Music : Metal institution 

Robb’s got a fever. The only prescription? More metal.

You’re not a true metalhead if you live in San Antonio and don’t know who Robb Chavez is. Before I knew who he was, I had already seen his banner inside metal bars downtown. I hang my head in shame to admit that I have not yet watched his going-on-10-years-running public-access television show, Robb’s Metalworks. But then again, I don’t claim to be a true metalhead. A metal fan, yes, but my conversation with Robb reminded me of that line between those who can appreciate good metal when the mood is right and those who “share in the love of all things heavy,” as Chavez describes the metal community.

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Robb Chavez (center, with baseball cap) poses with Houston power-metal band Helstar.

For Chavez, being a metal supporter is a way of life. The metal community enriches his life and he, in turn, enriches the lives of other metalheads by giving back to the metal community. One of the foremost ways he gives back is through Robb’s Metalworks Showcase, a live concert filled with bands representing all genres of metal. This Saturday, the White Rabbit hosts the fourth annual RMW showcase.

This year’s line-up, unique in that all five of the bands are from Texas, will feature thrash metal, black metal, and power metal. Chavez is a fan of all types of metal, and therefore feels disinclined to limit his showcase to only one genre.

And while metal as a generality is the common denominator among bands and audiences at the RMW showcases, the audience members themselves tend to represent a range of demographics, and the events often have a family draw. Parents bring their kids, kids bring their parents.

“I prefer an all-ages event because Robb’s Metalworks has a lot of viewers under 21 years old,” says Chavez. “My viewers are the most important people to me. Therefore it will always be an all-ages event.”

Another unique aspect of the fourth-annual RMW showcase, according to Chavez, is that it boasts multiple bands of renown, whereas past events had only one or two notables. The headliner of this year’s showcase is Houston power-metal band Helstar, recently reunited — at Chavez’s prompting. Helstar has not played live in 20 years. This fact alone makes for a historically momentous event that is drawing fans from as far away as Michigan and Illinois. This reunited Helstar is the original Helstar, with all the original songwriters. In honor of the 20-year anniversary of its Remnants of War LP, Helstar will be playing the entire ROW album, beginning to end, along with a new song written since they’ve come back together. Chavez says that Helstar will stay together and record a new album.

Robb’s Metalworks
4th Annual Showcase

Sat, June 10

The White Rabbit
2410 N. St. Mary’s Street

Giveaways throughout the event

Dallas-area thrash outfit Rotting Corpse, formed in 1986, is another legendary metal band on the bill that has recently reunited. Also coming from the Dallas area is Phantom-X, a new band playing old-school power-metal and led by legendary singer Kevin Goocher of Omen.

Austin’s Vesperian Sorrow is joining the showcase after a brief jaunt through the UK. Having been a part of the awe-struck audience at their last San Antonio performance, I’d venture to say that these guys could draw an enthusiastic crowd all by themselves.

Opening the showcase is San Antonio’s own No Ballads, who apparently worked their way into Chavez’s heart when they approached him at a local bar with their debut album.

While all of the supporting bands of the this year’s showcase represent different genres, different age groups, and different histories, they are all united in their respect and love for Chavez and for Helstar.

When asked what he is most looking forward to in playing in this year’s showcase, Vesperian Sorrow guitarist Will Calydon replied, “Seeing Helstar again, they are awesome!” To this same question, Rotting Corpse bassist Steve Murphy replied, “2006 will be awesome, not just as a musician, to play, but also to see Helstar.”


To learn a little more about the bands playing in this year’s showcase, I asked them these questions:

What was the first album you ever owned?

“Rainbow Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and Kiss Destroyer.” — Kevin Goocher, Phantom-X

“Probably the Bee Gees Staying Alive or something of that caliber.” — Steve Murphy, Rotting Corpse

“Hell, I don’t really remember. Probably some shitty Weird Al cassette when I was a kid.” — Matthew Swift, No Ballads

“I think it was Faith No More We Care a Lot or Metallica ...And Justice for All.” — Will Calydon, Vesperian Sorrow

How do you feel about the Texas metal scene?

“Getting better with the help of people like Robb and the family.” — Kevin Goocher, Phantom-X

“It’s not like the mid ’80s, but it has had some life pumped back into it. Enough to get our lame, old asses back playing on stage.” — Steve Murphy, Rotting Corpse

“I honestly think that there isn’t very much originality going on. That’s going to change!” — Matthew Swift, No Ballads

“The Texas metal scene is one of the strongest scenes in the U.S.! It’s really a shame that we haven’t broke through like the Swedes or even the Florida scene in the early ’90s.” — Will Calydon, Vesperian Sorrow

More by Brooke Palmer



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