It helped that the three-day mini-festival hewed to the sounds of heavy rock and metal, genres that bring out hundreds of rabid fans to even the smallest of gigs.
In a recent piece on [Deadspin], writer Jaime-Paul Falcón spelled out the dos and don’ts of booking a music festival, and first on his list was: “DON’T: Book just to your taste, or your friends’ taste. Yes, you all like that one band, but if no one else knows who they are, you’re going to be standing in an empty venue.”
I thought about that a lot as I stood in the fray of a sold-out Mississippi Studios during Stumpfest IV, the annual celebration of the music taste of promoter Rynne Stump. Everything about this event ran counter to Mr. Falcón’s claims, and I didn’t see one person complaining throughout the whole thing.
It helped that the three-day mini-festival hewed to the sounds of heavy rock and metal, genres that bring out hundreds of rabid fans to even the smallest of gigs. And it certainly didn’t hurt that Stump is friendly with some pretty amazing bands, with headlining sets from ‘70s throwback rockers, Danava; doom-metal monsters, YOB; and the unrelenting freakazoids Big Business, with additional supporting sets from the likes of Lord Dying, Graves At Sea, Lecherous Gaze and Sandrider filling out each evening’s bill.
Whoever set the lineups for this event clearly put some real effort into it. Unlike other festivals of its kind, the audience didn’t just get an unrelenting barrage of grindcore or blackened death metal. Instead, the brilliant garage-rock stupidity of Lecherous Gaze fell right before the doom-y assault of Lord Dying (augmented, for at least their current tour, by Gaytheist drummer Nick Parks, who helped turn the band into the powerhouse it always threatened to become). The homemade instruments and terrifying industrial low-end of Author & Punisher nestled in comfortably between Intronaut’s meandering prog-metal and the screech of Graves At Sea. And, impressively, the audiences stuck around for each and every act, packing the room with a level of enthusiasm and spirit usually reserved for stadium shows.
Well, at least that was the case for the two nights I was there. I’m not sure if Black Pussy played to a full house or not as I had to leave the room. Any band of skinny white dudes trucking in warmed-over ‘70s rock and selling hats in these post-Ferguson times with the printed phrase, “It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand,” shouldn’t have anyone’s attention right now.
Some stray thoughts about Stumpfest IV:
— I love seeing metal shows at venues like Mississippi Studios, places that usually cater to indie rock and more roots-oriented tunes. The PA makes everything sound crisp and present, the volume gets perfectly overwhelming, and you get to see the terrified looks on the faces of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd when faced with a gaggle of longhaired metalheads.
— Former Danava bassist, and now Lecherous Gaze guitarist, Zach Dellorto Blackwell was the festival’s biggest wet blanket. After his amp crapped out two songs into his current band’s set, he futzed around on stage grumpily for a moment and then…left. Walked right off the stage in a huff. Didn’t try to solve the problem in any way shape or form. He just left. Poor show, old sport.
— Seriously…I don’t know if Nick Parks is a permanent solution for the position of drummer with Lord Dying, but holy moly did he bring the goods tonight. With all due respect to the band’s former sticksman, Jon Reid, who was a very solid player, Parks took the band’s sound to a completely different level. Now if they could just bring in a third guitar player or convince Chris Evans to do some real Malmsteen-like guitar shredding, Lord Dying could become metal superstars.
— Danava has never sounded better, especially thanks to the recent addition of Sons Of Huns leader, Pete Hughes, but it’s long past time for some new material from the group. I’ve been hearing a variation on the same set from these dudes for going on five years now. Make with the goods, gentlemen.