Chaos in Tejas is aptly named. I enjoyed a Saturday of watching loads of punk rock, but missed much more because of bands canceling, schedules changing, and sometimes just because the heat made me lazy. Saturday’s best band had to be Anti-Sect, who blazed through their set at Mohawk like seasoned pros. On Sunday, we prepped for our second show at the fest. My armbands were now an impressive showcase of summer fun.
I headed over to Red 7 early, explained what we did, and informed the crew about the mess we were going to make. They seemed very appreciative. In my more wisened years, I find we can get away with a lot more if we’re just up front about it.
The show at Red 7 was also subject to the abject chaoxas of Taoxas. No one was sure till the last minute if we were playing inside or out, opposite Toxic Holocaust or not, or even if we got drink tickets. It all ended up working out, of courpse. The metal part of the showcase commenced with our set, followed by Midnight and Toxic Holocaust on the inside of the Red 7 venue. I’d say it was fun, but it’s hard to say one really enjoyed being inside an easy bake oven.
The set was furious, and the club filled to capacity. Unfortunately, some people were turned away during our set, but I guess that’s better than playing the back of a vegan restaurant to fifteen people. We jammed, but as we finished, the incredible heat, sweat and pain kicked in. I dumped countless bottles on my head and drank even more without needing a piss. Midnight was just as insane, packing the house and playing to a gigantic amoebic mass of people that couldn’t do much more than kind of sway back and forth against each other.
Toxic Holocaust finished the night with much aplomb. This was going to be a fun min-tour. In the meantime, I had a blast at Chaos. We were stoked to finally be a part of it. Many thanks to the organizer, Timmy, for a raging time in Austin.
The next day we meandered around Austin. Apparently, when they are not beset by scores of punk rockers, most of the restaurants in downtown Austin are staffed by incompetent boobs who can’t keep their establishments stocked with basic ingredients. It’s the live music capitol, I guess, not the dining one.
We met up first with our friends Chris and Debbie who hooked us up with some laundry and an oil change. Debbie had also taken over our merch at Chaos for a much relieved Jim. Friends like these keep underground tours running strong. Then we headed to a dinner presented to us and Toxic Holocaust by Jamie of www.hardrockchick.com
. All these metal heads, and the food needed to be mostly vegan. It’s a topsy turvy world, I tells ya. We had a good rest there and some delicious bubbly to drink. Finally, we headed out for an all night drive to El Paso.
Arriving in El Paso at 10:30 AM presented a few problems. Where to go? I hadn’t played this town in awhile and none of us had any strong contacts available. We opted to get a hotel early near the venue so we could have some relaxation time and nice parking. I’d heard a few horror stories about trailers being stolen in El Paso by ne’er-do-wells from Juarez, so the lot took a load off of my mind. It was a bit pricier than we wanted, but that Hilton Express sure had a lot of amenities. It’s amazing how a free disposable razor can make one forget the wallet rape.
Once we congregated at Lips with Theories and Toxic Holocaust, our tour buddies for this last week of travel, I was happy to find that everybody was so god damned amenable. Joel Grind offered up his bands cabs for a back line on the tiny stage. This allowed us some room to be able to do at least some of our schtick. The show was a lot of fun with some good circle pits and a lot of good Texans expressing the hospitality for which they are known.
The sound at the show, however, was about as good as you’ll see in that video. Oi vey.
We drove to Tempe, Arizona next. This was going to be a show, nay, a mini-fest. The best part was, I didn’t need a guest list because all my friends from the Phoenix area were going to be playing the show, anyway. Hugs would abound.
I was a bit scared when we first rolled up and saw the stage was outside and in the sun. I’m pretty sure I’d already seen people cooking eggs on the sidewalk.
That doesn’t look that hot? This probably carries across the idea of what it felt like better. It was nice of the club to at least run misters for most of the show.
I’d seen poor Phil of Toxic Holocaust dragging around his 8×10 on one half wheel. His casters were blown. Luckily, he hadn’t removed them yet. While Sean was at the hardware store buying us some fans for the inevitable sweat fest, I also had him pick up some generic casters. I took them apart, as I just needed the wheel.
The bad thing about Ampeg casters is that the base is different than anything I can find in a common store. The good thing about Ampeg casters is that the wheels can be unbolted and replaced. I was going to be using Phil’s head for the rest of this tour, so I thought it was the least I could do to give him a cab that rolled properly.
If only Marshall casters were so easy to fix. Fuckers.
As the sun set, Abiotx started the night with some good old school thrash metal. They were followed by our good friends in Sorrower who grinded in the tradition of many of the European masters. Theories nailed it was they always do. I was happy to see Hesher and his crew of crazy Canucks in Mass Grave bring some underground crust to the Budweiser-banner-laden stage. Then Kiss It Goodbye happened. Moving on, Landmine Marathon played deftly, with Grace owning the stage like some kind of wicked witch giving everyone the evil eye. New drummer (and old friend, here) Raul Varela knocked it out of the park. I’m proud of that boy, dammit!
Toxic Holocaust ruled it, and if I do say myself, we didn’t do to bad at playing last. The venue was divided, with the all-ages area up front and all the old lazy asses off to stage right near the bar. Scott wasn’t having any of that, though, as he unleashed blood torrent in that direction and we saw how fast alcoholics could run. Awesome night, all the way round.
