April 15th 2017, Come and Take It Productions and Cowboy Harley Davidson present the 4th annual Texas Independence Fest at Grizzly Hall in Austin, our state’s capital. Blue skies are upon us and the line of people wrapped around the building is a good indication that this festival will be at capacity with a denim doting, leather loving crowd.

Grizzly Hall opened its doors at promptly 12:30 pm to the anxious metal mongers that were ready to ROCK! As we all poured through the doors, there was much to see. On the inside, there was a small stage and every wall was lined with merch tables. The upper balcony was a place where the artists and camera crews could have a bit of elbow room and be able to relax a bit before and after their sets. As we are walking around upstairs, I look over to the bartender and see that he is wearing a shirt that reads “Texan as F*#@”. I immediately ask where I might purchase one. He gives me the information and I am content in knowing that soon, I too will wear this shirt with pride! So off we go to the sunshine, on the outside. The larger stage was set up in the parking lot of the venue. This allowed the 15 bands to alternate set times between the two stages, enabling the fans to view every single band. Yes! I did say 15 bands!

From the moment that DSGNS hits the stage at 12:50 p.m. the crowd is pumped. Every band thereafter, brings their absolute BEST of a 30 minute set. Well 30 minutes for each band with the exception of the head liners of course. Those 2 monsters of metal bands thrashed us with an epic hour and fifteen minute set each. Killer! This festival offered its fans a wide variety of music. No matter if you were there for Rock, Metalcore or Thrash, there was something for everyone

Here’s your “2 Minutes with Tabby” (Did you sing that in the tune of “2 Minutes to Midnight”?), reflecting on the a few bands and variations of rock at this year’s Texas Independence Fest.

PSYCHOSTICK – Is an American comedy rock band from Tempe, Arizona. They are noted for their use of humor in the songs and silliness in their image. Although they are lyrically rich in humor, their instrumental stylings are not neglected and are very serious. The lyrics often encompass comedy, binge drinking, relationships gone wrong and occasionally, their perception of pop culture. “Humorcore” as a joke, is how the band initially labelled themselves. However, as Rob Kersey once said “Comedy Metal is a better descriptor of the band’s music”. This four piece made up of Rob “Rawrb” Kersey (Lead Vocals), Josh “The J” Key (Guitars, Vocals), Alex “Shmalex” Dontre (Drums) and Matty “Moose” Rzemyk (Bass, Vocals) have been entertaining their fans since the early 2000s and strive to keep us all smiling and enjoying the talent that they possess for years to come.

FIRE FROM THE GODS – Is what you get when you infuse hardcore metal madness with hip-hop hype! This Austin, TX quintet released Narrative, their Rise Records debut in the summer of 2016. The album is a personal Narrative of the minority living in America. From song to song, the socio-economic theme is carried throughout. No doubt about it, this is about the underdog! The world today is racially and socially charged. Fire from the Gods wants their fans to feel empowered when they listen to this record. You could certainly see the empowerment at the festival as they invited their good friend Marcos Leal (Shattered Sun) to single along with them. The crowd roared!!!! It was unity, no matter the color of skin or political views, Fire from the Gods embraces bringing people together to hear their message. With our fists in the air, we “Evolve”!

SONS OF TEXAS – These five friends from McAllen, TX formed in 2013. Shortly after, it didn’t take long for word to get out about this power band. In 2014, Producer Josh Wilbur, highly noted for his work with bands Crowbar, Hatebreed and Lamb of God agreed to work on their debut album after seeing less than a minute of a single YouTube video from the band. Baptized in the Rio Grande, was released in the spring of 2015.

Despite being in their mid-20s, this band has a rare gift of having a rhythm section of brothers – Nick and Mike Villarreal. The chemistry in the blood line is pure power on its own. Adding to that power is the dynamic duo of guitar playing of Jon Olivarez and Jes De Hoyos. The blood raw vocals of Mark Morales incorporate the influence of Phil Anselmo.
As they hit the stage in Austin, my man and I were drawn in instantly! They came in with a vengeance and grabbed the crowd by the balls, so to speak! Their bad boy anthems “Baptized in the Rio Grande” and “Texas Trim” are the type of tunes you have on in your car with the windows down and the wind blowing in your hair, blaring them for the world to hear. Without hesitation, this album is bitchin’! I can only hope to see them in the very near future.

SHATTERED SUN – This sensational sextet hails from the all mighty Alice, Texas! They originally formed in 2005 by Daniel Trejo and Sebastian Ortiz. In the early years of the conception of Shattered Sun, they released a hand full of EPs such as Lost Cause (2006), Endless Struggle (2007), Through Ashes (2009), and Confessions (2012). As many bands experience line-up changes, Shattered Sun is no exception. However, they were able to have their line-up set in stone by 2012-2013. This multitalented line-up consists of Joseph Guajardo (Bass), Jessie Santos (Guitar/Vocals), Daniel Trejo (Guitar), the badass Garza brothers Henry Garza (Keys/Vocals) and Robert Garza (Drums) and last but not least the power vocals of Marcos Leal (Lead Vocals).

After the release of Confessions in 2012, the band played heavily to promote it. Touring with the likes of Memories In Broken Glass then immediately followed by a tour with Spineshank and Mureau, the rays of Shattered Sun were beginning to shine brighter. By late 2013 they began working on their first full-length album, HOPE WITHIN HATRED! Wasting no time at all, they signed with Breaking Bands LLC, a management team run by the infamous Jon Zazula and Testament’s own Chuck Billy in the early months of 2014. On February 5th of 2015, Shattered Sun announced that they had been signed to Victory Records. Just a couple of short weeks later on February 17th, they had more great news! These guys announced that they would be touring North America in the spring. By April 1st, they were honored to head out on tour with the Dark Roots of Thrash II Tour, Yes! with Testament and Exodus! This tour came through Dallas on April 8th, which was the first time I had been lucky enough to see Shattered Sun live. They had my attention instantly and a new fan was born, me! I simply could not wait for the release of this masterpiece! That day came on April 21st of 2015 and all was right in the world of metal music. Hearing HOPE WITHIN HATRED, made me feel empowered to say the absolute least. Every single tune on HOPE WITHIN HATRED, yields the all famous metalcore tricks of melodies that are as vast as the playing. Shattered Sun consistently pushes the limitations with this style not only with ripping speed but a tremendous amount of thrusting their messages of positivity into overdrive!

In 2016 the band continued their hard work on the road. They shared the spotlight with many metal mongers. The energy that they have was recognized by not only their labelmates Darkness Divided, but also bands such as Ill Nino and Scar Symmerty. Shattered Sun thrives on their live shows. It’s all about the energy, getting the crowd pumped and giving them what they want! In late 2016 to early 2017, there is a rumor of w…h…a…t? A sophomore album! Oh my damn! I’m stoked! Hell this news ranks right up there with the good ol’ orgasm… hahaha Can I write that? BOOM! I did! My friends, it was no rumor, it is true! Shattered Sun was kind enough to enlighten us fans at the Texas Independence Fest. This sophomore album will encompass tunes like “Keep Your Eyes Shut” and “Out for Justice”. Without a doubt this album will be another banger from this band. I now wait for the release of this soon to be loved album. Have I mentioned that I’m not patient! Like a child waiting for Christmas, seems like it will be forever before I have it in my hands.

 

 

 

Texas Independence Fest offered a multitude of talent and energy from ALL bands. As a first time goer to this event, I look forward to making this a tradition!
-Write up & Review by Tabetha Prince
– Photography by Geoff McAlister