Thursday, October 10, 2013

We're All Nuts (... Part One: Fallout Fest)

So, where are we going with this?

A range of bands, a range of genres...distinctive estuaries all flowing into one scene's tempestuous sea... There's always healthy competition, there's always camaraderie, there's always clicques. Some festivals come around and try to work against that - at least, it's in that direction that Fallout Fest is steering.

Jesse Shepherd Bates is a local musician who writes a lot of songs, records music regularly and performs pretty steadily (-if not solo, then with a slew of side-gigs).

He also helps other bands get together and put on big shows. In fact, he's been spending likely as much time organizing mini "fests" as he has been organizing his daily life (or his own songs, for that matter). He's barely squeezing in the painting work on his new house between helping his former bandmate/Satin Peaches singer George Morris shoot a music-video whilst also sharing some thoughts, here, on the FallOut Fest scheduled for October 12th- that was first dreamed up by another local musician, John Morgan (of a band called Raptura).

"It's no secret that I'm a fan of bands, around this town," Shepherd half-sighs, half-chuckles, smiling with tired eyes. "I have this strange capacity for overwhelming myself to the edge of not breaking down."

No one's tried to do "two-stages" (with 16 bands) inside a smaller, more unassuming venue like the New Dodge Lounge in Hamtramck. Plus, this is a charming place, with a great sound guy and, if you will, modestly-priced drinks, Morgan assuages, suggesting that some have underestimated its potential for hosting a mini festival like Fall Out.

"Plus," says Shepherd-Bates, "our boating trophy is hung over the bar," suggesting that it feels like home for him. Said-trophy is designed to look like... "Wait," he pauses, working his brain, "what do you call the...steering wheel, a Pirate ship or a sail-boat?" Bates wonders.

"A helm."

"Right...So our trophy's up over the bar."

But who's at the helm? Who's steering this scene? Where are we going with this? Can we find out, at Fallout fest?

Guitarist/singer Morgan, who came to Shepherd-Bates with the idea, says he knows there's a lot of Fests around here and that, yes, perhaps there's too many... Maybe Fallout can work against that, find a middle ground where it's a certainly an augmented occassion, but not blown-out to overwhelming feats.

The idea, really, was just to have an opportunity to celebrate Autumn, with music! This weekend might be the last chance to do just that, says Morgan, because once Halloween hits it's all about costumes and cover bands and stupendous showmanship - and it all quiets down after that, as the scene sets in for a bit of mellower hibernation.

"Part of this is a feeling of responsibility, though," Morgan says, "Just, being part of this scene and being thankful for this scene. There's so much talent in Detroit still to this day and there always has been - especially musically. So, doing a show like this is helping keep it alive and keep it going; I think that's a good thing."

The plan:
5:20 (Side Stage): Pool
5:50 (Main Stage): ILL ITCHES
6:20 (Side Stage): Little Animal
6:50 (Main Stage): The Vonneguts
7:20 (SideStage): Electric Corpse
7:50 (Main Stage): George Morris
8:20 (Side Stage): Silent Lions
8:50 (Main Stage): Sugar Baron
9:20 (Side Stage): Radio Burns
9:50 (Main Stage): Raptura
10:20 (Side Stage): The HandGrenades
11:00 (Main Stage): Wasabi Dream
11:30 (Side Stage): The Kickstand Band
12:00 (Main Stage): Laura Finlay
12:30 (Side Stage): Mexican Knives
1:00 (Main Stage): FLASHCLASH

"The whole fest-thing is not a new concept but I just get excited to look at a line-up like this," says Shepherd-Bates. "When is Flashclash and Wasabi Dream going to play a show together? Or Electric Corpse and Kickstand Band? All good musicians, all from around here..."

What can you say? What does it all add up to? Does a Fest have to be a Woodstock thing and say something about the collective culture that put it on? (Did Woodstock even say something, really?)

What can you say?

"We're all nuts," Shepherd-Bates chuckles.

"Anybody playing in a band, putting as much effort into their bands as they are...or any of the other 250-some-odd other great bands in town that didn't end up on this bill ...honestly anybody doing it...we're all crazy...The amount of time and money you put into your band, it's like salmon swimming up stream."

But a good crowd - that can be the difference maker. "I feel like I always play better to an energized crowd. It's like the 10th Tiger on the field or the sixth Piston on the court."
Fallout Fest - like most fests of late - is hopefully going to blend the cliques of crowds that follow each band.

And if it all works out, Morgan says, then they'll do it all again next year.
Shepherd-Bates surmises: "It's awesome around here."

We're All Nuts (Part Two -coming soon)