Hassle Fest Recap (November 8 & 9, 2013)

Hassle Fest pic
Poster by Mickey Z

Bands: Way too many to name.
Date(s): Friday-Saturday, November 8 and 9, 2013
Venue: Cambridge Elks Lodge

Every year the good people over at Boston Hassle throw a big ass music festival featuring over 40 local and national bands. Essentially, they do what they do best year round, just in the most gigantic way possible. This is the fifth Hassle Fest (formerly known as Homegrown) and the first ever attended by us, the KLYAM and we had a shit ton of fun! We are forever grateful for having the Boston Hassle around us and all of the great music they promote on a daily basis, much of which was on display at this year’s Hassle Fest. We have never experienced anything quite similar. Simply one band after another, with no breathing room in between. Exhilarating. Overwhelming. Punk Slime All Of The Time – at least in spirit. So yeah, I set out to write about every single band. This quickly became impossible due to work schedules, train schedules, and our general black out status over the course of the weekend. The following is a recap of some of the bands we saw that left me with the best impression and/or I remember best.

Zebu! –  The Zebu! dudes always put on a good show and interact very well with their audience. They use up their twenty minutes bashing out a string of noise rock fused jams including a cover of The Vaselines classic “Molly’s Lips,” which they twist into “Molly’s tits.” Hehe.

Per usual in Zebu! shows, Ted walks through the crowd, shirtless, singing and shrieking about. He parades all the way to the back, until he is practically in the next room.

The band announces that they are happy to be celebrating their tenth anniversary and that they are releasing a greatest hits album on BUFU  Records. Damn, pick that shit up. http://zebu.bandcamp.com/

Kal Marks – I’ve been digging Kal Marks for a while now and I’ve seen them with various line-ups over the years, but this is definitely the finest performance I’ve seen from the band thus far. Lead singer Carl has an undeniably distinct voice that just reverberates throughout the room and rests inside your ear drums for weeks to come. It’s like an odd, mumbly/grungy, southern drawl that one either finds appealing or nauseating. Most fall under the former category.

Besides Carl’s voice, the band has really come a long way since I last saw them (though, they were a rare two piece that night, so I’m not the best one to be judging), particularly with the addition of drummer Nick Egersheim (Big Mess). I’ve long been a fan of Nick’s powerful, sledgehammer drumming and I can’t think of a better fit for Kal Marks.

As a whole the band has a ginormous ROCK sound to them, very epic, very big deal. The guitars jostle back and forth producing incredible build ups and break downs. It’s almost intimidating, overwhelming, and strangely accessible, which isn’t a terrible word. Listen to Life Is Murder here: http://kalmarks.bandcamp.com/ It’s one of the best records you will hear all year.

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Here’s a band people have been recommending to me/us for at least a year and a half now, and I can certainly see why. This being our first Ed Schrader experience, I am flabbergasted. The place is roaring to the sweet, sublime sounds of Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.  Glen comments that he was inspired by Ed before he even heard him!

Ed Schrader delivers a loony bass heavy sonic blast that drills my ears even way in the back of the Elks Lodge. The place is packed to the gills with Ed Schrader nut bags. I specifically love how Ed switches up between soft, serene Frank Sinatra drenched vocals to fast, pummeling screams. Ed makes it a point to make a special shout out to the Profit$ and how awesome it is to have him in our city. There ya go. The set crashed to its conclusion with a sick little cover of KISS’ “Rock and Roll All Nite,” which must have shoved old Ben Katzman into paroxysms of ecstasy. Check out Ed Schrader’s Music Beat here if you want to be shoved into paroxysms of ecstasy: http://edschradersmusicbeat.bandcamp.com/

The Beets – YIPPEE KI YAY MELON FARMER, IT’S THE BEETS! The Beets from Jackson Heights, Queens, NY, back in beautiful Boston for you and me. And I’ve never seen so many enthusiastic Beets fans all in one room before. It is fabulous to see the Elks filled to the brim with hundreds of kids of all ages, well maybe not all ages (in theory there could be!), all surrounding Juan Wauters (vocals/guitar), Tall Juan Zaballa (vocals/bass), and their Amerikan flag proudly hoisted behind them. Alas, no Chie Mori (vocals/drums) this time around :(, but two beets beat it off just fine, no fumblin’, no foolin’ around. There’s work to be done dawg. Despite the large crowd, this Beets set still feels just as warm and fuzzy as ever. Glen and I snag a nice lil spot up front, so close to the band that we are probably freaking them out, no way!

