Now we were surrounded by crust punkers, smelling something awful, covered in sweat, and getting spit on.
Both types of events are ok in my life.
I would spend the next three days and nights sweating it out along the Red River corridor, seeing a bunch of bands I’d been needing to see for ages, and some old favorites.
And I didn’t wash my hair the entire time.
Here are the highlights:
Municipal Waste @ Mohawk
I was having a mini meltdown because my name wasn’t on the press list, and I was afraid this would mean I would miss Municipal Waste yet again. They’ve been one of those bands where I walk in on their final song, or some extraneous circumstance kept preventing me from seeing them. This may not have been the most ideal setting to see them in – their sound was utter shit – but it made up for it in character. I mean, a trash can full of garbage was tossed down from the balcony into the pit and was flung around everywhere. How appropriate is that?! I enjoyed their party punk metal vibe; it was a good way to kick off the weekend.
St. Vitus @ Red 7
I recall standing outside the Dirty Dog a couple SXSWs ago yelling at the door guy because he wouldn’t let me in to the St. Vitus show inside that was not even half full because it was “badge only”. Finally I got to see them, and it was worth the wait. It was nearly 1am, and everyone seemed to be in a strange mood. I fully connected with their doom, even though the banter between sets was unfitting – “this rock star fan is stupid but it feels good.” They spoke of the birth of their baby- “Lillie” – and played several tracks from it. They drank and smoked from the crowd’s offerings. As a first time viewer I was of course pleased with encore “Born Too Late”, it’s a sentimental sentiment.
Midnight @ Beerland and @ Red 7
First I couldn’t get my wristband, then I finally got it but had to wait in a forever line, and then the wristband didn’t even work! It was my one day show, and it would be in the sweaty, death den of Beerland. Sweat was literally dripping off of me; and then to see Midnight trot onstage with cloaked faces…my stomach turned. Later I would realize they didn’t have much on beyond that, I just couldn’t see. I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t see what the hype was about…but by the time that it was over I mostly got it.
The second set I saw was much more impressive. The final night at Red 7 had them playing, appropriately, at midnight and they set a guitar on fire (well, sort of). That is always way ok in my book. Midnight seem to create music somewhere between being serious and being totally not- a difficult territory to try to tread in, but they do it well. “Lust, Filth, and Sleaze”…a theme for the festival for sure.
Toxic Holocaust @ Beerland and @ Red 7
I seize every opportunity to see Toxic Holocaust; my music of choice oddly enough for both road rage driving and cooking vegan food, among other things. As they began, the fact that I felt absolutely disgusting evaporated as I went into headbanging frenzy mode. Toxic riffs infect my brain; they get stuck in there and ricochet around like the pinball machine standing nearby. These are prototypical sing along songs for the thrash punkers; the collectively thrust fists into the air did not do the already pungent scent in the room a favor. But we emerged from the slaytanic sauna satisfied.
The second set I saw covered in fake blood, more sweat, and probably a few tears. This was to be my last set in a nearly two month show bender that spanned the U.S. 25 shows in 50 days! But as I stood there, even though I was fucking exhausted..it was one in the morning…and I was internally conflicted by the tequila and 5 Hour Energy I had just consumed…I felt energized to keep going. Do what you love, love what you do. Even if it involves the dark side. “My touch is sickness For which there is no cure”. Toxic were the happy ending to Chaos in Tejas.
A Place to Bury Strangers @ 29th Street Ballroom
Even though I love APTBS….they are one of those bands I get snobby/I knew them first about…it was odd to see them in the context of the other punk and metal bands. But, it brought a lot of my NIN friends to town, which is always fun! This was my first time seeing them with the new drummer, who ended up doing a really good job. I’m still getting used to the new songs, which follow their slow but steady transition from a dirty electro-distortion band to a more pop psych rock band.
The last few times I’ve seen them, I’ve felt a little bit like they are a band trying to live up to what the reviewers write – the loudest band who get kinda crazy and rough their gear up – rather than doing it from the pure feeling of the moment that made me fall in love with them. I will say, they are still amazing live, and “Ocean”- The APTBS Final Song- doesn’t make me sad like other bands’ typical final song. I look forward to it: I hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave. Bonus: I got to film an interview with them for a blog and be on the other side of the camera for once!
Ghoul @ Red 7
“They have giant robots on stage.”
That’s all it took for me to get excited about Ghoul; I am an 8 year old boy at heart. Due to refraining from watching live footage in order to have a pure live experience, I did not realize they had the fake blood thing going on. So I donned my new spikey leather ensemble for the evening. My friend was quick to point out that the monitors were all wrapped in plastic. “That doesn’t concern you at all?” she said when we walked up close to the stage. Oh….nope! Because what is a spikey leather ensemble missing? FAKE BLOOD.
Oddly enough, I credit GWAR with getting me back into metal; I had wanted to see them since I was itty bitty, and went by myself in 2006 after being disengaged from metal for about 5 years (diagnosis: nu-metal burnout). So I have a soft spot for costumes + theatrics + fake blood. The main difference between GWAR and Ghoul is that I can see myself actually listening to Ghoul (I only occasionally will throw on some GWAR).
As soon as the set began, I got little girl giddy about it. A satanic pope, giant robot, a giant bear type thing that fights the giant robot, a bucket of guts….Ghoul delivers for us subversives types desire for more gore. About two songs in, I got aspiration to the arm…later I would learn it was all over my face, too. I really enjoyed the show and the banter in particular. I highly recommend going to check them out. And don’t be a pussy and stand in the back.