Last year, local rock ’n’ rollers the Heroine declared themselves one of the hardest working bands in the San Antonio biz (see “Men at Work,” July 1, 2009). This year, they’re proving they damn well have the devotion to back it up. Their unrelenting gig schedule and their straight-up, sweat-soaked, kick-in-the-teeth live show guarantees survival on street cred alone. Distilling working-class musicianship into a single Facebook post on Labor Day, Heroine guitarist Dibby Disaster proclaimed: “Gauntlet week almost over. 4 days, five shows. 4 opening shifts at work, and like 6 hours of sleep, oh! And a new Les Paul! Staying on the grind!”
Enter Disaster Fest, brainchild of the Heroine frontman Lynnwood King and his bandmates. Three jam-packed days of Lone Star rock and punk stirring up audiences in three different Texas cities. Disaster Fest will hit San Angelo’s famed Deadhorse bar on Friday night before Saturday’s all-day, 13-band affair at Nightrocker Live in San Antonio. The fest concludes on Sunday with a Lone Star beer-sponsored event at the Dirty Dog Bar in Austin.
“We wanted to put a festival together that’s just filled with dirty, Texas rock ’n’ roll,” said King. “The bands `we picked` were out there working as hard as we are. We wanted to do something for our home state and the musicians that need recognition.”
King describes the lineup as classic-style rock ’n’ roll with some punk thrown in. Late ’70s and early-’80s rock has an undeniable influence on the bill, but expect sets brimming with Texas blues riffs. Though the Heroine gigs with different bands around the country while on tour, King says rock ’n’ roll never feels like it does in Texas.
Four other SA locals accompany the Heroine: feisty vocalist Tish Meeks of 3 Kisses brings the Texas party-punk vibe, while Drowning Mona’s hard-hitting rhythm section and heavy guitars back up melodic choruses by frontwoman Lisa Chapman. The Killing Floor is an eclectic blues-driven jam band, and Crash at Crush mixes rock, punk, and alternative in its ballad-free tunes.
A slew of Austin acts are also on the bill; San Angelo standouts Shotgun Rebels will play all three dates.
In addition to a good group of bands, “It’s important to get the right promoters involved in something like this,” said King. “There are a lot of snakes out there. They don’t understand what it’s like to be in a touring band, so they take advantage of anyone they can.”
A local legend in his own right, Roland “Nightrocker” Fuentes is part of the San Antonio date because he’s King’s kind of promoter. Fuentes has supported SA’s music scene since the ’90s, and his club has that old-school, homey rock vibe. With its spacious stage and booming sound system, it’s easy to picture Disaster Fest’s sweaty crowd slipping around Nightrocker Live’s Lone Star-soaked floor.
King credits Malanie Rogers, co-owner of The Deadhorse, and vocalist/guitarist Andy Escalante of the Bexar County Bastards (Austin) with helping to organize the dates in their respective cities. Though the Bastards formed in San Antonio before trekking up I-35, Escalante is now the only remaining original member. He’s well known in San Antonio circles from playing in bands like Chapstick and Pitbull Daycare.
“We originally talked about doing five cities but with less bands,” Escalante said. “When we put the word out asking for other bands to do it, we got an overwhelming response.” Both Escalante and King said their goal is to expand the festival next year to reach more markets.
The DIY, musician-planned nature of Disaster Fest stokes the performers’ enthusiasm. Many of the bands, including Austin-based New Disaster, already play with each other on smaller bills and jumped at the chance to collaborate. Singer/guitarist Natchet Taylor says that even though the rise of the internet has drastically changed the landscape of the music industry, it’s an exciting and empowering time for bands that want to be self-reliant.
“Bands have to wear all kinds of different hats these days,” said Taylor. “You have to book your own tours and create your own festivals. But being DIY seems to be necessary and kind of the best idea in a business sense.”
Welcome to the new music business. Did we mention the Heroine and Drowning Mona will be pulling triple-duty on Saturday? In addition to their Disaster Fest slots, both bands will be playing two sets at the 99.5 KISS Margarita Pour-Off at Sunken Gardens — just another day in the life for this tireless crew. •
$5 21+, $10 18+
Sat Sept 18, 1pm till 2am
605 San Pedro