Backbeat: Matador’s Patrick Amory on Chaos in Tejas: ‘Much More Fun Than SXSW'

From left: Enabler PR 's Graeme Flegenheimer, Matador Records' Patrick Amory and Matador A&R Robby Morris at Austin's Holy Mountain. (Photo: Maria Sherman)

On Sunday, Enabler PR closed out its Chaos in Tejas, the annual Austin, TX music festival, with a showcase at the Holy Mountain bar. Currently in it’s ninth year, Chaos was founded by Ground Control Booking agent Timmy Hefner who in that time has transformed a small weekend punk festival into a massive 4-day, 150+ band event -- completely free of corporate sponsorship.

Enabler’s lineup was an unusual one: it moved from the sludgy punk of Full of Hell to local dream pop act Boy Friend to Bay Area rapper Antwon to the abrasive noise of Puce Mary who was making her U.S. debut.  Largely unfamiliar to most in the crowd, her set was met with little movement but rapt attention. Joe Gross, of the Austin American-Statesmen, came in blindly and said of her uniquely Danish performance intensity, “I really enjoyed that… but it felt like music to sit down to.” 

Some might have found Enabler’s eclectic lineup difficult to digest, but founder Graeme Flegenheimer believes the diversity is an asset. “I see it as a way to engage an audience who may not be familiar with these artists. People can get turned on to something new. Maybe a couple rap guys popped over to see Antwon before leaving for the Lil Ugly Mane show, and caught Puce Mary’s set, something they wouldn’t see otherwise. That’s why I like Chaos in Tejas so much. Each year Timmy [Hefner] gets better at curating the festival; it’s becoming more of a destination for real, diverse music fans.”

The idea of broad music tastes is one Enabler’s bands also embrace. “The reason I like working with the bands I work with is that their tastes are really diverse” Flegenheimer said. “Kristian [Emdal] and Simon [Formann] from [punk band] Lower have an electronic project called Age Coin and they’ve been sending beats back and forth with [rapper] Antwon for a while now.” When asked about the thematic relationship between the acts on his showcase, he responds, “I see a lot of sonic similarities between the Copenhagen music scene and the Melbourne scene. [Aussie post-punkers] Total Control are working on their second release, [Aussie punk band] UV Race are going back into the studio. Lower are touring currently looking for a US label.”

Enabler Publicist Bailey Sattler (left) with What's Your Rupture? Owner Kevin Pederson. (Photo: Maria Sherman)

Closing out the night and the festival were Danish punk band Iceage. In attendance was What’s Your Rupture? Records head Kevin Pederson, who put out the band’s first record. He too sees the similarities between Copenhagen and Melbourne, stating his excitement for Total Control, “This is my fifth time seeing them this week. I can’t get sick of it.”

Near him stood Enabler publicist Bailey Sattler and Matador Records co-owners Patrick Amory and Gerard Cosloy and A&R Robby Morris of the same label who signed Iceage and released their sophomore LP You’re Nothing last February. It was Amory’s first Chaos to which he remarked, “It’s been a great weekend… much more fun than SXSW.”