The Stampede plays punk rock without sappy quality

Mary Lingwall

“Don’t be scene, be heard” is a powerful saying in city where the music scene is almost as incestuous as it is vibrant. And for Austin’s The Stampede, “Don’t be scene, be heard” is an anthem.

The Stampede is a band that doesn’t exude the “Austin sound” made popular most recently by indie hometown heroes such as Harlem or The Strange Boys, but the enthusiasm of its live shows and aesthetic loyalty to a genre that all of us grew up with — pop punk — makes them an instantly relatable band for a community of music fans constantly bombarded with the fleetingly popular stylings of post-South By Southwest hype bands.

The band’s songs aren’t about girls, and its shows aren’t about the clothes you’re wearing. For The Stampede, it’s all about the energy, honesty and kids with beards.

“We are actually working on a concept album right now. You can fit about 14 minutes on a 7-inch recording, so we wanted to write 14 one-minute songs about a boy who was born with a beard,” lead singer Austin Mitchell said. “Imagine being born with a beard and never being able to get rid of it. He can’t shave it, his hairs are too thick. … It might have to be a 10-inch.”

The Stampede’s sound harkens back to the first wave of pop punk in the 1990s, most notably in the track “A Lesson Before Dying.” But the band’s sound isn’t strictly limited to one genre. “You Fucked Up the Brainiac” has tinges of Moldy Peaches-style lyrical stylings and “Thrillseeker” has a Southern California melody and the kind of backbeat support that made Brand New the band it is today.

“[Pop punk] has become a really broad term now,” guitarist Phillip Nichols said. “We associate more with the Fat Wreck Chords sound, but the term gets thrown in with bands like New Found Glory and all that sweeter, more emo stuff.”

But The Stampede is anything but sweet. Its writing style evokes the original punk ethic: unity through nihilism. Death, politics, anything but sappiness define the songs in The Stampede’s repertoire.

“Death has been the topic of a couple of our new songs,” Mitchell said. Nichols added, “Yeah, when everyone around you is getting married or dying, it becomes an unavoidable theme.”

The Stampede started as a musical outlet for a couple of college students from Panama City Beach, Fla., but has quickly become a fresh-faced contender in Austin’s community of heavier rock music.

WHAT: The Stampede with Veara, I Am Abomination and Go Action Team
WHERE: Emo’s (inside)
WHEN: Tonight; doors open at 7