Text & Photos by Charles Nickles
Okay, I hurt.
Not bad, but pretty awful.
I’m shaking, my knees are shot, my face is flaking, my ears are ringing. my eyes are glazed and all the cold showers in the world can’t replace the dream of sinking into that taboo pool for an hour or two noshing migas and sipping Lone Stars while metal mavens parade around the lip in tattooed elegance while their beaus roll perfect spliffs and the whole day bleeds into a perfect…
I’m running late.
There’s no time for fantasies. This is the matinee gig. If I want to catch all the sets I need to slap myself straight, talc my balls, slather my face and lean into this day like a goddamn widowmaker.
I feel like I like Desist but I can’t remember anything about them other than the fact that they’re hella heavy for a Sunday brunch and the vocalist looks like a dude I would’ve met at the Oregon Haus circa Y2K, coke-happy and dripping with meat.
Man, I miss those days.
Not the coke, of course. That shit’s played.
But the punks, the beef, the beer, the P-A-R-T-Y! The house (hell, the home) that taught me that if there’s one thing that can bring punks and metalheads together in the tired war against Brooklyn hipsters, it’s Huey Lewis and the News.
Okay, so Wayfarer kinda rule. I should’ve known that coming in. They rock a black metal rancor that’s equal parts godless tumult and manifest destiny. Much like the Appalachian wunderkind in Panopticon, they infuse their caterwauling churchburn with the iconic prescience of their habitat and in so doing create a sound that is both immediately identifiable and entirely idiosyncratic.
But I didn’t know that Wayfarer TOTALLY fucking rule until I saw them play a whole set without the benefit of a bass.
Technical difficulties and all that.
But they still fucking shredded and on record I might have missed the guttering underbelly but …And Justice for All still killed without the benefit of Burton and that dude fucking owned his place as a frontman.
I feel like this name should have umlauts. Does this name have umlauts? Is this another band from Oakland? Fuck. That place is goddamn riddled with the darkness, huh?
Maybe one day when I cop the real mid-life nervous breakdown I’ll head west, grow my hair into a rat’s nest and tattoo a sexual organ silver and black as a direct affront to God, Man and Al Davis.
And, yeah yeah yeah, I know Oakland is so much more than the Raiders but growing up in L.A. it’s hard to believe and yet here’s Badr Vogu wrenching that crust from the grist of foul hours, pummeling the blithe promise of spotless sunshine into a supernova of puss.
I JUST now realized that a whole lotta doom bands might find their way through one of two aesthetic avenues:
Vol. 4 is God. Let’s party.
What SWANS were doing from Filth through ’86 was pretty revolutionary and I love it like the son I never had because people may be parasites but sires are the worst and wouldn’t their sound be so, so much more exponentially unappealing if I added a little bit of jazz theory and a whole bunch more growling?
I could be wrong and maybe I’m missing some further obfuscating sub-classification but for the moment I’m just going to err on the comfort of codification and tell you Un falls into the latter and while they are certainly good at towing that line though they transcend the confines of the ever-embracing abyss by adding cruel portents of beauty and brief intervals of bliss.
You wanna killit? Let’s fuckin’ kill it.
Let’s rattle this bone show with some frothed denim posture. Let’s pretend punk is dead, death is everything and the earth the meek inherit will be as hapless as Venus and not one inch as lurid as the Roman’s would’ve implied.
Let’s know, at least, some part of that is true.
Let’s ruin them before they ruin you.
But let’s not think that Forn is some power-up, people-first excursion into the otherwise slit-jawed games of the great amplified obscenity just because they play the eagle-split ugly. They are loud and they are ugly and mean and I’d be threatened by their swaying violence if I weren’t in such desperate need for a goddamn iced coffee.
Well, that was a terrible idea.
Now I’m all blinks and twitches and not the good snake rattle shake (which was, of course, the goal) but the cheek-chewing paranoiac manner that makes me supplant the finer nuances of the English language I’ve incurred with farts, fucks and imaginary splinters.
Which, I guess, makes me all set for Krallice’s Naked City algebraic death binge.
Though not, perhaps, for how many people have come in from the steam to embrace them. Dark crowds do not do well with caffeine jitters but I fuckin’ got this. Marcello told me so just moments ago and whatever Marcello says fucking goes.
So let’s GO!
My brain hurts and I actually just saw Krallice a couple of months ago so I’m not nearly as stoked as the folks who don’t have the luxury of letting this gotham beast tear them the new one they so desperately needed, like, every other week. In fact, I think someone said this was their first time in Texas. That seems crazy to me but I’ll allow it.
And I gotta say, I do really enjoy them much more packed into such a small space. Something about the intimacy makes their rage seem exponentially less claustrophobic.
Kinda welcoming, actually.
My friend Jun used to be in this band but I think he moved to Japan.
And he wasn’t actually my friend. He was Carl, the Red’s friend which made him more of an acquaintance at best though I always had the sneaking suspicion that he had me pegged for an ugly American and, as such, totally hated me.
Or maybe he was sweet on my girlfriend. I can’t remember.
I haven’t seen the man since the first (and last) time I saw Gnaw which, curiously enough, was also in Texas and I think we were pretty civil though I was a little tipsy and had just been in a car crash so that memory’s about as reliable as my knees.
Point is, he’s not here today.
Alan Dubin is, though and he’s really the reason why Gnaw IS. His incalculable shrieks have been the stuff of legend since Khanate first defied people to find joy in anything ever again and he’s as unpleasant present today as he was then and the band shores up his hideous torrent is suitably throttled and appropriately grimaced and I’m sure they’re all worth their own mention but I just can’t pry my mind from that Manson.
You know what? Fuck it. I have to come clean with you guys.
I don’t really like Primitive Man.
I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried and this is the third time I’ve seen them live and, on paper, I very much appreciate a band so relentlessly dedicated to sonic displeasure but, in practice, I just can’t fucking hack it.
It’s just too much.
It’s too low.
It’s too loud.
It’s too slow.
It’s just too fucking torturous and I know, I KNOW that’s what makes them such a remarkable band and I appreciate the fuck out of them for making music that makes me say “Nope.”
People fucking love them, though and they’re right to.
Pain is intoxicating.
And tonight or today or whatever Primitive Man bring the pain like only they can. Like Man Is the Bastard, expanded and devoid of light. Like soundtracking a battery licker in real time as he bleeds out his gape training LIVE as the last real human reaction to a terrified chorus of white men screaming apocalyptic fever dreams as justified narrative for a new rush of crush films without the sticky celebration that often comes with such classical conditioning.
I really should read more Foucault.
Well this is kinda anticlimactic.
No offense, Acid King. You dudes are totally ruling the stoner doom roost and your quarter century as palimpsest is certainly worth applauding and if I saw you any other day, in any other context I’d be crushing HARD for your meaty riffs and wailing but I’m still kinda fucked up from Primitive Man and those boilermakers I took earlier to clamp the shakes into a casual tremble.
But fuck my human frailty.
Y’all are a total gas-huff party and should be treated as such.
So I will crack a bad idea beer and bang my head to your mighty tuneage. I will raise my fist and howl out in appreciation of you and your licks in tandem with the many still kicking the pricks despite long drives and hopeless Mondays ahead of them.
And when I finally slither out of this place and I will do so with a grin because for all the damage Austin Terror Fest offered me, they had the kindness to end the weekend with a good time.
So FUCK YEAH! Acid King.
FUCK YEAH! Terror Fest.
And FUCK YEAH! Texas.
Maybe I’ll see y’all next year.
Maybe I’ll see ya in hell.