Metaldom Will Miss Red 7

Closing club moshes this final week

Monday last, I relished a final show at Red 7. Booked by Chaos in Tejas triggerman Timmy Hefner, Australian pop hardcores Royal Headache unleashed “destructive joy” on the venue’s front room for 34 hold-your-breath minutes. Your favorite Austin clubs can disappear just as quickly.

Photo by Raoul Hernandez

The E. Seventh Street mainstay hosts three more nights of DIY amplification – tonight, Thursday, Friday – before it morphs into Sidewinder at the site of Red Eyed Fly. My personal farewell began with one last waltz through its red light district anterior into the Stalinist front room for a parting mosh. Disgracefully, that pit never broke out for the mercenary foursome onstage.

Wearing matching white t-shirts, blue jeans, and black belts and shoes, the guitarist and bassist were connected at the riff like Joy Division’s Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. Gutted singer Shogun gave both barrels. Nevertheless, all scrums occurred internally.

Upon exit, a brawny live music soldier sported an Unknown Pleasures shirt, but rather than a morose Manchester scowl, he wore the same elation everyone exited with upon the stroke of the witching hour. At 11:26pm, Royal Headache had sprung into action much as it had at its Austin premiere three years earlier, during Chaos in Tejas at what’s now Cheer Up Charlies – opening for Kiwi primitives the Clean. What ensued Monday crackled less kinetically than previous, but only because the crowd was stone in love.

Admitting shredded vocal chords, Shogun paced the kush stage between busts of melodic grenades. 2012 debut Royal Headache clocks 27 minutes, and this year’s follow-up Tight bests it by two more. That the band beat the latter time by five minutes at Red 7 constitutes a victory right out of the gate, but experiencing a modern Nuggets moment in “Psychotic Episode” from the former disc encapsulated the whole performance in under 120 seconds.

Being so reductive would exclude set highlight “Garbage” from Tight, a seething accusation of betrayal: “You’re as low as they come. You’re not punk, you’re scum.” Executed live at twice the tempo as the LP cut, it began as if the stage suddenly flooded. Shogun bounced, twitched, and vibrated like he’d been electrocuted.

How many such moments had I experienced at Red 7?

In 2008 at Stubb’s, the Norwegian tag-team of symphonic black metallics Dimmu Borgir and dragon slayers Keep of Kalessin sandwiched a Polish death rattle: Behemoth. My decades dormant metal gene cracked open like a reptilian egg. When Emo’s on Sixth Street closed with 2011, metal snaked around the corner to Red 7 and its adherents with it.

South by Southwest 2011 had already yielded me a first peak there at rhythm train Tune-Yards, but my home office genre at Red 7 ranged from a millennial Iraq IED (Acrassicauda) to ancient doom (St. Vitus) – with punk-metal at the halfway mark (Toxic Holocaust). 2009 pitted both: Swedish stomp-troopers Marduk and ATX black metallers Averse Sefira vs. anarchist Jello Biafra and avant-garde jam band Dirty Projectors. Earlier, modern metalcore (Mammoth Grinder, 2008) had preceded ’77 angst (Avengers, 2007).

Church of Misery’s debut U.S. tour landed at Red 7 thanks to Chaos in Tejas 2013. (Photo by John Anderson)

Post-Emo’s, Red 7 crested in 2012. Spoon and A Giant Dog hammering out a Chris Gray benefit floated hipster heaven, yet Chaos in Tejas sponsoring a grindcore farewell from Swede nukes Nasum one night and Japanese serial killers Church of Misery the next stoked demon forces. 2013 – the peak.

Chaos in Tejas lit into that summer with a UK Benediction on the same inside stage Dallas maniacs Absu later reduced to cinders as Manilla Road repaved a highway to hell outside. By December, one week ruled them all: Gothenburg crust slayers Agrimonia played Dec. 1, Monster Magnet’s power trip landed Dec. 2, and veteran reapers Morbid Angel disseminated death on Dec. 3.

None came within a hair’s breath of Watain’s hair-raising Halloween Eve bloodbath.

A triple bill of the goat-blood-covered black metalllers, progressive death menace Tribulation, and NWOBHM hopefuls In Solitude – all three Swedish – frosted some mist during the middle act. By the time the headliners stank and shrieked, a Biblical thunderstorm lashed the outdoor stage. Frankenstein’s reanimation wasn’t as dramatic.

Hail Satan!

Last year, a Chaos in Tejas truncation stands out: Russian occultists Pseudogod and Chilean counterparts Warthprayer. This year, look no further than June’s Sonics sell-out, a resurrection if ever there was one. Behind March incineration This Is the Sonics, the half-century-old Northwest garage unit lit up Red 7’s outside commons like one of saxophonist Rob Lind’s bombing missions in Southeast Asia.

Skinheads, longhairs, collegiate curios ... All will remember Red 7 for its chill, working-class functionality. Clear sound and sight lines inside and out matched bookings hip (Parquet Courts), hop (Homeboy Sandman), hard (Witchcraft), and fast (Friday’s Riverboat Gamblers). Rooms like that don’t grow on Pecan trees.

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Red 7, Red Eyed Fly, Sidewinder, Chaos in Tejas, Timmy Hefner, Watain, Church of Misery, Nasum, Marduk, Averse Sefira, Tribultation, Mammoth Grinder, Behemoth, Morbid Angel, Royal Headache, Sonics, Joy Division, Tune-Yards, Spoon

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