Editor's note March 30, 2019: An earlier version of this story contained some erroneous information about Cryptos Grimm, the drummer for Spectral Manifest which was opening for Horna. Grimm voted for Barack Obama twice and was a Bernie Sanders supporter. The Houston Press and the author of this story retract the previous information and apologize for the error.
Houston music has been in a decidedly “fuck Nazis and their Nazi bullshit” mood for the past few years. The latest skirmish in that fight was a public outcry against an upcoming show by Horna at White Swan. After organized public resistance, the club will no longer host the show.
The Finnish metal band has had gigs regularly cancelled thanks to their connections to white supremacy. Though the band members themselves say they have “never been and never will be anything but Satanic Black Metal” and that they have “zero interest in politics, left or right,” accusations of racism have been consistent. Guitarist Shatraug was previously in Blutschrei, which featured openly white supremacist lyrics. In a 2003 interview, Shatraug expressed admiration for fascism, saying it, “means to be proud of their own inheritance and the country, to believe in the brothers in arms and to the values which exclude any foreign influence or religion.”
Meanwhile, vocalist Spellgoth is also the keyboardist for Peste Noire. The band denies being a part of the National Socialist Black Metal scene, but their 2001 demo was called Aryan Supremacy and they regularly release on NSBM labels like Militant Zone and La Mesnie Herlequin (Hat tip to Axl Rosenberg of Metal Sucks for the excellent reporting on the relationships between bands).
Houston Socialist Movement, Houston United Front Against Fascism, Pantsuit Republic Houston Racial Justice Committee, and the Young Communist League launched a call-in campaign against the April 3 performance. People were encouraged to call and use *67 to block caller ID.
“We will be reaching out to community members and other organizations that oppose white supremacy to build the biggest, most diverse opposition possible to Horna's performance at The White Swan,” said the groups in a statement.
Danielle Renee, the vocalist of Only Beast, was one of the many musicians who gave unequivocal support for the initiative. She told me, “Nazis are not welcome in Houston. They shouldn’t be welcome anywhere. Get the fuck out and stay out.”
The effort appears to have worked. White Swan has agreed to stop hosting the event. In a statement on Facebook they said they had received a massive number of calls from blocked numbers, some of them threatening to “burn us down” and referring to the callers a “terrorist lynch mob.” They also acknowledged a counter campaign “which consists of probably racists.”
“We don't want any of that nonsense here,” said the club in their post. “They've turned a concert into a Jerry Springer episode and people are coming for the fireworks. What a joke. It's no longer about the music.”
Nonetheless, it appears that the show might go on. In a comment thread on the White Swan Facebook page Cryptos Grimm, drummer of Houston band Spectral Manifest, assured that the concert would happen elsewhere. Gore Tooth of White Swan responded: “good.” That’s a disappointing sentiment.
“Such a shitty response, but they’ve always been a shitty venue,” says Renee. “There’s a reason we’ve never played there. They just flat out fucking suck. So it’s going to be moved to a house show most likely. That’s how they usually are sometimes. Driving them back underground is really the best we can hope for with situations like these. Still, give no ground. And if you have a hard time saying you ‘disagree with” Nazis, you’re a fucking Nazi. Hemming and hawing about Nazis is not a thing.”
Houston continues organized anti-fascist activities in the music scene. The second Punks Against Racism concert was just held, with more planned to come. Organizer James McDowell II of Gen Why made headlines last year by confronting people wearing white supremacist gear at a White Oak Music Hall punk. Houston United Front Against Fascism also hosted an educational get-together at the Montrose Center last Saturday to explain what actions can be used to fight bigotry in the city.
Threatening the club is unconscionable, but it is worth noting that the reactionary alt-right have been known to fake threats to portray themselves as the victims, Jacob Wohl being the most famous example. It’s my opinion that if you want to tell a club you don’t want them to host a Nazi band you should do so openly with your name and an invitation to explain yourself, not anonymously. At the very least it bolsters the idea of your ideals as just and righteous. In case it needs to be stated out loud, do NOT call a club and say you’re going to burn them down, even if they are welcoming Nazis. You can just say “don’t host the fascists.” It gets the point across fine.
It is encouraging to see the city take a consistent, firm stand against fascist music as it continues to try and infect the various scenes. Metal has unfortunately been one of the slower genres to expel those elements from Houston stages, but the coordinated backlash against Horna is a step in the right direction. Nazi scum should be banished to nameless house shows where racists can gather without tainting the concert venues of H-Town. The bigger the KEEP OUT sign, the better. There is no room for them in the most diverse city in America.