With all the recent festival cancellations and failed promises of rescheduled shows, it’s comforting to know that at least one festival remains loyal to Houston fans. Not only did EndHipEndIt Fest promise to keep the festival alive in its sophomore year despite Hurricane Harvey’s damage, but they also rebranded as a benefit to those affected by the subsequent floods.
Considering the lineup courted the heaviest end of the metal barometer, this festival couldn’t have come at a better time. With Houston Open Air’s departure and Mastodon’s last-minute cancellation, Houston was overdue for some stoner-metal reckoning.
The two day-fest kicked off in the East End’s Sigma Brewing Company’s back lot that hosted two stages, food pop-ups, local art vendors, the Texas Metal Show podcast and an extension of the Tim Burton Art Show. Day two, located at Walter’s, featured 13 bands in the rotation.
While the festival atmosphere of food, vendors and alcohol is an important selling point for any multi-day ticket, what puts EndHipEndIt in the festival stratosphere is the collective of bands on the bill. A corner of the genre that’s underrated, doom metal doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Whether too heavy for some or written off as drug music, it’s all too often overlooked.
But for fans of slow and heavy down-tuned guitar work, Texas is a damn good place to be. For the last 5-10 years, doom metal has found traction in Texas metal circles; the Lone Star state can boast one of the finest cross-section of bands belonging to the genre. EndHipEndIt isn’t just a celebration of the genre, it’s a celebration of a Texas musical culture that’s off the popular metal radar.
Houston’s own represented some of the showcase's finest performers, including Doomstress, Only Beast, Space Villians, Warlung and Funeral Horse, among others. Even the Austin-based bands on the bill had Houston roots, like American Sharks and From Beyond. Important to note when considering there’s an entire genre out there that hosts bands who found their beginnings here in our hometown.
Saturday night’s lineup was easily one of the best metal shows Houston has seen in months. Not one band on the bill disappointed or played a bad set. Dismiss doom metal if you will, but the musicality and technical knowledge demanded by the genre guarantee an incredible performance.
From openers to headliners, the festival’s bands performed tight, heavy sets to a loud, sweaty Houston audience speckled in Astros orange. Let’s face it, a metal music festival hosted by a brewery can’t go wrong. With ale, stout and IPAs on tap in the tasting room, there was no shortage of interesting menu items for any palette.
Best In Show: Despite a few technical difficulties, American Sharks played an electric, high-energy set. The Austin three-piece makes the most of their instruments with a wall of intense sound and songs that seemingly fly into the faces of audience members. With speakers turned up all the way, Sharks gave an unforgettable performance.
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Runners-Up: Austin's Eagle Claw delivered the face-melting kind of tunes you'd expect from a four-piece instrumental group. With deeply satisfying time changes and crushing breakdowns, they're the kind of band you hope will be on next year's EndHipEndIt ticket.
The Crowd: Metalheads clad in black, bobbing heads to the slow, heavy grind of spacey, amplifier fluff appeared in every corner of the festival. Though the crowd noticeably thinning out after the Astros game started, the most devoted fans who stayed for headliners Elder and Acid King were greatly rewarded, particularly the latter. The San Francisco natives played a set that chugged out low-end grooves and heavy distortion by guitarist Lori S., who has been loyal to the genre since 1993.
Random Notebook Dump: The guitarist for Mothership literally looks likes he’s stepped off a time machine from 1971. Think mutton chops, cock-rock, tight jeans and hair. Lots of hair. Follow him on Instagram just for his stage faces.