We first saw The Beets at a secret show at Wellesley College (opening for No Age) back in April 2009. I remember thinking they were a strange combination of Black Lips meets Beat Happening. At the time, I didn’t truly appreciate it though and about a year and half passed by before I started listening to The Beets again. The fall of 2010, a time when folks could find me listening to Spit In The Face of People Who Don’t Want To Be Cool (2009) on repeat, especially the song “Broken English.” Boy, did I love that song. I used to turn up the speakers all the way – I eventually broke them – blaring The Beets and tossing a tennis ball against my dorm room walls, annoying the hell out of all my fellow dormatory chums. I guess they just didn’t want to be cool.

Later that summer (2011) we caught The Beets again on a bill with Slumberland’s Brilliant Colors at a basement show in Allston (Problem House). While that show was fine and cozy, I don’t recall kids going apeshit for The Beets, at least not in serious numbers. Tonight is a different story. As I mentioned earlier there are many enthusiastic Beets fans in the house.

Aside from Glen and myself, Hassle Fest organizers Chris Collins and Ben Katzman are among these Beets zealots, rambunctiously dancing and singing along to each and every Beets song. It’s damn near hard not to; with just a couple of guitars these Queens kids can start a riot if they wanted to. The dudes open with Spit opener “Happy, But On My Way” and they play a satisfying mish mash of material from all three of their distinguished albums. My favorites on this evening include “What Did I Do” and “Why Should I Live If I Won’t Fit.” The latter is a fantastic anthem for all of us outsiders, and if you’re a Beets fan you probably are an outsider or maybe you’re an insider, but an outsider at heart or an outsider, but an insider at heart. The Beets can be puzzling. Make you contemplate life while you dance. Keep your mind moving just as fast as your hips, I dig. Lastly, at the request of the audience The Beets plink out “Friends of Friends.” Tis a great show.

Set – List:
“Happy, But On My Way”
“Let Clockwork”
“Now I Live”
“What Did I Do” (written as “Why Did I Do”)
“Watching Television”
“In Your Head”
“I Don’t Know”
“Why Should I Live If I Won’t Fit”
“Knock On Wood”
“Go Away”
“Friends of Friends”

Lightning Bolt – Lightning Bolt headlines the first night of Hassle Fest and rightfully so. The legendary noise duo formed nearly 20 years ago and have been deafening the youth over and over again ever since. I first heard of Lightning Bolt at the recommendation of a hip college professor in 2009. I was reading The Catcher In The Rye and this young, hip college professor suggested I listen to Lightning Bolt and Hasil Adkins. It was a fun day. Since then, Lightning Bolt has been on my list of “bands to see before I die.” I’ve seen chaotic videos of the pair (Brian Chippendale – drums/vocals and Brian Gibson – bass) in wrestling masks (as they appear tonight) playing on the floor while a crowd of crazy kids pile all around them. It looked amazing and I wanted in.

Last I heard of Lightning Bolt till now was that they were playing and even selling out the Paradise Rock Club, a large venue, not exactly what I expected from the band. Glad to see they have made it to a bigger level and still retain their gritty, abrasive nature, but I am so happy that my first Lightning Bolt show is here at the much smaller Cambridge Elks Lodge. And as I predicted, the place is full of vast amounts of Lightning Bolts fans, all tucked away in this tiny spot, and balls out bedlam ensues.

I’ve/we’ve never experienced anything quite like a Lightning Bolt show. It’s LOUD as fuck (thankfully I threw on some earplugs, about the second or third time I have ever done this) and it’s just a non stop mosh pit. The ear splitting, constant barrage of noise coming from the Brians’ drums and bass is the perfect soundtrack for mayhem. It’s like a 30-40 minute tornado. Kids even crash into the drum set and it topples over from time to time. By the end of the set, I’m drenched in sweat and I remain soaked for the next two hours. So yes, go see Lightning Bolt if you get a chance.

Footage shot by Sixdust/NYC Music

Night 2

Fat Creeps – KLYAM Records’ own Fat Creeps are among the most anticipated bands to play the Hassle Fest  and by the time they hit the stage (or lack thereof), a solid crowd is built up around them.

