Not that many people outside of North Texas know this, but every November (ish) for the past ten years some crazy motherfuckers have been throwing a rad outdoor party on a ranch about an hour east of Dallas.
For the past four years James “Tha” Gruder of Kallohonka and Dead to a Dying World has been nice enough to ask us to play this thing (although it only actually worked out for us in 2015), and with this being his last year running No Thanks, and possibly the last year for it period, we were honored to be included once again.
But first we had to GET TO DALLAS! Always an adventure. I arose before dawn in Austin to catch a bus at 7 some-odd in the morning and jammed the recent Kayo Dot (lotsa synths! amazing live!) on the way to Houston.
I hopped the light rail across downtown to the practice space, then we loaded up and hit the road!
The better part of the next hour was spent sitting in traffic on I-45.
We rewarded ourselves for surviving the grinding purgatory of a typical Houston Saturday afternoon with a picnic lunch of brisket sandwiches. “Hurry up!” I screamed inwardly. “We’re missing the Magic: The Gathering tournament!”
October 29, 2016: NO THANKS FEST 10!
Xylene were scheduled first, but since they weren’t quite ready Blightcaster agreed to kick things off.
Their set was one long, two-chord post-metal song. Between that and the sax, they reminded me a little of the old Houston band The Day After Yesterday, and I rather liked it.
Weirdest thing though, the drummer had no head at all. Just that big floppy hat kinda hanging off his torso where his neck oughta be. It was fucking creepy man.
Xylene’s playing next! Wait where did they go? Hmm well I guess it’s OMOTIME MUTHAFUCKAS
OK, now Xylene‘s going to play. Cool gritty crusty hardcore with drum machine and BONUS projectile vomiting! PUNK AS HELL.
A short break followed as we set up our tents and Moose jammed Maggot Brain (like, the whole record over the PA). Suddenly there was this sound from the other side of the trees like a plane taking off and oh fuck yes it’s TERMINATOR 2 BACK FROM THE GRAAAAAAAVE!
Sam: “Well that was definitely the most memorable Terminator 2 show I’ve ever seen.”
Things were running a BIT behind at this point, but as it happened Talk Sick Brats weren’t able to make it and Krigsgrav (pronounced like Grave, not like Gravel [gravel like the small rocks, not like the U.S. Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981]) was on hand to get us back into the rhythm. Quoth Jaryth Webber of Blightcaster, “aw yeah, they got that one riff!”
The joke was on me, as it turned out: Jaryth says that about EVERY band and these guys had riffs for DAYS. Kinda like some triumph riffs they were playing inside black-metal shit. Very cool!
One thing that I really appreciated about all of these North Texas bands that we’ve played with over the years is that they have a thorough understanding of what they are trying to do. They have a thing, and they understand what’s good about that thing and they GO HARD at it. That’s what I thought about while I watched Krigsgrav.
The next band wasn’t listed on the schedule; it turned out to be the notorious one-man Crash-Worship-meets-Bane-from-Batman project Crawl.
I’m not sure I could really describe what this sounded like very well but damn was it fun to watch.
At this point we were all fading a bit but I managed to keep it together for the sweeping extremity of Cleric, whom we had played with at a couple of festivals before but whom I’d never actually managed to see.
I was not disappointed. Cleric were incredibly professional, brutal and intense. Just the right thing to cap off the festival and send us all of with a. . . waitaminute, there’s two more bands?! Jesus Christ it’s 1 AM and I’ve been up since 6, I can’t hang I’m going to sleep RIGHT NOW.
We awoke in the morning to the sound of James’s 8×10 falling face-first onto the stage. Band Dad Jamie shook us awake and we set off for Dallas to drop me at the Greyhound terminal.
Just south of the turnoff to Rabb Ranch on highway 69 we stopped to take a pic with this fan of Terrestrial Grief.
Our deepest thanks (. . .but NO THANKS) to James, Moose, Kathleen, Alec and the Rabbs, and everyone else who worked to make No Thanks happen all these years. Maybe this will be the last time and maybe it won’t but I’m glad we got to be a part of it for a while.