CVLT Nation Captures: Austin Terror Fest Day One
Text & Photos by Charles Nickles
It’ll be a dry heat,” they said. “You’re from New York,” they said. “It’s gonna be fine.”
Texas is fucking hot, man. And not just DUH, IT’S TEXAS! WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU EXPECT?! hot. Hot like balls are a bane and boobs are curse hot, and did you know your knees could sweat as relentlessly as your asshole? Because I do! Hot like life is one big, long yeast infection and we are all just fucking chafing in it hot. Hot like, you know how sweat is supposed to cool you? Well, in Texas it doesn’t. In Texas that shit just shrinks to your skin like a piss-wet plastic bag repurposed from the bad old days of amateur breathplay.
And the only escape is death or the Super 8 because there is no shade and even the wind feels like a thinly-veiled threat.
But that’s okay (he’ll tell himself over and over again for the next three days) because this is Terror Fest, baby.
This IS my summer vacation.
Communion is doom. Communion is local. Communion is okay or pretty good. I can’t tell, really. Their songs are long and low and tortured. Their lights are dim. They clearly give a shit but I am struggling to get stoked on red glacial opuses as I adjust to the fact that I’m in a dark club at the edge of a now unfamiliar town in the middle of the day having strangers scream Sunday morning horrors at me when I could be anywhere else in the world.
Melissa really thinks we should go to Berlin.
One of my new friends is prepping me at length on Crawl but I can only retain so much. Something about white contacts and a black mask and an oxbow? and that has me thinking I’m about to bear witness to a some new down dirty death metal Lightning Bolt which sounds pretty fucking rad and almost wholly delightful but Crawl is not delightful. Not at all. In fact, they’re awful.
But I mean that in the best possible way.
Crawl are a fear-forward excursion, clad in black drab, white eyes (thanks friend!), grease paint and respirator microphone they clatter a suffocated set of irreconcilable personal violence with drums, bones and…well, let’s just call it an oxbow because fuck it…and though I can’t tell a howl from a screech I am riveted by the sheer hate-fuckery of the presentation and so totally would’ve snagged one of their back patches to start my very first battle vest if I weren’t so worried I’d have to hear the man (one blithely presumes) speak because to speak is human and to be human, divine and that shit just doesn’t apply.
Oh shit! These dudes are from NOLA. Did they drive in with Teddie Taylor? I’ve never met her but I know she’s down with the scene that brung the sludge to scorching light.
They are not.
They are, however, another doom band splitting the difference between Communion and Crawl as a duo with endless riffs and relentless pissed who eschew both the casual hope of melody and the crushing macabre of whatever the fuck it was Crawl were apexing to mete out a meaty set of muscle-slacking tension.
Good on ‘em.
Oh, thank GAWD! for death metal.
Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER in my life did I think I would utter that phrase with any modicum of sincerity but with the willfully wretched din that’s populated the first few acts of Terror today, the speed and ferocity of some Great White Northeans (who managed to pull up fifteen minutes before their set started) just going balls deep into some classic crypt-shattering guignol head-banging heart-attack steady for thirty minutes is just what this body needed.
I mean, you KNOW, your band is solid when Sean Reveron is fiending for your new tape (I GOT IT! IT’S COMING!) but solid can’t fuck with these dude’s gruel.
OF FEATHER AND BONE
DEATH METAL PART DEAUX!
Before I heard Of Feather and Bone, I had immersed myself in the stark apocryhpa of bassist/roarer Alvino Salcedo’s photography which struck a chord of lonesome kinship and a little bit of green-eyed fury with his haunted compositions but stills are nothing compared to the rampage, right?
I mean, how do you capture the taste of a skull exploding onto a curb or the smell of a self-vivisection (how is Joel Peter Witkin, anyway?) with a frame? You just can’t. So you play them, hard and murderously turgid. Or you don’t. Honestly, I don’t know what in the fuck Of Feather and Bone is singing about but they present fucking enormous so I can only assume that their trade is suitably monstrous.
Hot shit from hell for sure.
When I was a kid, Oakland wasn’t a place you wanted to represent unless you were NWA and even then you were likely to get shot by a bitter Raiders fan for ill-representing their lunatic heritage.
