While Harvey Milk and Coalesce are two completely different bands sonically, they both bring together somewhat of the same audience. Of course, you had the folks there for one or the other, but nobody left early for Harvey, or showed up late for Coalesce. Not only were these veteran bands, these were veteran fans.
During Harvey Milk’s brand of southern-fried doom, I believe there were more beards on stage and in the audience than at a Whiskerino convention. Their set ranged from old to new, covering all the bases from their bonafide stoned-out classic off Life… The Best Game in Town, “Motown”, to the groundwork that built their career before their original break up in 1998. The interaction between Spiers, Spence, and Tanner is damned near impeccable. They each occupy their own space on stage, hardly ever taking a glance at each other, yet play like a ZZ Top 45 slowed down to 33. It makes your body comatose and your blood boil, providing the true comedown from the madness that ensued with Coalesce earlier in the evening.
While Coalesce is usually an undecipherable disarray on record (in the best way possible), it all comes together to make sense in a live setting — drums, bass, and a shitload of feedback from a one-man guitar party. The pulsating low-end drums and bass guitar fill up a good 90% of the space, while the rest is shrieking guitar pushing its way through the threshold whenever possible. These guys don’t exactly look like the type to let loose and throw down when they hit the stage, but we all stood corrected about 30 seconds into the set. Pushing the boundaries of hardcore/metal music, Coalesce stands true to the mission they started well over a decade ago – delivering some of the most brutal, uncompromising heavy music on the planet.
Lets not forget about Chicago’s new doom-sensation Atlas Moth. The new Candlelight signees deliver a brand of metal versed in everything from the low-end madness of Neurosis to the fire-breathing vocals of Eyehategod, and do it with a hell of a lot of passion. Look out for these boys on the circuit over the next few years and as a standout act of this year’s SXSW.