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DS Editorial: A guide to FEST 16 preparation by an overly passionate first-timer

I have to admit something, and it’s not easy. I’m addicted to preparing for The Fest. A cure might be hopeless but I’m hoping that my story can help other like me – first time Fest goers looking for answers to some of the weekend’s logistical questions.

First things first. Lock down your tickets. Then I would suggest locking down your accommodations. The more I deal with the fest, the people, the website, the more I realize that it is meticulously organized and curated. More on that later, but I suggest that people stay in the hotels dedicated to the fest. The Holiday Inn is supposedly located right in the middle of the action. The whole thing is booked by Fest attendees and will thus be an absolute free-for-all during the entire event. I’m not sure I can handle that type of commitment. I booked at the Wyndham. Another Fest hotel that is supposedly a little more chill. Once again I have no frame of reference on this and we shall see. I should also mention that the Holiday Inn has some kind of Flea Market thing happening. I’ve got it pictured where venders and bands can sell merch and other trinkets that would appeal to Fest-goers. Once again, I’m not sure about this. Pure conjecture at this point.

Band Prep: Right now I’m in band-prep stage. You might want to follow my lead on this as it will help you get a handle on the 350 plus bands that are playing The Fest. I was hoping for something a little more user-friendly from the website, but when you’ve got over 100 bands playing a day, there’s probably no “perfect way” to convey the when and where for each band. It looks like this breaks down along philosophical and/or personal-preference lines. Are you looking to stay in one spot and get the most bang for your buck? Then you will be looking at the schedule by location. If you are committed to catching at least a piece of some of the bands on your wish list, then you can break the schedule down by date and time. At this point, I found that I could no longer work with the website, I needed to get some micro-organization going. So I copied the time and date schedules and dropped them into an excel spreadsheet. I broke them up with a tab for each day. I found with a little tinkering you can get the day’s entire schedule in chronological order: my choice for the best way to get a handle on what’s happening when and where.

Phew. Okay. Are you still with me? Step one was to highlight all the bands I definitely wanted to check out. I found it useful to start here and get an idea of what the skeleton of my schedule was gonna look like. I’ve got some locks as you might guess: Against Me (performing Reinventing Axl Rose), Superchunk, Smoking Popes, Hum, 88 Fingers Louie, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Movielife, Pegboy, Off With Their Heads, The Bigger Empty; you get the idea. I had a lot of other bands that I wanted to check as well, and I really want to check some of the cover shows, but I digress. Get you’re a-list, can’t-miss picks in the spreadsheet; mine are highlighted in yellow.

After the skeleton is in place, you can fill in the meat. I chose to highlight these bands in blue. I thought I knew a lot about punk music, emo, screamo, indie, etc. Maybe I do, but I’m always willing to learn more, so I made a dive into some of the bands I hadn’t heard of. Once again the spreadsheet comes in handy for this task. I use eMusic for most of my music purchases these days, so I found it most useful to check out some of the lesser-known (to me at least) bands. You can use YouTube, that would probably be better and I’ve had to resort to it a few times when the band’s music is not available on eMusic. And most of the bands are available on bandcamp as well. One thing that I’m finding as I go through the bands that are new to me: they’re all really good. I spent a day checking out bands and one after another proved to be amazing. Some of the bands I’ve been turned on to (and subsequently really want to check at The Fest): Sinai Vessel, City of Caterpillar (how did I miss these guys?), Apologies I have none, Army of Ponch, Deadaires, Tartar Control and many many more. I’ve got my b-list highlighted in blue. Once again I must tip my hat to The Fest as they obviously know their music and have assembled an amazing lineup this year. I’m thinking you could conceivably just pop into any venue and end up getting into the show happening at the time. Which would require no prep at all. Can’t have that now can we?

