Flenser showcase exceeds expectations at Oblivion Access Festival

Michael Lewinbuk, General Life&Arts Reporter

A packed audience under a lightning-filled sky gathered at the Mohawk Austin on June 16 to watch a selection of equally riveting and haunting music acts represented by San Francisco-based label The Flenser. With high expectations as the only sold-out showcase for the 2023 Oblivion Access Festival, the memorable lineup delivered an exhilarating almost seven-hour exhibition of some of the world’s best dark music. 


The talent-stacked night kicked off with the queer, anti-fascist, dark metal power duo from Olympia, Washington. Through the extreme Austin summer heat, the pair unleashed a melancholic wrath on stage that cradled the audience with a familiar dreadful emptiness. Channeling queer and feminist themes within their work, the lyrics’ emotional depth echoed with every soundwave. A refreshing new Flenser signee, the duo proved their skills in pushing dark music to new heights. 


San Francisco’s elusive experimental black-metal group gave a rare performance full of harrowing vocals with rich lyrics, dynamic drums and piercing guitar riffs. Having only performed about 20 live concerts throughout their around 15-year career, the mystical group performed songs across their five-album discography. The infernal soundscape radiated into the sky as patrons of the Mohawk celebrated the robust metal act. 

Planning For Burial

Thom Wasluck’s post-metal ambient project from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, took the stage next. Wasluck delivered a hypnotically passionate performance as his elbow-length hair whipped around the stage. With only a guitar, an array of pedals and a small blue suitcase overflowing with chords, the atmospheric ambient sounds of his impressive solo act rang throughout the venue. Filling a space with such compelling droning sounds proved to be an impressive feat, but after 300 performances as Planning For Burial, Wasluck’s stunning stage presence should come as no surprise. 


Shrouded in multi-colored face masks, the faceless band from San Francisco and Beirut rocked the stage in homage to Eric Livingston, a band member who died in early March. The performance began with a powerful trumpet solo as the quartet threw down some piercing dark metal tracks. The band’s infusion of jazz and electronic music into black metal blared into the night as fans screamed along. After the bewitching performance, the band threw bags of candy into the crowd, leaving the sonically bitter performance on a sweet note. 

Chat Pile

One of the most exciting bands of the night from Oklahoma City exploded onto the stage with sonic ferocity after an hour-long thunderstorm delay. The performance truly felt as if the band expelled toxic waste from their amps as lead singer, Raygun Busch, freakishly strutted around stage, shirtless in cargo shorts, screeching into his mic. Between songs, Busch praised Texas horror films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” for their profound influence on the band’s work and the art of filmmaking. The band’s short set displayed their refreshingly hellish sound and the exciting promise of the band’s future. 

Have a Nice Life

The night came to a close with a performance from the legendary depressive, post-industrial, doom-gaze band from Middletown, Connecticut. The electric performance rang deep into the night as vocalist Dan Barrett passionately flung himself around stage, intermittently chanting the band’s profoundly depressing lyrics and falling multiple times. Colorful abstract projections coated the musicians as they played vividly layered songs rich with bone-rattling bass lines, melancholic keys and atmospheric guitar. Have a Nice Life ended the night with a dramatic and heartfelt bombshell of a performance.