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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Black is the new black

In the course of a year there are many things that can change. Even things that are the same can be different. For example, I saw the band Black4 at SXSW 2014 by accident. Getting to a show early to make sure we would be able to see a friends band. We got there early enough to witness this rock n roll genius and fun that is Black4.

I wrote that review ( and was lucky enough to be contacted by the band with gratitude (I don't do it for that, but it's damn nice). We had continual contact for the next year, joking around, and even helping them try to find some extra gigs for their upcoming return to SXSW for 2015 - to no avail, which is everyone else's loss.

Lucky for me and all who attended, Black4 got a return spot to perform at The Aquarium on Saturday for SXSW15. Even better is I happened to be downtown on the Thursday of SXSW15 at The Fader Fort. After some messaging back and forth and missing the mark, one of the guys in the band invited me to their rental spot to hang out for a bit. GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE! Hell Yes! I am not stupid, or maybe I am. I found their rental place off of Oltorf and Congress and walked around to the back where I heard laughing, clanking of glasses, and music blasting from a cell phone speaker.

There I was face to face with the members of Black4 and their entourage. It was a surreal and amazing moment. Meeting these guys casually was not just awesome enough, it was having the lead singer jump up out of his chair and giving my a huge hug and exclaiming to everyone, "Will Tompkins! HOLY SHIT! You ARE fucking real!" How funny that the internet brings people so close and into our lives, but it is only that moment you meet them face to face it is no longer virtual is reality.

I was, and am, so humbled having the opportunity to share some personal time with these guys. Share some drinks with them (Lonestar it was!), and even share meal (bbq it was). The words I write about my experiences at different venues seeing different bands I do for the love of Austin, and the hopes that some one out their reads a review and decides to see that band or go to that club. To be taken into the fold and treated like family was stunning. Some point in time I will probably write more about this evening.

Don't get me wrong, I hang out with lots of guys here in Austin, but it is always at shows. I can think of only one time I have been invited to someones home to hang out and drink (and man did I get FUUUUCCCKKKEDDDD UP - thanks to MC Overlord and the guys from Aimless Gun/Cody Bryan Band).

Back to the show, believe it or not, there is a performance review in here.

The Aquarium is located on 6th St, Austin, Texas. Right in the middle of the entertainment district. Just a few blocks off of Congress Ave. It is a long bar. As you walk in the door the stage is in the corner immediately to your right, and there is some seating to the left. Ahead of you is a long bar that runs the length of the right wall and in wall fish aquariums run the length of the left wall. In the back are the bathrooms and some stairs that take you to an upstairs area for hanging out as well. I don't think the stage is set up for night time musical performances because there was absolutely no stage lights...just a neon beer sign in the corner above the stage.

Doesn't matter. The band that was onstage before Black4 was GRABBER ( By admission of their lead singer/guitar player, it was probably their 4th live performance. These guys were really good, with that hard Southern Hard Rock kind of sound. I really hate throwing out comparisons ('cause I know damn well this is not what you will hear, but I heard Molly Hatchet in their sound). They were loud, they were entertaining, and they were just damn good. I would not have a problem hanging out at a venue where these guys will be performing again.

Black4 ( took the stage and proceeded to tear that place down. By the 3rd song the Aquarium was packed. There were people in there that seemed to show up for something else, were surprised at the energy and sound, then stayed for the whole performance. Yup! some folks weren't expecting this at the Aquarium on a Saturday night and left, too bad because Saturday night got slayed!

With such a small stage the bass player and guitar player kept taking turns stepping off the stage and right into the crowd. The guitarist, Curtis, just kept is head down and commenced to punishing his guitar for the love of it. The bassist, Jason, now that was an entertaining and different sight. Being that he was on the corner of the stage next to the door, he would step off the stage and to the door, entertaining the hell out of the crowd outside.

All the while the drummer sat tucked in the corner killing it and flinging sweat everywhere. and there, There in front, Bryan, belted out the vocals in the most vicious and fun way. Smiling at the crowd like some kind of barker from a side show carnival, Bryan held no bones to entertain the crowd. Tales of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll between songs, and a wicked voice to carry them music right through your eardrums.

It is not just a pleasure meeting these guys, but a rockgasm watching and listening to their performance. I was lucky enough to catch one of the songs from that evenings performance, check it out here (

Best wishes and healing speed to the guitarist Curtis, as I write this he is currently recovering from a motorcycle accident that left him hospitalized. He is on the mend and recovering, but best wishes to you Curtis!