An eclectic series of events turned Austin into a musical battleground for a flock of attendees keen on an experience unlike no other.
Text, Photographs by Raymond Camacho (@punk_monk_ray):
Since its inception as Austin Terror Fest, the annual Oblivion Access Festival has become a beacon for the new generation's most trailblazing acts, as well as a spotlight for established figures looking to further cement their legacy. Having lived through and documented this year's thrilling edition, one can confirm that it remains an ode to the underground. From June 15th through the 18th, Austin, TX hosted artists from around the world for the eclectic maelstrom of sound that is Oblivion Access, packing local venues Mohawk, Elysium, Valhalla, Chess Club, and the Empire Control Room & Garage with an array of acts to indulge in.
Lineup curation is no easy feat, but it's here that the festival excels, offering much in the realm of experimentation. Among the best during Thursday's opening day at Empire Control Room was Mississippi's MSPAINT — a boundless beast riding high on the success of this year's full-length, Post American.
The energy was infectious and bodies moved along to the raw power on display, the likes of which spread to the following Duster and Narrow Head sets soon after. Day 1 provided a strong sense of camaraderie among the many in attendance, as well as the performers who were evidently enjoying their craft. With smiles galore, we swayed alongside Narrow Head's slow-burning grunge gaze and then walked over to Elysium for a brain melting Chat Pile delivery. Last year's God's Country set audiences ablaze upon its release, elevating Chat Pile's name among the ranks and creating additional attention to their "in your face" approach to composition. As such, their performance reflects that and Thursday night concluded with a banger.
Standout performances were sprawling throughout the aforementioned venues from Friday onward, keeping the momentum going throughout. Day 2's standouts include TR/ST, who embrace the shadows underneath blood red strobe lights.
Aside from the tantalizing cold wave of TR/ST, Oblivion Access presented blackened death metal heat through Atlanta's own Cloak. Their latest entry, Black Flame Eternal, is a strong contender among the flooded metal ranks, and its sinister nature is even grander via the live setting. Those wanting aggression had more to bask in with local bands Ninth Circle and Trench Warfare treating us all to relentless black metal and hardcore punk showings respectively. Austin showed out in full force to support both, and it was warranted. Valhalla and Chess Club were a non-stop war zone throughout that Friday, providing the ideal soundtrack to the madness that is shooting a multi-venue festival.
Saturday came next and Thou leveled Elysium in roaring fashion, as one would come to expect from the expansive ensemble. Many, ourselves included, stood in awe of the showmanship being presented here. No elaborate visuals were needed, just a plain white drape as a backdrop and a band ready to explode from one track to the next. It was a grounding sight needed after the insanity that was Cloud Rat's grind earlier that evening.
On the non-metal end, Drab Majesty and Choir Boy soothed the soul with dreamlike melodies and Adam Klopp's ethereal voice, encouraging an eyes closed, heart open experience. Vibrant lights shined upon both Dais Records performances, both of which were preceded by an equally moving Cold Gawd, who are on the rise with their shoegaze bliss. The Empire Control Room was the place to be vulnerable that Saturday afternoon.
Oblivion Access provided something for everyone to enjoy across its selection of stages and intentional artist selection. Just look at the joy on the young gentleman's face as he began his crowd surf during Magnitude's ripping set. The joyous violence at Mohawk's outdoor setting halted briefly for this memorable moment, and resumed shortly after.
This was the case throughout Sunday afternoon at Mohawk — the ideal hardcore stage for the festival. No photo pit, just straight contact with artists encouraging bodies to fly (and that they did). Restraining Order, Gel, Magnitude, Drug Church, and Drain back to back? Yeah, that happened, and it was glorious, as noted in the below photo of Drug Church frontman Patrick Kindlon handing the mic over to the screaming crowd as bodies were carried above us all. It was a sweaty afternoon, but it was worth it for Oblivion Access delivered big on establishing a showcase of hardcore's contemporary strength.
After an active afternoon, Empire Control Room became a rest spot narrated by the heart wrenching doom of Pallbearer and Yob. Slow head banging and swaying filled the room as psychedelic visuals projected against the band on stage, adding an additional mesmerizing visual layer to an otherwise masterpiece on display by both bands. With that, Oblivion Access Festival came to a bittersweet close. For yet another year, Austin did right by Oblivion Access with a welcoming crowd ready to engage and enjoy. There's no question it will remain a home for the event for years to come.
Enjoy photo galleries of the performances below and ready yourself for the 2024 edition of Oblivion Access Festival, which takes place from June 13th - 16th, 2024 (Tickets).
Oblivion Access Festival 2024 (Tickets)