“I never thought I’d die in Texas.” This was the last thing that went through my mind before my friend Brett assured me that he was “fine” to drive after taking eight klonopins. Let me back up; recently, my roommate (his name is Chris, in case you care) and I discovered that Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX was to host Venom’s only US performance this year. Acting quickly, I applied for a media pass and sure enough, the kind folks over at FFF granted me all access to the festival. What started off as a mini vacation for the two of us quickly turned into a first world nightmare. Our flight from Phoenix, AZ to El Paso was smooth, and only took 45 minutes; however, once we got to El Paso, our flight to Austin was cancelled. It was 1:00 in the morning and there were no flights leaving the next day, so we did the only sensible thing…drove the ten hours to Austin with a complete stranger who happened to be old enough to rent a car. During our ten hour journey, we saw more of Texas than anyone should have to in one night, and at one point, we were even accused of being sex traffickers when we got pulled over somewhere in Dripping.
Fast forward to day one of FFF, and we had both been awake for about 42 hours. Luckily, Converge absolutely demolished the stage that day and it made the trip completely worth it. However, our luck did not necessarily improve after day one. See, the funny thing about being a broke grad student is that you tend to do whatever is cheapest when you travel. Hotels in Austin during the fest were quite expensive, so I asked my friend Brett, who lives thirty minutes outside of Austin, if we could stay with him. Now, my friend Brett is a bit odd. He’s been institutionalized multiple times, is a paranoid schizophrenic, suffers from chronic anxiety, and has lost his right to own a firearm for reasons that I won’t disclose. Throughout the remainder of our trip, Brett did not improve our stress levels. He consistently forgot where he was while driving, averaged about eight klonopins (which are like xanax, but stronger) a day, and for one reason or another, reminded me every morning at 11:00am that the Chipotle by his house was open for business. It didn’t end there – during one evening while watching OFF! and Fucked Up pulverize Austin, Brett realized that he had completely forgotten where he had left his car when he came to meet us at the show. After some serious searching all around downtown Austin, we were able to find it. Another thing I learned about Brett was that he didn’t like to look before merging lanes on the freeway, and multiple times during our stay he almost got us in serious accidents. Let me be clear: Brett is fucking punk; in fact, I’d argue he’s way more punk than you – however, he should not have a driver’s license and it is a goddamn miracle that I lived to write this article.
Finally, day three of the fest was upon us, and the mighty Venom was set to headline. Now, I know that Venom has had a lot of changes over the years and some ex members have gone on to start a band called Venom INC. with the hopes of playing Venom songs without Cronos. That is some serious bullshit – it’s not Venom without Cronos, and everyone knows it. To be fair, I was skeptical of how energetic the performance would be, mainly because Cronos is well into his fifties. I was pleasantly surprised when they started playing to see that the Metal God had aged very well and still had ferocious pipes. Venom thrashed for roughly an hour and played a very tasteful selection of songs that represented the band’s career to the fullest. To my delight, they even played “Welcome to Hell” second overall in their set. It was fucking awesome, and I wasn’t even on klonopin.
Venom is the true embodiment of metal; their stage presence hasn’t aged a day and they sounded great live. Cronos’ bass tone was the equivalent to that of a chainsaw, and it cut through the crowd like a rusty knife on flesh. As Venom blasted through their set, it was obvious the whole crowd was waiting for them to play “Black Metal.” Of course, they saved it for their very last song, and in a Satanic display of unity, all in attendance shouted the lyrics as if we were trying to sacrifice ourselves. Sure, the band no longer plays with its original lineup, and yeah some of their lyrics off the new record are beyond cheesy, but who are we to judge? Venom has influenced everyone from Mayhem to Converge and to be able to bask in their hellish presence was an experience I won’t soon forget. Long live Venom!
In case any of you CVLT NATION disciples are curious, here is the full recap of this year’s FFF!