Val and I started our Punk Rock weekend adventure off a day early and caught two legendary hardcore punk bands VERBAL ABUSE and the DAYGLO ABORTIONS on Wednesday night. A killer show and great time but it didn't really allow for a good nights sleep before heading to Austin Texas for the 7th Annual Chaos in Tejas Fest. Justin was about as bad off as we were, he worked the night before. Between the 3 of us we a combined total of about 7 hours of sleep. Brutal.
Austin Texas is not only the host city for Chaos in Tejas and SXSW it is also the home of Alex Jones. I am a huge Alex Jones fan and was stoked to the nines to find his radio show was in full swing as we driving down the highway in our Nissan rental car looking for our hotel. It was even on FM! There we were making our way through traffic in the Lone Star state with the "loudest voice in the universe" warning us of the rising police state and impending martial law! Hell yea! This made for a great intro to a punk fest! If you don't know who Alex is go Google him right now, or better yet check out www.infowars.com or www.prisonplanet.com. Your life will never be the same. WAKE THE FUCK UP!
The lack of sleep described above was really taking it's toll and we had some time so we took advantage of it by laying around our room with the AC on and talking about all the killer bands we going to see over the next few days. A moment like this, as we would learn over the next several days, should really be cherished. Cool AC and a comfy bed are not recognized enough for the glorious things they are. Texas is so fucking hot. It's hot all day and all night, no reprieve and no remorse. Anyway we lounged around and drew a paper dick and put in Justin's pocket while he was sleeping. He was not impressed but we laughed at him anyway.
We thought we needed tickets to the Emo's indoor show on Thursday so we headed down only to find out we didn't, the outside pass would cover it all! Bonus! I don't recall who I saw first on Thursday night. I only caught a few minutes of CULT OF YOUTH and their NEW MODEL ARMY inspired stylings, a band that I will have to certainly check out in the future. VILE GASH was the first band that I paid real attention to and was certainly entertained by their brand of dark hardcore punk. Gruff vocals and heavy hardcore were the main ingredients in their musical loaf and the crowd was already going nuts doing dives and slamming around. So far so good!
The SLOWMOTIONS from Japan were a little more rock 'n roll than I am generally open to but they had a great stage presence and the singer danced cool, he really seemed to be enjoying himself as he gyrated and twisted to his bands super charged rock and worked the main stage like a pro. Good for him! Justin met the singer later and told him they were "bad ass". The language barrier proved itself as the singer looked at Justin confused and said "Bad.......Ass?" Funny shit.
People were really hyping DOUBLE NEGATIVE up like they were the second coming of BLACK FLAG or something. Several people even compared them to COC. Well after 3 songs I had enough of the trend-core and thought they sounded like the ROLLINS BAND trying to sound like OFF!. Modern trendy hardcore and they even had the, almost required for this type of hardcore, clear guitar. Good grief! I went outside and got my spot for the also much hyped ASTA-KASK.
ASTA-KASK were celebrating their 30th anniversary with their first US tour. The Swedes played tight, melodic, sorta UK 82, styled punk. Honestly I had never heard of them before this and didn't get why everyone thought they were the shit. They were okay but definitely not what I am into. I left about ¾ the way through their set and worked my way into the tightly packed crowd inside Emo's for Japanese D-Beaters D-CLONE. Here we go! A full blown out wall of deafening noise that made DISCLOSE sound like BLINK-182 was what D-CLONE was delivering. They were hopped up crazy pills as they plunged in a chaotic mess of D-Beat and noise. D-CLONE had cool charged up punk rock hair, screamed like crazy, punched themselves in the face and went totally ballistic! The crowd lost their collective mind as well and were diving all over the place, pogoing and slamming like mad! D-CLONE's crazy over the top distortion blow-out massacre was intense and definitely got me stoked. I was awake and primed now for the mighty CRO-MAGS.
Dudes were gathering early and staking claim to territories in front of the stage that they would soon lose to the insane crowd that the CRO-MAGS cooked up. It was here that saw a dreadlocked dude talking about the 'Age of Quarrel' cassette he purchased when he was 13 that I would later come to learn was the bass player in NUKKEHAMMER. Justin and Val soon joined me and were uneasy about being down front for the MAGS but I tried to ease their concerns as we watched John Joseph walk across the stage with a bundle of incense that cut through the sweat and beer soaked air. For some reason he also had a jar of peanut butter. I liked the incense but I thought the peanut butter was a little odd.