OK. So you’ve got your tickets, accommodations, schedule. You’re well on your way to maximum family fun at The Fest. To round out your enjoyment, definitely download the App. Take your spreadsheet and then transfer that info over to the App and it will sort your schedule by date and time. Now you are ready to go mobile! Next, you might want to check out the website. It’s loaded with goodies!! If you haven’t already, download all the Comps!! Get them in heavy rotation on your sonic delivery vehicle of choice. I’m from the old school, so I burned CDs. You might just find one of your new favorite bands in there. I had to juggle my schedule because I came across a must-see through the comp: Tartar Control. I guarantee you’ll find something in there that you might have missed. Hidden gems.

If you are insane like me, you can start planning your wardrobe, but you might not be that hardcore. I just can’t decide if it makes sense to represent for your favorite bands at the fest, or to bust obscure band Ts to give you more street cred. I could go on for days on this subject. Don’t forget your swimsuit!! There are pool parties happening at both the Wyndham and Holiday Inn. I’m guessing that will be a sight to behold.

I really could keep going and drive this whole preparation thing right into the ground, but I think I’ve already lost most of you, so to those who stayed til the end. I’ll see you on Sunday night. Teen Agers and Tiltwheel are my choices to close things out. Let’s get together and toast the fact that we survived. Cheers.



DS Interview: John of Dead Bars talks new album, slice-of-life songwriting, and dreamin’ big

For years now, Seattle’s Dead Bars have been releasing killer music on a small scale. Now, the band is poised to release their first full-length on No Idea Records, joining a legacy that includes Radon, Against Me!, Hot Water Music, The Tim Version, and many, many more.

I was lucky enough to hear the new record and talk to chief songwriter and vocalist John Maiello via e-mail. Click here for the interview.



Dead Bars (pop-punk) stream new album “Dream Gig”

Seattle gruffy pop-punks Dead Bars are streaming their long awaited new album, Dream Gig. The 8-track release is currently up for streaming over on the band’s Bandcamp page, which you can check out below.

There will be a CD and vinyl release in Japan, stay tuned for details as they come to light regarding this physical release.

Dream Gig is officially released digitally through No Idea Records. It follows the band’s 2016 split with Florida’s The Tim Version.



Album Review: Dead Bars – “Dream Gig”

Well, the day has finally come– Dead Bars have released their debut album. The Seattle punks have released splits with the Tim Version and Sunshine State, recorded a perfect self-titled EP, played Fest, and are a piece of the incredibly rich and diverse No Idea Records legacy, but, until now, they have avoided putting a full-length to wax. Dream Gig is a culmination of talent and tendencies, met with vision and ambition and all the stuff that makes good rock ‘n roll into something to swear by.

Dream Gig isn’t so much a concept record as a thematic one. Whatever you want to call it, it is undoubtedly cohesive. The album opens with “Overture,” a lone piano playing a melody that alludes to the hook of the title track. From there, we get “Earplug Girl,” the first traditional song on the album. It’s a classic Dead Bars song, and probably one of my favorites of their catalog. It shows off a handful of their best qualities– a knack for singalong melodies, as well as John Maiello’s slice-of-life songwriting. “Earplug Girl” transcends through mundanity. It tells a small story with simple matter-of-facts that becomes bigger than either the event that inspired it or the music itself. It reminds me a lot of the dirty realism of Bukowski or Carver, whose stripped down prose and banal subject matter captured common folk and desperation better than anything flowery and elegant ever could.

“D Line to the Streamline” is another highlight– catchy, with a memorable guitar hook, a chorus to die for, and a bridge to scream. “And now I’m closing out my tab/ I have to walk home, I am sad, blah blah the sorrow. I have work tomorrow,” might be the defining lyrics for a generation of punks too old to mosh. In the wrong hands, the idea of aging rockers living out their rock ‘n roll dreams on a small scale could be uncomfortable and even a bit depressing. But, through “Face the Music” and “Tear Shaped Bruise” the music is given an identity of its own: savior. At the heart of Dead Bars’ self-aware bummers is the truth that rock ‘n roll is something worth sacrificing for, something pure and loud and powerful.

