Concert Reviews

Ringo Deathstarr Weren't Just a Shoegaze Band at Rubber Gloves, They Were Deafening

Ringo Deathstarr With Blackstone Rangers, Midnight Masses and Blessin Rubber Gloves, Denton Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ringo Deathstarr are fucking sick of the word "shoegaze." Even before they played a single song, Elliott Frazier, singer, songwriter and guitarist for the Austin band asked the audience to "look at my shoes, because that's what the paper said."

Deathstarr seems hellbent on separating themselves from this suffocating shoegaze tag. On Wednesday at Rubber Gloves in Denton, they sought to shatter that unwanted label with a performance that drew heavily on tracks off their new God's Dream album.

While it would be easy (and overdone) to draw a line between the band and My Bloody Valentine -- both bands feature effect-laden female vocals, droning tones and a fair share of tap dancing on pedalboards -- Deathstarr tapped into a new angle on their latest release. And their performance emphasized they aren't a one-trick pony.

A crowd of only about 50 people showed up to this delightfully divey Denton mainstay, a fact perhaps partially explained by its being a midweek show that took place at midnight. The set was ignited by drumstick clicks, followed by the sauntering, sludging shoegaze riff of "So High" that tore through the venue. But about 30 seconds in, there was a complete shift.

The tempo increased significantly and Frazier stepped back from his monstrous guitar tone to play pared-down chords and revert to a more punk-based song format. But right when it lures you into that sense of stability, Frazier whiplashes back into a face-meltingly heavy guitar interlude, loaded with effects.

The change was chaotic, but the band made it seamless. This daunting progression served as a clear indicator of a band that thirsted for diversity in its song style. And Deathstarr commanded this ambition with vigor.

The potential monotony of a 40-minute dronefest was broken up by these faster-paced sections and more vocals featured Frazier while other records relied on bassist Alex Gehring to serve as the band's Bilinda.

The band cleaned up vocals and cranked up the tempo, but kept the frantic, unwieldy guitar of Frazier. At the end of several songs, Frazier would unleash shrieking guitar squeals and generate ear-shattering feedback from his torn-up amplifier stack. His Fender Jaguar was pushed to its limits with each ear-wrecking pitch. The band may just live up to its name, generating enough raw power to implode Alderaan. In their more technical songs, however, this raw power was channeled into harmonies between Frazier and Gehring, and were on point throughout the set. Hard to believe that after nine years of playing deafening shows, Deathstarr can still hear themselves and sing right on pitch.

Backing the lacerating guitar tones was drummer Daniel Coborn, who kept the rhythm absolutely airtight throughout all of the meanderings of Frazier in certain sections of songs. Keeping up with Frazier's guitar is no small feat, and Coborn managed it

Critics' Bias: Ringo Deathstarr might be one of my favorite local(ish) band names of all time. The Crowd: Sparse, but enjoying themselves despite looking like they were struck with rigor mortis. Overheard in the Crowd: From Deathstarr drummer Daniel Coborn at the merch table: "Oh, are you a fellow Wells Fargoian? What a bank!"

Setlist: So High Flower Power BongLoad God's Dream Chainsaw Morning Imagine Hearts Kaleidoscope Fifteen Frisbee Slack See you Rip Nowhere

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Matt Wood
Contact: Matt Wood