I must confess that despite the frequent request from publicist extraordinaire Jon Freeman, I haven’t listen to a single note from Austin Meade‘s music until I found myself climbing the stairs leading to the main seating area at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater on a Sunday night. Turns out that unbeknownst to me, I was in for an unexpected surprise. To those out there who only know this recent rock phenomenon that some outlets call the present day torch bearers of old school rock through their comedic music videos on YouTube and studio albums, let’s just say that you’ve been missing out.
A singer-songwriter from rural southeast Texas, Meade has been playing and making music professionally for more than seven years, and his material moves seamlessly among the heaviness of classic rock, the gut-punch of emo, and a psychedelic sound that evokes Sabbath at times. His guitar style is descendant from the 70’s classic rock age, and his songs talk about corrupted love, cocaine, prison, church, and the hard living of the common working man. Unconventional, quirky, challenging per-conceived notions, and zig when you expect it to zag, his most recent album “Abstract Art Of An Unstable Mind” have done nothing but speeding up his crazy-fast career momentum.
If the aptly placed first name and common surname with a famed Union Army general wouldn’t raise a few eyebrows, this skinny jeans-toting impresario proved himself to be a master of crowd work that would rival any veteran of the craft, and the level of audience enthusiasm that was reciprocated was equally palpable. Yet despite the happy go lucky manner in which he addressed the audience and that epic mustache like something out of a risqué piece of 1970s cinema, Meade and his fold of instrumentalists were a model of professionalism who brought a competent mixture of high grade musicianship and raw, fuzz-driven energy that held a fairly impressive candle to the classic blues rock originals that were the evening’s headliners.
Though it has been noted that the lyrical subjects often accompanying the party-like demeanor of Austin’s visual presentations of his songs are fairly heavy, the bottom-heavy stomp of his material in a live setting proves correspondingly hard-hitting. The generally smooth and retro rocking character of noted bangers like “Dopamine Drop” and “7 Letters” were given an almost sludgy coat of paint via a more massive guitar presence, while lighter fare such as “Red Roof Estates” and the almost pop-like “Happier Alone” are presented in a hard-hitting and more drawn out manner befitting a fully fledged jam band, with additional props given to lead guitarist David Willie, whom often complemented an animated, bluesy approach to making the instrument sing with some truly raucous, Jimi Hendrix-inspired high-jinks.
Color me f**king impressed.