Housecore Horror Film Festival was quite the success last year. This Phil Anselmo curated event immediately garnered special attention from the metal world. This was to be the festivals second edition, and it was poised to be bigger than ever. Four days of metal thrashing fun, Housecore proved to be quite the success. However I hope we never forget the man behind this incredible and almost mythical event, Corey Mitchell, sadly deceased mere hours after the festival wrapped up. The only redemption being that he drew his last breaths in the throes of a truly great triumph.
I wake up with no hangover, things are already off to a great start! After breakfast at a local Mexican restaurant it was time to head over to the festival. I knew that Friday and Saturday were going to be important days for interviews and I planned on getting as many in as I could before musicians got burnt out and frustrated with the oodles of interviews I’m sure they would have to give. While I missed Evil United because I was interviewing Dead Earth Politics (gotta love drinking before noon!) I got to the venue just before Origin started, and after the initial round of hello’s and how are you’s it was time to watch the tech death lords do their thing.
For a band playing early in the afternoon it was pretty impressive to see how much energy the band brought to the table. Before the show multiple friends told me how excited they were to watch the bands incredibly talented bassist, Mike Flores. The bands vocalist Jason Keyser was a veritable dynamo of energy, goading the crowd into starting up a pit and even diving in to get things going on his own at one point. To be able to deliver that kind of show under nearly ninety degree heat with the sun beating down on you is no mean feat. It proves that Origin will stop at nothing to give the best show they can and guarantee that any fan of heavy music will have a good time. I may not have been much of an Origin fan before they started, but I have rapidly become obsessed with their output!
Brian Posehn was the next to perform. Now, I had never been to a live comedy show before (I had no desire to go see French-language comedy when I lived in France) so I wasn’t quite sure to expect. Posehn seemed to be on top of his game though, dishing out jokes about metal and serial killers for his entire set. He did an especially good job of pointing out some of the particular quirks of the festival saying things like “Only here would you have people who can claim to have a favorite serial killer.” Anselmo could be clearly seen laughing his head off from the side of the stage. My only thought in response to that is that it must have been surreal for Posehn to see a man he’s loved since childhood bent over at what he had to say. In the end, sure Posehn might not be a metal musician, but his set was far more entertaining than some bands I saw this weekend. If I’m going to hear anyone talk about a five year old’s balls, I want it to be Posehn because this man understands what makes metal dudes and dudettes laugh (along with normal people I suppose) and that allows him to stand as a veritable lord of his medium.
One of the bands I had most anticipated at the festival was Cattle Decapitation and they did not disappoint. With more than forty minutes of deathgrind terror these guys ripped my face off and left me simply in awe. I think the highlight of the record was when the band played Pig Born, the world premier of a new track. Despite having not done much for the last year, these guys played an incredible set and it proved to me that they deserve their place in the pantheon of death metal gods. Travis Ryan brings it with incredible zeal, I’ve seen him play before with Nader Sadek, but this was completely different compared to this. Live, Cattle Decapitation are a veritable machine, there is no stopping the almighty attack of this band and if you’re not careful they’re going to rip your fucking head off.
By the time Cattle Decap wrapped up I needed some time to back off and do some interviews. I went off to the media area, which asides from being rather hectic, was a lot of fun, and not just because of the free beer. I got the chance to talk to KEN Mode and they proved to be extremely interesting. Given my dream of making some sort of living off of metal, talking to the accountant brothers who make up this band was pretty interesting. Around this time my good friends in SubRosa showed up too and we all started to get together and shoot the shit. I went over to Family Dollar (Part of the appeal of Housecore is that a lot of cheap stores are easily accessible from the venue) and bumped into Rebecca Vernon from the band. There is something oddly surreal about meeting one of your favorite vocalists in the world in a cut rate convenience store, almost as surreal as going to a panel on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with them which is exactly what we did next.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre reunion panel was actually really well done and made me wish I’d seen the movie more recently. It’s pretty surreal to be standing in a room looking at a bunch of old dudes on stage and realize that one of them is Leatherface. Add in the fact that Leatherface has a kind of squeaky voice and you start to get a sense for how wonderfully weird it was. I really enjoyed learning about the process behind the movie and how beautifully DIY it was. The moderator, whose name I didn’t catch, did a good job of keeping things moving, and some of the questions from the audience were really thoughtful. It’s kind of awesome how easily the festival was able to mold together this almost Comic-con like vibe with a whole swathe of top notch metal bands. Though at first I was skeptical the mix was perfect and proved that if the festival is able to survive the passing of the great Corey Mitchell then it could end up being truly special.
Suddenly it was time for one of my personal highlights of the weekend, SubRosa. This would be my fourth time seeing the band (Yes I’m a little obsessed) and I’d looked forward to it ever since seeing them just a month prior in New York City. For a little bit of context, the first time I saw this band was in France, I’ve seen them twice in New York City, but I live in Philadelphia. When I say that this is my favorite band in the world and that my review of them might be a little biased I am not joking. This is a band who are, in a word, unfuckwithable.
The band came on, and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, the last time I saw them in New York was awesome, but I’d seen these guys three times since late June, maybe the honeymoon was over. Long story short, it isn’t, in fact the band that might be better than ever. The performance was made bittersweet though seeing as the band almost certainly won’t play live again until the spring. There set was transcendent, and only made better by the massive projection going on behind them. There was something gloriously monolithic about SubRosa’s playing that night, it proved the band have something to say, no matter how many times you’ve seen them. This band is the real deal and I think that in the long run, that is what makes them a band people are going to remember and venerate for decades to come.
Afterwards I bumbled outside the venue, slightly in awe of what I had just seen. Hanging around backstage I suddenly bumped into my friend Steven Taylor from the Illegals. He waved me over and said “Come hang out,” when Phil Anselmo is in the circle of people you’ll be “hanging out” with the phrase takes on a whole new meaning. Suddenly we were all backstage watching Wizards of Gore (That is to say Rigor Mortis) do their thing. I saw only a part of their set as I missed a chunk for some interview or other but I will say this. The band live up to the hype. They’re back with a vengeance and I don’t think anybody is going to be able to stop them soon. It’s refreshing to see a death metal band of that status back together and it gives me hope for many reunions that will hopefully come in its wake.
Andy from SubRosa and I met up to grab a beer, but upon entering the artist lounge he found some old friends, and I stumbled into none other than the great Randy Blythe. I immediately asked him for an interview, expecting to be turned down, or given at most a five minute blurb. Instead we sat down for half an hour and recorded an interview about books, photography, philosophy and more. Already we had met some of my wildest dreams. Yet then Blythe invited me outside to hang out with him while he had a smoke. We proceeded to talk for another few hours with my inner fanboy progressively freaking out more and more. Here was a god, a legend, the man who had braved Czech prison for his honor, and he wanted to talk to me about his life and music. Who was I to complain? This evening was simply magical, an experience I will never forget, proving to me the eternal might and beautiful humility of this great man.
Blythe went off then to prepare for his introduction to the screening of the film As The Palaces Burn and I went into the tent to check it out. Now, I’ve never seen it before, but I found it to be a highly enjoyable film. Some claimed it seemed abrupt and jarring at times, yet I think that only reflected the pure and brutal reality of what happened to the band. This movie is, for me, one of the premier heavy metal movies of all time, simply because above all else it is honest. It gives us a glimpse at the rockstardom and glory of the band before the sudden and frankly frightening fall. This movie depicts the bands greatest struggle and leaves with a message of hope and encouragement to persevere. It provided a fitting finish to my first full day at housecore and left me excited for what more was to come.