For those of us who found disappointment in the Dorito taco commoditization of SXSWs past, Chaos in Tejas offers a healthy alternative. The four-day punk festival is in its eighth year and boasts of a lineup unlike any other. Where else will you be faced with choosing between seeing Iceage and The Clean? But like any festival, the sheer quantity of bands playing can be overwhelming. To ease the burden, here are ten acts performing at Chaos in Tejas that you can’t afford to miss.
Warrior Kids (France)
Thirty years after releasing the skinhead classic Les Enfants De L’Espoir, and a few years after inactivity, the French band Warrior Kids has re-released the now canonized oi record, recommended specifically for the Slaughter & the Dogs fans out there. In the mist of a U.S. tour, the French band will make their way to Chaos in Tejas before heading north to Canada. There’s no telling when the opportunity to see Warrior Kids will arise again.
If you’re at all like me, every year you go to Austin for a festival and end up spending most of your time impressed by local acts. Denton, TX’s Wiccans define that category. They exemplify a new guard of hardcore: melodic major chord structures with harsh vocals – music that, crudely put, sounds like complex hardcore created by non-hardcore kids. And from what I can tell from their live recordings, the band sounds as pristine live as they do on record – not a feat easily accomplished.
There are a few throwback acts performing at Chaos this year (Antisect and Cockney Rejects come to mind) but few provoking the level of anticipation of Moss Icon. The progressive post-hardcore act existed from 1987 to 1991, but in that time secured a legendary place in the history of punk. Earlier this month, Temporary Residence Limited released a 2xCD/3xLP complete discography of the band, and in honor of the release, the band is reuniting at the festival.
I’m not entirely sure why Appleton, Wisconsin pop-punk act Tenement are traditionally looped in with hardcore bands (a few months ago I caught the band opening for DC straight edge act Coke Bust) but I’m not complaining. Existing somewhere between Superchunk and the Descendents, Tenement’s unique breed of bratty pop-punk is unapologetically energetic and honest; prepare for what is sure to be one of the most inviting and danceable sets at Chaos in Tejas.
Power Trip (Dallas)
There is something in the water in Dallas. As much as Chaos in Tejas is an opportunity to experience incredible bands from all corners of the globe, Power Trip is another band worth coming all the way to Texas to see, and should not be ignored. The band somehow manages to combine abrasive heavy metal; hardcore and late ‘80s thrash without feeling overly ambitious. A text message I received from a friend a few days ago seems to encapsulate the band’s energy better than I ever could: “IT’S POWER TRIP, BRAH!”
Royal Headache (Australia)
Among all the hardcore, punk, and metal acts at Chaos stand a few garage and indie rock champions. Enter Royal Headache. The Australian act create rock ‘n’ roll with soul, diluted with fuzzy power chords and highlighted by frontman Shogun’s vocal performance. Since the band released their incredible self-titled debut on What’s Your Rupture? (the kind folk who brought us Iceage’s New Brigade last year) Royal Headache is set to tour the US, beginning in Austin at Chaos in Tejas. Let’s hope they make the most of it.
RØSENKØPF (New York)
More and more often, it feels as though bands with a really clear and well-developed aesthetic are paired with mediocre musicianship – it’s either one or the other. RØSENKØPF set to demolish this notion. Pairing crust with goth and dipping it in noisy industrial waste, the trio’s improbably danceable metal is as brooding as their Wierd Records labelmates, while managing a new level of physicality. RØSENKØPF aren’t the only New York band performing at this year’s fest, but they are definitely one of the most exciting.
The Boston Strangler
This list would not be complete without listing at least one straight edge tough guy Boston band. The Boston Strangler (named after the infamous serial killer) is equal parts terrifying and empowering, hardcore for hardcore’s sake. The band consists of members of Social Cirkle, Mind Eraser and Rival Mob and channels those acts’ energy – truly a sight to be seen and a show to be experienced.
Reality Crisis (Japan)
This year, Chaos boasts a few really incredible Japanese punk acts. Picking just one is near impossible, but considering the crust royalty status of an act like Reality Crisis, the band really does deserve a home on this list. And judging by the fact that Chaos is the only US show the band will be performing, it goes without saying that you should catch their set.
The Mob (England)
The Mob is legend, plain and simple. Founded in Somerset, England in 1979 and calling it quits four years later before reuniting last summer, the anarcho-punk band has, in their career, released a spilt with other legendary punk act the Faction, been signed to Crass Records, and went on to found Zounds. Somewhat of a history lesson on stage, the Mob’s presence at Chaos in Tejas validates the age old maxim that hardcore will never die. Because it won’t.