Fuzz Fest 7 marks the return of the annual festival celebrating all things fuzz at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.
Fuzz Fest 7
I was overjoyed when I saw the announcement from the captain of fuzz, Chris Taylor, that Fuzz Fest would be back with Fuzz Fest 7 at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. This annual festival showcases the best in fuzzy and experimental rock returns for the lucky number seven edition after a couple years hiatus due to the pandemic. Each night of the three-day festival includes 11 bands alternating between the main stage and the floor in front of the sound board. It is a non-stop extravaganza of rock music every night.
While I had hoped to make it for the full three-day festival, I was only able to attend Thursday and Friday this year. This means I missed seeing Shells, Cyrano Jones, Nonfiction, Dr Pete and the Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, Die Laughing, Caveman Woodman and Bam Bam Moss, The State, Zzvava, MAZINGA, Scissor Now!, and Human Skull. If you made it for day three, please share in the comments. If you missed it too, then hit the links to jam the music.
Many times we leave our thank you’s at the end; not this time. Many thanks to Chris Taylor, who puts together such a wonderful rock festival basically on his own. However, he did have some great assistants in Karl and Otis Dickinson, who helped with the doors, lights, and generally running shit down. Of course, huge thanks to Adam Wilkinson for the killer sound. While I missed seeing Jeremy Wheeler at the show, his extraordinary art is part of what makes Fuzz Fest awesome. A big shout out to the sponsors: Faygo, VG Kids, and Winewood Organics. Finally, hats off to the excellent crew at the Blind Pig who took care of us all.
Since I failed to get a shot of Chris or his crew this year. Here is a shot of Jeremy and Chris from Fuzz Fest 1
Day 1 – Fuzz Fest 7
Captains Log: The sun is shining and the temperatures are delightful as I stroll up to the Blind Pig for day 1 of Fuzz Fest 7. I was greeted by Chris Taylor, the man, the myth, and the legend behind Fuzz Fest, along with friends Kristin and Eric from Ladyship Warship. Bobby from Electric Huldra was here to check out the bands and we chatted with Dan and Gordie of The Lucid Furs. The doors weren’t even open and the party vibe for the first night of Fuzz Fest 7 was lit.
Tina in the Sand
Opening up Fuzz Fest 7 is the scintillating surf rock of Tina in the Sand. This band is fun with a capital F. They put a couple of unique twists into classic surf. First, they incorporate a Rhodes keyboard for psychedelic ambiance and melodies. Second, Tina in the Sand incorporates covers of classic movie theme songs such as Halloween and The Godfather along with surf standbys like Pipeline. Tina and the Sand put the Moondog and LSD 25 into your beach blanket bingo baby.
It was great to once again experience the pure passion of punk through the eyes of Girl Fight. I had a chance to catch them at a show earlier in the year at the Cadieux Cafe. When you meet them off stage, they are the most gentle and unassuming people. On stage, they unleash the fury within that allows you to bask in their primal emotional surge. It is a cleansing of the soul through the power of love and music.
The name of the band is Child Sleep. As I thought back to the experience of hearing them at Fuzz Fest 7, I saw the image of a sleeping child; carefree, blissful, dreaming, and loved. Child Sleep makes beautifully perfect indie pop. At times while I snapped a picture and let their music drift through me, I thought of bands like Lush and the Cocteau Twins. It was also a nice surprise to realize the bass player is in one of my new favorite bands, Wilson Thicket, and the drummer is from the amazing Minihorse. I’m probably the only person that didn’t know this, but hey, it was a revelation for me.
What makes Fuzz Fest such a wonderful experience is the variety of music. You go from jangly indie rock to monster meltdown metal to something completely different. Such is the case with Golden Feelings. Under the surreal glow of a black light, the pilot sets the controls for the heart of the sun. Metaphors of an ever-flowing stream or the infinite void of space fail to capture the meditative tranquil transformations within the music of Golden Feelings.
