Native Sons Not In The Face! Bring Swagger To Austin’s Rock Scene
A review of the rising Austin band Not in the Face at Stubb's BBQ...
One of the city’s best local bands shows why they’re destined for the national stage
By their own admission, the members of Not in the Face! started their band in 2009 as a way to have fun, not to forge a path to stardom. From the double entendre of their name to their animated performances, the trio could have faded into obscurity as just another novelty act.
Just four years after they began playing local clubs, Not in the Face! has grown into a serious, and seriously talented rock band. In the last year alone, they headlined at Fun Fun Fun Fest, played with ZZ Top and the Black Lips, and were voted one of the Top 10 Rock Bands at the 2013 Austin Music Awards.
From their packed show at Stubbs last Friday night, it’s clear that the members of Not in the Face! are more polished than they were at their gig at Emo’s last year, but they’re still having just as much fun playing in front of a live audience. With his sexy strut and sensual voice, Jonathan Terrell is a charismatic and natural front man, who’s not afraid to mingle with his audience.
Before taking the stage he leaped through the crowd and danced as if he were one of the fans. Part Mick Jagger, part Axl Rose, he has an incredible vocal range that is reminiscent of Paul Westerberg’s at his height with The Replacements. Wes Cargal is a mighty drummer who serves the band’s harder songs beautifully. With his soaring riffs, Michael Anthony Gibson wails on lead guitar, with a psychedelic influence that manages to be retro and fresh at the same time. Unlike the aloof persona of many recent bands, this band gives everything they have on stage. They work hard for you, and they want you to know it.
The beauty of Not in the Face! is that they can’t be defined by any one genre. They are a true rock band, but one that borrows heavily from the Blues, 60s surf rock, 70s glam rock, and 80s alternative. From the melodic, catchy rockabilly strains of “Way to Go Baby,” to the garage feel of “Fire Through Time,” their songs read like a catalog of great music from the past six decades.
Even their choice of cover songs was eclectic during their set as they launched into a pitch perfect version of David Bowie’s “Suffragette City, “ and a haunting rendition of Los Bravos’ 60’s hit “Black is Black.” It just proved that a band with exceptional taste in music is bound to produce some exceptional music. Songs like “Brass Tacks,” a fiercely loud love song shows the best the band has to offer, as it manages to be loud, raw, and profound at the same time, with lyrics like, “I want to see that look on your face when you find out that love is a lie.”
This is hard rocking music with a brain to match.
After a 90-minute set, including two songs they played live for the first time, Not in the Face! was elated, sweating, and satisfied, and so was the crowd. Music should be joyous, and this band’s passion for their music is infectious.
With a new EP in the works, which includes the soaring track “Always Tonight” and a featured performance at this years’ Austin City Limits Festival, Not in the Face! will not be another local band for much longer. They're taking their "Kickin' Around, Doin' Rock N' Roll!" tour to Dallas, Houston, and the Midwest before returning to Austin on October 13th for their appearance at ACL Festival.
Photos: Ethan Ham