Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
When the Daytrotter crew travels to Austin for the South By Southwest Festival every March, we dont necessary go about the week the same as most people do, where the general idea is to stuff yourself with excessive amounts of free food and booze and see as many damned bands as is possible. Every building with a roof and many without them hosts a party and an official show during the night hours and even the parking lots and lawns get into the mix. Its chaotic and mind-knotting. Its maximum overload. We, on the other hand, stay relatively put. We drink our own beer and our own wine all of which we pay for ourselves at the grocery store a few blocks down the street and we let the crazy come to us. We get worn out just the same, but we do it our way, keeping Big Orange studio alive with a new session every hour to hour and a half for five straight days, until we are mental and physical raisins by the time the 15-hour return trip commences Saturday evening. With all of this said, over the four years weve been down there, we tend to return home not having found out about anyone new, just reconnecting with the old friends in bands who we already know. Last year, however, we had no choice but to pay attention to Minneapolis Solid Gold. They were incredible and they won us over thanks in no small part to their proximity to us. They were playing in a tin shack or more so adjacent to a tin shack that was right across the street from our studio and there was a lull in our action so we drifted those 80 feet or so to attend a party for something like a smuttier, People magazine for teenagers who seemed to do everything on boats and in underwear or bikinis. Solid Gold was halfway through its set, being relatively ignored by the couple dozen people in attendance in the middle of a scorching, sunny afternoon aside from the street teamers wearing some of the coolest, sparkling band tee-shirts Ive ever seen. We were certifiably blown away by the energy, the electronics and the tuneful, but passionate vocals of Zachary Coulter a scraggily bearded dude with a powerful stage presence. We approached him after the set, out of the unavoidable need to tell him they were great and to see if they had records, or any of those kick ass shirts. They had neither and when hed finished breaking the bad news, he threw on a wolf mask and started walking down the street, likely to another beer and perhaps a blackout. The wolf mask, the non-merch, the stumbling, middle-of-the-road walking and the hairiness all made a lot of sense when listening to the bands music then. The sound has shifted a bit since getting moodier and sturdier but it still maintains a magnetism that draws you in like a moan or a controversy, or a full moon. Coulter sings on these four songs like a man believing that the skys full of lies and hes just trying to pick them off, one-by-one. All he sings and all that the rest of the four-piece provides pushes the sound into a darkened ballad zone that comes close to moving us into U2 territory, where were with them the whole way.