Austin Terror Fest Drops the Big One

Third year comer triples down at Empire & Barracuda June 7-9

Like The Big Lebowski, Austin music abides – especially its festivals, as much as we love to bad mouth them. Where Levitation announced they’d step into the unclaimed fall spot of Fun Fun Fun/Sound on Sound, Austin Terror Fest now takes the defunct Chaos in Tejas spring slot. Those are big shoes to fill, but ATF’s third lineup wears size 19-and-a-half.

As essayed in the 32 names on the poster, the bundling of metal, punk, industrial, experimental, noise – local, national, international – evokes the singularly righteous collusion of uncompromising live ragers trademarked by Timmy Hefner’s local Chaos in Tejas dynasty. Backstage at the Lost Well on Monday for an ATF-sponsored hair whipping from Jersey psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet, the festival’s sole two teamsters, Dusty Brooks and Dorian Domi, namecheck CiT and its sole superbooker with reverence and awe, but no fest-loving entrepreneurs ever undertook staging large scale music immersions to copy someone else’s blueprint.

“Our first year,” waved Brooks, describing the duo’s ambitions, “was what it was: a bunch of metal bands. The second year, still a bunch of metal bands. This year, we said, ‘Let’s swing for the fences and not be pegged as a metal festival, but just a festival’ – [albeit] one not for the faint of heart.”

Indeed, the yin-yang between the Silver City Texan, 33, and Domi, 18, originally from Dallas suburb Frisco, creates the sonic crucible that is ATF. Brooks, who escaped to Austin in 2011 three years after graduating from the University of North Texas in Denton with a degree in criminal justice, favors doom and sludge metal (“I discovered Electric Wizard on MySpace in 2007...”), while his counterpart deep dives into sounds electronic, experimental, and noisy. Their spheres crossed when Domi “swiped” a Conan show out from under Brooks, whose friend recommended he join forces with the talent wunderkind instead of holding a grudge.

Machine Girl, TR/ST, Street Sects, Dalëk, Echo Beds,” ticks off Domi, whose family moved to Austin when he was 9, about the more daring explorations on the line-up.

Domi and Brooks (r) at the Lost Well last June (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Both nod when asked if Domi prompted last year’s ecstatic ATF showcase of UK post-folk rarity 40 Watt Sun. In 2018, the friends’ curated killer at the Lost Well and Barracuda rebranded ATF after its start-up during South by Southwest 2017 (“unfortunate,” surmises Brooks with a grimace), so come the second week of June, the 2019 iteration upscales to Empire Control Room as well as Barracuda. The pair agree on their Top 6 gets, which crown today’s announcement.

Asked about the capital outlay obviously needed to secure such world-class talent – Panopticon principal Austin Lund has performed barely more than a dozen shows since beginning his black metal folk act in 2007 – Brooks lets out a long, nervous laugh.

“We’re relying on the people to make this happen,” says the Lone Star, who booked on East 12th for five years before moving onto East Sixth and the Gypsy Lounge in 2012 and then the Lost Well in 2013.

Squirreling away small profits from shows such as Ruby the Hatchet, plus selling merch online and revealing that – counter to mega festivals like ACL – a goodly percentage of this year’s groups didn’t require advances or deposits (one headliner asked only for airfare and lodging, payment ultimately left to the act’s merch sales), Brooks and Domi somehow managed to cobble together six figures worth of outre sound on a shoestring, DIY, Hail Mary budget. The former utilizes profits gleaned from being one of three founders of local success story Worshiper Cabinets, who now operate out of the Mosaic Sound Collective.

“I moved here to take risks,” says Brooks, also a musician via down-tuned trio Thunderkief. “We’re also numbers crunching crumb munchers.”

“I have a Worshipper Cabinet,” nods Domi, whose solo noise project Grandmother occasionally shares time with his “semi-active metal” act Salo, adding, “we’re a DIY festival in spirit.”

Do-It-Themselves they have. And if the talent pool for Austin Terror Fest 2019 is any indication, Brooks and Domi are headed straight for Austin institutionalization. Provided us inmates do our part, of course. Tickets here and a Spotify sampler.

FULL AUSTIN TERROR FEST 2019 LINEUP:

Lightning Bolt

Panopticon (Texas debut: two sets – one all-Blaze Foley)

TR/ST

Alcest

Pig Destroyer

Integrity

Indian

Church of Misery

Primitive Man

Goatwhore

Full of Hell

Thou

Dälek

Daikaiju

Echo Beds

Street Sects

Dorthia Cottrell of Windhand (Townes Van Zandt set)

Bongripper (Texas debut)

Bongzilla

Tomb Mold

Outer Heaven

Black Cobra

Dark Castle

Deep Cross

Dreadnought

Unearthly Trance

Terminator 2

Taverner

Crowhurst

Machine Girl

Mountain of Smoke

Temple of Angels

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