BECAUSE YOU MISSED IT: Dead Fest was a headbanging, toe-tapping, finger-snapping good time!

Dave Bird of AMERICAN LESIONS brings the pain at DEAD FEST

Over the last three decades, Louisville has managed to consistently harbor masses upon masses of quality hardcore, punk and metal bands. Growing up in this town, these sorts of noise-makers served as my gateway drug into a life long personal love affair with all kinds of music, a relationship that continues to resonate today more than ever. As I get older and older (I’m 33 now), I find myself drifting further and further away from my first love, but every now and again I excitedly get reconnected to this critically neglected collection of sub-generes that in one way or another made me who I am today as a passionate music lover.

Let’s get straight to the point: The inaugural rendition of Dead Fest was, from my vantage point a wild success. Granted, I was only able to make it on Saturday (Day one of two), but to me it was quickly obvious that this festival was well attended while being expertly managed (more on that later). Going in I was familiar with about half of the bands on the roster, so while I was excited to see a few of my favorite bands, I was curiously excited to get to know a few collectives I had unfortunately been missing out on.

After an anxiety-squashing shot and a beer at The Silver Dollar, I headed over to Tim Faulkner Gallery. I arrived just in time to catch a rare performance from Trophy Wives, a most excellent grunge punk outfit that to my knowledge doesn’t play out much anymore. Their hot and sweaty performance set the tone for my Dead Fest experience as the band managed to start on time and to play a compacted 25 minute set that began and ended precisely on time. During these sorts of festivals, I have a habit of checking the time before and after a band plays to see how “on schedule” they really are. This first performance set a precedent throughout the day as every other band would follow the exact itinerary, no fucking around whatsoever. Ahhhh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

Next up was a band I knew next to nothing about: FoxBat, a hardcore-ish rock and roll band with a fun-to-watch screaming front man with enough charisma to keep my invested in their set.  It’s my understanding that they just released an EP, and it apparently is on Spotify (listen here).  Following FoxBat was Pissed On who put on a wildly loud showcase of blast-beat metal songs; my biggest takeaway from their set was the singer’s impressive range of hisses and growls. I’m certainly looking forward to getting better acquainted with these dudes and their music.

I caught just enough of Vice Tricks to see them cover the Misfits classic “Hybrid Moments”.  I would have watched more of their set but I ran into a few friends and got caught up in a good conversation. A bit later I managed to make my way back to the front of the stage to get a good spot to watch punk rock fun-havers Dick Titty Blood Punch. They normally play late at night, way after my bedtime so I was stoked to finally see them perform as a band on a stage (earlier this year they played a short unconventional acoustic set inside Never Nervous Headquarters; watch it here). They delivered the goods.. the goods being a set full of fun-loving punk rock tunes that had the crowd of mostly younger folks going ape shit crazy.  15 years ago, I would have been in that “pit”, but alas, I’m lame now and watched DTBP with my arms resting on the stage.

Watch a video I took of Dick Titty Blood Punch below:

After DTBP, I ordered a cubano sandwich from the El Mambo food truck out back. The next band I watched was Boner City, a band that is responsible for what might be my favorite record of the year (Kentucky). As they blasted through a compressed setlist full of familiar punk rock tunes, I couldn’t help myself from singing along to every song with a stupid grin from ear to ear.  God damn, they were great.

Watch a video I took of Boner City below:

I was able to stay for one more band: the always-awesome American Lesions who over the last year or so have remained as being one of Louisville’s must-see punk bands.  Dave Bird is, in my opinion the baddest front man around; if you’ve seen these guys play, you know exactly what I’m saying. While I’ve been a fan of almost every endeavor that Dave has been a part of (especially VRKTM), this might be my personal favorite.

Watch a video I took of American Lesions below:

As I said before, my Dead Fest experience was a memorable one, thanks to Jared Wright and the rest of the organizers and volunteers. It’s easy to take for granted how much time and energy gets put into an event like this, and the fact that this thing seemingly went off with no legitimate problems or schedule hold ups is truly remarkable. It’s also worth mentioning how well mannered and positive everyone seemed to be, it was fucking awesome.  I wish I could have made it back Sunday as there were more bands I definitely wanted to see, but alas, I had chores to do and errands to run.  This lawn isn’t going to mow itself, am i right?

Hopefully this is just the first in a long-running series of astute, expertly run Dead Fests in Louisville that feature a plethora of genres that are all-too-often neglected by the “mainstream”. I predict in Summer 2017, the folks behind this event will announce “DEAD FEST IS ALIVE!” before they set the table with another stellar lineup of homegrown ear-drum blasting bands.  Party on!!!