Chuy's vs. Ninfa's. Hills vs. Bayous. Keepin' it Weird vs. Keepin' It Trill. Politics vs. Sports. Tea-sips vs. Sippin' Syrup.
Separated by a mere 150 miles or so, Austin and Houston seem to occupy different hemispheres stylistically; yet, as dissimilar as they are, the cities have always co-existed peacefully, usually reserving their disdain for Dallas. Until now.
Thanks to some punks staking claim to the best in-your-face, fast-paced, mosh-inducing music, Austin and Houston are headed for an epic showdown. The score gets settled tomorrow at Satellite Bar when the second installment of ATX vs. HOU drops. Ten bands — five from each city — will vie to prove their respective hometowns own the superior punk scene. In the spirit of the event, we asked some of the participating bands to tell us why their city rules in some other areas.
But first, some background on tomorrow's event. Organizer JD Grande of Houston's Revels shares the details.
ATX vs. HOU actually started as an accident. I had met Bud Horne of All Opposed in a punk rock group online around the time Revels was getting started. We hit it off over our mutual love of professional wrestling, of all things, and when SXSW rolled around he had a spot on a show waiting for us. That turned out to be Revels' first show," Grande said. "When it became time to return the favor and bring All Opposed down to Houston I was worried Revels didn't have enough name value to put on the show I wanted to give them. I needed a gimmick to attract an audience. I figured, two Austin bands, two Houston bands, we love wrestling - ATX vs. HOU made sense.
The event also inadvertently grew into something bigger than Grande planned.
"I had made an event page to gather my thoughts that was mistakenly posted online one night. The next morning, I had woken up to something like ten bands contacting me about room on the bill," he recalls. "Satellite was interested in moving it from a Friday night to all day Saturday — ironically enough, leaving All Opposed unable to attend. It was a little overwhelming, so I brought in Samantha Hernandez from 13 Omens Media to help me out and we were off to the races.
"The show last year exceeded any and all expectations," Grande says. "We ran through nine bands with no backline, on time. That in itself is an amazing feat. It garnered so much interest, we started seeing imitation shows spring up immediately. Dallas wanted to add their city — as if. We were forced to almost immediately start working on the sequel."
The rematch features some heavy hitters from each city. The visitors' lineup includes Archaic 3, Yikes!, All Opposed, Hans Gruber and the Die Hards and Worm Suicide & the Devil Club. Team Houston's roster features The Prettybads, Patterns, Bottom of the Food Chain, Revels and Dead to the World.
In true punk fashion, our requests to talk Austin vs. Houston were answered by only half the bands. We imagine the other half scoffing at and ignoring the puerile pleas of a media outlet with Johnny Rotten-like sneers. We hope those who did reply don't lose any punk points, but if they do, they're likely to recover them tomorrow in the heat of battle.
Archaic 3 describes itself this way — "Recently back together after a seven-year hiatus, Archaic 3 is bringing you that Southern Sludge-Fueled Ska Punk your body craves." The band is releasing its new CD, Back Here Again, at tomorrow's show.
Yeah, but what about those tacos?
"There's a taco food truck at almost every corner of the city. [Houston] just can't compete."
"The Prettybads' music is like going to the thrift store and getting a bunch of old styles, mix-and-matching them and creating something new," the band says. Band member Jordan Prettybad said Houston gets the taco nod based on its creativity.
"My daughter invented a popsicle taco. It comes in cherry or lime with a flour tortilla."
HANS GRUBER AND THE DIE HARDS vs. REVELS: Which city has the best punk fans?
Hans says of its brand, "We're a high-energy punk band who are unafraid to throw in flavor morsels from other genres into our sound. Also, our singer likes Ghostbusters." They also see only minor differences in the crowds that come to shows in either city.
"The only difference between the Austin and Houston scene is the humidity. This should give a home court advantage to the Houston fans, but we plan to stay well-hydrated with Lone Star, and Kurt's minimal clothing will allow him to slide gracefully around the mosh pit like a greased watermelon."
Revels has been described as "punk rock, but from Texas," the band says. "Loud, reckless and catchy tunes by guys that have no interest fitting into a mold." As the home team, they take a staid approach to the question.
"The fans in Houston beat the fans in Austin every day of the week," Grande says. "I've lived and made music in both cities, and the main difference is over-saturation. There's so much to compete with in Austin that you rarely see people following bands the way they do here. We took Dead to the World up there with us this past weekend and 50 percent of the crowd were Houstonians who made the trek to see their favorite local bands play up the road. I guarantee Austinites would not do the same. Most of the Austin bands I work with tell me constantly how Houston fans treat them better than their hometown fans."
With only one other band replying to our inquiries, Austin wins this particular exercise by default. Will the out-of- town bands prove victorious tomorrow too? They will if Yikes! has a say. The "fast, melodic, technical, fast" band told us why Austin has the best late-night, after-show eating.
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"Yikes! plays a '90s brand of punk with enough technicality and heaviness to keep the metal kids interested," the band noted. Then it laid the smack-down on nocturnal noshing.
"Austin’s got Kerby Lane, Magnolia, and Yikes!'s personal favorite, Star Seeds. After so much punk rock, we need 3 a.m. steak and eggs. If we don’t want to venture too far, we can at least grab a taco and sprinkle some of our famous Red River K2 for that extra needed kick. What’s Houston got? A s#!* sandwich? Meh."
ATX vs. HOU 2 begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, August 12, at Satellite Bar, 6922 Harrisburg. All ages, $12.