Maxam, The Bravo, and The Continuums perform at Mohawk

While the Mohawk’s doors open at 8 p.m., shows usually don’t start until significantly later, sometimes as much as an hour and a half. Sometimes, someone might think that a show starts when the doors to the venue open, and that someone ends up on a balcony fighting a losing battle between their hands and the swarm of mosquitoes that had (I’m assuming) spawned in the rainwater that had pooled in the balcony trashcan next to the glass double doors of the Green Room.

One of my roommates had driven me here in her aged Jeep Wrangler and dropped me off in the middle of the street. I was worried that 8:15 p.m. was too late, that I had missed some crucial point in the show that night, that one of the greatest performances ever delivered had come and gone while I was absent. Instead, I had to convince a very skeptical doorman that, despite the absence of a list, I was in fact on the guest list and that I wasn’t a sneaky underage hooligan. Then, I sat on the balcony for an hour and charged my phone, only leaving to order a Red Bull energy drink from the bar.

Before the show started, an in-house DJ was playing funk that he was, (I think) chopping and screwing in real time. It was nice, I guess, but I didn’t really increase the appeal of going inside if there wasn’t going to be a live band playing. However, when The Continuums arrived, the atmosphere shifted drastically. I remember standing near the front of the room, close to the stage, and being worried that the room wasn’t going to fill up, but only seconds into the first song people were piling into the room. It was less than a minute before The Continuums were playing to a packed room.

The band was a blast to see live, playing music that was not only a fun listen, but was actually very novel. At least half of their set was characterized by a classical blues opening, repetitive in a way that was comforting rather than boring, but rapidly evolved into some very intense psych rock. The vocalist played a gold-faced Gibson and when he howled we felt it too. The lead guitarist played a hollow-body Epiphone and absolutely shredded. I couldn’t tell what the other members had, but the lot of them beat it up. I spoke to lead singer Barrett Boswell after the set.

I asked him about the band name, if it meant anything or if they just liked the way it sounded, and he relayed to me a short history of The Continuums:

“It was something like that. Honestly, we started out with it, we didn’t really like it, but it stuck and we never really changed it,” Boswell said.

Personally, I love it, and the swirling vortex that serves as their emblem looks cool as hell on their equipment.

Next on stage was The Bravo, which is two self-described “absolute cavemen” and two “trained musicians” who play some pretty standard rock and roll with an unexpected pop-punk overtone that sounds bizarre coming from a hirsute adult who looks like he’s been adult long enough that you wouldn’t ever call him a boy unless you were Thin Lizzy, but it ended up being really cool. The drummer, playing with large black X’s drawn on his hands with black marker, displayed some incredible technical skill. It was icing on the cake that he looks a little like Miles Teller too. The keyboardist, brother of caveman as well as frontman Danny Bravo, was also doing some really tight organ work, and he was as fun to watch as he was to hear. Several times throughout the set he would start to play like he had paws instead of human hands. It looked ineffective but he made it work. Bravo said he looked like Charlie Schmidt’s keyboard cat. It was bad ass.

By this time my boss, who had also come to see the show, brought me ear plugs from the bar, which was great because while the music was wicked cool I had been standing real close to one of the amps for a majority of the show and I was starting to really feel it in my ears. After popping those in and saying hello to the drummer and guitarists for The Bravo, Maxam climbed on stage.

Chris Wheeler--Maxam's frontman
Collin Mullins–Maxam’s frontman shreds onstage.

I had briefly spoken to lead singer Collin Mullins beforehand, just asking to speak with someone from the group later, as I hadn’t met any of the other bandmates yet, but after the show I might as well have. Watching Maxam play was crazy because it felt like everyone there was the lead musician at the same time, but in a way that managed to eschew complication and instead cultivated an electric atmosphere. Bass usually operates in the background, laying track for the the other components of the band, but bassist Chris Spencer was at the forefront, throwing it down.

Thomas Wheeler's energetic drumming was a highlight of Maxam's set.
Thomas Wheeler’s energetic drumming was a highlight of Maxam’s set.

The drummer, Thomas Wheeler, was tearing it up, wearing less and less of his shirt as the night went on, playing a kit held together by duct tape, looking like he was on the verge of breaking his sticks. Mullins himself sang beautifully, playing some beautiful melodies that made me feel a little like I was camping. The whole time they were fighting faulty equipment. Monitor output was shoddy at best and vocal mixing was sub-par. Mullins was often inaudible.

Maxam prefer's to shine the spotlight evenly on each memeber of the band. Here Chris Spencer lays down some awesome bass.
Maxam prefer’s to shine the spotlight evenly on each member of the band. Here Chris Spencer throws some bass down in the forefront.

After the show I spoke with Wheeler, who revealed that before they made Austin their home, the trio were all Houston residents. They met each other at various shows and events. When I brought up the way everyone got their fair share of attention in terms of the performance, Mullins explained that it was intentional.

“We like to make sure that everyone gets to participate equally in the process,” he said.

(Feature photo and article photos courtesy of Tipcow’s Rene De La Mora.)