When bands that have either been around for 20 years, or hail from down the road, are only allotted 30 minutes at a 12-hour festival, it’s a double-edged sword.
On one hand, you feel short-changed they didn’t play longer. On the other, you know they’re going to sustain the most energetic and rocking performance they can possibly give — something that’s not always possible if they played two hours each.
The 20-year band we speaketh of pertaining to Memorial Day Sunday’s inaugural River City Rockfest is Clutch. The band from down the road, more specifically Austin, is 10-year Southern metal stalwarts The Sword.
No pun intended about that double-edged thingy.
Clutch and The Sword set the stage for heavy hitters All That Remains, which headlined the second stage outside the AT&T Center on a cloudy, muggy day. Click on the slideshow at top for a look at all three groups.
Playing before a “very unofficial 12,000-14,000” fans (according to a venue spokesperson) that made up the Center’s grounds that included three stages, All That Remains made the most of its 40 minutes by including Stand Up, The Last Time, Hold On and of course the crushing The Calling in its set (click here to watch the San Antonio Metal Music Examiner’s 2011 interview with guitarist Mike Martin).
Clutch took four of its seven songs from the Earth Rocker CD that was released March 19. We’ll call them a 20-year band since their first album came out in 1993, though they obviously formed a couple of years before that. Clutch are to be commended that they still have the original quartet of vocalist Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. Their love of the music and of playing together shone through even as the sun mostly stayed away.
While the instrumentalists in the band were fairly reserved and concentrating on their craft, Fallon let loose with a series of motioning and sinister (in a humorous way) facial bantering with the crowd. That held especially true on the title track to Earth Rocker (see caption in accompanying photo at top). Clutch opened with Book, Saddle and Go from the latest CD, with other new offerings being Crucial Velocity and D.C. Sound Attack! Cypress Grove and set closer Electric Worry were other tunes taken from this century as Clutch virtually ignored its real old material.
While All That Remains has been to San Antonio three times in as many years, one can only hope that, like Clutch, The Sword make more appearances in these parts. Luckily, The Sword doesn’t have to travel very far.
Supporting 2012’s Apocryphon CD, original members John D. Cronise (singer/rhythm guitarist) and Kyle Shutt (lead guitarist) joined bassist Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III in bringing their raw, bluesy Southern metal to a festival littered with fans from outside of Texas who may not have been familiar with that style of rock.
The Sword are so unassuming. In essence, they were the opposite of Clutch’s Fallon. Both bands rocked hard and left you wanting more than 30 minutes, but they went about it in opposite ways. And that’s OK. What works for Clutch — which is obviously doing something right seeing how long they’ve been around with all of the original members — gave way to The Sword’s simple stance of less stage frills, more straight-ahead thrills.
Which leads to this proposal: How about seeing the somewhat polar opposites in style, but similarities in delivering the goods, on their own tour in the not-too-distant future? Or, at the very least, bringing them back for another go-round of the River City Rockfest and graduating them to the main stage?
No one is likely to complain about longer sets from either. Or about the festival turning into an annual showcase that should eventually put San Antonio back on the road to being a significant city of live hard rock and heavy metal.
For the SAMME’s previous All That Remains and River City Rockfest coverage, click on the “Suggested” links in blue below.
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