I’ve had the great fortune to catch my friends in Ladyship Warship at the Cadieux Cafe, Corktown Music Fest, Duo Fest, and now Fuzz Fest 7. Every time I hear Ladyship Warship, something new emerges. A shimmering glaze of cymbals, the straining bend of a note as it echoes in space, a mournful vocal call and response, each performance reveals the special magic of their music. A shout out to whoever was running the lights as the trippy yellow glow nudged the overall psychedelic experience to 11.
From the catnip-infested crypts of Detroit comes Death Cat. Count Cat, Catpira, Professor Nutzenboltz, and Grayson regaled us with meowtastic tales of horror punk. Death Cat is as much fun to watch as to listen to. Count Cat sings of bats while the Professor plunders his bass. Catpira purrs on the keyboards to the marching drums of Grayson. A sullen robot dreams of electric sheep as the cats roar in the alleys of the damned. Fear no hairballs with Death Cat.
I loved the head-bashing fist in the face punk rock of The Strains. From the first note, they never let up, keeping the pedal hammered to the floor. Big burly guitar riffs flying on top of rocket powered drums and bass physically grabbed me by the neck and shook me to the core. Every song by The Strains sounded like an anthem of existence; a call to rage in the face of adversity; a challenge to live your best life; a scream into the void that I’m still fucking here fucker. Long fucking live The Strains!
When I first took in the members of Solar Drip I thought, “Wait a minute…is this Strange Flavors?” While some of the core members of the band Strange Flavors are present, this is a brand new band. However, the thrilling heavy psyche music that made Strange Flavors such a treat is alive and well within Solar Drip. Once again, the cosmic light show was in tune with the music adding to the pulsing insistence of Solar Drip. Good to the last drop.
Another first at Fuzz Fest 7 for me is Lord Centipede. They had retired in 2015 after their Centipede Up Your Ass album (destined to become a classic) and reformed at the tail end of the pandemic to blast forth with their patented blend of thrash sludge metal. The best way to describe Lord Centipede is relentless ferocity. I was reminded of seeing High On Fire in that they play maximal riffs at soul shatter volume with minimal breaks. Lord Centipede use their hundreds of thrashing hardcore bashing riffs to overwhelm and consume you. It is throat punching metal music at its finest.
The Lucid Furs
I usually feel a little bad for the last band on any given night of Fuzz Fest. They hit the stage just past 1 am and while a few diehards are still ready to party, a lot of folks have called it a night. Not so on this first night of Fuzz Fest 7 as The Lucid Furs took the side stage by storm. Their highly addictive heavy blues rocks drew the crowd in and we rocked. Fuzz loving smash hits such as “Pull The String” radiated with high power grooves, foot stomping riffs, and vocals saturated in soul. What a way to finish an eclectic night of music.
Day 2 – Fuzz Fest 7
The first night of Fuzz Fest 7 was packed with people and physically buzzed with excitement. Ann Arbor was hopping on a Friday night and the energy around the Blind Pig was nearing peak levels as the doors opened. The potential for another amazing night of music was primed and ready to explode.
The MK Ultras
It was great to see friends Misty and Ryan along with Karen Ray in the band The MK Ultras. I’ve enjoyed Misty’s other band with Ryan called Siertas. However, this band is a different animal. While the psychedelic nature of the music is similar, the overall feel is heavier and perhaps more bluesy. I couldn’t help but think of The Doors without the asinine antics of Morrison (sorry, Jim fans). The vibe was heavy, reflective, and introspective. You could feel the trance of the MK Ultras permeate the room.
My first dabbling in the witchcraft of Witchfist was at Duo Fest. The ancient crones played their bewitching tales of fun with Jesus, toads, and incantations. The drums hammered as the guitars chainsawed through the earth in primal fury. In between songs, the crones would insult each other and chug beer before hammering once again upon the gates of hell, otherwise known as Midland, Michigan. Hail the hags of Witchfist for keeping the torch of primitive metal burning bright.
