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SUCKFEST AT BLIND TIGER

by Britt Chester

editor@yesweekly.com | @awfullybrittish

A first-year festival is not a promising business model. For one, you are already competing in a market that has local acts lining up for residencies at local venues. You have the mainstay venues booking months in advance for shows that, hopefully, will pack the house. And finally, you are breaking onto the scene.

Suckfest, the debut two-day festival at Blind Tiger presented by Scene Sucker, is attempting to change all of that.

Teaming up with WUAG 103.1 and Natty Greene’s, Scene Sucker founder Danni Brower has certainly done her legwork when it comes to preparing for what she hopes will be an annual event.

“The musical idea for it focuses on “” the two nights have a dichotomy in terms of styles “” the first night is garage punk and indie punk, and the second night is more hardcore and metal,” Brower said. She said she separated these specifically because she appreciates both musical styles.

She also recalls the exact moment when she realized she wanted to throw a music fest featuring these types of acts.

“I was at a house show at Chapman Street and people were just crazy,” she recalls. “I enjoy shows when people are moving and are actively engaged and rowdy and expressive. I wanted to focus on music that inspired that in people.”

Staying true to her word, Suckfest is surely going to inspire rowdiness. Brower has confirmed 26 acts to play at Blind Tiger over the course of two days.

But finding all of this talent wasn’t exactly easy.

Brower moved to Greensboro four years ago to attend UNCG. While in school, she started working at radio station WUAG 103.1 as a program director, which is how she began making connections in the music scene.

“After leaving WUAG (in 2012) I started booking DIY shows under the name Scene Sucker, and I did a few of those over the course of a year,” she remembers. Brower originally went to school for technical theater, which she related to organizing Suckfest because of the long-term logistical setup, the actual event, and then the teardown and restart for the next project.

For Suckfest, the logistics involved reaching out to bands from North Carolina, Georgia, Tenn., and even as far north as Philadelphia.

“I wanted there to be a good balance of local, regional, and national bands to make my contribution to the energy of Greensboro’s scene while connecting us to a wider musical community,” she said.

Brower’s view of music, even though she is not from Greensboro originally, is optimistic. She is quick to recognize that music scenes require a wiggle-room for the ebb and flow of genre popularity, but she still thinks it has room to grow.

“I think one of the basic things that can be said for Greensboro is that most music styles are represented, but there is not a complete community for each style,” she said.

She thinks of it in terms of a scale, and that Greensboro could be scaled up.

A band that is certainly helping to scale it up is Born Hollow, a metalcore group started in 2010 right here in Greensboro.

Luke Williams, vocalist for Born Hollow, has been booking shows in North Carolina since he was 14 years old. He will turn 30 this coming January, a birthday he will celebrate with his wife and their child. He said that when he and the members originally started Born Hollow the intent was to bring more bands to the area to play with, but they have steadily played shows through individual bookings.

“We started the band for fun and we just let it take its course,” he said. “We didn’t put out our first demo until two years after we started”¦things just happen as they happen and we don’t have a set goal.”

Born Hollow is comprised of five members, all of whom remain dedicated to the band despite some being in school, some with families, and others with full-time day jobs.

After playing two sets this past weekend, Born Hollow will play the weekend of Suckfest, the following weekend at the Scene Sucker presented After Banger (see below for details), then a benefit for Amplifier Zine at New York Pizza the weekend after that, and finally closing out November by playing support for the Misfits at Ziggy’s on Nov. 24. Talk about another full-time job.

Something very discernible regarding the punk/DIY/ metal scene is the personal relationships that many of the bands share with each other. Brower nodded to this when speaking about the amount of people who are passionate about bringing bands to the area, but it was significantly emphasized in speaking with Josh Feigert of the Atlanta-based Wymyns Prysyn.

“We have our community, and we don’t go through booking agents,” he said in regards to how he connected with Brower for Suckfest. He went on to talk about how he knows several of the bands playing from staying at their houses for out-of-town shows.

“There is a strong North Carolina/Atlanta connection. We have a lot of mutual friends “¦ that’s how we network,” he added.

If there is one thing that really pushes the DIY agenda, it’s the lack of reliance on labels and middlemen to handle the work. Feigert handles all of the booking for Wymyns Prysyn, from one-off shows to entire tours.

“It’s nice to have control of everything,” Feigert added. “One, you’re not having the financial burden of paying middle men, and two, that side of being a musician is important to see for every aspect of production.

But he also mentioned that they have been waiting on Wymyns Prysyn’s next vinyl record to come back from the pressing plant for several months “” something that a major label can expedite because of order quantities and business relationships.

Even though Suckfest is a first time event, and there will certainly be the inevitable stressors that come from such a task, Brower remains confident in her goal.

“There are all of these people doing these things, and I feel like Greensboro scene is progressing and growing,” she said. “I will always want to plug Greensboro into a bigger music community.” !

WANNA go?

Suckfest starts at 4 p.m. on Friday with Junior Astronomers, Designer, Dumpster, Flesh Wounds, Wymyns Prysyn, Teen Death, Space Bear, Fever Dream, Black Santa and headliners Dope Body. Saturday’s music starts at 3 p.m. with Cop Problem, Priapus, Lesser Life, Born Hollow, Distrust, Irata, Empire, Hawks, Holder’s Scare, RuleBreaker, Future Primitive, Damn Frank and Totally Slow. Tickets for each day are $8. (Artists not playing in listed order.) The After Banger show is the following weekend and will be a reunion show for Fastest Kid in 5th Grade, a metal act that broke up in 2009. More bands, including Born Hollow, are slated to play.

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