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This Little Underground

Our live music columnist checks out Ralphfest 2 and The Sword

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The Sword is back, baby. That new album Apocryphon is a welcome step back toward the big-ball shit that put 'em on the map – not all the way, but it's solid. When they're on, the Sword's chief triumph is their pitch-perfect balance of pace, riff and heft. They're not cited as one of this era's saviors of metal so often for nothing. And, really, these Austin boys still kill live (Nov. 20, The Beacham). While they're not always so consistent on record in recent times, playing live, they have a way of knowing what's essential and what's not.

Fellow Texans Eagle Claw bring some pretty serious thunder live themselves. They're another of those instrumental bands that really makes you appreciate the virtue of wordless heavy metal. Because of more than a few of its subgenres, metal, for me, is forever on the tightrope between excitement and camp. And rocking it entirely instrumentally is particularly smart in Eagle Claw's case. All that old-school glory they mine can too easily become straight cheese without just the right vocalist.

The Falcon is known for its nice tradition of interesting, cool and tasteful music theme nights. The recent one focusing on the luxurious fuzz of shoegaze (Nov. 23) was just about perfect. Besides an exceptional and informed playlist, VJ Chad Beachy completed the audio-visual experience by adding videos, too. The bar tells me he changes themes, but this is one worth reprising from time to time.

Notable news in weekly events: Beginning this week, the increasingly popular Sock Hop Mondays will change both locale (from Peacock Room to BackBooth) and day (from Mondays to Wednesdays). What this means for one of the city's most fun dance nights is an actual dance club situation, 18+ and no cover. Boom.

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