Best of SXSW 2014: SKATERS

We’ve spent plenty of Metro real estate yapping about how much we love Skaters, but after seeing them live at the SXSW Music Conference, that appreciation has only grown stronger. They rocked the house on Thursday night at Bar 96 in Austin, Texas.

Related: From the ashes of Dead Trees come Skaters

The crowd packed into the small venue seemed of the too-cool-for-school mindset. The band’s recently released debut is “Manhattan,” and the band do exude a cool typical of that titular city, so it makes sense that their fans would seem a little stand-offish.

The band begin their set huddled around the drummer as if they’re an offensive lineup on a football team.

And from there they march forward for several first downs and touchdowns and lots of forward passes and stuff. It’s obvious that I know a lot about football, right?

Seriously though, they emerge from the huddle like they’re ready to face off in a full-contact sport.

The aforementioned too-cool-for-school set seemed to prefer a game of two-hand touch, but a friend of the band stationed right in front of the stage changed all that. As the band began with “Fun and Games” he became a one-man mosh pit. Of course, a one-man mosh pit can only exist when there’s only one man in the room. If you’re near said one man, you either move out of the way or become part of the pit. Those around him, including this reporter, seemed eager to accept his invitation.

“Manhattan” has received some criticism for being the work of poseurs — an accusation that could only come from somebody in aforementioned too-cool-for-school mindset — but to watch the band tear through their set, it’s clear that what they’re expressing is authentic.

At one point, the band’s eager buddy in front of the stage lit up a joint, and held his hand out toward the stage to offer it to the members of the band. Not missing a beat, anybody holding a stringed instrument was able to come take a hit. Singer Michael Ian Cummings seemed to look at their friend’s extended hand like, “Are you serious?” but then shrugged and took a toke. Hey, it’s rock ‘n’ roll, right?
These guys are professionals (they’re on the Warner Brothers label) and the set didn’t suffer for their seemingly unplanned indulgences.

By the time they closed with a cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings,” everybody in front of the stage had joined the mosh pit.


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