Gonerfest is almost here. For the Memphis festival’s international devotees, the calendar year starts (or ends) around the last weekend of September. Four years ago, Chris and I made the wise decision to make a trip to the land of our favorite record label, Goner Records. Since then, it’s been an annual rock ‘n roll pilgrimage. It’s hard to explain this festival to colleagues, friends, and family. Most people think BIG names, multiple stages, camping. In many ways Gonerfest is the opposite. The three night shows (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) take place at the Hi-Tone, which is similar in size to Boston’s Brighton Music Hall. There’s an outdoor show at the Memphis Made Brewery on Friday afternoon and Murphy’s Blowout on Saturday, which has crowds alternating between an outdoor stage and the indoor stage, which packs people into a space about the size of O’Briens Pub. Let us not forget about the after parties, which typically commence around 2:30 or 3 AM. Nothing like cracking open a beer at quarter past four in the morning and seeing New Memphis Legs.
Thursday is the lightest of the three days. As far as the schedule is concerned. It’s the first night. Pick up your Golden Pass at Goner and catch a band (this year, it is Memphis’ own Limes) at the Gazebo as the sun starts to make its descent. Then head over to the Hi-Tone and five bands take the stage. Now, you got to be honest with your self here. Are you jetlagged or tired from a day of travels? Do you want to be the guy nodding off in the front row at 12 AM? We all can’t be Bully Rook here. All I’m saying is if you decide to go hard up and through the Night One afterparty ends at 4 AM, will you be in good condition for Memphis Made at 1:30 PM? It’s a pace race, not a case race.
This year’s line-up is sizzling. Thursday night is a burner with Green/Blue from Minneapolis (featuring Jim Blaha of the veteran Gonerfest band Blind Shake), our pals The Hussy from Madison who will be releasing their fresh new record Looming, synth loving Sweet Knives from Memphis, New Orleans punks Trampoline Team, Simply freaking Saucer (1970s proto-punk icons), and the destructive (let’s wait and see) King Brothers from Japan.
The Memphis Made show is going to be a showcase in the sense that the only band I’ve seen (or heard of) of the bunch is Kool 100s who rocked Murphy’s outside a couple years back. Friday Night is going to be wild – Nots and then Oblivians with Quintron to close things out? Hi-Tone gonna be packed. Grab two or three beers and don’t move for 2 hours. You won’t be able to. The ever influential M.O.T.O who are playing a KLYAM show in November, are on third. It just dawned on me that IT TASTES JUST LIKE A MILKSHAKE by NOBUNNY is a M.O.T.O cover. Damn!
Murphy’s Blowout. Who am I most looking forward to? PRIORS. From Montreal. Just about every year a Gonerfest band rolls through Boston prior to the big event. Touring down to Memphis. Well we just saw PRIORS a couple of nights ago and their energy and performance far surpassed anything I’d seen recently. Really excited.
And then Saturday night at The Hi-Tone. Maybe the best through-and-through single night of Goner in my limited history? I guess we’ll see about that. But Teardrop City, Parsnip, Giorgio Murderer, Hash Redactor, Tommy and the Commies, and The Mummies? I can see why this year’s fest sold out QUICK.
Alrighty, see you soon Memphis.
AFTERPARTIES @ ~ 3 AM
THURSDAY NIGHT @ BSide Bar – Sick Thoughts, Galice Cooper
FRIDAY NIGHT @ Lamplighter – Golden Pelicans, Pscience, Me & My Knife
SATURDAY NIGHT @ Lamplighter – Optic Sink, Coca Cola Haters, DAG