Austin punk fest Chaos in Tejas rings in its sixth year
Timmy Hefner looks extremely calm for a guy one week out from the biggest show he's ever promoted. We're in the house he rents in East Austin off Airport Boulevard. Dressed in his usual uniform of black band shirt and tight black jeans, the 29-year-old producer is on the phone trying to lock up some backline equipment - amps, mike stands, that sort of thing - for his sixth annual Chaos in Tejas.
Once a weekend of touring punk rock bands, the fest has expanded to include hardcore bands who fly in from around the world for one-time reunions, up-and-coming indie rockers and, for the first time, a hip-hop show of New Orleans 'bounce' music.
'Sorry it's so messy,' Hefner says. His living room is filled with boxes of records and mailing material - his one-man record label, 540 Records, is releasing five (yes, five) vinyl singles in time for the fest. The guy likes to keep busy. (It helps that many, if not most, of the fans attending are devout punk rock record collectors.)
This is far and away the biggest Chaos in Tejas festival, with several Red River clubs hosting more than 100 bands. Several bands, including headliners such as the Australian noise rock band X (not to be confused with the far more famous Los Angeles band) and Japanese hardcore punks Bastard, have never played the United States.
Sadly, the British punk band Leatherface was forced to cancel after being unable to cross the Canadian border. The band was a big draw, so Hefner is throwing a free Saturday night show at Red 7 to make up for it.
Not to mention the day shows at Trailer Space Records and End of an Ear. And the record swap at noon Saturday at the Broken Neck.
But it's not just record-collector punk. Hefner's been gradually expanding the fest's aesthetic footprint over time. This year, indie rock act such as the Ponys, A-Frames and Woven Bones play at Mohawk, while the Beauty Bar will host New Orleans bounce-rap acts 'tranny rapper' Katey Red (plug her name into YouTube for amazing footage) and bounce star Vockah Redu.
Chaos is Tejas can break a band in the underground the way SXSW can get a band in front of mainstream pop journalists. Toronto punk band (Expletive) Up played the fest years before it signed to Matador or played SXSW and Fun Fun Fun Fest. Last year, little-known Barcelona, Spain, hardcore band Destino Final played its first Texas show at the fest and promptly sold 150 copies of the band's LP during the course of the weekend. Members of the band had played an earlier Chaos in Tejas under the name Invasion, but 'that's pretty nuts for a small tier band,' Hefner says. 'That's a huge number.'
In other words, get ready for spring break for folks who can tell you a lot about the history of Finnish hardcore.
Chaos in Tejas
The fest is Thursday through Sunday at a number of clubs. Check webang.blogspot.com (Note: This blog's name contains an expletive.) for the full band list, complete set times and ticket information.
Here are some bands Chaos in Tejas promoter Timmy Hefner is looking forward to seeing at his fest this weekend:
Bastard (1 a.m. Friday, Emo's) - 'Their album ('Wind of Pain,' Bastard/Bloodsucker, 1990) is my all-time favorite hardcore album,' Hefner says. 'It's a perfect record and the band has never been to the U.S.' This is a one-time reunion for the legendary Japanese outfit. (This show is technically sold out.)
Talk is Poison (10:45 p.m. Thursday, Emo's) - A Bay Area hardcore band from the 1990s whose three EPs of moody hardcore proved oddly influential. 'They still play now and then,' Hefner says, but shows are rare.
Inquisition (11:45 p.m. Saturday, Emo's) - Natives of Cali, Colombia, this duo has been kicking around since the late '80s, first as a thrash band, then as a gnarly black metal outfit.
Katey Red and Vockah Redu ( Friday, Beauty Bar) - Two New Orleans bounce hip-hop artists in the middle of a hardcore punk fest? 'Bounce is something I've been into for a while and Kateys first time out of New Orleans was this past South by Southwest and she was awesome.'
The Marked Men - (1 a.m. Sunday, Beerland) These brilliant (and criminally underknown) Denton garage-punks now play on an ad hoc basis, but produced an excellent album last year and a sharp new single that Hefner's 540 Record released this month.