Have you heard the news? Fitzgerald's, that creaky old live music haunt in the Heights where your favorite band became your favorite band, is doomed.
Not next year, not after graduation, but Saturday. This Saturday. Doomed.
Whoa, hey, calm down for a second! This isn't about Pegstar abandoning the old club to build a slick, new townhouse of a concert venue on North Main (not that there's anything wrong with that). That's still quite a ways off, and there's a lot of life left in Fitz yet. Case in point: both stages of the club will be piled high with every heavy guitar riff imaginable tomorrow when the second annual Bayou Doom Fest returns to Sabbath the place up a bit. And for rock fans who like it slow, deep and hard, that's very good news, indeed.
This year, Dallas trio Wo Fat sits at the top of the bill. The group released their fifth album, The Conjuring, in June on Small Stone Recordings. They'll be heading down I-45 on Saturday at the behest of festival organizer Doomstress Alexis (Project Armageddon), rested and revived from their early-summer European tour.
"We've known Alexis and the Project Armageddon guys for a number of years," says Wo Far guitarist Kent Stump. "We actually met them five or six years ago when they came up to Dallas to play a show. We got to know them then, and we've played with them in Houston a couple times. When Alexis started to put this thing together last year, she invited us to come down and play, so we came down and did it. We're happy to be coming back for the second year."
One could be forgiven for assuming that headlining a statewide metallic assemblage like Bayou Doom Fest would put Wo Fat high on the list of doomiest bands in the state. When it comes to the identity politics of heavy-metal subgenres, however, things are rarely that simple.
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"The term doom metal kind of covers a lot of different styles," Stump says. "I would say that maybe we're peripherally a doom metal band. Maybe we fall between more of a stoner-rock aesthetic and heavier doom metal, because of the fact that we're a heavier band than a lot of stoner-rock bands. We maybe sort of straddle a couple different styles, there.
"But I would say that Texas has a really strong scene, both as far as doom metal and stoner-rock and stoner metal go," he continues. "There are so many bands that somehow fall within these genres, you know, with the Sword being the most obvious. It's sort of a spectrum of riff-based rock that ultimately harkens back to Black Sabbath and that sort of riff-based approach to rock and roll."
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Indeed, Bayou Doom Fest will give fans something of a crash course on the best of the region' doom, stoner, sludge and psych-metal, with bands trucking in to represent from Dallas, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and even Louisiana. In addition to generating a truly unholy amount of distortion, the fest also offers the bands an invaluable chance to catch up and network with the other dedicated diehards plying the Gulf Coast's underground metal circuit.
"Events like this are actually really cool, because we do get to see a lot of the other bands," Stump says. "The downstairs stage might make it tough to catch everybody, but I'll try. A lot of these bands are friends of ours, because we've played with them before."
Those friends can expect to hear a healthy amount of new material from The Conjuring when Wo Fat hits the stage at the end of the night. There's an experimental, psychedelic bent to the crushing new tunes, with Stump's scorching grooves intertwining tightly with pounding, furious drums. It's real headbanging stuff, and if you want to toke up before Wo Fat plug in, Stamp won't try to talk you out of it. He only asks that you understand that drug use isn't quite as central to the performance of a group that tosses around terms like "stoner" and "psychedelic" as you might expect.
"For me, the term stoner-rock is more of a state of mind: a way of approaching music, or an attitude towards music," Stump says. "Obviously, the term refers to '70s rock and the days of 'stoners,' and there's a lot of references to pot within the genre. But I think larger than that, it's more of an attitude of openness to music and the idea that the music itself can be the drug or the catalyst to take you on some sort of journey.
"That's what we kind of try to do, is to supply with the music what a drug would do," he adds. "In our live show, we have kind of a jazz mentality where improvisation and the communication between us is an important part of what's happening, and the spontaneity of what's happening is important, too."
Wo Fat headlines Bayou Doom Fest II on Saturday with Project Armageddon, From Beyond, Sanctus Bellum and many more at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak. Doors open at 5 p.m.
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