Biters: #2 of John’s ‘Fantastic Four of SXSW 2011’

Biters - photo by Jackie Roman / The Hell Gate
It’s no secret that I love me some power pop, so when I was cruising through this year’s SXSW torrent and Biters leaped out of the speakers with “Melody for Lovers” (bar none the best new-to-me power pop song of the torrent, and a shining example of power pop perfection), I snapped to attention immediately. Shortly thereafter, I sent an email to a group of friends who would also be attending SXSW proclaiming Biters as the new band “most likely to righteously sate your power pop jones.” Quite rightly, and not terribly surprisingly, several of those same friends had already come to a similar conclusion on their own, and had slotted Biters into their own schedules accordingly.

Audio Download: Biters, “Melody For Lovers”

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In addition to power pop, I love me some down-and-dirty T. Rex-style glam rock. As a result, when I saw Biters live, I quickly realized that, despite the power pop perfection evinced by “Melody for Lovers,” and (given their sound) despite the surprising-to-me fact that they were rocking denim-on-denim in all its sartorial splendor, these lads have managed to perfectly blend Cheap Trick-style power pop and T. Rex-style glam rock to create their signature sound… shall we call it power glam? With that realization, my South-by Friday night was off to a thrilling start, and that night would end up being the MVP of 2011 South-by nights for me, with three of my “Fantastic Four” bands all appearing in showcases the same night. One song after another, Biters delivered a highly addictive set of “power glam” earworms. By the time their head-rush of a set was over, I realized they hadn’t even played “Melody for Lovers,” the song that hooked me in the first place (and had gotten me to make the considerable hike over to the Scoot Inn). Under normal circumstances, a setlist exclusion like that would tend to irk me, but in this case it honestly mattered not at all, given that nearly every song in their outstanding set was as good or better (!) than that gem.

I should probably mention one other influence that finds its way into Biters’ sound on occasion (though infrequently, it must be noted), and it was this influence which was evidenced with the cover they played to end their set. Frontman Tuk introduced the selection saying, “We just watched Detroit Rock City yesterday… again! [So] we’re gonna play a Kiss song. If you don’t like it, kiss my ass. If you like it… alright!” As much as I loved the rock ‘n’ roll attitude of such a statement, and as much as certain Kiss songs can pleasantly transport me back to my youth, their chosen selection of “Strutter” isn’t exactly one of those songs for me. Personally, I’d have voted for “Melody for Lovers” as being not only the better song, but the better set-closer, but since I suspect that Biters would interpret that compliment as being tantamount to heresy, I should probably keep that thought to myself. Oops.

“Born To Cry” is the first single from All Chewed Up, Biters’ new EP, and it’s one of the songs they played that I’d say is even better than “Melody for Lovers,” but why don’t you give it a listen and decide for yourself?

Audio Download: Biters, “Born To Cry”

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Including the latest release, there are three Biters EPs now available, and since my return from Austin, I’ve picked them all up, and can tell you that each one is better than the one before. Make no mistake, however, the first one is great (and “Melody for Lovers” appears on the second), but they’ve truly perfected their sound with the latest release. As a result, it’s All Chewed Up that’s most indicative of their live sound … and it’s a sound guaranteed to get the blood pumping and the ass shaking of anyone who truly loves rock ‘n’ roll.

Biters are out on the road now, making their way from the West to the East Coast, and they may be coming to your town soon, so check out the tour dates. Personally, I’m lamenting the fact that D.C.’s getting skipped, but I may just have to make the Baltimore run. After all, though Biters sated my power pop jones in Austin, I’m already in need of another fix.

About the author:  John Anderson is a SXSW addict, having attended "South-by" every year since 1999. His South-by geekery spilled over into the realm of blogging in 2006, and he is grateful to the Twangville audience for having indulged his South-by ravings since 2008.

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