Dream Gig is Dead Bars at their most ambitious and defined. Guitar, bass, and drums have combined to fill out their melodic punk singalongs with an almost classic rock optimism– a fist-pumping specter that gives lines like, “I got insoles in my shoes,” a shade of honest-to-god victory. And it’s this defiant sense of accomplishment that makes Dream Gig tick. The title track is the band at it’s most ambitious, a seven-minute mission statement of everything Dead Bars. There’s a hunger within those shouted lines, a manifesto of purpose that throws a finger to the face of anyone who has forsaken art for getting a real job, for those who say dreams are meant to be waken from. From the refrain of “Dream big,” the instruments lead their way through melodies and feedback, before blasting into industrial sounding static, an innovation to their sound that brings to mind acts like Titus Andronicus or Fucked Up.

Dead Bars courses with nervous energy and insight, they’re both wistful and cutting and they do so while playing immediately likeable music. Dirtbag couplets, woah-oh’s, and guitar leads; the smell of pale lagers and the lingering guilt of a path not taken; chance encounters broken down and mined for meaning– coalesce into something vibrant, victorious, and uniquely defiant. Dead Bars play punk rock like it means something to them, like it should mean something. Dream Gig is an ode to the dreamers and the music that keeps their head in the clouds.

5/5



Dead Bars stream new song ‘Face The Music’

Seattle’s Dead Bars are streaming a new single off their upcoming debut full length. ‘Dream Gig‘ will be out digitally via No Idea Records on the 10th of March. Physical release will follow later this year.

Go check out ‘Face The Music’ here.



Dead Bars premiere new song “Earplug Girl”

Seattle punks Dead Bars have premiered a new song from their upcoming album Dream Gig.

The track’s called “Earplug Girl,” and you can check it out below.

Dream Gig is set to release on March 10th through No Idea Records.



Dead Bars (No Idea melodic punk) announce new album “Dream Gig” and tour

Seattle’s Dead Bars have announced their new album Dream Gig will be released digitally on March 10th, with the vinyl release handled by No Idea Records. The band will air a studio session on KEXP on March 18th at 10pm.

And if you wanna catch them live, they also have a handful of Pacific Northwest Tour Dates coming down the pipeline, listed below.

March 16th – Bellingham, WA @ The Swillery
March 17th – Vancouver, BC @ Astoria
March 18th – Victoria, BC @ Logan’s Pub
March 19th – Seattle, WA @ Vera Project **All Ages**

In the band’s own words:

“Founded in Seattle, WA by vocalist and songwriter John Maiello in 2013, Dead Bars had a very specific plan to play one show, record a demo, and only tour Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. After four years of playing a lot more shows, recording five seven-inch’s released on three different labels in three different countries, and never touring outside the continental United States, Dead Bars is releasing their first LP titled Dream Gig. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes you don’t get what you want. Keep on dreamin’.”

Dead Bars self-titled EP was reviewed here. Their last release was a split with the Tim Version in 2016.



DS Exclusive: Crusades premiere new song and video, plus interview with singer Dave Williams

Sweet news! Crusades have released a lyric video for “1713 (The Scorching Fevers)” off their upcoming This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End, out March 7th through Anxious & Angry (US) and Countless Altars (Canada/World).

Even better news! I was lucky enough to sit down (via e-mail) with Crusades singer and guitarist Dave Williams to talk about songwriting, heavy music, and cathartic art. Click here to check out the video and the interview!



Dead Bars and The Tim Version stream split EP

Seattle punk band Dead Bars and Tampa punk act The Tim Version have released a split EP, and you can listen to it now.

Check it out below.

The split was released on August 26th, 2016 via No Idea Records.



The Fest announces schedule and a handful of more bands

The schedule for the party weekend of the year is out: The Fest 15 hosted by No Idea Records. You can check it out here and the Pre-Fest schedule here. In addition to the schedule dropping, they’ve added a few new bands including Cayetana, Hard Girls & Super Unison. You can see the whole list below.

The Fest takes place October 28th-30th in Gainesville, FL while Pre-Fest is October 26th and 27th in Tampa.



Dead Bars do short west coast run

Dead Bars has announced a short run of dates with The Tim Version. Check the dates below.

