Summer Meltdown 

Arts Garden Park, New Castle, Ind.
Saturday, Sept. 1

At times things got pretty ugly at the second annual Summer Meltdown metal fest in New Castle’s Arts Garden Park — with bad tattoos, skin-tight jeans and a generic nü-metal noise coming from the stage. But it wasn’t all bad.

As Dustin Reed, one of the Meltdown’s promoters, tells NUVO, he was inspired by V-H1’s Save the Music program to give the proceeds of this year’s Summer Meltdown to his alma mater, New Castle Chrysler High School’s music department. “There’s nothing for a lot of these kids to do in this town except play music,” he says.

Karl B. Niles, former Quaker minister and longtime New Castle DJ, ran the PA and changed over bands. In his inimitable style, he was rock god of New Castle, seemingly everywhere at once, joking with the hot dog vendor guy, running the board and playing with his children — the future of rock.

Of the bands on the bill, some were so horrid that they actually made a case for the existence of cover bands, but out of the backwoods nü-metal squall that ranged from Creed-ish crud to post-Papa Roach tripe, there were, thankfully, a few bright spots.

Hooker was a Metallica-tinged outfit with fun songs and a good stage presence. Dirty up their sound a bit, add more stoner-rock to the formula and these guys just could make it out of the sticks. Slant Sixxx also had a nice stage show going, with guitarist Johnny Leo wailing through some good ol’ fashioned Randall stacks.

The headliner, Machina, besides being from Arkansas and being named after a bad Smashing Pumpkins album, contained two former members of Evanescence.

Overlooking my jaded prejudice, Reed and Niles should be applauded. It is neat little small town events like this that keep the heart of rock beating.

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