Looking Forward To Gonerfest 16

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.

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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

En Attendant Ana Is The Best Live Band

I had the honor of seeing Parisian band En Attendant Ana two Friday nights in a row: first in Boston at O’Briens Pub and then at the Hi-Tone in Memphis as part of Gonerfest 15 Night Two. I’m writing this post because I believe them to be the best live band that I’ve seen in a LONG TIME.

I saw a lot of bands at Gonerfest 15, including some true OG favorites like Oblivians and Carbonas. I love these guys and thought their sets were amazing. I was familiar with the songs they performed. I’m new to En Attendant Ana, having only briefly listened to their most recent album Lost and Found. I liked it a lot, but seeing them live was a transformative experience. Perhaps you can relate to a band that blows your mind even if you can’t name a single song. Hit after hit, hook after hook, there is no downtime or stagnation over the course of the set. There is a constant stream of musical euphoria and that larger-than-life feeling of music-as-inspiration. A pop band with a noisy rock ‘n roll sound. The trumpet adds a layer of character that works brilliantly in this group.

Check out all their music and, if you can, go see them perform. I don’t think larger festivals and bigger shows are far out of reach. En Attendant Ana would easily blow away and bring something fresh and exciting compared to what a lot is bandied about as “pop” these days.

GONERFEST 14 HIGHLIGHTS PT.1 (L.A. & NOLA)

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Everyone’s Gonerfest is a personal Gonerfest. Everyone’s Memphis is a personal Memphis. Folks travel far and wide, or in some cases – not at all – to get to Gonerfest to see the best bands in the land. For us, this was our third trip down there. Veteran status? King Louie might beg to differ. At any case, if it was not for the precise organization of the heads at Goner and the cooperation of the city, venues, groups, and fans, this might be a different animal. Instead, it’s for the most part a meeting of minds, a reunion for many, or for the uninitiated – the first annual.

I will call it an international summit, with some representation of the past, present, and future. Where bands unite, where bands stop on tour, where bands play their first (and maybe last?) show. Is there a Goner sound? If anything I learned this weekend, it’s that no, no there is not. Maybe in 2009, but not in 2017. And the record label/store is better off for it. There are some sounds and scenes that curry a bit more favor across the board. Los Angeles and New Orleans have some wild bands, shoving that straight-ahead, raw, fast sound into our welcoming ears. Die Group (Los Angeles) are mainstays and were a definite highlight for me on Thursday night at the Hi-Tone. Almost from the second they begin to play, I’m into it and there is no resting after that. Sex Tape Records – Die Group’s record label – put on a Friday early morning afterparty at Bar DKDC and this was a choice shindig with the Sex Tape’s very own Brain Bagz (Salt Lake City) and Tenement Rats. Now, it being a long drunken night, I thought Tenement Rats’ Jonny Watkins was Pitbull. A garage punk Pitbull. Yes, that Pitbull. It took some clarification. Count me in as a big fan of both groups, both with the noisy, catchy immediacy we need in these modern times.

New Orleans deserves a paragraph of its own. From my very first Gonerfest (12), I gathered some intel that this is a very incestuous group of music playing individuals. Playing in each others bands, supporting each other. From the start we had NOLA king King Louie (weirdly called King Louis on a Memphis news website?) playing opening ceremonies in a new band with Abe White, formerly of The Manatees (Memphis). A few hours later BENNI started Night One at the Hi-Tone. With an album recently released on Goner, the mysterious BENNI might just be the weirdest project of the bunch. Armed with a few synthesizers and a talk box, he eased us into what would be a night of heavy rock ‘n roll. Kind of like Couteau Latex did last year. It would be more than 24 hours until we got another dose of freewheeling New Orleans punk – this time at the legendary Murphy’s for the Night Two afterparty. Gonerfest alum Die Rötzz, and Dummy Dumpster (both been around for more than a decade) along with newer crew Enoch Ramone got the booze spent revelers moshing around into each other. Maybe it was the peck on the cheek from Don Perry (eternal gratitude for the rides to the afterparties and the laughs), or maybe it wasn’t, but the Enoch frontman was in a frenzy start to finish, save for the “Gates of Steel” DEVO cover, which was sung by Sam from Trampoline Team. Maybe Murphy’s is the true second home of these NOLA characters as this year’s  Saturday afternoon Blowout brought us three performances: GUSHERS, IS IS, and HEAVY LIDS. While the first and last just mentioned groups are more in line with the above mentioned quick zip, speedfire r’n’r and absolutely rocked it, it’s that middle group that put on arguably the most subdued, but interesting performance. Masterminded by Giorgio Murderer and featuring members of Trampoline Team and Black Abba. This was the closest thing we got to that unmistakable Giorgio/Buck Biloxi sound. Click the link and go be offended.

Pt. Two coming soon…………………….