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Austin , TX

Corpus Christi Rock City

Corpus Christi Rock City

After de-dirting from Kerrville and spending about 24 hours in San Antonio visiting friends and family, I took 281/37 south into Corpus Christi (it's a strip of highway I first heard referred to as “Marijuana Alley” in, I think, the Calvin Trillin piece "Mystery Money"). While I missed any overt drug trafficking (these things are usually done non-overtly, I'm told) I did get to experience the slow chute that brings travelers from central Texas into the coastal areas of Corpus and elsewhere. The stunning rise of hills that populated my journey through Kerrville turned into a flatter, more straightforward journey that nonetheless was punctuated here and there by the odd seagull and something that looks like Texas' answer to the palm tree.

After a walk through of Ocean Drive where the gulf washed up on a brick riser as skateboarders, walkers and couples passed by/smooched fifty feet above on a raised parkway, I reoriented myself to see what this city had to offer in terms of the underground. A cursory search of venues in the area revealed a few that hadn't had much internet presence since they updated their MySpaces early last year, but one club – Zeroes – looked good. Corpus is small and strange enough that the sprawling ocean-side homes need only a few miles to turn into a vast stretch of big box stores and then into neighborhoods that in the dark could be mistaken for quaint as much as shady.

Zeroes was a tiny green-painted place with a few pool tables, a metal-stocked jukebox and big, big mugs that were filled to the brim with Shiner for the unreasonably reasonable price of $5 dollars. The sound guy was your prototypical over-tweaker and stretched out the wait by making sure the snare ring was just so, as though were were listening to Bach on the lake and not death metal in a box. Planned headliners A Bid Farewell experienced a popped tire somewhere out on the interstate, so our trio of bands was cut to just a duo. This Dying Dream traded in guttural death metal with the odd screamo element thrown in – one of the lead guitarists would scream-sing in unison with the singer's low belches, and I was even privy to a couple of crabcore crunches.

Between bands, I sipped that huge mug in Zeroes' surprisingly idyllic garden patio, where I met another Austin-based dude who was in town watching his brother (lead singer of This Dying Dream) rip it up. I asked about venues and shows further south, but my new acquaintance seemed unsure. “I never go south of Corpus,” he told me. “Cartels, you know? Dangerous.” Push Button Anger commenced with finishing up the night, looking all like the seasoned metal stalwarts compared to the youngish This Dying Dream. The songs were not altogether dissimilar, but one highlight was “G.O.D.”, or “GENERATION OF DEATH!!!” Since the stage was all of six inches off the ground, both singers this evening stalked the front of the stage while the band played behind them. The crowd was a mix of band friends, family, and a few gawkers (myself included). My favorite audience members were a duo who stood stage left as Push Button Anger played, consisting of a kid who looked all of 15 and another guy who took more of a roadie roll, helping the lead guitarist switch out his instrument when necessary. They were totally digging it.

By the time the night was over I was mostly drunk and in no position to take Van Halen (that's the van) anywhere. I cozied up inside of my vehicle – brilliantly parked next to a Valero – and waited for the interior to stop spinning. At 6am I woke up, bought some water, and opened the side door to let some air circulate - it was like I was baking in there. At 8:30, I was awoken again by the sound of a man saying “Hello in there,” and the crackle of a walkie-talkie. The police.

After inquiring as to whether or not I was homeless (sort of...) and what I was doing sleeping in a van with the doors slung open, it was explained to me that this was not the best neighborhood and someone had called the police because they saw my doors open and thought something was amiss. After asking if I had a good time at the club, the officers wished me a good trip and I drove off to start the day elsewhere.



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