If you're heading out to the 2nd Badass Weekend festival downtown this weekend, don't forget to bring your earplugs -- the ones that go in your ear canals, not your earlobes, dude. Matter of fact, a mouth guard not be a bad idea, either, because Dallas' Power Trip is playing the extreme rock fest's second night at Walters on Saturday.
Hey, if you've never been kicked in the face at a Power Trip show before, it's because you weren't there.
The thrashy, five-piece hardcore outfit is coming off its most successful year ever in 2013, highlighted by the release of its debut full-length for Southern Lord Records, Manifest Decimation. The record is now in its third pressing. The band toured relentlessly to support the release, setting out with hardcore big-timers like Bane, Terror and Fucked Up on treks that took them across the U.S. to Europe and back.
After five years of building momentum, Power Trip now find themselves at the very top of the Texas hardcore scene. How can we tell? Because no other band in the state creates as much violent havoc wherever they go. It's not quite fair to call what Power Trip fans do at shows "moshing" or "dancing." Somehow, it feels more like the Running of the Bulls.
"We have had a couple sets shut down," says Riley Gale, Power Trip's shaggy lead screamer. "At SXSW a couple years ago, we had the power to the stage just pulled on us, everything just cut off. Kids were getting crazy; if it wasn't attached to the ground, they were throwing it.
"I don't know what it is that makes us different from other bands that makes people act like that," he continues. "I guess people started having fun at our shows, and word starting getting around that it gets pretty crazy and we don't let it bother us. I like it! I love it. I want to play insane shows. I want weird, interesting things happening."
The key element in inciting the mayhem is Power Trip's brutal, crossover-thrash aggression. The whipping drumbeats and rusty chainsaw guitar riffs on Manifest Decimation sound as if they were carved out of flesh. It's the kind of music that crushes all higher brain function down into the brain stem, leaving listeners feeling suddenly indestructible and game to test the possibility.
That sound was born in 2008, when Gale found a kindred spirit in his appreciation for '80s crossover-era hardcore like Killing Time and the Cro-Mags in Richardson resident Blake Ibanez.
"Blake, our guitar player, was sort of getting into those bands just then, and he and I were connecting through MySpace or AIM or whatever we were doing in 2008," the singer says. "I was kind of weirded out, because he was like 15 years old at the time. As soon as he started playing, though, it felt right. He was so good at guitar that I didn't care he was ten years younger than me.
"We wrote a demo in two or three days, recorded it, and that was that," Gale continued. "It didn't take long to get up and going at all."
Not too long after, the band was heading down I-45 South to play its first gig in H-Town.
"The first time we played in Houston was actually in the back of a coffee shop," Gale says. "JavaJazz, I think was the place. It was a lot of younger kids, when the hardcore scene was kind of flourishing we were playing shows there. We played there definitely twice; maybe a third time. And then we finally started getting invited to Fallcore and getting to play old Walters and stuff like that.
"That was, shit... five years ago," the singer adds. "We've been playing Houston pretty consistently since then."
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More consistently, in fact, than probably any other rock band from Dallas. Power Trip's road-warrior ways and balls-out shows have won them a lot of fans and friends across the state, many of whom they plan to reconnect with at Walters on Saturday.
"There's some really good bands playing -- tons of people we know," Gale says. "We love War Master. We love the Wiccans, who are apparently playing one of their last shows there. We love hanging out. We're not rock stars hiding in a back room. We're out mingling, drinking at the bar."
While no one would ever say it, a number of the bands mingling at the fest this weekend will be looking to Power Trip to carry the banner of Texas' extreme rock scene far and wide in 2014. Thanks to plum spots on high profile tours of the U.S. and beyond, the band is fast becoming the national and international face of Texas hardcore.
"There's bands that drop demos and have deals the next day just because they're from L.A. or New York or Richmond or wherever," Gale says. "I like the fact that we're from Texas, because it means we fuckin' earned it. I don't have a bunch of people to hoist me up and make things easy for me.
"We had to go out and get it, and I think that attitude carries on with most of the bands in Texas," he continued. "That's a point of pride for me."
Gale is equally proud of the reception given to Manifest Decimation, not to mention the profitable touring jaunts Power Trip piled up last year. But 2014 will likely be very nearly as busy for the band as 2013, beginning tomorrow night with the Badass Weekend.
"We'll be doing some touring for sure," Gale says. "We want to try to get another 7-inch out, just to keep some kind of music going. People have a good chance of seeing us. Maybe Asia, maybe Australia. We'll see. We're not a band that plans too far down the road."
Power Trip perform at Walters Downtown on Saturday night with Repulsion, Phobia, War Master, and more. 1120 Naylor Street. Doors open at 6 p.m.
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