In my 40 years I have been to a lot of shows, many brutal ones even. SLAYER pits are always life threatening and PANTERA pits were normally all meat and muscle, light on the brains. I've survived many insane pits including the Wall of Death at a HATEBREED show but all that training and perceived preparedness did not set me up for the insanity that broke loose with the first note of the first song the CRO-MAGS played. I don't even remember what song it was as I was too busy fighting for my very survival to focus on details like the name of a song. It might have been 'World Peace'. Hell, even John Joseph got taken out on that first song, he was laid out across the stage like a rag doll. But only for a second. That dude bounced back and put on one of the most energetic performances I have ever seen. The MAGS were tight and completely aggro! Stage divers ruled the times and were flying all over the fucking place doing the craziest shit I have ever seen. People were getting taken out and knocked out all around me. Heads were bleeding and noses too (including mine!). Holy shit dude it was a fucking hardcore warzone and I was on the front lines. Sanity should have convinced me to step back a bit and let the kids have their say but being the big fan of JJ and the CRO-MAGS that I am I made the decision to continue the battle and try to hold my ground. They power housed through a set that included pretty much all of 'Age of Quarrel' as well as 'Crush the Demoniac' and a BAD BRAINS medley. JJ was supported by fellow caveman Mackie on drums, AJ from LEEWAY on guitar and a kat that I believe served time in SWORN ENEMY on bass. God damn! that show was brutal and so high energy! I haven't been part of anything that fucking intense in a long, long time. I was so pumped at the end of the show that I was still on a CRO-MAGS high the next day.
We grabbed a bite to eat (the only things I ate on this trip was pizza, primarily from Hoboken Pizza, and veggie dogs from the Hot Dog King!), got some water and tried to get to the Broken Neck for the after party but by the time we got there about 150 people were gathered outside unable to get in to the already packed warehouse. By now it was 3 AM and it was apparent we were going to miss TRAGEDY. Epic bummer as the Saturday show was sold out and we didn't have tickets to that either, days later I would learn that the door was being run the Austin Pyrate Punx captain who said he would have gotten us in. Not a total loss though... We got a great nights sleep (I slept until 1 PM!) and were pretty refreshed the next day. Sleep becomes much more important when you are in your late 30's and early 40's. I guess we just aren't the young bucks we used to be!
Saturday had us posting up in Beerland almost all day. This was the crusty, D-Beat haven at this point in the fest and a couple of hundred punx crammed into the tiny, stinky, beer bathed venue. MAUSER was the first stand out band of the day with their tight crusty, d-beat style. They certainly had the place going ape shit and even a few of the dudes from TRAGEDY were on hand to witness their punk rock attack. One of the best bands of the entire fest was up next. NUKKEHAMMER hammered the crowd with feedback driven set of CORROSSION OF CONFORMITY inspired thrashcore. This band was so powerful and tight. Again, they were the surprise band of the fest for me and their 7" kicks ass!
SEE YOU IN HELL are from the Czech Republic and played a brutal, scary set of thrashing dis-core. The singer was frightening. He had crazy eyes and I am not sure if I would really trust that guy. He spit blood entwined snot out and caught back in his mouth while making a gun with his hand and pretending to kill people in the crowd and even himself. I told you the guys was nuts! A few other bands played that kind of seemed to blend together and then was another noise band from Japan called ISTERISMO. Of the 3 D-Beat, noise bands these guys were my least favorite as I could not detect riffs or even a beat. It was just a pure tsunami of blown out distortion and chaos. Too brutal for this old bloke.
The afternoon show took us into the evening and the final band was a surprise set by ASTA-KASK. Sadly most of the crowd had left and the Swedish rockers were left to play their last show in the US to about 50 people. They played another exciting, tight set and seemed to be having fun. The people that were there really seemed to enjoy themselves as well. At this point it was time to head back to Emo's for the main stage.
I missed the first couple of bands and got to EMO's in time to see IRON LUNG blaze through a grindish set of hardcore. The drummer / vocalist's jokes and wit seemed to be lost on most of the crowd but their energy and tunes were not, the pit was swirling and the beer was flying! EXTORTION from Australia was the next band that I seem to recall and they attacked the crowd with a crossover inspired set of thrashcore. Another legend on the main stage at Emo's CITIZENS ARREST battered the crowd with metal tinged New York Hard Core that veered into Death Metal or grind at times. The 'Colossus' album is a classic and was the basis for their set. They were certainly the favorite thus far on the Emo's stage Friday night.
