Roky Erickson at the Continental Club, 10/30/2013
You don't have to know a whole lot about Roky Erickson to know he's written some of the most touching, sweetest songs around. "Starry Eyes" by itself belongs on any halfway decent pitching-woo playlist.
But maybe some other time. Wednesday was the night before Halloween, and Erickson was made for Halloween.
The set list scans like EC Comics' greatest hits -- vampires, demons, ghosts, two-headed dogs and one creature with an atom brain, among other nightmares. Erickson's lyrics only peer further into the maelstrom; not that they were entirely audible Wednesday, but his gruff yet anguished bark said plenty on its own.
Thinking back over the show, which lasted a little over an hour, the thing that really stood out was how blunt it was. Erickson and his son Jegar's band the Hounds of Baskerville churned out some 15 songs of garage-rock grind, dense and visceral. If it was a cold night for alligators; it was a great night if you like gnarly electric-guitar licks.
"John Lawman," the lone selection from 2010's Okkervil River collaboration True Love Cast Out All Evil, worked over the crowd like a heavy bag. Every so often a real kernel of melody would work its way to the front, such as the Stonesy "I Think of Demons" or Byrdsy "Tried to Hide." Especially when he got into those twisted old Thirteenth Floor Elevators songs like "Levitation Blues" or the truly chilling "The Wind & More," it was clear Roky can still cast quite a spell.
But the really spooky thing Wednesday was the lousy attendance; the room was only half full. True, the show wasn't promoted that heavily (that I could tell), but still, it's Roky freakin' Erickson. For my money, the songs he's written are just as blood-curdling as anything Black Sabbath ever did. And they rock harder too.
Personal Bias: For. Even without the triumphant madness-and-redemption story arc, Roky's music rips.
So, How Was the Opener? Led by Roky's son Jegar, featuing a quiet star in keyboardist Kaylie Bernhardt, Austin's Hounds of Baskerville opened with a few tunes before backing the old man. Jegar definitely has a brooding glam/Misfits vibe going on Roky doesn't; he needs a few more hooks, but the better moments weren't too far removed from Jack White with a lot of black eyeliner. Goth garage is still a thing.
Review continues on the next page.