Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dudefest, Day 1 and 2


So I left off at the station in Chicago. I had the pleasure of taking a 4-hour Greyhound ride to Indianapolis. Where a drunk belligerent black guy tried to steal my camera. He took a picture of me sleeping:

And I almost kicked his ass. Needless to say, fuck public transportation, I'm driving everywhere from now on.

I arrived in downtown Indy around 9, where I met up with my friend Val, i.e. shy little wine on the Decibel board. We had dinner, got drunk, and had a ball. From there I checked into my suitably skeevy roadside motel by the highway. Something was going down next door, for sure:


After an uneasy rest, I was ready for the first day of Dudefest. I got there right as the doors opened, the familiar sight of black t-shirts, bad haircuts and unwashed bodies greeting me. I set myself by the Decibel merch table, hanging out with Val and Mark, customer service guru and all-around stand-up dude at the magazine.

The first two bands, You Will Die and The Wayward, were somewhat blah, but that might have had to do with the fact I was eagerly anticipating the mighty Plague Bringer! Holy shit, did these guys live up to expectations. Bands that use drum machines these days tend to be total hit or total miss. Plague Bringer are sledgehammers. It was a great start to the weekend.

Next up on my agenda was Nachtmystium. People have been talking shit about this band's new direction, and I say shut the hell up. The new material was blazing live, and I like these guys for some of the same reasons I like Satyricon and Lifelover; it's black metal that doesn't sound tired and played out. Blake Judd is the man.

Coliseum immediately followed, and they had the best set of the night, period. Anyone who has seen their shows know that they are a formidable force in the live setting. Pure vitriol and energy. A great blend of hardcore, crust-punk and metal that many bands attempt but few get right.

The Red Chord had to drop out of the fest due to a faulty tour van, which was upsetting because they are a fun live band. But word came that Kylesa, who is headlining Sunday night, would be filling their slot. Everyone agreed this was an optimal replacement. This is a band I have just started listening to within the last year or so, and they have grown on me quite a bit. These days they've incorporated two drummers into their live show, which to be honest doesn't sound so much different 80% of the time...but it looks pretty fuckin' cool. It also helps that they bring their brand of southern swamp sludge raging out of the gate. Following Coliseum is no easy task, but they pulled it off. Kylesa is hitting their stride right about now; don't be surprised if their next album is a top 10 regular on a lot of lists. Also, Laura Pleasants has moved up to #4 on my list. You know what I mean.

Torche headlined the night, but I bounced before their set so I could make the mile-long trek to Zanies Too (Dudefest had an after-show here Friday and Saturday night) in time to see The Gates Of Slumber. I like Torche well enough, but I didn't want to miss out on some heavy, lumbering, worship-at-the-Trouble-altar DOOOOOMMM. And that's exactly what The G of S brought. Any band that sounds like Wino might have a guest spot somewhere on the album is my kind of band.

Next up was Fight Amp, who have been generating quite a bit of buzz lately. I was wary about them, for the simple fact that most bands don't live up the hype. Especially when these guys were getting all kids of comparisons to the glory days of AmRep. The verdict is in: Fight Amp are the real deal. Grimy, loud as all hell, the guys who split from Helmet should be listening to this and get their heads out of their asses. I bought the new album and it rages.

I had heard of The_Network before, but for whatever reason I thought they sucked. I gotta say, it's a shitty band name. But my opinion was changed after the first song of their set. I heard from other people that at last year's Dudefest one of the guys in the band had been kicked out of the bar BEFORE they played. So they had the off-kilter crazy thing down, which is a good start. But the tunes were killer, and they were a close second to Coliseum for best set of the day/night.

By this point I was dead tired; 26 hours of straight traveling and an entire day and night of extreme metal will do that. I listened to Minsk from outside while I waited for a ridiculously overpriced cab.


Oh yeah, it's delicious.

Saturday started off a few hours earlier, and the crowd had definitely grown. The first band I saw was Weekend Nachos, and HOLY SHIT, they might have been the best band of the day! They had an incredible amount of energy, and just didn't give a flying fuck about anybody. Their drummer stage dived at one point, so the singer got behind the kit and started jamming, and the drummer got back and started singing. It was brilliant.

Shitstorm and Get Rad played next, but I was in and out during their sets. The Emerson Theater is all ages, so anyone who wanted a drink had to go around the corner to J Clyde's Bar. The next band I wanted to see was The Dream Is Dead, some great local hardcore political punk. I couldn't be further away from their political leanings, but the songs are great and their set was intense.

The first can't miss band of the day for me was Gaza. Everyone was talking them up. I had heard a few songs before but weren't very familiar with them. They blew the stage up. I was totally bowled over by their live show, I could have watched them all day. I bought a CD and shirt off of their singer afterwards, and he through in a Bird Eater CD for free. Can't beat that.

I skipped out on Lords but came back for the one-two naked guy punch that is Phoenix Bodies and Hewhocorrupts. I gotta say, the music was fun and perfect for moshing and stage-diving, but I can't say it was very memorable. Guys in both bands got naked on stage, hence the tendency to call this thing Dudefest. I looked away most of the time. When there wasn't schlongs hanging around, they had good sets.

Then came the bittersweet moment of the weekend. The ultimate grindcore band, Insect Warfare, was playing their last show. I will be forever grateful to have seen this band live. I don't know the details of the band splitting up, but it is a damn dirty shame. I can't think of a better grind band. Period. Some video footage is down below on the right. The crowd showed their appreciation with full force, that's for sure.

The highlight of my night, even more than Insect Warfare, even more than male nudity everywhere, was a headlining set from Pig Destroyer. I have become a huge fan of theirs over the last few years, and this show sealed the deal for me. I truly believe they are one of, if not the best, extreme metal band on the planet.

There were some unfortunate sound problems, so Blake Harrison couldn't fulfill his duties as noise/sample/electronics guy, but the set still raged relentlessly. In front of a giant poster of Rick Astley with a Hitler mustache, no less:

I was totally enraptured. J.R. Hayes was just as intense and menacing, if not more so, front and center bellowing the words to Loathsome and Trojan Whore like a demon straight outta hell. Someone, somehow got a giant stuffed dinosaur into the crowd and it surfed it during the entire set, which prompted J.R. to declare "I fucking hate dinosaurs". (Footage down on the left.) Pig Destroyer playing live is a very rare occurrence, so once again I became one of a relative lucky few to witness greatness.

The after-show at Zanie's was a lot of fun. Howl played first, and why they aren't signed yet I don't know. Great sludge-metal from Providence. New England represent! Next up was Suicide Note and Sweet Cobra back to back, as they share a member or two. Suicide Note was abrasive off-time noise-ish metal, they were decent. Sweet Cobra was the shit, they have an awesome hardcore punk groove, and though the crowd had been up and getting blasted by metal for almost 12 hours straight, everyone was still into it.

Mouth Of The Architect finished out the night, and I can't say it was a great idea. Now don't get me wrong - this band is incredible - but their brand of slow, crushing sludge metalgaze kind of zoned everyone out. It's too bad, people were heading out the door while they played but those who stuck around heard a great set from these guys.

All in all, one of the most enjoyable days I've had in a long, long time. Got to hang out with some great people, met some of the guys from Pig Destroyer and Plague Bringer, cheap beer...can't beat that. These kind of festivals are great because there are almost as many band members around as fans. Everyone mingles together, there is no disparity between musicians and those who came to see them. The camaraderie is one of the best parts of the whole thing.

Coming up: Sunday and the conclusion of the Festival of Dudes.

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