Hoosier fests, chaotic and mutated

Chives at Mutant Fest

Yes, Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Bunbury and Forecastle are great. We're not denying it, and we're not even trying. We <3 big festivals. But while you can pay muchos dolares to hang out at Sawyer Point or Waterfront Park, another closer option awaits: local DIY fests like Chaos Fest and Mutant Fest (plus big boys, like WARMfest, which fingers crossed will return next year in some form) which went down this month in Bloomington. We sent a dude to each fest to take it all in. First up, TJ Jaeger's survey of Chaos Fest:

Chaos Fest is a three-day DIY punk festival held on Fourth of July Weekend. The second Chaos Fest was a community effort. Local and touring musicians, event organizers and attendees worked together to keep as little chaos as possible in the events. The fest featured shows held in houses and venues, fundraisers for health programs, art fairs highlighting local talent and reunions of friends and fellow punks. The documentary Accepting Chaos captures gritty live footage from many shows along with conversations with many of the main organizers.

Watch Accepting Chaos, featuring performances from Cloaca, Ghost Mice, Alyssa Kai, Human Behavior, Ankle Biter, Turtle Lamone, Dribble, Mitch the Champ and Left Astray, and interviews with Chris Clavin, Garrett Walters, Kara Comegys, Kim Naeseth and Mitch Duncan below. 

We move on below to Kyle Jones' review of Mutant Fest, which went down the following weekend in Bloomington at the Backdoor and The Blockhouse. 

Mutant Fest sounded off in Bloomington over the weekend for the second iteration of this daylong micro rock n’ roll festival.

The Backdoor and The Blockhouse did the hosting honors, and for the next nine hours 16 bands alternated between the two venues for 30-minute intervals throughout the evening.

Gathering in Bloomington only seemed appropriate: the scene was low-key and homegrown enough, away from the delusion and noise of Indianapolis, or some other larger city. It was a small mecca that evening for dorks, weirdos, freaks and of course mutants. A safe zone devoid of ego and judgement, just kids, no matter how young or old, bopping along to the hits.

Sure we’ve seen wilder times, but few happenings are as attentive and appreciative as when rock nerds get together.

Headlined by Timmy’s Organism and the legendary Gizmos, it was a storybook occasion that over 40 years later everything would still be kicking off in the same place.

Eddie Flowers, vocalist of the original lineup and now a returning member, explained after a few trips to Bloomington in 1974 and 75’ while working on the first issue of Gulcher Magazine, which would go on to become Gulcher Records, the first Gizmos’ line-up would come together.

“So we started like in 75’, doing the magazine,” said Flowers. “Then in late 75’ Kenne Highland, who was the main songwriter in the band and the money guy, Bob Richard, the Gulcher guy. Decided he wanted to do a record with Kenne. So Kenne put together a band of people and that was The Gizmos. I never even really officially lived in Indiana.”

Shortly after finishing the record and visiting one last time in 1977, Flowers wouldn’t return to Bloomington until some time last year.

But what brings him back, along with the rest of the Gizmos, is the pure fun of it all.

“We always have a lot of fun and that's what we try to bring to the audience,” said Flowers. “All the Gizmos are all really bad, there's no deeper meaning to anything. It’s a party, that's what we’re trying to do, bring the party.”

As a man of his word, Flowers and the gang held down Mutant Fest II late into evening and did just that.

Running the risk of sounding like a cop out, I’d be remiss not to mention just how stellar and solid bands like KP and Me, The Hemingers and The Brothers Gross can be at every opportunity you get to see them rip out the scorchers that have made them smoking alley names.

Further into the day my suspicion and fear that I’d been developing an unhealthy, teen idol-like obsession with Chives had all been confirmed after their performance that evening, and was solidified after asking for an awkward photo with the titular hero.

You’d think this young man would get tired of chugging out his brand of freak out rock n’ roll week after week. But that's the thing, man: rock n’ roll don’t get tired.

Though it was past many of our bedtimes or primes, a marathon day of rock with a 100 new friends was enough of a fulfilling and reassuring time to convince us all that life ain’t so bad, and this resurgence of what we love so much can be fun, alive and underground again.


Recommended for you