Texas dark punk/postpunk fest San la Muerte IV returns on August 10th, entering its 4th year of existence. As in all years past, the fest will be held in San Antonio, centered around the Paper Tiger and Amp Room clubs. The roster of bands for 2017 includes acts from Denmark, England, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and of course various parts of the US, coming from a variety of different but interrelated music scenes. Included are acts from the hardcore (Sadist), anarcho-punk (Omega Tribe), coldwave (Lust Era), deathrock (Elysian), postpunk (Silent Age, Lié), and dark punk (Pawns, Slimy Member, Annex) scenes – and everything else in between.
The fest’s organizer, San Antonio native Robert Flores, is himself a musician; the well-known deathrock band he drums for, Christ Vs Warhol, will finally be making an appearance at this year’s event (their only show this year, apparently). In addition to doing time in Sullen Serenade and Soriah, Robert has also drummed for Monica Richards‘ solo project and is a photographer, running the Punkitos Photos project that usually has exhibits at San La Muerte, too. (In fact, photography and art exhibits are a big part of the event, detailed below.) Robert started San La Muerte in 2012 as one-day event with 6 bands and then took the next year off. He brought the idea back in 2014 after witnessing the Unpleasant Meeting Festival in Paris, France. (“You had to see the lineup for that – it was sick: Spectres, Tanzkommando Untergang, Hagar the Womb, Elvira and the Bats, The Mob, UK Decay, Cravats – only to mention a few. It was insane.”) By 2016, twenty bands were in San La Muerte’s lineup; this year the festival lineup has grown to over 30 acts.
I reached out to Robert to ask him how San La Muerte started, what started it, and what his plans are for this year and for upcoming years.
This is the 4th time San la Muerte has occurred. How has the fest changed since it began in 2012?
Robert: The fest has gotten bigger. Lots more people have gotten into it and lots more bands are hitting me up to play. In 2012 I had about six bands total on one day only. Now it’s grown to where I have over 30 bands in the span of 3 days. San La Muerte 4 is going to have matinee shows and even after-shows, going until the early hours of the morning. Regardless of whatever changes, it will always stay DIY, post punk, goth, and of course punk. That will never change.
Who are some of the headliners at this year’s fest that you’re most excited about, and why?
Robert: Omega Tribe, Lust Era, and Sadist. Omega Tribe being #1 because they are a pioneer of anarcho-punk and it’s something that San La Muerte will always represent in one way, shape, or form. It’s very important that this mentality never be forgotten – the mentality that supports animal rights, racial equality, gay rights, feminism & environmentalism. SLM supports and always will support the DIY ethos and the anarcho movement no matter what type of music you play to sing or perform it. It’s a very important part of punk and branches out into many different aspects of the movement. I think without bands like Crass, Omega Tribe, Crudos (only to mention a few), punk wouldn’t have the voice it has now. It’s bands like these that made a passageway for what punk is today. So this is one of many reasons why I’m honored to have Omega Tribe performing this year.
Robert: I guess it’s a little of everything. I think my main goal is to target all these aspects but I want the bands or people in the bands to have the same mentality about DIY. We have had all these genres play at the fest. And it’s been a success so far. Whatever changes, I always want to keep things dark.
I know you drum for Christ vs Warhol and CvW will (finally) be playing at this year’s fest. Why don’t CvW play out more often in general, and what’s going on with future releases from the band?
Robert: Yes, Christ Vs Warhol is finally playing in Texas. First time ever. It’s a rarity and will be a fun set. Christ Vs Warhol are stationed out of Los Angeles, California. I live in Texas and the singer Eve is studying in Norway, in Oslo to be exact. So it’s hard for us to do long tours and whatnot. But every year we do something, it doesn’t matter if we live in different parts of the world. That really doesn’t stop us. We get together and do small tours here and there, Mexico, West Coast, and Europe. So this year we all decided to do SLM 2017. I’m sure everyone will enjoy it. We play Saturday (Aug 12) right before Omega Tribe.
How did last year’s (San La Muerte III) fest go and what were some of your favorite moments from that event?
Robert: Hahaha. Last year’s fest was a headache and a stress ball but probably my favorite so far. It was a lot of fun. A lot of work but a lot of fun. Probably the biggest. So many great moments. I think my favorite part of the fests are the friendships that come out of it. The long term friendships, those are the best. The lineup was unreal, it had bands from all over the world, lots of countries and lots of woman-fronted bands. Lots of the bands that came from out of the country are very generous. Always asking if I needed help or trying to help whereever they can. I love them all. I think some of my most memorable moments are when the bands stay over at my house. We cook together, have conversations about a lot of things. Drink, eat, stay up late, get ready for the fest, etc., etc… Bands that I loved from last year: Moth, Belgrado, Arcane, Maudlin aka Elysian, Pawns, and Rhythm of Cruelty.
With Omega Tribe playing, I have to ask – has anarcho-punk been a big influence on your own ideas or philosophy, and do you think it’s been a big influence on the kinds of bands that play at San La Muerte?
Robert: I think the highlight of this year is Andi Harriman. Andi is an author and Dj from New York City. She is the author for the book, Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace. It’s a compiled book of postpunk photographs from the 1980s. I’m really honored to have her at SLM this year – a big thing for me. She will be doing a book signing at the art show on the opening day on Thursday Aug. 10th. Books will cost $35, so get there early if you want one. And Andi will be Djing throughout the fest as well.
This year has a pretty diverse array of groups — from SADIST from Boston to LUST ERA from Puerto Rico to KOLD FRONT from Denmark. How do you select the groups that you want to play the fest?
Robert: I try to select bands that are current and that are doing things. Bands that tour and do work and that are in the DIY scene. I rarely select bands that are from the past, but Omega Tribe was an exemption. Because, yes, of course they are pioneers. There are so many good bands out there…. Some I had to say no to because I had no more room on the bill. But I’ll shoot to book them next year.
Is there anything else about this year’s SLM that you think deserves special notice or mention that hasn’t been touched on by other writers?What would you like folks to know about it?
Robert: I think I mentioned a little of everything. I really want to thank Tricia and Cameron of Mass Media Records out in Cali, who I love and have always been a part of SLM. I might have forgotten some things. But I hope people have fun. For any information please visit the webpage, tickets, schedules etc. I’m kinda all over the place with the fest right now, but it’s normal. Come see the bands, come to the matinee and after-shows, support ALL the bands – not just certain ones – buy merch, come support the current post punk DIY scene, and come say hello to Andi. I’ll see you in August.
San la Muerte 4 has an official webpage here.
San la Muerte 4 also an official Facebook page here.
Robert’s Punkitos Photos project is here.