Or a Crip.
It’s been so long I can’t remember which color sided where but then everything got yellow for a second which doesn’t make prismatic sense but whatever…
Point is for a long time Oakland was the wrong city to fuck with but over time (and, at least, one Simpson reference) Oakland became a place where kids who got priced out of softer SoCal could get weird on the cheap and then disaster and I’m sure something or other else (really LV? Good fucking luck) somehow, through all of that, we are here now with Sixes.
And they’re pretty rad.
They’re definitely dynamic.
There’s a beatific goth (esque?) on bass and the singer/slinger is all shirtless wailing and that’s cool as shit because I’m having real problems with this still air and I’m pretty sure they’re playing on some elder gods chaos fuck magic which would be harrowing if it weren’t so human.
I used to have this pair of pederast glasses I got for free from Coen’s Fashion Optical (fuck them) after they’d fucked up my lenses for the third time. I used to think they were funny, then they were essential and that fucking sucked because…well…yeah, dude. You can’t be a straight white man rocking the anal cavity creep like it’s a casual investment. You have to own it or bone it or I guess you could just start a horror soundtrack duo.
Now I KNOW that Pinkish Black didn’t derive their aesthetic from a pair of frames but I’m getting kinda lost in this fever dream of being upright so I’m going to go ahead and imagine that, one day, in a state of errant grief one dude picked up a pair of mystical lenses and decided FUCK YES! WE WILL BECOME A DIZZYING POST METAL MELANGE OF KRAUTROCK, WITCH HOUSE, DEATH HAZE, TINTO BRASS AND SALO! THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS WILL WELCOME US WITH LOVING CONFUSION AND THEN THE WORLD WILL KNOW THE WONDERS OF AN OBSCURE HUE!!!
And I can definitely get with that but their set is decidedly long-winded.
Folks are stoked on Bell Witch and with good reason. They are a fucking monolith and their indefatigable opus Mirror Reaper is a coxswain of pain, dread and purpose so, of course, when they came to play this shady rent the people packed in black and stolid.
And that’s awesome.
Tragedy + Time = Triumph.
And when they start in with their scorching aridity I feel it starts a sweet rattle in my fillings which quickly moves to my brain which screams “ESCAPE! ESCAPE!” but I hold fast to my place crushed up against the sonic plaint as it slouches towards Bethlehem determined to greet death in the torment of Christ and then slay him until I just fucking CAN’T anymore because as strong as Bell Witch’s will might be a body can only live by Pearl and smokes for so long before the weekend devolves into vomit and rashes so, yeah.
It’s taco time.
40 WATT SUN
Okay. So I left Bell Witch halfway through their set thinking that I could grab some simple meaty tortilla ration, eat it sensibly and then get back in the club for one last harrumph before settling into comfortable position for the extorted peace of 40 Watt Sun’s Zen garden.
But such was not the case.
It took me more than forty-five goddamn minutes to get my ass a taco, another ten to try and eat like a human (it was “Texas Sized” and I eat slow) before giving up on base instincts and rushing in to catch the last few songs of the set with a mouthful of overcooked pig.
Admittedly, however, those twenty minutes were nice. They would’ve been lovely if it weren’t for the swift rebuttal of indigestion but 40 Watt Sun’s beauty is so much more powerful than acid reflux and I strongly encourage you to find a way to see this band play with someone you just SO adore because 40 Watt Sun’s sound could mark the start of all your perfect, nervous loves.
And if you’re loveless? Fuck it.
40 Watt Sun is your broken home.
You know, I’ve tried many times to like this band on record but there’s just something about them that doesn’t quite stick to my ribs. I don’t know if it’s the vocals or the production or maybe I just secretly hate me some awesome but when Yob comes on I always wish I were listening to Cavity.
That happens a lot, actually.
Yob is fucking electrifying. Shredding, slaying, crushing, braying, killing the hard hard RAWK and roll over dead-eyed as a cathouse doorman like killing is their business and don’t ask me about my business, Kay. Just bang your head and pretend tomorrow never happened.