At some point on Friday night we were sitting in the bleachers and I met a girl that went to high school in Glenwood Springs and graduated the same year as I did. Dion went to Glenwood and I was from Carbondale, the two towns are right next to each other on a map of western Colorado. A couple of friends and I were the first ones to bridge the two towns in the late 80's and get everyone hanging out together. There were punk bands in Glenwood and a small scene. Dion and I knew all the same people but didn't recall each other, but it was fun to reminisce about old times! What a trip!
When I first arrived at Emo's on Saturday you could see a slight change in the demographic of the crowd. More long hair and more old metal dudes or young ones with cool denim vests covered in embroidered patches of all the classic speed, thrash and death metal bands of yore. That my faithful readers, is because the pioneering Death Metal masters AUTPOSY were headlining the main stage. AUTOPSY were Death Metal before there was Death Metal and that was apparent as they did not subscribe to the 100% cookie monster vocals all the time. The drummer / vocalist wasn't afraid to throw a few high pitched squeals in there and make it all old-school. Headbanging was the rage and dudes were thrashing like was '89.
KRIEGSHOG was one of the bands at the Broken Neck after party that night and we wanted to make sure we got in so we cut out a little early on AUTOPSY's set to ensure we caught these Japanese distorted d-beaters. We met the main guy responsible for the Broken Neck and come to find out he is from Fort Collins Colorado! A homeboy! We bro'd down for a while and then almost instantly the room filled up and with that the temperature in that big empty warehouse jumped to about 120 degrees with 100% humidity! Holy lava balls it was fucking hot in there. Thankfully there wasn't much fucking around KRIEGSHOG got down to business. People in Texas like to stage dive and they wasted no time before diving all over the top of each other. KRIEGSHOG played blown out d-beat as we've come to expect from the Japanese bands so far, but they had more noticeable structure to their songs with riffage you could follow and a beat you could identify with. Man, were they intense and the crowd was on fire, this was one of the best sets of the weekend. Even in that insane heat these punk rockers managed to play several encores before finally bowing out after at least a 40 minute set. DOUBLE NEGATIVE was up next and I wanted to give them a second chance but my feet or legs felt like someone had chopped my feet off with a rusty axe and I was standing on the boney ends of my bloody stumps grinding leg bone right into dirty concrete. FUCK! My feet hurt so bad! I think my companions were in a similar state as it was only a few minutes before Val suggested we leave. Yay for Val!
We certainly didn't get enough sleep before our 11 AM check out and we were all dragging ass. I don't even remember where we went or what we did before we went to Barton Springs to swim in the clear cold spring water. I do remember that Gold Bonds powder became a close friend of mine though! We met up with some friends from Seattle and splashed around for a while before deciding to head down to the record swap at Red 7. Jack Control from WORLD BURNS TO DEATH was selling some really cool stuff and I picked up a few things from him. I rummaged through a few of the tables and then found the Radiation Records table. Nat and I exchanged pleasantries and I ended up buying the OI POLLOI LPs I almost ordered from him a week or so before.
Once we got the car parked again and primed ourselves on pizza for the Saturday night shows we bumped right into the infamous Billy Milano of S.O.D. / M.O.D. fame. I met him a few years ago when I was in Austin so this was a repeat performance. He was incredibly friendly, introduced himself as Billy and asked where we were from. We even swapped stories of when M.O.D. played at the Lions Lair in Denver a few years ago, I was there!
Val and Justin went to Emo's to scout out the scene and I went to the Mowhawk to see if NYHC legends YOUTH OF TODAY had any merch set up yet. I ran into a few people I knew and actually ended up staying for all of the bands at the Hardcore show. It was a stark contrast to see all the clean cut kids in white t-shirts versus having been at crust and d-beat shows for the last several days where no one would be caught dead in white shirt and dreadlocks or the crust mullet were the preferred hairdo. Some of the bands were decent and RAMPAGE really stood out, they were very energetic and were much more aggressive than a few of the earlier bands. A great opening act to get everyone primed for the champions of straight-edge YOUTH OF TODAY!
I had been texting Val and Justin trying to tell them to get their asses in gear and get to the Mohawk, the place was filling up fast! After several tries I finally heard back from Val who said his ticket was in the car! Fuck! I had the keys! With that I had to abandon my killer spot that I had carved out for YOT and run down the street to meet Val. There he was and without issue we got his ticket from the car. But where was Justin? FUCK! Val went back to Emo's to get him and I went back to the Mohawk to see if I could inch my way into a safe spot. Knowing how fucking gnarly the CRO-MAGS show was I was certain this show would be just as crazy if not more. My old spot up on the balcony had been filled in by a few people. One was my friend John who let me squeeze in next to him. After a short while I spotted Val and Justin coming in the door. Phew! They made it! It wasn't long now before the Krishna-core kings were to take the stage.
