Track listing: Rocket Fuel, Killer Lifestyle, Loika, Secret Meat, Suicide Cat, Interpol, Superwrong, Click OK, Applesauce, Bubble City, Sunshine, FinallyPong. It’s a short name with a lot of originality, once you hear the band behind the name. The band was formed after Austin post-punk band Ed Hall disbanded in 1996 after releasing a string of albums and touring across the United States and Europe. Guitarist and vocalist Gary Chester fronts the band and explains in an interview with Weekly Wire that the name Pong “fits the retro-futuristic mood we’re in.”
Their latest effort is a live album entitled Pong: Live At The Continental Club, and was recorded in Austin, Texas. While the live recording does not display any hint of post-punk roots, it is a pleasant reminder of the 1980’s, when keyboardist Shane Shelton throws in some synthesizer sounds to give the band its futuristic vibe that makes Pong unique among the Austin music scene.
The opening number “Rocket Fuel” is heavily focused on vocals and guitar. “Killer Lifestyle” has a catchy guitar intro and kicks off the record’s very prominent space theme. It makes a well done attempt to transport their listeners to another musical genre, which could categorized as retro-futuristic pop (something the band has carefully crafted). While the synth sounds of the 1980’s can seem a bit stale these days, Pong creates likable and dancy bass lines that keep the songs going.
“Secret Meat” is by far the strongest song on the album. The band makes their sound entirely their own, without seeming to try very hard. The keyboards in "Secret Meat" add spice and color to what might otherwise be a boring song. “Interpol” is the most arena-rock sounding song in the set list, with Shane Shelton adding color to the song by adding in a keyboard part that brings out the bands 80’s influences. “Click OK” brilliantly displays the group’s vocals talents.
Towards the end of the show, you can envision that “Sunshine” gets the crowd dancing. And to end the set, Pong appropriately closes with “Finally," a song that truly captures what Pong is all about: fun and winning over as many fans as possible.
Pong is definitely one of the unique bands that are playing in the Austin area today, and they are sure to win even more fans with their fun and energetic style of music.