Tonight’s set consists of some of the band’s louder, noisier tunes and the whole performance is one of the heaviest I have seen from the trio. Songs include the pop gems like “Fooled” and “Secrets,” which feature some nasty, extended vocals – “I Can’t hear youuuuuu!” as well as some fast punk rockers like “Going to the Party” and “Daydreaming.”

I notice a lot of new faces at this show, I can see that many of them are taking a shine to the Fat Creeps. The seemingly younger crowd produce a healthy, fun loving mosh pit during “Going to the Party,” something that typically doesn’t occur at most Creeps shows.

All in all, one of the best I’ve seen from the band in months. Check out their music here: http://fatcreeps.bandcamp.com/ and pick up a copy of their self-titled 10″ (VINYL) EP from KLYAM Records! http://klyam.bigcartel.com/product/fat-creeps-10-ep-coke-bottle-clear

Spacin’ – Spacin’, some dudes from Philly, some seriously spacin’ dudes. These fellas are fun, laid back, dare I say psychedelic. It’s an overused description, but for all intents and purposes, we’ll stick with psychedelic for now. No need to get into all the hairy, in depth, emotional details. What do I look like their fucking biographer? So yeah,  it’s jam, bluesy psych stuff. They’d pal around with the likes of Moontower and Future Days if they were around these parts; a bit dirtier than those folks though. Not downright filthy either.

A pair of hoolgians grab the band’s mic and sing into it while the band continues to solo as if nothing is going on. They all spaced out. Maybe. Space out with Spacin’ right here: http://spacin.bandcamp.com/album/1-1-11-demo

Guerilla Toss – There’s been a lot of commotion surrounding Guerilla Toss lately and they’ve earned it. I mean there’s always commotion surrounding Guerilla Toss. It’s that primal, incomparable rawness that sets them apart from just about every other band I have ever seen and most other bands you will see too. I’m not going to pretend like I understand the technical sophistication that makes up the music of Guerilla Toss. I don’t know much about no wave or free jazz or whatever, but I know what I like and I like Guerilla Toss.

So, instead of throwing out names like Boredoms or another noise/experimental/avant garde band I don’t actually know anything about as a means of comparison, I’m going to stick with what I know: my own gut feeling and Jay Reatard. Huh? yes, I am probably the only person that will compare Guerilla Toss to Jay Reatard. But, I can only speak from personal experience. When I see Guerilla Toss, I get that same, uncertain, somewhat uncomfortable feeling in my stomach that I got all those years ago when I saw Jay all revved up on stage before he passed away far too young. While the late musician played comparatively far more straight forward rock ‘n’ roll than Guerilla Toss, both artists share a similar brutal aesthetic that is particularly amplified during a live show. With Tard and Toss the music serves as a gigantic bulldozer that rolls over you with little to no care for your preservation. There is no conventional verbal interaction with the audience.  There is no applause after each song to serve as an ego boost for the artists. There is no time check, time is suspended. In a few simple words, Guerilla Toss is the most confrontational band I have seen since Jay Reatard; the band and the audience together behave as they ought to at a rock ‘n’ roll show, like primitive, savage animals.

Give Guerilla Toss’ new record Gay Disco (NNA Tapes) a listen and check out everything else G Toss here: http://guerillatoss.com/

All around Hassle Fest was a mesmerizing experience, a constant assault of excellent music – both foreign and homegrown. Can’t wait for next year.


Footage shot by our guy Melody Matters

One thought on “Hassle Fest Recap (November 8 & 9, 2013)

  1. […] 1) Hassle Fest 5 @ Cambridge Elks Lodge (11/7-11/8) – How could this not be number 1? This was/is the pinnacle of local underground music. A two day festival showcasing some of the best, most groundbreaking, and above all invigorating bands both at home and across the nation. So, as I’ve said before, it’s pretty much a microcosm for everything the Boston Hassle promotes all year long. Every single day. And we couldn’t salute y’all enough. I’ve found that several local music fans (some of which played the festival themselves) walked away with similar feelings as my own. I know we KLYAMERS have never seen anything else like it, just a constant barrage of band after band after band. It felt intimate and gigantic all at once. Unforgettable. My favorite sets included Fat Creeps, Guerilla Toss, Lightning Bolt, The Beets, and Kal Marks. REVIEW: https://klyam.com/2013/12/13/hassle-fest-recap-118-913/ […]

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