Dates: May 27-30
Headliners: X (Australia), Bastard (Japan), Rorschach, Riverboat Gamblers, Poison Idea, others
Venues: Emo’s, Beerland, Mohawk, Red 7, Beauty Bar (all in Austin, Texas)
Ticket prices: $5-$20 (varies by show)
Tastemakers used words like “jaw-dropping” and “sick” to describe recent lineups for this hardcore/punk fest, and January’s first-round announcement for 2010 sent the blogosphere into a tizzy. The sixth annual Chaos in Tejas will feature the first U.S. performance by legendary Australian punk act X, a one-time reunion of Japanese crust-core band Bastard, local favorites like the Marked Men and more than 80 other acts. In the past, the fest has hosted the first Austin appearances of acts like Toronto’s Fucked Up that later went on to international success.
Promoter Timmy Hefner took over the fest in 2005, morphing it from Prank Records’ Prank Fest into an event that reached for a more varied lineup. About 25 bands played the first Chaos, but the roster has gradually swelled and diversified. Last year, the festival drew about 2,000 people per night, and this year Hefner anticipates 3,000-4,000.
“I’ve kind of gotten more risqué every year to mix it up,” Hefner says, adding that new features include a New Orleans bounce-rap show featuring “6-foot-2 tranny” Katey Red and gay bounce star Vockah Redu, both of whom were big hits at South by Southwest.
Despite the festival’s growth, Hefner’s business model so far has been sponsor-free. “I’ve had companies reach out in the past and I just didn’t bother,” he says. “Last year for example, [Canadian band] Propagandhi wouldn’t play a sponsored event, and I thought, ‘Fuck it, I want them.’ And I think some of the bands on the more hardcore punk end would be bumming on sponsorships.” But last year the fest still turned a profit, thanks to strong ticket sales and help from venues like Emo’s and Mohawk, which pitch in for bands’ plane tickets and hotel rooms. “They help out because they know everything will be successful,” Hefner says. “They’ll make their money back.”