Dead Bars last released the single “Emergency” with “Off The Ground” in June 2015. The Tim Version released “Ordinary Life” in September 2014.



Shallow Cuts stream new song “Decision Tree”

Shallow Cuts are streaming a new song titled “Decision Tree” and you can give it a listen here.

“Decision Tree” will appear on Shallow Cuts’ upcoming albumEmpty Beach Town, which is due out on June 14, 2016 through No Idea Records.



Crusades finish recording new album

Canadian satanic punk act Crusades have finished recording their new full-length album according to a Facebook post:

We had an absolutely incredible weekend tracking the new LP at Wolf Lake Studios. Any folks looking to lay down some new material should book with Mike & JP, stat. Great guys with amazing ears, skills & gear. Plus, it’s in secluded, beautiful cottage country about a half hour outside of downtown Ottawa. This record is gonna be insane. Out at some point on No Idea Records!

The band released their second album, Perhaps You Deliver This Judgment With Greater Fear Than I Receive It on November 5, 2013 through No Idea Records.



A Wilhelm Scream announce a few US tour dates with Heartsounds, Australian tour [UPDATED]

A Wilhelm Scream have announced a short US tour in May with Heartsounds. You can check out the tour poster below.

UPDATE: The band have also announced some shows in Australia at the end of May. Those dates can also be found below.

Late last year, the band mentioned plans to begin recording a new 7-inch. A Wilhelm Scream’s last LP, Partycrasher, was released in November 2013 through No Idea Records.



Album Review: Ship Thieves – “No Anchor”

Hot Water Music was duality turned to unity. It was two voices that mingled and intertwined as much vocally as in their fretwork, joined together by the strongest rhythm section in punk rock. No member of Hot Water Music was replaceable. Chris Wollard is a piece of that perfect puzzle, and to his merit or detriment, he may never be able to shake off the success and admiration of his past group. His new band is Ship Thieves, which used to be Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves, the very same that released the excellent Canyons. Ship Thieves is a solo project being rebranded as a real band, and on No Anchor it signals a departure from their decidedly less punk former output. No Anchor is a punk record. It’s filled with chugging guitars and winding leads and singalong choruses– it’s basically the Chris Wollard we all loved from Hot Water Music making new punk rock with different people.

But, unfortunately, and this is all conjecture, I wonder if Chris Wollard’s name preceding itself was a detriment to the creative process on this album. Hot Water Music was great because it was four greats playing together, equally talented and, I assume, invested in the final product. I don’t doubt that to some degree all the members of Ship Thieves are into the music they make and contribute accordingly. But, if you were in a band with Chris Wollard, would you fight that hard to nix the idea of a Hot Water Music alum? Especially, if just a year ago, it was his solo project?

Herein lies the problem with No Anchor: the inconsistency of its quality. “Middle Man” opens the album with a great chorus and timely subject matter about economic inequality. It’s given a layer of literary esteem by including a Vonnegut reference, that also gives the chorus a darker take away than at first glance. This is a great song. It’s tightly structured punk rock that doesn’t waste a second of its runtime. But, No Anchor can’t maintain this level of songwriting through its duration. After a while, most of the songs blur into a hookless block of time that doesn’t take the time to differentiate song from song. The title track is strong, “Born Into This” is as good as “Middle Man,”  and “Ruts” is actually a cool, pretty tense number with lots of rock n’ roll guitar. But what about the other six tracks?

The playing is fantastic of course, and its nice to hear Wollard’s unique fretwork again. He’s a textural, harmonic player, so much so that his playing is almost consciously muted melodically, as if he would rather his single note leads become the backbone of a song rather than the highlight. It’s not a bad thing, it’s actually pretty interesting to hear this approach across No Anchor, but it does serve to make the whole record sound relatively samey.

No Anchor is excellent at its heights. With a more sure cutting hand, it could’ve been a fantastic EP. With bolder arrangements and songwriting, it could’ve been a classic record. As it is right now, it’s okay, but unfortunately deserving of the title Hot Water Music-lite.

3/5