel
5/15 Omaha, NE @ Brothers Lounge
5/16 Kansas City, MO @ Blind Tiger
5/17 Oklahoma City, OK @ the Blue Note
5/18 Denton, TX @ the Shed
5/19 Austin @ the Mohawk