Fear Snakeface obviously believes in the big-rock ending and the power of woohoo’s. Tonight the band is reduced from a foursome to a duo — Sid St. Onge on guitar and vocals and Phillip Luna, who also plays with the bill’s second band, Worm, on drums — and it’s really hard to imagine what the other two guys do when they’re there. St. Onge’s fretwork combines noisy punk power chords with bombastic classic-rock lead lines on the same instrument, within the same verse even. But what might be an erratic playing style gets structure from Luna’s on-point percussion. All those riffs and drum fills create an incredible racket, leaving seemingly no space for bass.
“San Anto,” dedicated to a “town just south of Austin you may have heard of,” throws a screwball country beat at the audience and continues pelting them just long enough to make it stick, landing finally near the Meat Puppets unhinged cowpunk. Some muted movie of the week plays on the big-screen TV behind them. Onscreen a boy narrowly avoids drowning while St. Onge makes a melody from guttural grunts and Southern rock falsetto. Then he shockingly switches to an accoustic guitar, but the noises he coaxes from it are harsher and more primative than any campout strum-along, at once impossibly loud and impressively gorgeous. A man catches fire in the background.
The people sitting at tables seem to be paying more attention to the band than the TV, but after Snakeface takes a 15-minute intermission, St. Onge turns it off. There’s still plenty to pay attention to. A quickly abandoned attempt at covering Simon and Garfunkel seems like it must be a complete joke, but St. Onge’s bookish, bearded jam-bander appearance leaves room for doubt. There doesn’t seem to be room for even another note, however, in “Houston Trip,” one of the best singles Kings of Leon never released, and the drawn-out finish, complete with plenty of celebratory hollering, is enough to make you quit wondering whether that poor boy made it safely out of the swimming pool.