While much of Houston was embroiled in NBA All-Star Weekend, the north end of downtown was operating on an entirely different end of the spectrum as Walter's hosted its Badass Weekend. Packed with over 30 bands across two days, the show boasted hardcore, noise and grindcore acts from all over the country and even as far off as Canada.
The event, brought out over 750 attendees over the course of the two-day event, which overflowed to afterparty shows at the House of Creeps warehouse compound down the street.
Rocks Off headed over to Walter's early on Friday night to make sure we caught Rusted Shut and Fuck the Facts.
As it turned out, Rusted Shut wouldn't play that evening.
"Our drummer is in Austin, man," the band told promoter Jaron Sayers just prior to their time slot. Professionalism at its finest, ladies and gents. As it turns out, longer sets by Church Whip and Fuck the Facts more than made up for Rusted Shut's absence.
Church Whip -- who have been pretty unnecessarily embroiled in a battle of context and common sense ever since a blogger decided to take ongoing umbrage with use of the word "rape" in the band's "Raping the East" tour -- put on a blazing set.
The singer staggered off the stage and out into the pit during the first song and saw Walter's crowd finally get worked into a frenzy for what would be the first time of many over the weekend. We caught one noticeable anomaly here for this type of show -- the entire weekend was backlined by an impressive set of equipment from local company Steamboat Ampworks. Going to a hardcore show and hearing decent sound was a nice treat.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's Fuck the Facts was up next. Singer Mel Mongeon's tiny stature didn't keep her from absolutely blasting the room with her imposing roar.
Fuck the Facts is one of the more progressive acts we saw this weekend and their willingness to turn the grindcore genre on it's ear by injecting nods to more technical aspects of extreme metal were highlights for us. We were more than happy to park off stage right and watch Johnny Ibay work his seven-string guitar.
We decided to beat the crowd over to the second round of shows for the evening by heading to Houston House of Creeps a bit early. We made a wise choice, as the kegs were tapped by 11:30 p.m. while the streets and parking lot surrounding the warehouse were filled with a sea of black leather jackets and jorts. This second round of shows, punctuated by a cover set by a cover set by the CEO's, lasted till well past 3 a.m.
We made it over to Walter's briefly during Saturday's show and were struck by how many in the crowd seemed to be still feeling the effects of the night before.
There is nothing sadder than four crustpunks slowly bouncing off each other in the pit, clearly struggling just to muster the energy to keep their footing.
The show Saturday was marred by several late starts and by the time we arrived at 9 p.m., the show was already running nearly an hour behind.
We caught just one act at Walter's on Saturday: Dallas veterans Kill the Client. "My vocals are real loud, man. Can we get a quick vocal check?" front man Morgan asked the soundboard. We found out later he wasn't lying. Looking like James Hetfield's far angrier younger brother, he would wind up being the most impressive singer of the weekend for us.
Due to the late running time at Walter's, the second night of afterparties did not get started till nearly 2 a.m., leading to several shows being cancelled. The news didn't curtail the crowd, however, as visitors packed the street in front of the House of Creeps. We called it a night soon after. A quick check-in with someone in attendance put the show's end time somewhere around four in the morning.
While the Galleria saw an early closure due to crowds and downtown was a gridlock mess due to the All-Star game, mass crowds of punks and hardcore fans didn't seem to phase the small northern blocks of downtown. When we drove by early Sunday morning, all seemed well on the sleepy block of Nance, little evidence remaining of the chaos just hours before.
Personal Bias: I enjoy the pageantry and pomp and circumstance of a good hardcore show like a sorority girl watches the Oscars.
The Crowd: Battle jackets and bustiers covered in patches and spikes Still far more attractive than Austin's crust punk scene.
Overheard In the Crowd: "No more whiskey, man. I've had too much whiskey." Subject then proceeds to do a shot of whiskey.
Random Notebook Dump: And here I thought I owned too many black t-shirts.