Last week, Dure Réalité drove to Texas for This is Austin, not that great festival. Although the event was the main reason for our trip, we also took the time to discover Austin, from the more typical to the more activist sides of it. Here is our review of some of the festival shows, as well as of our Texan experience.
It’s time for the festival’s opening night at Barracuda, a venue located in the heart of Austin’s bar district. Small detail that wasn’t announced prior to the show: the venue was also hosting a free show that night for Austin Free Week, which meant that our show would be held outside, in the bar’s large yard. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but a cold wave had hit Austin and the temperature was now below zero. It wasn’t the most comfortable of situations.
The band No Come start up the evening with their badass female-fronted hardcore, which perfectly represents the new wave of bands currently emerging on the scene. As the first band of the festival, they were able to set the tone and warm up the freezing crowd. The pit was super energetic and comprised mostly of women. An excellent performance by No Come, who is just starting out as a band, and who we recommend you follow closely!
Skourge then takes the stage, with their straight-edge hardcore. Good music that is well executed, but nothing that really stands out. Nonetheless, the frontman has a great energy and really connects with the crowd. Here, the pit truly is in contrast with the last band’s pit: much more aggressive and most importantly, male dominated. But it was to be expected, as this is normally the case with this specific type of «classic» hardcore.
The next act to step up is truly different from the last two: a hip-hop artist. You can tell by looking at the crowd that fans of both styles of music are present, the hip-hop enthusiasts even participating in the pits during the hardcore bands. Antwon is the hip-hop artist in question, and he keeps the crowd energized and dancing with his chopped and screwed music, a typically Texan style that takes beats from the 80s and 90s and actualizes them, by slowing them down and modifying them.
Then comes Power Trip, thrash metal veterans, who offer the crowd a show that lives up to expectations. As soon as the first song starts, a huge circle pit breaks out and this high energy is maintained during their whole set. What else is there to say? A great performance by a great band.
Unfortunately, after Power Trip, the cold got the best of us and we left the show, which means we missed Tommy Wright III, a well known hip hop artist.
We get to the show later than anticipated and miss the three first bands, Sex Pill, Enemy One and Warm Bodies. But we are greeted with good news: the shows will be held indoors tonight, as the cold is too intense. We are also happy to see that even at the start of the evening, the venue is already full, which is great for the bands performing early, who still get good exposure.
The first band we see is Firewalker from Boston, whose lineup is all-women and who puts forward feminist issues. The band really stands out with its’ vocals: many hardcore frontwomen use more high-pitched voices, but Firewalker’s singer has a truly aggressive and deep singing style. A badass and high-energy show, with a crazy pit that anybody and everybody participates in.Tozcos, a female-fronted punk band from Los Angeles, then takes the stage. Excellent music and a great performance. Unfortunately, the band can’t get into Canada, but we strongly recommend that you listen to their music and go see them live if you are ever in the States.
Then comes Exit Order‘s turn. As always, they offer an excellent show. Since we had seen them only a couple weeks ago in Montreal, there was nothing new, but they are always a great band to see live. We can’t wait to hear some new music from them!
The show goes on with Green Beret, a crust-hardcore band from Boston, super energetic on stage. They kept the crowd going and maintained the amazing atmosphere of the evening. Another good band to discover if you don’t already know them.
The Secret Prostitutes end the show. We were super excited about seeing them again after their performance last fall during Montreal’s Varning fest. They give a crazy show, with some theatrics weaved in: two fake security agents were with them on stage, throwing people into the pit. A perfect end to the night!
We were then planning to head to the aftershow (with bands like Bondage and HISS) but we encountered a slight problem: it seemed impossible to find where the show was being held, and how to get there. Confusion could be read on people’s faces and everybody who we asked (even members) was in the same situation as us. So no aftershow for us!
Last show of the festival for us. We miss the first band, Body Pressure, but get to the venue in time for Leather Daddy. The band includes members of Exit Order and Firewalker, and is another great example of badass women breaking down walls in a scene that used to be heavily male-dominated. We can’t wait to see what this band will do in the future!
Then comes the band that was the festival’s high point, in our eyes: Krimewatch. Although we had already listened to the band, this was the first time we got to see them live and the only word that comes to mind is: WOW. A performance that truly exceeded all of our expectations. The frontwoman kicks ass onstage and brought more energy than any other artist in the festival, showing without a doubt that hardcore is «not just boys fun». On top of it all, many songs are in Japanese. Follow them on bandcamp, go see them live, you won’t be disappointed.
After Krimewatch, Dame takes the stage. Although we are fans of the band and were excited t see them again, they offered the lowest energy show of the weekend. Maybe this is because many of the members are also in other bands also performing in the festival and they were starting to get tired at that pointed? Who knows. Are expectations were high and we were slightly let down, but we still love the band and can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Up next is Haram: for some of us, they are a new discovery, and for all of us, it’s the first time we get to see them live. A super expressive and emotional frontman, who truly transfers his energy to the crowd. Not only are the lyrics in Arabic, but when the singer offers speeches between songs, he also does so in Arabic. A great band that everybody should get to see live!
Aggression Pact, from Boston, follows with their great hardcore music. A fun show with fantastic musicians, you can’t go wrong with a classic style.
The show continues with Pure Disgust, another high point for us. The crowd truly went nuts, and the energy was electric. They offer some good, positive hardcore with political lyrics. For their last song of the set, the bass player and singer exchanged roles, which is always fun to see. Before they went on stage, we sadly learned that the band is breaking up, which is unfortunate, but we can’t wait to see if the different members start up new projects.
The second to last band is Blood Pressure. A great, aggressive hardcore band that once again made the crowd go crazy. Even though the evening was coming to an end, they were able to maintain a super high energy.Finally, the show ended with an amazing performance by Hank Wood and the Hammerheads. Like many other bands during the weekend, they exceed our expectations, with amazing stage presence by all the band members. We especially loved what the keyboard brought to the music, giving it that extra little something that pushed it over the top. They were the last band we got to see during our trip, and they ended the festival on a perfect note for us. To conclude, This is Austin, not that great was a really high quality festival wih an incredibly lineup of bands, may it be the classics we know and love or the new bands we discovered during the weekend. Even though the tickets were pricy, it was truly worth it. It’s the kind of event that helps to breakdown the stereotypes that still stick to Texas, and that show the new face of hardcore and punk, which is inclusive and puts women and POC to the front.
As we said earlier, the festival isn’t the only thing we did while in Austin. We arrived with a many false ideas about Texas in general and left with a completely new vision of this area, thanks to the experiences we had and the people we met. We went to a gay dance night called Tuesgays, which was huge and jam packed. We also did some shopping in the North Loop, with its’ record stores, vintage shops, activist sex shops and anarchist bookstore, Monkey Wrench Books. We also visited an anarchist thrift store, called Treasure City, who’s profits are used to send books to inmates. But activism in Austin is not limited to stores: we also got to spend time with members of the Red Guards, and will be shortly posting an interview we made with them.
Food wise, we also had a blast: the city is full of cheap food trucks, where you can buy delicious tacos for about a dollar. We even had some vegan barbecue from a foodtruck called BBQ Revolution.
Although the city is currently prey to gentrification, caused in part by wealthy college students and yuppies, it is still full of hidden treasures and can be an affordable place to visit if you go to the right places. We also recommend you visit the close-by city of San Antonio, which we would have loved to spend more time in, and that hasn’t been hit as badly by gentrification, according to the locals we spoke with.
We want to thank Angela Owens who gave us permission to use her pictures.
To know more about her work, visit: angelaxomens.com
To see the complete set of pictures she took during This is Austin not that great fest, click here.