Much has been written in the digital and paper pages of The FADER regarding The Tough Alliance and their provocative live shows, so when they scheduled a 1am slot at the Beauty Bar in Austin last Saturday, we made sure to be there despite exhaustion, inebriation and guts filled with Mexi-Cobb salad.
The discovery made upon seeing them firsthand was this: they are fucking awesome and here's why.
TTA already have a reputation for bat-swinging and lip-synching onstage, so when we heard about their Wednesday show in Austin being a mic-smashing, security-nervewracking debacle, it wasn't that big of a surprise. What wasn't evident was that dudes are NOT lip-synching, they are singing and yelling their bizarre anthems with no regard for the microphones.
They stand at the front of the stage looking maniacally over your head or pose in front of the video projection, letting its waves crash over their heads. This whole time they are shouting their songs at a volume barely audible over the backing tracks. But, if you shout along, it makes more sense. The lyrical volume catches up. And the next thing you know, The Tough Alliance is standing next to you on the floor and you are singing together, not singing into a mic for a second when they let you but you are part of the group.
It's fucking weird and better than being kind of scared by some crazy Swedes swinging golf clubs because they don't seem necessarily interested in you liking them, yet they've devised a live show that will totally suck if you don't participate. So, as other critics who stood in the back have pointed out, if you stand in the back and hope for them to play their album note for note, you're not going to get it. It's going to look terrible, like two assholes miming and grabbing parts of the ceiling and showering dust (asbestos?) on the heads of the morons up front. So we're the morons. But we like music.
So here's why this show was among the best we saw outside of our own while in Texas: because all we do every time we put on The Tough Alliance's music is jump around and sing along, and all we did at a TTA show was jump around and sing along, and we also love that part in some shows when the artist holds the mic out and the whole audience sings the words, and we especially love the feeling that this can happen when there are only 40 people really paying attention and maybe 60 or 70 milling around drinking beer behind those 40, and that when it was all done we didn't want to hang out with the dudes or talk to them about social experiments but that our voices were gone and we may have hugged their label guy who sort of looks like Andrew WK.