Cedric Bixler performs with At the Drive-In at SXSW 2017 in Austin, Texas, on March 15. (Photo by friedoxygen)
At the Drive-In, the high-energy abstract punk band from Texas, arrived to play a show at 9:30 Club back in June, but Cedric Bixler fell ill and the band canceled the show. Last week, they finally made it back to DC on their reunion tour, and they came not only with a great show but also a make-up prize.
During the day of cancellation of the show, Cedric told the crowd on March 20 that the decision to cancel in June was made at the venue while writing and recording new material. Then, they played a song that they wrote *in* 9:30 Club *at* 9:30 Club last year. That’s pretty rad.
This tour came as a secondary 2016 reunion after a reunion in 2012. Initially formed in 1993, the band released three punchy, quintessential post-hardcore albums before breaking up in 2001. Omar Rodriquez Lopez and Cedric created an abstract experimental prog-rock group called The Mars Volta. The Mars Volta had a strong six-album career until breaking up in 2012, which rekindled the first reunion of At the Drive-In.
In 2016, the band rekindled again for a tour, but they lack guitarist Jim Ward, who was replaced by fellow former Sparta member Keeley Davis.
The set of this show opened up with one of their most well-known songs, “Arcarsenal,” a pre-Mars Volta-era erratic-sounding cacophonic classic that perfectly displays Cedric’s non-conventional lyricism. The entire set maintained the same level of high energy among all members of the band. At The Drive-In played a well-mixed set of old songs and new songs, including a brand new song from in-ter a-li-a, which is expected to be released on May 5 via Rise Records.
At the Drive-In performed a two-song encore, on the anthemic “One-Armed Scissor.” I really look forward to seeing a lot more of this band now that they are back.
On a side note, the opening band, Le Butcherettes, kicked ass. This garage punk band has such a resounding charismatic presence that is not easily forgotten. Singer/keyboardist/guitarist Terry Gender Bender has a very Yeah Yeah Yeahs-esque style that is a mix of animation, humor, angst, and apathy. This trio has a very filling performance that I was not expecting. Kudos to this band!