Loud music, sweaty bods and more music than any sane person could hope to digest in one weekend: Yes, it’s Dude Fest time again.
The sixth installment of this annual loud ’n’ heavy music orgy will stretch across two venues, three days and five sessions, with more than two dozen bands taking part. Roughly a third of them have local ties, while the others come from as far away as Texas, Florida and California. Some, like locals Phoenix Bodies and Chicago’s Hewhocorrupts, are festival regulars; others, such as Miami’s Torche and Houston’s Insect Warfare, will be making their first appearances.
“It’s consistently low-key, diverse and has a positive vibe despite its growth,” Ryan Durkin of Hewhocorrupts and Kung Fu Rick says. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone to another fest that comprises those things.”
Like most of the bands, audience members tend to come from far and wide. “Every year I do this fest in Indianapolis,” organizer Derek Black says, “and every year the amount of people from out of state or out of town that come to the fest usually outnumbers the people from local areas.”
Black, who’s also the vocalist for Phoenix Bodies, has booked the sarcastically named festival since its inception. (“Sometimes you need to call a spade a spade,” he says.) Organizing the event is nearly a year-round activity, but as he describes it, “There’s very little ‘work’ involved in doing this fest ... Basically, I do the fest to see friends of mine that play in bands all over the place.”
As for this year’s lineup, Black boasts, “I could go on and on about every single band playing this fest, and I think people that like any sort of fast or heavy music should come and check out all of them.” With that in mind, here’s an abridged look at some of the potential highlights.
Friday, June 20, 4 p.m., $15, all-ages
The Emerson Theater, 4634 E. 10th St.
Headliners Torche are undoubtedly the most melodic band on the Dude Fest slate. Not only do its members sing, they actually harmonize, amidst a sludgy, Melvins-influenced hard-rock sound that could easily grace the airwaves alongside bands like Queens of the Stone Age.
Like the 1990s Scandinavian black metal bands they resemble, Chicago’s Nachtmystium began by making primitive, lo-fi recordings but have since turned to a more experimental, studio-based approach. Their latest album, Assassins: Black Meddle Part I (Century Media), is both their most unconventional and their most “heavy metal” album yet; it will be interesting to hear how it translates live.
Plague Bringer are a Chicago duo (sometimes trio) who churn out industrial-tinged experimental metal with the help of a diligently programmed drum machine. The Red Chord are a slick, technical spazz-metal band with a couple of albums on Metal Blade. Also on the bill are Transistor/Transistor, the Wayward and You Will Die.
Friday, June 20, 10:30 p.m., $5 or free with wristband, 21+
Zanie’s Too, 5914 E. 10th St.
Hang on to your attention span. Illinois quartet Minsk will close out a long day of music with some of their sprawling art-metal, which combines a Neurosis influence with tribal-sounding percussion, spacey post-rock interludes and the occasional saxophone or Moog synth flourish.
Fight Amp play caustic noise-rock that draws frequent comparisons to the early ’90s Amphetamine Reptile scene (think Helmet, Unsane or Today Is the Day), and with good reason. It’s not the most fashionable sound these days, but they do a fine job with it. The_Network and The Gates of Slumber round out this late-night bill.
Saturday, June 21, noon, $25, all-ages
The Emerson Theater
“Saturday is going to be the day to end all days of the fest,” Black says. He calls festival headliner Pig Destroyer “pretty much the best grindcore band I’ve ever seen. Their live sound kills everything else even remotely resembling their style.”
Indeed, the Virginia trio has released a string of state-of-the-art albums on the Relapse label over the last decade. They seldom tour, but this marks their second straight year headlining this event.
California’s Despise You are veterans of the brilliantly named “power violence” scene, a crusty, meth-fueled offshoot hybrid of hardcore and grindcore that peaked a decade or so ago. This is an extremely rare Midwest appearance by the band, bringing a welcome female presence in bassist/backing vocalist Leticia Perez.
Both Hewhocorrupts and Phoenix Bodies deliver spastic, shrieking hardcore with a side order of sarcasm. The quaintly christened Shitstorm are a sleeper here, serving up short but effective bursts of old-school brutality à la early Napalm Death. Insect Warfare, Lords, Gaza, Weekend Nachos, World Eater, Trap Them, The Dream is Dead and Get Rad complete this marathon session.
Saturday, June 21, 10:30 p.m., $5 or free with wristband, 21+
As with Friday night’s session, this one’s headliner, Mouth of the Architect, specializes in slowly unfolding epics that clock in at around 10 minutes apiece. Is this the way to wind down after a day full of fast, pummeling music? Perhaps. MOTA’s anguished sonic journeys combine post-rock, metal and hardcore influences and draw inevitable comparisons to Isis and Pelican. Suicide Note, Sweet Cobra and Monarcs also play.
Sunday June 22, 1 p.m., $15, all-ages
The Emerson Theater
Kylesa headlines this final session, featuring a toxic, heavy-as-hell sludge-metal sound that’s somewhere between High on Fire and Mastodon. The last set of the weekend, their performance should be a highlight.
Skeletonwitch hail from Athens, Ohio, but they sound more like they come from Sweden circa 1995 or Germany circa 1985. Their blackened thrash-metal style is not groundbreaking, but it is gratifying, thanks to some catchy riffs and nifty dual-guitar harmonies.
Capsule play grindcore-infused noise-rock, for lack of a better term, with some of the more interesting and creative guitar playing you’ll hear all weekend. Kung Fu Rick, Iron Lung, Backstabbers, Inc., Graf Orlock, Demiricous, Ghostlimb and In The Face of War round things out.