Chaos in Tejas
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., June 10, 2011
Chaos in TejasHere, there, everywhere, June 2-5
Punk and metal don't mingle much outside the actual musicians inciting all the moshing. Each strain infects the other irrevocably. And yet one would be hard-pressed to identify the crossover between the black-clad horde of hellhounds gathered Friday night at Emo's for death metal legacy Autopsy and the maelstrom of preppies and punks assembled Sunday at Mohawk for Fucked Up. A one-man South by Southwest, Chaos in Tejas organizer Timmy Hefner made both shows, and by the looks of his subtle but ubiquitous presence all weekend, he may have been at every single show staged from Antone's to the Scoot Inn. Spring in the live music capital is murder: SXSW, Old Settler's Music Festival, Austin Psych Fest, Pachanga. Insatiable Austin. Like March madness, though, only Chaos in Tejas traffics in the unknowable, not just by booking foreign and underground acts, but also in the alchemy of gathering them all into our presently boiling cauldron over one insane weekend. SXSW and Chaos share that built-in sense that no matter how revolutionary the talent you're witnessing, there's a dozen equally revelatory acts you're missing. Local metallurgists Mammoth Grinder straddle both sides of the Chaos coin, sharing members with hardcore mongers Hatred Surge yet augmented inside Red 7 on Thursday's opening night with an Iron Age axe-grinder. Just as the quartet touched off a mosh on the absolute tear of its opener, outside at the same venue an altogether different grouping began overlapping with the early UK R&B gone punk of the OBN III's – the Yardbirds meet the Huns. "I know there's a metal show inside that's way more appealing," panted local namesake Orville Bateman Neeley, "but really, metal is 'No Way To Rock 'n' Roll.'" Pavlovian chants on the order of "I can't wait till you shut up!" proved their point straight into the lens of Matador A&R Austinite Gerard Cosloy's iPhone. Indiana post-punk/post-rock/post-pop foursome TV Ghost rocked and writhed behind the rooster-red shock of hair sprouting from frontman Tim Gick – visions of a young Charlie Sexton – but inside metal proved a viable way to headbang, with death and doom reigning from Olympia, Wash., (Bone Sickness) and San Francisco (Acephalix) all the way to Denmark (Undergang) and Finland (Hooded Menace). Slipping a roofie into Friday's happy hour, UK veterans Orange Goblin leavened their Black Sabbath/Deep Purple bog rock with a charge of Steppenwolf, "They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls)" the latest in zombie chic. Across Downtown at Fifth and the Home of the Blues, Syrian marketplace Omar Souleyman demonstrated to an Antone's throng why his wedding-singer karaoke rocks the casbah from the Middle East to the Southwest. Autopsy afterward at Emo's, while somewhat hackneyed on a newly recorded return to form in Macabre Eternal, devastated downstairs at punk/metal central with a faster cut of metallic gore than era counterparts Obituary, whose sundering at Sixth and Red River last year ground with a similarly industrial inevitability. Saturday again at Emo's, three of the four Japanese bands making sushi of Chaos that night clustered before, during, and after a genuine hardcore punk convergence at Mohawk for Youth of Today. "Do you guys have the stage-diving app?" wondered YOT's voice of reason, Ray Cappo, barking out asphalt slabs of rhythmic throb and punch. "Disengage," "Break Down the Walls," and trademark 7 Seconds cover and closer "Young Till I Die" tested the local mettle, with at least one Fun Fun Fun Fest booker leaping joyfully off the stage during the hour's worth of greatest fits. The brimming venue, a war zone of testosterone-tossed bodies, rained Lone Star and sweat. Art-punk mascara smearing from Origin of M (Hiroshima), free-punk spazz off Isterismo (Tokyo), and hardcore melodic ruin by Kriegshög (also Tokyo) battened down Emo's outside, while in the front room the Mercyful Fatalisms of Iron Age packed the pit and pierced eardrums, frontman Jason Tarpey like some Norse horn of the Valkyries. Nagasaki-born trio Guitar Wolf boogied a furious amalgam of Ramones/Stooges/Radio Birdman outdoors at Red 7, leather-clad singer Seiji shaking, quaking, and stage-diving, an alternate Elvis complete with "Rock & Roll" stamped in steel studs on his belt. Sunday raged Chaos beginning before noon, but the dinner hour belonged to Mohawk as more punk-bred Tokyo takedowns, the Slowmotions, set the stage for Fucked Up. "I love this city," proclaimed the Toronto sextet's big, bearish motivator Damian Abraham, well into the hourlong vortex of his self-made mosh outside. "You should come to Canada. We don't have to pay for medicine. I'd trade all the free health care in Canada for a Torchy's franchise ...." Boutique tacos and the band's infectious, buzz-saw abandon – Broken Social Scene gone Monotonix? – equals hardcore heaven in Abraham's shamaniac appeal and David Lee Roth stage antics. Chaos in Tejas is Fucked Up.