INTERVIEW: Alexandra Rhema on good shows, Midwest Blood Fest, and letting the dogs out!

If you’ve been to a hardcore or punk show in the last couple of years, you’ve probably been affected by the work of Alexandra Rhema. Rhema, alongside Ryan Storey, have become an integral part of the all ages punk scene, booking events like Midwest Bloodfest, which just wrapped up a few weeks ago. In fact, Rhema and Storey are such a force in the scene that even old folks like myself that are completely removed from everything knows about their work, including a recent nod from Thommy Browne on the year end podcast wrap up, where Browne rated Rhema and Storey as MVP’s in the scene. And that should tell you what an impact that Rhema and Storey have had on our community, and it’s time that we can give a little back. Rhema is undergoing surgery related to endometriosis next week, and the medical bills are staggering. You can help her out by clicking on this GoFundMe link and prove that our local scene is more than just ego and personality, but a force for good. We caught up with Rhema to ask what constitutes a good show, and who let the dogs out.

Never Nervous: How did you get into booking shows? Were you in a band yourself or did you just want to make the kind of shows that you liked happen? Tell us your origin story.

Alex Rhema: I started booking show when I was about 17, so about 9 years ago. I didn’t know how to play an instrument but wanted to be involved in shows more than just someone in the audience. So I started talking to people about how to do it. Started small mostly with punk house shows and it just took off from there. As my music taste changed growing up so did the shows I booked.

NN: How would you describe your relationship to the local scene and how has it evolved over time?

“I have a very strong relationship with the Louisville scene. I know everyone here, young and old. It’s gone through just about every phase. Amazing and super strong to 10 people at a show if you’re lucky. Right now it’s at the best it’s been since our old house, Chestnut did shows.”

AR: I have a very strong relationship with the Louisville scene. I know everyone here, young and old. It’s gone through just about every phase. Amazing and super strong to 10 people at a show if you’re lucky. Right now it’s at the best it’s been since our old house, Chestnut did shows.

NN: How have you evolved as a show promoter? Do you see yourself booking bigger shows or working with bigger acts or anything like that, or is it business as usual? Do you have a preference?

AR: The only bigger show I really do is Midwest Blood Fest. I get offered great bigger tours and will usually do them too, but I am much more a fan of helping out smaller bands and helping them get the recognition they deserve.

NN: For that matter, what constitutes a good show and why?

AR: A good show obviously has enough people at it to pay a guarantee. But the biggest thing to me is if everyone’s having a badass time. If the out of town bands tell me that’s one of the best shows they’ve had on that tour, than I’m happy.

NN: As an audience member, what is the best show you’ve ever seen and why?

AR: Best show is just specially the best set I’ve ever seen: Life Of Agony at South East Beast Fest.

NN: How did Midwest Bloodfest come together? Was there, in fact, any blood?

AR: Ryan, the other half of Midwest Blood Fest, started it as an idea for a fest in Indianapolis. But when he couldn’t get a venue together he came to me asking if I wanted to team up and do it in Louisville.

NN: What can you tell us about some of the stresses involved in booking? How do you deal with whatever might come up in the moment?

“Biggest stress is just the fear of enough people not coming out to make a guarantee, because that’s just money out of my pocket. Luckily with how good our scene has been recently that isn’t something I’ve had to be too worried about.”

AR: Biggest stress is just the fear of enough people not coming out to make a guarantee, because that’s just money out of my pocket. Luckily with how good our scene has been recently that isn’t something I’ve had to be too worried about. Really the only other stresses are equipment breaking or fights and I’m pretty good at staying chill in stressful moments like that.

NN: Can you give us an example of the kinds of bands you definitely want to work with? What about bands that you definitely don’t want to work with? Don’t feel pressured to name names; we’re just looking for a general sense here.

AR: I love working with any small bands that are working their asses off trying to get their name out there. Bands I don’t want to work with are the opposite, bands who just get things handed to them when they don’t deserve it or don’t even work hard for it. Or bands who just think they deserve it all handed to them

NN: How do you think that Eddie Vedder smells and why?

AR: Hmm weed? I dunno lol

NN: Please read this in the voice of James Lipton: Who let the dogs out? Defend your answer.

AR: Definitely me, so I could play with them

NN: What non-musical things have you been into lately? Have you read, watched, eaten, or drank anything worth talking about recently?

AR: TV is definitely Supernatural. I love that show so much, I’m almost caught up to what’s on right now. But took a break, because we started re-watching it from the beginning. Best show

NN: Last but never least: what have you been listening to lately and why?

AR: Not to just rep Louisville bands, but Nine Eyes and Sons Of Southern Darkness both are amazing. Society Sucker is a very sick band everyone should check out too.