After a two year postponement, Oblivion Access Festival finally happened! Although I couldn’t attend all four days of festivities, I drove up to Austin, TX on Saturday to catch the legendary hardcore Youth of Today! It only took over three decades to finally see them lol. The festival was quite an undertaking, involving a lot of local Austin venues on 5th, 6th, and 7th Street. After 3 /12 hours of driving I was ready to stretch my legs, get some blood moving and stay cool in the humid Texas heat. Picking up my passes was a breeze as there were signs posted at Native Hostel directing you to the kind staff who greeted people with friendly smiles and words of encouragement to enjoy themselves.
Over one-hundred artists performed during the weekend, including Blonde Redhead, Carcass, The Body, Windhand, Deaf Club, Xiu Xiu, Autopsy, Converge, Full of Hell, Zola Jesus, Danny, Coven, Grouper, Andy Morin (of Death Grips), The Microphones, HO99O9, Massacre, Cities Aviv, King Woman, Billy Woods, and KTRK, and many others. This Is truly an eclectic music festival with a cross-over appeal to many types of fans. Fans could not claim this was a one-dimensional event, with a multitude of experiences, vendor villages, merch, a wide variety of food, and other fun activities spread out across the city.
One mistake, which I think I won’t repeat next year (hoping this happens), was parking about 1 ½ miles away. Upon reaching Empire Garage, across the street was a parking lot that wasn’t even half full …queue /facepalm. Arriving in the middle of the day wasn’t ideal, but it was more than worth it, compared to what I was about to witness. With passes checked and strolling the venue, I found some shade that was a relief due to the show being performed outside with the stage inside a double wide garage type venue. Luckily there was a small breeze pushing through making staying under the shade very bearable. Walking around the venue showed happy faces and smiles talking about who they were most excited to see. I’d like to give a big round of applause to the promoters and venues for putting up tents and free water stations to keep everyone safe and hydrated. Seriously, it was a relief not having to pay $5.00 just for water in a ridiculously long line. The staff was on top of things and made sure everything kept running smoothly.
Despite running a little behind in time, the first band took the stage- Portrayal of Guilt. This was my first time seeing them. I’ve heard the name due to social media algorithms, but have never taken the time to listen and boy was that my mistake. An unassuming trio quickly blasted the speakers with chaotic frenzy screamo. Formed in 2017, they have become an Austin, TX favorite and have started to gain some traction. With fists and feet flying, the circle pit continued as the band quickly made new fans, me being one of them.
Next up was the hardcore band, Candy another first for me. This is a band that has quickly risen by word of mouth as fast and in your face part of the new generation of hardcore music along with Vein.fm, Turnstile, and Code Orange. Some great bands to be associated with. Walking on to the stage, they seemed pretty chill and laid back. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. With the first note, it was evident that Candy was there to stomp their foot in the Texas ground and leave a permanent mark. With bodies flailing about and the band playing their hearts out for the crowd everyone could easily see why this band is on everyone’s lips. Their Good to Feel album was just the start and they have more to show the world. Despite their short set, the show was sweaty, violent and memorable. I can’t wait to see what they have coming in the near future.
Veteran Thrash legends Vio-Lence! For those that don’t know, this band was initially formed in the 1980’s and I remember playing their album Eternal Nightmare constantly. So, to be able to see these songs played live was quite a treat. Seeing original members Phil Demmel, Sean Killian, and Perry Strickland slay through Vio-Lence classics without missing a beat was mesmerizing. The set list comprised mostly of their debut album along with new songs- “Let The World Burn” and “Upon Their Cross” from their EP released earlier this year. It’s no surprise that these guys can still blaze through into the present and leave their younger contemporaries in the dust. Being one of the Big Six in the Bay Area Thrash scene years ago was rightfully earned.
The final band for today – Youth of Today. When I first got into hardcore, Youth of Today was IT for me. Their passion, lyrics, angst, and music struck me to the core and shaped my teenage years. Being straightedge back then was made much easier with them as my background theme music. Ray Cappo’s lyrics ran in my head for years, helping me find my path, stay strong and morally straight despite the world’s peer pressure.
Taking the stage, sharing smiles and high fives with fans, the excitement was palpable and beyond ready to bust out of the venue in the Texas heat. I felt like I was about to erupt with years of anticipation of seeing one of the most important hardcore bands of my life. And then…it all exploded. With Sammy on drums, Walter on bass, Porcelly on guitars and Ray at the mic, everything fell into place and shouts of joy took over. Bodies slamming around the circle pit, fisting swinging, and feet karate chopping was all that mattered at that moment. Shouting the lyrics of classic songs like Expectations, Can’t Close My Eyes, and Make A Change was more than what I could take. Reliving songs of my youth and shouting along lyrics that came to the surface as easily as breathing left me in a euphoric state. Despite the years, each band member moved with such energy never showing their age. They moved all over the stage and Ray took to the crowd ensuring everyone was part of the show. During short song breaks, Ray also took the time to inspire and give words of encouragement and enlightenment to the fans, who appreciated the kind words in today’s crucial times.
With the set a little shy of an hour, Youth of Today ended the late afternoon with the classic “Break Down The Walls!” A perfect ending for an idea that has echoed for decades and still continues still today, something all humans should strive for-Unity!
Welcome back Oblivion Access! See you next year!
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WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RENE BOTELLO