For Dallas' Tofu Carnage Records, running a record label means much more than putting out albums. For starters, the albums they put out are true works of art, exquisitely detailed vinyl with colorful designs and elaborate packaging. Each record they put out is a commitment to the artist who recorded it, and in turn, the artists are committed to one another -- so much so, in fact, that many of them share members. Tomorrow night, they'll be coming together at Double Wide to showcase the unique community of Tofu Carnage.
The free showcase, amusingly titled "Carnage Asada," will feature They Said the Wind Made Them Crazy, Omotai, the Angelus, Sans Soleil, Unconscious Collective, Tyrannosorceress, Dead to a Dying World and headlining band Cleric. That, in and of itself, makes for a killer lineup of local metal and noise acts. But then add in the fact that it's free? Yeah, talk about camaraderie.
It's easy to get confused about who play with which other band. Sans Soleil features musicians from Dead to a Dying World. Unconscious Collective's self-described "ceremonial jazz-rock hymns" are considerably different and more progressive than most of the others on the bill. However, the experimental and drone-tinged They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy features Gregg Prickett, who is a member of both Unconscious Collective and Dead to a Dying World. Last December's No Thanks Fest heavily featured most of the bands performing.
And it's a very diverse lineup. Acts range from the soaring indie rock of the Angelus to Cleric's brutally heavy death metal. As Zac Christian of Tyrannosorceress described this Saturday's event, it's "going to be very eclectic." He says he's looking forward to sharing the night with people he has known for years and has already jammed with in the past. Though he's aware of the musical differences, Tyrannosorceress has been fortunate to not be pigeon-holed.
Whether or not they encompass a similar musical aesthetic, the community of Tofu Carnage bands are open to experimentation. "It is nice to play with such a varied lineup. It's not all just one style, or putting bands on a show because they sound a certain way," explains Christian. The local metal and rock scene is the kind of place that embraces a unique lineup instead of predictability. Tyrannosorceress has not only played the obvious metal shows, but has shared the bill with punk bands as well.
The shared creativity goes beyond the music, as well. Many of the bands share the same artists for their album visuals. For example, the artist (Jason Barnett) Cleric employed for the colorful, in-your-face artwork pertaining to the debut studio album Gratum Inferno is the same person that created the cover for Akkolyte's album Clues in the Chaospite.
Cleric and Tyrannosorceress share three band members. As if intense growling and screaming into a microphone during one set isn't enough, Christian will also be on vocal duties again since he's also the front man for headliner Cleric. Though he has experienced playing more than one set in a show, Christian has never had to perform in two sets so close together. Though he doesn't morph into a different mindset for each band, the vocals differ with each group. While Tyrannosorceress incorporates a grittier yet slightly higher-pitched scream, Cleric's foray into death metal and the "darker elements of the occult" have led way to a lower, more sinister growl.
"It's going to be difficult, but it'll be very special," he insists. "Normally we wouldn't do this, but you know, for this label showcase it's going to be something really special." According to Christian, the comradery is largely due to the simple fact that there's "mutual respect," which makes sense considering not everyone comes from the same scene.
Not all of the bands in the Tofu Carnage showcase hail from North Texas. Omotai are from Houston (don't hold it against them), and Sans Soleil are originally in Austin. But it's still a thoroughly Texas vibe, through and through. After all, there will also be free tacos at the show, and what could be more Texan than that?
All of these connections have led to a tight-knit community brimming with creative passion. Zac Christian feels like Tofu Carnage's creative and fervent owner Sean Mehl "has a pretty good pulse on what he likes," and a knack for "showcasing bands that are definitely good in their own right." On Saturday, the majority of Tofu Carnage's roster will be able to prove just that all in one loud, ruthless night.
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