Wonderful Horrible Fest

Were you at Horrible Fest this year? No? Well, you probably should’ve been, since supposedly it was the last one. While I don’t believe that for a second, there’s always the possibility. Lots of Lakewood bands and personalities were featured, hence why it’s appearing here in your community newspaper. Once again, I was there, and here’s what I saw. 

Thursday night (which they supposedly weren’t gonna do this year), which wasn’t technically a part of Horrible Fest but a “pre-party.” I had thought the triumphant reunion of Brainwashed Youth (original lineup!) would probably be the main event, but they played first. Dumb punk. They were too good at playing. I wanted sloppier. Mourning A BLKstar, a band that I had heard was revelatory, played next. I did not feel that they were revelatory. After them was the band I was really there to see, Perverts Again. Maybe the best P.A. set I’ve seen yet? They played Billy Joel’s “My Life,” which was as good as seeing Shitbox Jimmy play “Fox On The Run” earlier in the month. Real Regular closed out the evening with their signature dumb punk (man, a lot of dumb punk bands at this show except for that second group). They did that terrible ‘90s song “I want to get away, I want to flyyyyyy away.” It sucked, which probably means it was what they wanted. 

Night one–- like the previous night, taking place at Now That’s Class, just down the street from Lakewood at 114th and Detroit–- was probably the part of the fest I had been least excited about beforehand. Don’t know why, just wasn’t feeling it. I accidentally got there an hour early (for some reason, I thought they weren’t gonna run on punk time. I was wrong.). Fortunately, I took that time to converse with the door guy about how great his bands are, as well as picking up the debut tape from Weed Whacker (who had played outside at the backyard barbecue, along with Dime Disguise (or maybe Lido Lounge, or maybe whatever other alliterative name they’ve changed to), but I missed because I didn’t feel like getting there that early). Mr. California kicked things off by playing his latest hit “French Kiss.” Then he had a request for an encore. He played “French Kiss” again. A chant of “one more time!” rose up amongst the crowd. He played “French Kiss” again. 

The event proper started with Prostitutes. I’m not really into electronic music all that much so I hung out and talked to the door guy some more. I decided to actually support the music community and so I actually paid attention while Empty Beings played. They were alright. From what I could tell, sort of a mix of post-punk and hardcore. They weren’t exactly my cup of tea (maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood), but I have some friends who would’ve been all over it. Following the Beings was Lacerate, another local band who people seem to love and I just can’t get into whatsoever. Oh well. They had a lot of people in the crowd who seemed to love them, so I guess that’s what matters. Toxic State’s own La Misma played next. They were pretty good, though they seemed to have some issues with the sound guy and I thought they played too long. Maybe I’m just a jerk. I think Kaleidoscope played next. They were pretty good and I enjoyed their set, though I had heard that they were visionary or something live. They weren’t, but they were still good. Their new record ain’t bad, either. Their singer/guitarist ran into some kind of technical problem. The same thing happened last year when Fried Egg played. Probably had something to do with that Feel It label. Closing out the night was Warthog, who were, again, decent. High energy, good songs. All you could ask for, really. I was just disappointed because I heard the bass player doing the riff from “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight” and really hoped they were gonna play it. Oh well. They did do a Motörhead cover, though!

Before night two could occur, the matinee show had to occur. This year, it took place at Sidetracks Café, which is either in Lakewood or right outside it; I’m terrible with geography. Pretty cool space. I’d like to see more shows there. Despite almost having a hard time with the same door person who almost gave me a hard time last year, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Brand new punk/noise?/ I don’t know band Street Gurgler played. They were really good. I wasn’t sure what to expect (so they’ve got one of the singers from Brainwashed California, the guy from Rubber Mate, Mr. California…), but I look forward to hopefully hearing more from them in the future. I think Know So was next. They were solid. Much like their sibling band Perverts Again two days previously, it might have been the best set I’ve seen from them yet. Wait, no. I’ve seen Know So since then at the Euclid Tavern, I think that might’ve been their best show. Anyway, they were real good. Check them out. I had really hoped that The Roobydocks would play next and I could go back to bed for a while before the night show, but unfortunately they were on last. Dianetics played next. They were good. I had listened to their tapes on their Bandcamp before and wasn’t that impressed, but live they were good. I think after them was Birch Boys (more on them later), who played some rippin’ rock ’n’ roll, dude. They did a Motörhead cover, too. I’m sensing a trend here. D.O.G. were up next. They were alright, but not really my thing either. Finally, The Roobydocks played, and it might’ve been the sloppiest performance I’ve seen by them yet. That is to say, it was really good. I didn’t like that John didn’t do the monologue in “Never Going Stop,” but apart from that, they’re a band you should see. 

Finally (or not finally, really), night two came around (back at NTC). I think Bulsch kicked things off. They had abandoned their red turtlenecks for beekeeper uniforms this evening. I know I’m saying this a lot, but I think it might’ve been their best performance yet. My associate and I discussed this following the performance and agreed. Magic City was next, and they’re fitting in quite well with the grand scheme of Cleveland bands. Special points for Paul continually interrupting Julia by starting the song and Julia going off about “why’s this cute guy [saxophone noise guy Dylan The Magnificent] just sitting in the corner?” Something weird happened at the end of their set where the bass got loud for no real reason, but other than that a solid performance. They’ve got a new live tape out that I should probably get around to picking up at some point. After them was Lumpy Records all-stars BB Eye, featuring Lumpy himself! I thought he was playing a keyboard, but nope, it turns out he was playing an honest-to-god xylophone. Speaking as someone who wasn’t all that impressed with their 7”, I thought they were really good. I bought their tape and proceeded to not be all that impressed with it. But hey, if you get the chance, they’re really good live! The main attraction for me this year was Janitor Scum & The Scums, who put out one of my absolute favorite records of 2016. And they did not disappoint. They were just amazing. They were so good that I actually went and stood by the stage instead of lurking around the back like the poser I am. They closed with “City Hobgoblins,” which prompted this review from an unnamed local scenester: “I f**king love The Fall.” I like The Fall, but man, I really really like Janitor Scum. Buy their record. I was told a few days later that they had t-shirts for sale, which I didn’t hear about but I’m super disappointed I missed out on that. Hey Janitor Scums, if you read this, please send me a shirt. I left after them. I’ve seen Hank Wood & The Hammerheads before. They weren’t gonna measure up to Janitor Scum, I already knew. 

For some terrible reason (Cruelster were gonna play), I got myself up at 6 in the morning the following day and headed back over to catch a bunch of people who were not happy to see someone as sober as myself and what was dubbed “Birch Boys play the hard rock and heavy metal hits of their youth” by someone else there. Cruelster drummer Kid Gone Crazy, the member of the group who was most against playing at 6 in the morning was the only member of the band to show up, and was promptly fired from the group that evening for his malfeasance. I went home and went back to bed. 

Overall, solid year. I bought t-shirts for Cruelster and Perverts Again (neither of whom played the fest proper) and would’ve bought a Janitor Scum shirt if I’d heard about it. Oh yeah, I guess I bought a BB Eye tape too. Everything else I can’t remember. Hey, next year will be even better, right, guys? Right? 

Buzz Kompier writes about music for the thing you’re probably reading currently. Tell him he’s wrong at vaguelythreatening@gmail.com.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 2:48 PM, 06.20.2017