10 Texas Bands That Could Have Opened for Guns N' Roses

Occasionally, we get tasked with imaginary booking duties, a power trip that is to music writers what fantasy football must be to jockstrap collectors. We get to geek out and dream up musical possibilities, and it's a little less smelly to boot. Plenty has already been said (and yelled) about GN’R’s choice for a Houston opener, Skrillex, but not many offers of legitimate replacements. And although someone out there must appreciate a Skrillex/GN’R ticket (Skrillex himself doesn't count), there are plenty who don’t. So, in the completely self-indulgent fashion of a daydreaming freelancer, I offer ten Texas acts that could cut in on the GN’R bill and why. (Note: This list is in alphabetical order.)

Why not? Austin's own '80s metal group could easily pass as a nostalgia ticket for thousands of elder metalheads statewide. A GN’R show is a throwback anyway, especially without any new music written or produced in years. The same listeners who adored GN’R in the Reagan years certainly loved Toys, too. Jason McMaster has since moved on to other projects since the days of "Teas'n, Pleas'n," but has never quite mothballed the Toys completely, and has plenty of tours to show for it. If anything, they may be able to teach metal’s favorite princess some serious grace.

There are a few bands who bring an imagery to their art that is so seamlessly perfect, you can’t help wondering why more bands haven’t followed suit. Enter Dixie Witch: an Austin heavy-metal outfit that combines Southern metal, doom and marijuana. Was there ever a more perfect union? This trio is self-described as “motor rock” but sounds more like a mix of Soundgarden meets Hendrix. Best of all, they can kill a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover without sounding like a wailing cliché.

Not only do longtime Houston metal favorites Helstar deserve a booking alongside GN’R, but so do their fans. Helstar has been familiar in Houston metal circles for years, and is known by more than a few European fans too. Why not pair two metal legends on the same ticket? GN’R may be more hard rock than metal, but they lack serious darkness. In a metal show, that’s important.

Contrasted against GN'R's self-congratulatory smugness, Team Honky's superboogie weirdness may be the oddest and most entertaining combo on this list. If ever a Texas-bred band could show the Californians a thing or two about a rock show, it's this offering of onetime Butthole Surfers bassist J.D. Pinkus. Pinkus is perhaps the ideal counterweight to the pompous stylings of W. Axl Rose, and guitarist Bobby Ed (Blowfly) can go toe to toe with ol’ Slash. With just three musicians, Honky does what GN’R's seven can only dream of — write a song, build it, smash it, destroy it and make it all look like rock and roll.

These San Antonio natives have not only made themselves into a successful national act, but are the kind of magnanimous musicians everyone hopes will return one day to cast light on other bands in the scene they left behind. Nothing More are those guys. Even last year, when they did an XM radio takeover, they spotlighted Houston locals To Whom It May instead of playing their own hits. That kind of story makes you proud that they’re from Texas because you are too. Even though that kind of behavior is enough to book them on this fantasy list, it’s their music that has earned them a spot. Heavy-hitting beats against Geddy Lee-inspired vocals, NM fills a longstanding gap in progressive and alternative-metal circles.

This Dallas-based thrash group is making metal straight out of yesteryear, with a catalog of songs that weighs in with a heavy dose of pared-down metal riffs yet still manages to pull out intricate and compelling guitar solos. It’s a delicate yet nasty balance of guitar work against a drummer who makes a kit with one bass drum and only two toms sound like a set twice that size. Thrash and GN’R are perfect complements; they’re from the same time period and GN’R’s core audience would recognize Power Trip's talent for playing metal too oft forgotten outside of (ahem) nostalgic cash-grab tours.

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Kristy Loye is a writer living in Houston and has been writing for the Houston Press since July 2015. A recent Rice University graduate, when not teaching writing craft or reciting poetry, she's upsetting alt-rights on Reddit.