On those stages, more than 100 punk bands rocked through their sets for three days in front of leather jacket-wielding, mohawk-sporting men, women and children — not to mention a few studded-collar wearing canines.
The Music Ranch, where the Punx Picnic ATX Music Festival happened last weekend, was more forest than ranch.
A rocky path led from the asphalt rural road into the event gates from which attendees hiked up and down trails that winded through trees and around long forgotten cars, farm machinery and tents — occupied by the weekend’s punk acts from all over Texas.
“I think it was one of the coolest venues I’ve ever seen,” said Obliterates singer and co-founder Albert Salazar. “It’s a place people can go to hang out and barbecue, start bonfires, get drunk, camp out and hear and play music.
“That idea was very cool; I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
And while temperatures dipped into the 30s during the night, not many musicians or attendees seemed to mind much. Littered among huge bonfires, fans and bands alike could be found tucked snuggly in their sleeping bags and tents, mere inches from the blaze.
“It was ungodly cold,” Adan Gonzales, co-founder and singer, later mentioned. “But you got used to it after the first five hours.”
And on the final day, with the Obliterates waiting to take the stage, the sleet came.
Then the snow.
And, though the freakish weather didn’t last long, it was nothing more than a mere testament to how much bands will endure for the love of the music.
“It was definitely one of the best venues we ever played,” Gonzales said. “For the most part, it was like a giant party.”
And the party started in the wee hours of the morning, with the Obliterates leaving for a gig in San Antonio on Saturday to make it to Austin on Sunday and maybe relax a bit while the rest of us were tucked warmly in our beds.
“We got to play an acoustic set from 4 a.m. to sunrise for a bunch of people we just met — so that was really cool,” Gonzales said with a smile.
Salazar added, “Everyone was singing along, playing tambourines and harmonicas. We brought people out of their tents to watch us.”
And the Obliterates made sure to make their presence known during their set and received rave reviews from the crowd along with the other bands.
“Overall, the weekend was a success. We ended up making enough money to fill up the van and get us from town to town,” Gonzales reminisced. “We got some new shows out of it. People that had never seen us got to see us, and we didn’t make any money, but in the end, it isn’t about the money. It’s about rock ’n’ roll.”
Salazar added, “It’s about doing what you love for people that love what you do.”
And with another festival shoved under their belt, Obliterates set their sights back on their hometown.
“An acoustic thing is something we’re also trying to do, considering there’s no venue that will let us play here in town,” Gonzales added.
“We’re trying to get a little quieter thing going.”
Salazar said, “Hopefully we can fund some more mini-tours and maybe some full tours and not come home for a very long time and play shows all over the place.”
“It was way too brief, but I was happy to come home.” Salazar laughed.
“We had an awesome time.”
The Obliterates were invited back to play Punx Picnic ATX next year. And the promoters promised to hold it a few months later – in much warmer weather.