SXSW 2014 | Best Of | Mozes and The Firstborn

19 Mar

Mozes And The Firstborn - SXSW 2014 - Bar 96 #1So where to begin on SXSW 2014? Despite the official showcases being dishearteningly less than incredible this year, the town being whitewashed with major corporate sponsorships, an over abundance of hip-hop sets in a town built on garage psyche and Willy Nelson, somehow this managed to surpass the level of stoked I have felt over previous years and those who have followed HCK! for any amount of time knows how impossible that seemed.

Every year at SXSW some band manages to destroy all of my expectations and remind me once more how incredible of an experience music can be. This year that band was Dutch natives Mozes and The Firstborn (Burger Records).

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Mozes And The Firstborn - SXSW 2014 - Bar 96 #2

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I managed to catch these guys twice over the week, the first at Bar 96 was one of the best sets I have ever seen. I got to the venue forty minutes before they were set to play and was informed that the doors wouldn’t be open until the band started playing (this was one of many confusing incidents at SXSW I got to witness). I was the first one through the gate and walked into an empty venue with these four dudes already on fire. Within seconds I was swarmed by fifteen photographers moving sporadically in indecipherable circles around me. One actually asking if I could move to the left a few inches. Really? In a vacant forty square-feet I need to move so you can get that perfect shot? By the third song the place was at capacity and it ignited the atmosphere. What began as a band out to prove a point escalated with the crowd’s energy. It was thick. Electric. Alive.

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Mozes And The Firstborn - SXSW 2014 - Bar 96 #4.

On their albums Mozes and The Firstborn are very Black Lips influenced early 90’s grunge with subtle hints of neo-surf but live it is pure Rock & Roll leaning heavily in the way of psychedelia. Frontman Melle Dielesen possessed the stage, captivating with angst and aggressiveness that fell not an inch short of cool and he was barely a cliff note in what mounted with each passing second into a crescendo of sweat soaked brilliance.  These guys play tight, like they’ve lived on the road for twenty years doing nothing but drugs and shows kind of tight. The crowd far exceeded what you expect at badge showcases where typically the networkers and middle-aged upper managers trade handshakes and pontificate about their own importance. The venue was intimate, both band and crowd were hungry, it was the first night set of SXSW 2014, the entire world felt right.

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Mozes And The Firstborn - SXSW 2014 - Bar 96 #3.

Now having caught this band twice it would be an injustice to go without mentioning how well put on Bar 96 had things; the sound was mixed better than I’ve heard all year, there was smoke, the lighting was perfect. This was one of the rare venues that set the bands up for greatness. Actually, I caught Parquet Courts and Real Estate at the same venue later in the week and the sound and stage setup was horrendous so I guess the credit goes solely to Dutch Fellows/Dutch Impact who presented the showcase.

Melle worked the crowd like a much more likeable Conor Oberst climbing from the stage and mouthing off one of the verses to “I Got Skills” in the face of eternity. Lead-guitarist Ernst-Jan Van Doorn seemed to hover in the ether descending every couple of songs like a long-haired fallen angel while their drummer  Raven Aartsen took out some personal vendetta on his set, all while in the midst was this droning charismatic bass coming from Corto Blommaert who may have stopped smiling for all of thirty seconds the entire set. These guys definitely do drugs or are teetering on the edge of mental collapse.

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Mozes And The Firstborn - SXSW 2014 - Bar 96 #5.

The second set I caught from them was at Burgermania III (definitely going in depth on that showcase over the coming week) on the Hotel Vegas stage. This set was perfect as well but still fell short . The crowd needed something from them and whatever it was didn’t surface until halfway through the slot. If it had been the only set I caught of theirs I would have walked away still geeking about the band, that first set though had me stumbling over my words recommending them to friends.

One of the great factors to SXSW which seems to go relatively unnoticed is how much time you get to spend just hanging out with these bands. I ended up at Hotel Vegas the following day for The Bad Lovers set and was able to interact with the dudes and see just how opposite they are from what you experience behind their instruments. Sure on-stage there were flashes of smiles and a genuine appreciation for the moment they were in but those were merely quick glimpses in the midst of an absolute mission to prove a point, off stage though they are these humble guys unaware of their own potential. After all these years of interacting with bands I have become so weary of even meeting these important tangents to my life because of the attitude they feel they have to sell. Then again maybe they aren’t selling anything and they really are assholes, that would definitely not surprise me. Mozes and The Firstborn are the gloriously rare other side to that coin. My overall impression after three days near these guys is one of their being just four good dudes who happen to have found a perfect combination of passion and skill. When it comes down to it that really is what SXSW is supposed to be about.

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Mozes And The Firstborn - SXSW 2014 - Bar 96 #6

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A year from now talking about Mozes and The Firstborn will seem redundant, these guys are coming on at the right time and there is no doubt in my mind they will make believers at every show they play. With an album and an EP out both over the last four months, these guys are grinding their teeth hard and fast, everything about them just feels rightly timed and judging from what I saw this past week I am not alone in this conclusion.

Their albums are up at a “name your price” through their Bandcamp page, get familiar with them.

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Mozes and The Firstborn – Bandcamp | Facebook | Website | Burger Records

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