Experiencing Toten House for the First Time

todayAugust 30, 2023 306 6

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By Ben Middleton

Local Music Journalist 

Over the past couple of months, I have been trying to expand my music taste into more hardcore and metal genres. I’ve been making an effort to discover more bands as well to find out what I like and dislike in these genres. To further my descent into metal, I decided to adventure down windy country roads to go to a show at the DIY venue Toten House.

Toten House is a graffiti-covered, old storage building converted into a makeshift music venue surrounded by a very rural neighborhood. Outside of the venue, you can find furniture that has seemingly been picked up off the side of the road, providing great places to sit if you need to take a break from having your face melted off inside of the house itself.

You can’t have a show without bands so let’s start talking about the first group that played, Southern Decay.

Southern Decay

mage features the shirtless drummer for Southern Decay infront of a spraypainted wall.
Southern Decay’s drummer Mowgli playing at Toten House. | Provided by Ben Middleton

Southern Decay is a sludgy metal three-piece that seems to have influences in both black metal and hardcore scenes from what I could tell. Most of their songs were under three minutes and are best described as loud high velocity noise. Even though the band had messy moments staying with consistent tempos, their music always had this certain forward momentum that just invited the audience to slam their bodies into each other.


Image features both members of the band Charm playing at the Toten House.
Charm playing at Toten House. | Provided by Ben Middleton

Charm is a San Marcos native, two-piece hardcore band. They started playing at 10:45 p.m. and played loud and fast for their 10-minute set. The only breaks in the set were just long enough for the band and audience alike to catch their breath, before going into another song. One thing that hindered the band though was a lack of bass or vocals, this made many of their songs seem almost repetitive and it was harder to discern one song from the next. I would love to see them again with a bassist and more time for them to play, so I can better understand their sound.

The most notable thing that Charm did was, create an environment for the audience to really go crazy. During the start of their set, a line of firecrackers was set off in the venue. This energy remained consistent throughout the short set, with the crowd somehow going harder than I knew was possible. I found myself not being able to take many pictures during their set because I had to focus on protecting my camera, but if I didn’t have a camera, l would have been in the middle of the pit for as much as I could take. Another moment during their set that stuck with me was when a person in a wheelchair crowd-surfed. They had him, wheelchair and all, above their heads for almost an entire song, which was around two minutes long.

Slam Pig

 Image features a member of Slam Pig playing at Toten house in the foreground with his bandmate in the background
Slam Pig playing at Toten House. | Provided by Ben Middleton

Slam Pig is a hardcore band that specializes in sludgy songs with infectious riffs. Slam Pig had more mid-tempo tracks which helped their songs develop a groove, making them unique from the other bands on the bill. The slightly slower tempo gives space for the guitar and bass to fit into the pockets of the drums in a satisfying way that I really enjoyed. Even though their tempos are a little slower, the loudness of their instruments and the dynamic of the drums with the guitars create an energy that is hard not to feel.

King Alcoholic

Image features both members of King Alcoholic playing at Toten House.
King Alcoholic playing at Toten House. | Provided by Ben Middleton

 King Alcoholic is a sludge metal two-piece composed of Nick and Cole (A.K.A. Mowgli). Nick and Mowgli switch instruments depending on the song, with one of them playing guitar and vocals while the other is on drums. This creates a bit more variety within their set as the tempos change with each song. Some of their songs are slow with a bit more doom inspiration and some others are based off of fast-tempo riffs.

 After King Alcoholic, my bedtime was fast approaching and I found myself covered in beer and sweat that wasn’t mine. So, I decided to call it a night. Sadly, this meant I had to miss out on seeing the last band, Cosmic Funeral.

Cosmic Funeral

Cosmic Funeral is a doom and sludge metal band out of San Marcos. Their songs are full of low-tempo riffs and deep growl vocals, all with a slight psychedelic twist. I regret not staying for them because the videos I saw of the band prove that they can put on a show in a way that has to be seen live. I hope that in the future they will have the opportunity to record music that properly represents the talent the band displays live.

A closeup photo of a man seemingly falling into the camera.
A photo of someone who lost their balance in the mosh and ran into my camera. | Provided by Ben Middleton

Going to Toten House for the first time was like a child trying coffee for the first time. The combination of the music and the moshing led to an experience on the verge of sensory overload. But like coffee, the warmth in your stomach and an awake feeling you never felt before will bring you back for more. Also like coffee, Toten House was hot and had a very unique smell.

Even though Toten House is quite a lot for those not experienced in hardcore and metal shows, I still highly recommend that you check it out. Even though the venue is quite intimidating for new attendees, if you work through the nerves, you will find a community of diverse people who will welcome you in. After all, conversations come easy when everyone there is the type of person to go to a DIY show in the middle of nowhere. 

Written by: Danielle De Lucia

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