The swagger swedes in Slumlord Radio came to Fuzz Fest 7 to rip it up and they did. They unleashed songs packed with high-knee boot stomping punk rock in rapid succession. Tunes such as “Holy Smokes” and “Fort Knox” exploded with slamming drums, mountainous bass, and pulverizing guitars. We roared our approval between tunes before slamming another PBR and getting wild with the next riff. Slumlord Radio knows how to throw a rock and roll party.
For a pure and visceral punk rock experience, look no further than Dear Darkness. The grimy snarling guitars and urgent drums call to mind the primordial masters such as The Misfits, The Cramps, and New York Dolls. More than a few people were bopping along to the energetic push of songs such as “Anna Maria” and “You Wanna Beat Him Up.” Dear Darkness is a Detroit punk rock gem.
I was blown away when I first caught Album at Fuzz Fest 5 and it happened again at this year’s Fuzz Fest. If you aren’t familiar with the band, they blast no holds barred classic metal. You know; the denim and leather bare knuckle metal that bands like Motorhead and Saxon made famous. Album busted into “Barely Survived,” the title track on their latest album, and it was a pantload of slamtastic riffs. The only bummer is that Album is from Ohio, otherwise, they are perfect.
Finally got my chance to check out Carbon Decoy at Fuzz Fest 7, and they were spectacular. I’d met a couple of the guys (Earl and Casey) in a band called Unknown Crowe a few years ago at Ogma. I loved the energy of that band and was interested to see what Carbon Decoy was all about. If you dig music with the lysergic charge of bands such as Sir Lord Baltimore, Hawkwind, and the Mother of Invention, you will fall in love with Carbon Decoy. Their set was vibrant, assertive, and dynamic, with crashing drums and throbbing bass laying the foundation for jazzy riffs layered in fuzz and echo. Carbon Decoy is high watt heaven.
The Cult of SpaceSkull
Blood, chaos, witches, creatures of unknown origins, blood, swords, cloning, and madness. This and more awaits you during a performance by The Cult of SpaceSkull. The red robed disciples of the Red Witch writhe and thrash, playing grungy garage punk at blistering volume. The Red Witch and her clone scream, behead a creature, wrestle, drink blood, and eventually, the Red Witch eats the heart of her clone. All the while, we mortals dance to the devil’s music. I’m hoping some brave soul will document the epic tales of The Cult of SpaceSkull in a gory graphic novel, as I’m sure I’ve got this story wrong.
1000 Yard Stare
In an instant, we went from punk rock and shock theater to bleak oblivion as 1000 Yard Stare envelope the side stage. The psychedelic light show transformed into the decaying rays of a dying star. The music of 1000 Yard Stare is sonic devastation. Each crushing blow upon the drums is a shock wave of devastation. The guitar emanates rage with brutal intent as the bass belches blackened oblivion. The eviscerating vocals roar with ceaseless anger and desperation. These are the anthems of annihilation. These are the lamentations of our dark reality.
We switched gears again with free wheels burning on a nitro funny car as Electric Huldra hit the stage. This is a classic power trio featuring balls out bass, a riot of thumping drums, and wailing electric guitar. “Rock ‘n Roll Pariah” off the latest self-titled release by Electric Huldra took on a monstrous life of its own. The band sounded bigger than life and rocked out like the classic hard rock acts such as Cactus or Grand Funk. Hard-edged rock and roll lives with Electric Huldra
The gremlins may have been fucking with Jeff’s epic bass-guitar-franken rig, but in the end, they were no match for the deadly powers of Bubak. While it is cliche to say, bone-crushing and brutal are perfect adjectives when describing the sound of this band. The technical difficulties may have dampened the ferocity a bit at the beginning, but this soon gave way to a bellicose performance. That two dudes can create such an earth-shattering set of music still blows my mind.
Closing out another raucous night at Fuzz Fest 7 are the kings of classic metal, Midas. Like time travelers riding the new wave of British Heavy Metal, Midas captures the essence of the triumphant metal music first popularized by bands such as Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, and Raven. A bombastic rhythm section keeps their music heavy and tight, allowing the twin guitar assault to soar. Midas with a steely grip upon the blackened sword, hold high the gauntlet of metal across the sands of time.
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