Three Festivals Whip Up One Hurricane Holiday

When a storm hits, where it makes landfall is as critical as the energy it possesses. So, when organizers of a trio of shows dubbed their back-to-back-to-back events Hurricane Holiday, they knew they needed the right venues to ensure music lovers felt the full force of their tempest.

This Holiday hits tonight and runs through Sunday. In all, it’s three music festivals — Folxmas, Punxmas and Skwerlfest, the newest of the group — joined under one umbrella. The events balance acts from more than a half-dozen states with a healthy Houston delegation. In all, nearly 40 bands will entertain audiences, with everyone involved contributing to a triad of charitable initiatives. Headliners at the respective events include Colorado’s Nomad Mountain Outlaws and The Real McCoys (Folxmas); Decathect, in its final show (Punxmas); and Oakland, California’s Crack Rock Steady 7 (Skwerlfest).

“I am really excited about all the locations for the events this year," says event coordinator Freddie Boatright. "We all are extremely grateful for the people who run these spots and venues, and without them it wouldn't be possible. When setting all of this up, we needed the right people who understood that our main goal is charity, not profit, so having spaces and venues who are on the same wavelength with you as an organizer is vital."

Boatright and his Sweater Weather partner, Whitney Flynn, chose new D.I.Y. space Christmas Island for the sixth annual installment of Folxmas, which kicks off the Hurricane Holiday weekend. James McDowell is the promoter for Punxmas, slotted into Walters for night two. The weekend closes out with Skwerlfest at Eastdown Warehouse.

“This year is the 11th year for Punxmas, which is a huge deal to both me and the punk community because I know a lot of fests or other D.I.Y. events like this usually don't make it past the 10-year mark,” McDowell says, noting that previous installments have been held at Walter's on Washington, the White Swan, Mango's and Super Happy Fun Land.

“Walters has always been a favorite venue of mine, all the way back to when they were that vomit-stained, sticky-floored punk venue on Washington," he adds. "Now they exist downtown, right off I-10 and real close to the train, making it easy for anyone to get to. Plus the vibes at Walters have always been great and Zack [owner Palmer] and his crew have always done us right and always have a great time with us. It's home.”

Boatright echoes these sentiments, thanking Izabella Guerrero and Johnathan Shafer at Christmas Island and Eastdown’s Adam Rodriguez for hosting their respective parties.

“These are some of my favorite spaces and venues around town, and we can't thank these people enough for their involvement,” he says.

It’s important that everyone be on the same page since the events all double as benefits. Skwerlfest will hold a food drive which will benefit Helping Hands Food Bank. Last year, Folxmas collected 600 pounds of food for the organization. This year, that fest will focus on gathering items – found on the event page – for Special Pals Shelter, a local no-kill animal shelter.

McDowell said Punxmas’ donations will to the Sioux tribe at Standing Rock, North Dakota: "I've already grabbed an address, which I have checked and double-checked, and also found the Paypal to which we can make donations,” he notes.

Save the brand new one, each of the festivals has enjoyed past success combining charitable efforts with solid musical lineups. Oregon’s The Taxpayers, Arizona’s Jessie Williams and locals like the Dead Rabbits, Say Girl Say and Always Guilty have played previous installments of the acoustic-heavy Folxmas.

“This year we have the always spectacular Nomad Mountain Outlaws making their return and one of my favorite local artists, The Real McCoys, headlining at Folxmas," Boatright says. "It's also a great chance to check out the up-and-coming local talent like Twokulele, Ragamuffin and Ojos." The latter will kick off the event around 5 p.m., he adds.

The ghosts of Punxmas past include Gutter Rats, Deathbed Repentance, Sniper 66, Dirty South Revolutionaries, Molotov Compromise, Action Frank and CAHR.

“I hate to just name a few bands and not all of them, because I think every band on the lineup is amazing," McDowell says of this year's installment. "However I do have to point at a few bands people should be really excited about [for] a number of reasons. The Cops. Holy hell, these guys are doing shows like I haven’t seen in years. Really energetic, unfiltered punk rock to a degree not generally seen in Houston. These guys are killing it. Also, they're all dressed like cops! Watch out for flying donuts!"

"Die Fast is another one I should mention here," he continues. "I haven’t had the opportunity to actually see these guys yet so this is one I'm excited for; I mean, members of 30footFall. These dudes rip, from what I've heard. Last one — Decathect. It will be our last show, and I hate to self-promote like this, however, it being our last show, I have to mention it because over the last few years we have gained a ton of popularity from all over, and I'm sad to say that we're saying goodbye this Saturday, but also excited because this is going to be an epic show, and I'm so happy people are excited to come out and celebrate.”

“For Skwerlfest, we have an eclectic lineup with noise acts like Electric Sleep, as well as local hip-hop artists Nikkhoo and DJ Rock tha Boat,” Boatright notes. “Outside at Night is one of my favorite additions to the lineup, they have a nice post-hardcore groove to them, and I'm stoked they were able to be a part of this. To top everything off for Sunday, we have our own hometown heroes, Days N Daze, ready to unleash their ferocious blend of thrashgrass; the always talented and rambunctious ska band Joystick from New Orleans; and underground all-stars The Crack Rock Steady 7 bringing the evening to a close with a slew of classics you won't want to miss.” [Disclosure: author's son plays in Days N Daze.]

Although the shows share some common threads, McDowell admits he was reluctant to have Punxmas under the Hurricane Holiday banner.

“Punxmas fest is the best show of the year, if not for the music and beer, but for our whole scene — our family — to get together and all hang out, get in the pit, and have a damn good time," he says. "It's a special thing to us that we hold dear, I wouldn’t want to compromise that. Punxmas will always be Punxmas, and it will always be the best damn D.I.Y. show of the holidays. We're all very proud of that."

Still, says he's intrigued by the idea of connecting these events in this loose way, since it helps promote the charitable aspects of each one. Plus, Punxmas and these peripheral events do share an audience; Boatright and McDowell say they expect to see familiar faces at all three shows.

“It was a definite shock and a breath of fresh air to know the punk, folk and art community as a whole wants to give back as much as we do,” Boatright notes.

“This scene we have in Houston is very unique,” adds McDowell. “I've never seen another one quite like it. It's saved my life over and over again, and I'm sure it will continue to do so. I hope everyone can say the same thing. Houston Punx Unite!”

Hurricane Holiday kicks off tonight with Folxmas 6 at Christmas Island, 2211 Jean. $7 or $5 with a donation item benefiting Special Pals Shelter. Saturday, December 10, Walters (1120 Naylor) hosts Punxmas XI; the $10 donation will benefit the Sioux tribe in North Dakota. Proceeds from Skwerlfest, set for Sunday, December 11 at Eastdown Warehouse (850 McKee) go towards Helping Hands Food Bank; suggested donation is $15 or $10 with a canned/non-perishable food item.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.