Praise Vasudeva! People were flipping their shit before the YOT crew even hit a note. Ray Today was still behind the guitar stacks doing yoga and people were fricken' stage diving and the pit was going! If that wasn't some foreshadowing of things to come I don't know what would be. Kids of all ages were going bonkers anticipating the hardcore antics of their straight-edge heroes. Shit. Even I was giddy with anticipation and then just like that the first chords were struck and Ray Today and Porcell were doing cool jumps. The shit was on!
There is no getting around that the CRO-MAGS show was violent, for the most part though it wasn't really malicious. With YOT it was almost a positive violence as the positive energy of their music, lyrics and Ray's between song banter permeated the air. People were stoked to be there and were certainly letting it show. At times there were so many divers on the stage the band was crowded to the back. When the mic would get lost in the crowd it didn't matter, everyone sang along with raised fists. It was such an amazing show and I felt very uplifted by the energy they created that night. Man, I thought there was no room for YOT's set to get anymore aggro but when they burst into the song 'Minor Threat' the insanity went to an entire other level that was maintained as they next went in to the 7-SECONDS classic 'Young Until I Die'. What an incredible way to end such a brilliant set.
But...(why is there always a but?)...some douche-bag decided to be "that guy" and did a dive out of the balcony landing on some unsuspecting kid below. The balcony was a good 15 feet off the floor. Imagine getting landed on by some 200 pound jackass plummeting from above. Damn! They had the kid out front on a stretcher as the ambulance was on hand due to multiple injuries acquired by some of the crowd members. There were a few kids with cut heads and gashed faces; I hope the kid on the stretcher was alright.
From there we made our way back down to Emo's in time to catch KIELTOLAKI from Finland. They played an energetic set of D-Beat but after witnessing the high energy of YOUTH OF TODAY it was hard to get into these guys. KRIEGSHOG was up next and tore into another crazy noise charged D-Beat assault. These guys certainly get your attention but somewhere in their set they experienced some technical difficulties. I used this as an opportunity to visit the Hot Dog King again and refuel.
When I returned KRIEGSHOG had gotten the kinks out and were just starting to rip into their set again. They were a great band to prime the crowd for Crust godz DOOM.
Man, there was electricity in the air! Everyone gathered near the stage and packed together like sardines to ensure they had a prime spot for the dreadlocked rockers. Wow... we were about to see DOOM. I didn't think this would ever happen, but I never thought I'd see AMEBIX (and I did, at this same venue) or even YOUTH OF TODAY for that matter. But holy shit! We were about to see DOOM!
As the voice of Eve Libertine cut through the air it was almost scary, 'Asylum' sounded spookier than ever with the lights down and the DOOM banner barely visible in the darkness. As Eve shouted out "Jesus died for his own sins not mine" and the first chords of 'Fear of the Future' rang out we knew we were in for something special and the crowd braced themselves for impending thrashing that was surely to ensue! Heads were banging and bodies were being pushed and shoved, there was a lot of action but everyone was there to really absorb DOOM and therefore the floor was safer that it had been for some of the other headliners of the fest. Everyone sang aloud with almost every lyric of every song, it was magical to be surrounded by that many friends all grinding away to DOOM. They played an amazing set and used all of their allotted time pushing their barrage of noise right up to closing time. Of course everyone completely lost it during 'Police Bastard'. Bri, Stick, Scoot and Denis gave an amazing performance and this old punk was very thankful to be there.
We headed over to the after show but were all too tired to get out of the car! We laid in the car with the AC blasting for about an hour before deciding to go to the airport to get cleaned up and try to catch some Z's. I actually slept pretty well for awhile until I woke up to a cockroach staring at me. Val ran into Stick and Scoot from DOOM while Justin and I were sleeping. Shortly after that Val and I both ran into Scoot again. He explained that he had to fly to Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston and then Manchester! 24 hours! Damn! We only had two hours to Denver.
After we landed we couldn't remember which side of the airport we parked on and once we figured that out we couldn't remember which lot or row we were in. What the fuck! It took awhile to find the car but all is well that ends well.
What an amazing weekend with great friends. Things like this really can remind you what living is. Experiencing each other, music, and good times make one appreciative of the abilities to do such things. Extra special thanks to my wife and kids for letting me take this trip! PEACE OUT!