I did a double header last Friday in downtown Austin, getting approved to shoot the first song of progressive jazz legend Return To Forever's reunion tour over at The Paramount Theatre, then covering Austin's notorious rap-rock, hip-hop act The Dirty Wormz at Austin's equally legendary Antone's.
The cool air conditioning smacked me in the face when I arrived at Austin's Paramount Theatre, drying the sweat that had beaded on my forehead quickly. I hooked up with Gary Miller shooting for the Chronicle, and in turn we ran into Raoul Hernandez, music editor at the Chronicle, as we waited for the show to start in the foyer. The Paramount is Austin's classic old theatre, with side balconies and all, and a gorgeous place to shoot. Usually it runs classic movies and world premiers by Austin's burgeoning film community, but every once in a while they stage a few concerts as well, but always top shelf talent. It was so unlike the other venues I have worked, I felt like I was desecrating a church as I tried to move about without obstructing the audience's view.
Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke of Return To Forever - more photos... photo by Jeff Barringer - Staff Photographer
I settled into an open seat in the forth row until the lights dimmed. The band came out and did a bow before starting, then they launched into their first song. I don't know how much review I can give based on the one song, I was too busy taking picture to even note what song it was, but they sounded great. Nothing like a 31 year break.
As I skittered up the isle with my camera bag after my song was over, it felt like everyone was staring at me, but I am certain that the were actually focused on the stage. I would have loved to stay for all of Return To Forever's set, but alas both nights of their Paramount performance had been way sold out and the scalpers out front were beyond my cash budget.
Wandering south down Congress Ave., bag slung over my shoulder, I headed over to Antone's, stopping for a soda and a slice along the way. It was going to be a late night and I didn't know if I was going to get a chance to have a real meal. Usually the pizza is pretty good, but as I munched and walked, my slice was definitely off the normal mark, so I tossed the remainder in a garbage can.
I got to Antone's just as Chuck, the Wormz manager, and Ike, their tour manager, arrived. Getting badged up and headed through the door I planted myself at the bar and spent the next 2 hours sipping Cokes as the club slowly filled. By the time the Dirty Wormz hit the stage, around 11:15 or so, the club was only half full, but that left plenty of room for the mosh pit, and every bit of it was needed.
The Wormz attract an odd mix of crowd, from young high school metal heads dressed in ways to guarantee a parent headaches, to hard core hip-hop fans, to yuppy frat boy types, but they all seem at some point to get into the pit and mix it up, and mix it up hard.
I like the Wormz a lot, they have a very entertaining stage show and they always go out of their way to engage their audience. With their bone-crushing style, their hard core fan base, it's amazing to me that these guys aren't signed to a major metal label like Roadrunner. This isn't wimpy Limp Bizkit, this is rap that goes crunch in a big way. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if they they broke big and ended up headlining Ozfest at some point. If they do, I will be there to shoot their pics.