There’s a reason it’s called Dude Fest.
“The reason I started doing it in the first place was to have an excuse to round up all my friends and have them come out here and hang out and have a good time,” says event organizer Derek Black. “And it’s not very hard for me to throw together.”
This year’s Dude Fest is the fifth incarnation of the extreme metal extravaganza, featuring a neck-snapping 30 bands ranging from local acts like The Dream is Dead and Black Arrows of Filth and Impurity to national acts like Genghis Tron and Ed Gein to international artists like Germany’s Perth Express and France’s Daitro.
“Every year, it’s basically a lot of my friends’ bands that I meet playing in [Phoenix Bodies] all over the country,” Black says. “A lot of the bands playing this year have played in years past.”
“I could go on about all the bands playing,” says Jared Southwick, guitarist for The Dream is Dead. “This is by far the best lineup.”
A major coup for Dude Fest this year was the announcement of seminal grindcore act Pig Destroyer as one of the headliners.
“Actually, they contacted me and asked if they could play,” Black says. “I was all for it, because I’ve asked them to play in the past, with not much response. They only play like 10 shows a year, so it’s really awesome.”
The Dream is Dead is especially pumped to see Pig Destroyer make their long-awaited Indianapolis debut. They played their first-ever show with Pig Destroyer in the latter’s suburban D.C. stomping grounds.
“To play with them in our hometown is kind of like a coming-back-around type thing,” Southwick says. “We’re really stoked.”
It also further solidifies Dude Fest’s reputation as a legitimate destination for hardcore and metal fans far beyond the confines of the Circle City. But Black says that prominence was established long ago.
“Almost every year more people from out of town come to the fest than from in town,” he says. “At least 50 percent of the people who come drive three to four hours. I’ve even had people fly over from Europe or people taking buses from Mexico. I know a bunch of people are driving from Edmonton, Alberta, this year. Really I’d say it’s always been neglected or ignored by people in Indianapolis.”
They would be wise not to skip it this year. Beyond the electronically tinged siege of Genghis Tron, the politically pissed hardcore of TDID and the anarchic thrash of Total Fucking Destruction, you have Pig Destroyer, an act as animalistic and efficiently chaotic as few mortals can fathom. Fresh off their latest release, Phantom Limb, the band has more imitators than ever, but still fashions a pinpoint rage that’s unduplicated.
“It’s not something you understand as much as you just feel,” says Pig Destroyer singer J.R. Hayes when discussing his band’s uncommonly savage performances. “Music to me is not an intellectual thing. You can make it intellectual — discuss it, dissect it, pick it apart. But at its core, music is a physical and emotional thing. There’s no better high than playing in a grindcore band that I’ve found. And I’ve tried a lot.”
Besides their blistering musical onslaught, there’s also Hayes’ unsettling lyrical content — a window into a dark soul with a taste for the detestable.
“I try to scare myself,” Hayes says of his writing. “Obviously I want there to be some substance to what I do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try to have fun every now and then and write a line because I think it’s outrageous or it pops in my head and I think it’s cool. I think about it like I’m writing a horror movie. I’m trying to paint pictures and scare the shit out of people.”
Indianapolis has been waiting years for a live scaring from Pig Destroyer. In light of how quickly so-called “annual events” can drop out of existence, Southwick echoes the thoughts of many on Dude Fest’s rising distinction.
“A lot of people might do a fest for one year and lose money,” he says. “For Derek to be doing this for five years is really cool. It’s not only awesome for the bands, but for the city of Indianapolis.”