Chaos in Tejas has a well-deserved reputation for bringing together a fantastic mix of international punk, hardcore and underground metal. I was definitely there for the hardcore line-up. As a regular Fest-er, it was interesting to see how Chaos in Tejas differed from The Fest. I liked that many of the bands had more than one show so there was less concern about scheduling conflicts.
As with Fest, I got to meet lots of new people from all over the world including Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany and all point across the US including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Washington and of course, Texas. It is fascinating to learn about other scenes and how people found about hardcore and punk… especially people for towns of less than 10,000 people. Also interesting is how far people travel regularly for shows. My tolerance for traveling to regular shows is about 2 hours… for people living in more rural areas, they regularly drive 6 – 8 hours to go to a show. Clearly, this is a whole different level of commitment to music and the scene. Like Fest, Chaos in Tejas was an exhausting but recharging experience. It is absolutely refreshing to be surrounded by people who love music as much as you do.
My first priority upon arriving in Austin was to pick up my friends, get migas for brunch and head to Barton Springs for a dip in their frosty spring fed pool. There was an amazing array of people lounging on the grassy, and sometimes muddy, banks of the pools – prime people watching! Quick stop at Torchy’s Tacos with a Cake Shake shared between 5 people (I wonder if anyone can actually drink a whole one by themselves?) and we were off to Friday night’s shows.
Friday Night @ Mohawk
Since I was at Chaos in Tejas for the hardcore, Mohawk was the place to be with an outstanding night of new and old hardcore lined-up. On a side note, the staff at Mohawk are super nice – special shout out to Thad and Josh for being so awesome.
Hailing from Dallas, Power Trip was clearly a crowd favorite with enthusiastic sing-a-longs and nearly choreographed moshing in the pit. Also, they had a leg on stage that was casually tossed into the pit.
All-star hardcore line-up continued with Free Spirit. I like that their name fits their band completely… they aren’t your standard hardcore band.
This was my second time seeing Ceremony so I was prepared for the near mayhem that ensued as the crowd went absolutely nuts as Russ alternated between hanging from the stage ceiling, from the speakers, and diving into the crowd all while wrapping the mic cord around himself in new and creative ways. Meanwhile, the band kept rocking flawlessly through their set. Ceremony is definitely on my do not miss list.
Unbroken is my favorite hardcore band and the core reason I decided to go to Chaos in Tejas this year. I went to Burning Fight in 2009 and this was understandably a different experience. At Burning Fight, Unbroken was the main attraction for a packed club of people who were there in large part to see them. Two years later, and several reunion shows down the road, the crowd was psyched but nowhere near the frenzy at Burning Fight. It was still a great show and I am glad I made the trip to see these guys one last time.
Universal Order of Armageddon
Universal Order of Armageddon simply electrified the inside room at the Mohawk. At the end of UOA’s set, everyone stood around waiting and hoping for an encore that sadly didn’t manifest. UOA’s performance was definitely a fest highlight.
You know it is going to be a good day when you see four hardcore bands before breakfast. First thing, we headed off to Cheer-Up Charlie’s for the Prank Records Second Annual Breakfast Show.
Prank Records Breakfast Show at Cheer-Up Charlie’s
Super fast Japanese-style inspired hardcore from DC. Special props to their singer for pulling off a fantastic show on crutches.
“Stir up the dirt” was the instruction Iron Lung shouted out to the gathered crowd. Currently based in Seattle this duo grinds out more hardcore than many bands twice their size.
See You In Hell
All the way from the Czech Republic, See You In Hell demonstrated that hardcore is truly a cross-cultural experience.
My official Chaos in Tejas find and coincidentally two members are old FL HC friends! Ruby took the floor in front of the stage and absolutely ruled the pit for the full set as a whirling dervish. B kept the beat while Mark and Robert ruled the strings. These guys are straight-up awesome.
Running late, I just caught the last two songs of this Boston Hardcore band. My loss – the crowd was clearly psyched.
Youth of Today
My first big hardcore show was 108 and Shelter with a slew of other bands in 1992 at Club Detroit in St. Petersburg. Since Youth of Today broke up in 1990, I never thought I would have the opportunity to see them play live.
The current line-up is Ray Cappo (vocals), John Porcelly (guitar), Ken Olden (bass) and Vinny Panza (drums).
I honestly wasn’t sure how this show was going to go… but it turned out to be the best show I have seen in a long time. YOT skillfully played through their hit list (setlist here).
For me the best part of the show was seeing the wide range of people at the show all totally thrilled to have the chance to see Youth of Today: original eighties hardcore people, the second wave nineties hardcore fans like me and the new hardcore kids.
But the best part was seeing how happy Ray and Porcell were to be sharing a stage together again playing these now classic hardcore songs – they were both grinning through the set. They couldn’t possibly imagine being on stage doing reunion shows when they started Youth of Today in 1985. Personally, it was great to be surrounded by hardcore friends both new and old.
Off With Their Heads
Off With Their Heads was a Fest find for me in 2009. Straight up punk rock done just right. Also, if you are on twitter you need to follow @owth – they will make you laugh, cry and more.
Guitar Wolf is an experience that I don’t feel like I can adequately explain. You just have to see it:
Chaos in Tejas was a extraordinary experience. I definitely plan to come back to Austin and since I somehow managed to miss the bats both nights, I have to do it sooner rather than later!