12 Must-See Acts At Oblivion Access Festival 2023
Back in 2020, a new festival called Oblivion Access emerged from the ashes of Austin Terror Fest. They had big plans for their inaugural outing, but of course those got put on hold like everyone else’s 2020 plans. Last year, Oblivion Access finally got to make its debut, continuing Terror Fest’s penchant for booking some of the most beloved underground metal acts out there, but also an array of dark electronic, experimental rap, visceral hardcore, and even some more abrasive names from the “indie” world.
This June 15-18, Oblivion Access is returning to downtown Austin with another enviable lineup. Stereogum is a media partner, and we could go on for a long time about all the acts we’re looking forward to catching in Austin. Here are 12 of the acts we’re most excited to see.
The Spirit Of The Beehive
Oblivion Access starts off with a smaller Thursday lineup before spreading out around town a bit more for the weekend, but it also comes right out the gate with some awesome ascendant artists, like Narrow Head and Midwife. Also in there is one of the most influential indie bands of the past few years, Spirit Of The Beehive. The Philly group puts on shows that are as cathartic and unpredictable as their songs, making them a great way to kick off the fest.
Opposite Spirit Of The Beehive’s set on Thursday, you also have the similarly bugged-out, unclassifiable MSPAINT. We’ve been excited about the Mississippi group for a while — recently naming them a Band To Watch. If you haven’t heard their recent full-length debut Post-American yet, it’s a minor revelation. They travel in hardcore circles but make corroded synth-punk. Between their intensity and experimentation, it feels like MSPAINT will fit in perfectly at Oblivion Access.
In recent years, the once cultishly beloved trio Duster have been getting their due as a massive influence on younger indie artists of today — particularly those in the vein of a new kind of shoegaze. On the heels of last year’s great Together, Duster are headlining the first night of Oblivion Access. Even if you’re still dazed and basking in the reality of Duster’s rich reunion era overall, this is a momentous occasion — it’s the first time they’ve ever played Texas.
As you may have already noticed, there are a few different vibes at Oblivion Access. But one pervasive element is that most of these artists are heavy in some sense of the word; most of them will put on shows that will invade every cell of your body. Enter Chat Pile — on Friday, the scuzzy noise-rockers will bring the grinding rhythms of God’s Country (one of 2022’s finest) to Mohawk. Have you seen what these guys did with Rage’s immortal “Bulls On Parade”? Do you know what they’re capable of?
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s also TR/ST. Psychedelia runs through Oblivion Access in different forms, mostly in a more elemental and droning capacity. But while plenty acts on this year’s lineup might incite a pit, the nocturnal synth-pop act TR/ST might be one of the only occasions for a brooding, trippy dance party. (Similarly goth-tinged synth revivalists Drab Majesty are also on the bill if you need another such breather.)
This year marks a milestone for the legendary drone-metal act Earth: Their debut, 1993’s Earth 2, is turning 30. To celebrate, they are playing it in full during their Saturday afternoon set. They are doing so in a church (the same space Tim Hecker plays on Sunday). It has all the makings for one of the festival’s most special moments this year.
Geoff Barrow has been helming Beak> about as long as Portishead were actively releasing music. That feels strange, but it makes some amount of sense — at this point, Beak> is its own institution of avant-rock and hallucinatory rhythms. Beak>’s presence adds something a bit different to the mix this year, pushing further into krautrock-influenced waters. Which is fitting, because they’re essentially opening for…
Formed way back in 1971, Faust are billing their Oblivion Access performance as a celebration of their 50-plus years as a band. (They are also fresh off a new release, last year’s Daumenbruch.) There are some serious headliners at Oblivion Access this year, but the chance to see original icons of the krautrock movement is really something else.
In one tragic conflict, during this krautrock party at Empire Control Room & Garage, there is also the headlining set from the noise-blasted rap adventurers Clipping. at Mohawk. Maybe that decision is easy for some people, but even with Faust as their competition, it seems hard to pass up seeing Daveed Diggs perform some of his more dizzying verses onstage, or to have the brain-warbling beat of “Say The Name” reverberating around a venue.
Bing & Ruth
Amidst all the more aggressive music, Oblivion Access also makes room for artists playing within more meditative, instrumental traditions. Bing & Ruth are a mesmerizing live act — trance-inducing in the best way, something to get lost in amidst the June heat in Texas.
Sammy Ciaramitaro might be “the nicest dude in hardcore,” but don’t let that fool you. Aside from a slick, accessible cover of the Descendents’ “Good Good Things,” most of the material on Drain’s new album will bulldoze the shit out of you. There’s a good amount of hardcore on Oblivion’s lineup this year, and with Drain riding high off the just-released Living Proof, they’re at the head of the pack.
There is some serious business on the final night of Oblivion Access — Pallbearer, Tim Hecker, Yob. But another one of the Events of the festival is the long-running industrial metal titans Godflesh, performing in Texas for the first time in nearly a decade. In a sense, their blend of electronic instrumentation and heavy music is almost a synthesis of the festival’s polarities. It’s going to be a hell of a finale.
Get tickets for Oblivion Access 2023 here.