Another disaster, just before our set; Sean’s amp took a dump. We still don’t have any idea what happened. Our gear was falling apart, a little bit more each day. Luckily, Theories came to the rescue and continued to let us use their amp for the rest of our shows with them.
Yet again another fucking all-night drive, and we arrived in San Diego. We popped into our friends Doug and Renee’s house for a breather and some napping. Our show this evening was at a place called the Yard. It is called that, for that is what it is. Behind a punk house in a seedy area of San Diego (so it wasn’t really that seedy) there was a stage in a yard. Sid of the San Diego Pyrate Punx organized the event. This was going to be a very ol’ school show for us.
Napalm Raid jumped on the bill and started things off with some good crust / d-beat. Witchaven arrived a tad late, but jumped up quickly to deliver a blistering old school metal set. At this point, the Yard was already packed. I mean, fuck it’s a literal back yard.
Theories and Toxic Holocaust followed. Toxic had the crowd whipped into a circle pit frenzy. The dust was filling the air. Literally, dust filled the air. I pulled out boogers later that night which looked to have been flung from the stars.
It’s hard to say how much we played versus how much we fought just to stand our ground and be able to play. The tigers were vicious. Something went wrong with my pedals, so at this point I was down to just distortion. More broken shit. We had to pare down our theatrics immensely. Scott found his way onto the roof for some extra blood-spilling fun, though. All I could see from my tiny vantage was blood raining down from a lacerated sky. At least one of the punx, a lass known as Haley, also found her way up on the roof and did a stage dive. A roof dive? Whatever. It was fucking epic.
It was so epic, the ghetto bird came out and shined a light on the party after our set. I’ve had run ins with the law over some crazy shows, but this is the first time they’ve had to call out air support. Luckily, they could see it was too late to bust anyone as the crowd was dispersing anyway. We got away unscathed.
The show had ended early to avoid the law, so we headed out to see our friend the other Doug front his band Marsupial at another bar. From there, some of us went to the Ruby Room to see Black Tusk finish up their set. San Diego used to be dead as a doornail, but it turned out there was a lot of fun to be had there this Thursday night.
The Black Castle was going to be a sweltering heat pile, or so we’d been told. Upon entering for load-in, it was easily five degrees hotter inside than outside. We set up fans and beseeched the organizers to open a few locked doors to get the air flowing. It seemed to help, as the last time Toxic Holocaust had been here, they said there had been sweat dripping from the ceiling. Ew.
I was beginning to get sick (again) so the night was a bit of a blur. I recall enjoying Temple of Dagon, followed by another rousing set from Witchaven. After Toxic Holocaust, we entered and played as best we could while be swept from side to side by wanton stage divers. I’m pretty sure there was just some lunatics in there as well from the street. I saw some pretty impressive flips off the PA. Being sick sucks, though. I really had to just power through our set. By the end of the night, I couldn’t even call out the stuff I needed to pack when loading the trailer. I had to whisper it to a translator.
Oh, what’s this? Everyone wants to drive all night again to get back home early? Fuck my life…
Though I felt horrid, I guess it was a good thing we headed back early. After a nap, I had a lot of work to do. We were playing historic 924 Gilman in Berkeley. They don’t have a back stage for our antics, so we had to construct one again just like we’d done back in January
. I also had to grab extra cabs from our space to relieve Toxic Holocaust from back line duty.
The show was a Tankcrimes endeavor, starting early with Fucktard and then Theories. Ex-Toxic Narcotic members went all wicked hardcore for their Bostonian-driven set as Opposition Rising. This night was also graced with punk rock from Japan (as they reminded us often) as Forward made their mark. Then Toxic Holocaust got the circle pit raging for their first appearance at our little local landmark.
Finally, we were up. As I was getting ready, I remembered my wireless had run out of batteries. A wireless guitar set up is a funny thing to be worrying about at a punk club, but such is the way our theatrics have grown. We need a floor free of wires. I ran to the liquor store down the street and was set up again lickity split. The main reason I mention this is that while running, almost all of my keys slipped off the carabiner attached to my belt loop. What the fuck? I lost all my keys except… the completely irreplaceable trailer keys that only I had a copy of. Phew! This was all discovered later, mind, but a hurtful reminder I should have spare batteries in my case.
I thought San Diego was a battle… they can’t compare to those animals in Berkeley! It was invigorating as much as it was frustrating. Stage divers all night (on a stage that says “no stagediving”), mics getting smashed, monsters getting punched, blood going everywhere… it was completely insane. Well, I did what I could to discourage the lunacy during two songs where we have characters on stage that are apt to fall over, but it was no use. These numbskulls couldn’t be reasoned with.
By the end of the set, I was pulling kids on stage and did my own flip out into the crowd while feedback wailed. Fuck it, baby, that’s rock ‘n’ roll, and we were finally home. Thanks to all those who put us up, put us out, and put us on. We’ve got a few more shows coming up through the year, but it’s time for a break. Nothing can compare to this tear of touring and traveling we’ve been on. The ups, the downs, the fun, the tragedy, the nonsense… it’s absolutely mind-blowing, the amount of love we’ve received and the kinship we’ve shared.
What else is there? Live for metal, die for… nah.
Just live for metal. And bang on.