The Pulse of the Maggots courses through downtown Austin at SXSW

The Pulse of the Maggots courses through downtown Austin at SXSW

- By Ramon Gonzales

Get a recap of the Texas-sized celebration of heavy music featuring standout sets from Creeping Death, Soul Glo, Escuela Grind,The Callous Daoboys, Militarie Gun and VCTMS.

Closing out the final night of the music portion of SXSW 2023, Knotfest's discovery series, Pulse of the Maggots, assembled a dynamic roster of emerging heft for its inaugural showcase.

Better framing the health and diversity of contemporary heavy music, the six-band bill spanned various subgenres to communicate a comprehensive snapshot of heavy culture. From mathcore to grindcore, death metal to melodic post-hardcore, Pulse of the Maggots showcased the range of aggressive music on a bill that underscored artistry, intensity, and continuity.

Battling unseasonably chilly weather, combined with the kind of epic hangover that can only occur when St. Patrick's Day lands on a Friday, the first-ever Pulse of the Maggots x SXSW showcase rallied heavy music fans in Austin for a spectacular Saturday night.

Here are the highlights.


Drawing the opening spot on the evening, Chicago aggressors VCTMS proved more than capable to energized a room starting from zero. The alumni of the Pulse of the Maggots series ripped through entries from their most recent Vol. IV: Numb the Ache LP with relentlessness. Setting the bar for the evening In just a little more than a half hour, VCTMS' potent meld of menacing metalcore earned the approval of the fans wise enough to pull up early.



Arguably the most energized set of the night was submitted by New England grind collective, Escuela Grind. While smashing the stage with selections from their praised 2022 full length, Memory Theater, the band emphasized an important, galvanizing message. Acknowledging the "girls, the gays and the theys" vocalist Katerina Economou spoke to the sense of community that remains core to the band while inciting mayhem on the floor with their performance. Punctuating their set with a rendition of "Filth" from hardcore crossover legends Hatebreed, Escuela Grind reaffirmed their buzz with a heavy-hitting half hour that would prove tough to follow.



Despite a full day of showcases, Philly standouts Soul Glo rallied to deliver the kind of set that suggested they possibly saved the best for last. Holding court in front of an eager, packed-house, the band skipped the subtleties with the crowd and got right to brass tacks, sharing incendiary selections from their widely acclaimed 2022 full length, Diaspora Problems. Frontman Pierce Jordon emptied his lungs into the microphone as the band asserted a powerful flexof chaotic hardcore punk that left no doubt - the hype is very much real.



Emphasizing the range of the showcase, Ian Shelton of Militarie Gun confided to the crowd that it is pretty rare when his band is the least heavy on any bill. The frontman again established a unique rapport with the room when he explained that the band had played a showcase earlier in the day and met a middle-aged mother who made it a point to tell the band that she thought her son would like their sound.

That son took his mother's recommendation and found his way to Elysium to see Miliitarie Gun's set. He, along with the rest of the room steadily bobbed their heads in approval as the band flexed competent songwriting with selections from All Roads Lead to the Gun - even including their newest single, "Do It Faster" for good measure.



Atlanta mathcore maniacs The Callous Daoboys proved so infectious, they managed to transform a metal showcase into a midnight dance party. The band's volatile brand of intricate intensity was brilliantly executed as songs from Celebrity Therapist sent the floor into a frenzy. Utilizing every square inch of the real estate onstage, the collective combined precision and pummel in a way that felt celebratory. All six members of the Daoboys submitted the kind of convincing performance that leaves a lasting memory long after the set was done.

Not to mention, how can you hate on a band ballsy enough to bring a violin to a metal show?



Tasked with closing out the night, Texas' very own Creeping Death began their headlining set with a very emphatic statement. Frontman Reese Alavi grabbed the mic and told the crowd, "We drew the graveyard shift so I wanna see some bodies," before unloading thirty minutes of brutality. The 1:00am set compelled fans to forget they were tired as they crashed into each other in the pit to the frenzied soundtrack. The band also previewed new music from their eagerly-awaited, Adam Dutkiewicz-produced full length, dropping the grisly "Intestinal Wrap" to the enthusiastic, late-night faithful.

Powerfully punctuating the showcase, Creeping Death needed less than half an hour to assert that everything really is bigger in Texas.


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