Austin's second-annual Skunkfest is an event you don't want to miss.
6-14-19 Story & Photography: K Rose
Austin is home to a kaleidoscope of colorful and unique music events every year, but none are quite like the brainchild of one of Austin's favorite musicians. 2019 will see the second-annual installment of Skunkfest on June 29. Held at Austin's very own Come and Take It Live, this local-centric event showcases Austin's best rock, metal and heavy metal in ascending order - from light acoustic rock, to heavy metal later in the night. There's a little bit of everything; from acoustic duos, to indie folk rock, melodic pop-rock and even a heavy metal tribute to Megadeth. It's hosted by none other than Skunk Manhattan; one of Austin's most talented and charismatic jack-of-all-trades musicians who has quite a following of his own. We spoke with Skunk to get the rundown on Skunkfest 2019.
What is most exciting about Skunkfest 2019?
We're featuring a variety of great talent all in one day, all under one roof. Weʼre kicking things off with my friend Suki and I doing an acoustic set. Sheʼs flying in from LA for our first show ever. Austin veterans Elixir are up second with an acoustic set of their own. Theyʼve been a band for like 20 years and I just had the pleasure of playing their 2nd annual unplugged event last month. Headrush, the Lonestar class I teach, is after that. Iʼm really excited to showcase these guys - and I get to play drums. Luke and the Lonely, which features another instructor from the school, brings in a sort of folk-meets-pop-rock sound. Then Iʼll be sitting in with my long time friend, Bobby Bookout for some soulful bluesy-type tunes.
As the evening rolls on, weʼll ramp it up a bit with Fair City Fire, a kind of "indie rock on steroids" meets funk, and then Eyetoothʼs unique, progressive stylings. Finite Fidelity, who played last year and did a hilarious Skunkfest promo video, follow with prog desert rock -meets- awesome songs with great beards. Headliners include Austin music staple Tony Parkʼs Three:33; a high energy, melodic pop-rock act, followed by Snake Skin Prisonʼs down and dirty blend of southern metal. A Good Rogering is up after that. Weʼll be throwing in some new songs, Iʼm debuting my latest custom Tregan guitar, and Iʼve got a cool surprise planned that features members of other bands and involves several of the Skunkfest sponsors. Then things get really heavy. The Crowned will blow your head off with an onslaught of intense, gut-punching metal, and Runescarred will kick it out the door with progressive, melody driven speed thrash. Fresh out of the studio recording our new album, Runescarred will likely be debuting new material as well. Finally, Rust In Peace will close the show with a tribute to one of the greatest metal bands of all time, Megadeth. So yeah, thatʼs what Iʼm excited about, and also Iʼm out of breath.
How did Skunkfest start? What's the story?
I did it for the bands. I was tired of seeing local talent spending money to submit to corporate events like SXSW, who most likely wonʼt even book a local unsigned band. And there are those who charge outrageous fees for bands to play a 30 minute set just for “exposure.” Lame. I got sick of that racket and decided to start my own festival where the bands actually have an opportunity to make money by selling tickets rather than outbidding each other to fill someone elseʼs pockets.
Skunkfest 2018 went really well, so a lot more has been added for 2019. This year weʼll have a VIP section with a taco bar from La Pera catering, massage chairs from Kalologie 360 Spa, vendor booths from Smoking Burnouts and the SIMS foundation, and several big companies are donating to our raffle including Guitar Center and Framus Warwick. A portion of these raffle proceeds will go to SIMS.
There are so many bands I would like to have on this year's bill, including everyone who played last year, but there are only so many slots. I really stretched it. Last year the doors were at 4, this year weʼre kicking off the event at 1pm. The catalyst for this was the music school I teach at. The idea of Lonestar School of Music sponsoring the event came up, so I decided to have one of my group class bands perform. This led to the idea of an early start with more of a family vibe and the midday VIP buffet. This influenced my decisions on the early afternoon bands; to book bands that were not metal or even hard rock, but more relaxed blues or folk rock. And then I thought, how about an acoustic act or two before that? The idea is that we start chill and as the day progresses, the bands get more rocking and heavy - to the full-on metal bands playing at night.
What should we look forward to? Who's the wildest band? Who's the most underrated?
The most underrated band? ...all of them. They're great acts and all very different. Anyone coming to the festival will see a variety of talent they may not otherwise see. Iʼve seen all of these bands live, and each one made me go "wow!" But, I will say the Megadeth tribute band is a mind blowing act. I saw them in San Antonio when they actually played with David Ellefson, the bassist for Megadeth, and it was absolutely awesome.
The wildest set would be a toss up between Eyetooth and A Good Rogering because weʼre both unpredictable weirdos. I donʼt even know what Iʼm going to do half the time I walk on stage and my band just rolls with it. I like living in the moment on stage. Plus, Iʼve got a really cool surprise planned - maybe not wild, but very cool. Then there's The Crowned; their energy is insane, so theyʼre a contender here as well. And now Iʼm thinking of Josh from Runescarred and Matt and Keith from Snake Skin Prison... so who knows who will take home this award!