Master guitarist Monte Pittman played a killer set taking “The Heart of Austin” by Sony stage at 1:30 am on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. “Heart” is a three-day SXSW event taking over two rooftop venues on opposite sides of the same street and use a live feed of their alternating sets so patrons of both venues and those on the street below can see and hear every performance. It was an impressive, high wattage set up and Monte delivered an appropriately electrifying and energetic performance.
Playing seven songs off The Power of Three, his acclaimed album released on Metal Blade Records, Monte, Max Whipple (bass) and Scott Fuller (drums) played a highly polished and non-stop set. The music’s driving beat had the crowd bopping their heads and moving their feet the entire time. Something notable about this performance that made it rise above sets by so many other artists was the way the band rolled from one song right into the next without stopping. There were no awkward pauses to look at set lists or for talking among band members and thus, no loss in the momentum and intensity of the performance. Monte even had Max play a bass solo when he wanted to step away from the microphone and take a drink. This attention to the flow of his set only enhances the listening experience of the audience members, keeping them completely immersed in his music.
Monte opened the set with “A Dark Horse,” one of my favorite songs on the album, and it was awesome. The simple acoustic guitar opening lead into an explosion of sound. The heavy beat pulled the crowd in and never let them go until the last note of the last song was played. The band moved seamlessly into “Delusions of Grandeur” next. Monte wowed the crowd with his lightning speed guitar solo and demonstrated just why some say that no one shreds guitar like Monte Pittman. Another highlight of the show, and big hit with the crowd with its riff-heavy swagger, was “Blood Hungry Thirst.” It’s a fun song with changes in tempo, heavy drumming and a great bass line that made it impossible to refrain from nodding your head while they were playing this song.
Although The Power of Three is a metal album, Monte pulled from a wide range of influences and mixed different styles to craft his songs. This makes his music accessible and enjoyable to fans that like to rock hard, but don’t enjoy the screaming, growling dark lyrics found in some genres of metal. This was obvious as the crowd sang along to the pop-choruses and abundant hooks of “Everything’s Undone,” “On My Mind,” and Away From Here.”
Monte closed with the massive, driving sound of “Missing” and clearly left the crowd wanting more despite the lateness of the hour and chill in the air. This was an impressive set and one I was so very glad I could make part of my SXSW experience.
A Dark Horse
Delusions Of Grandeur
Blood Hungry Thirst
On My Mind
Away From Here