Sunday, August 24, 2014
Ripple Field Trip: Dirt Fest 2014
With more than a decade under it’s belt, Dirt Fest has established itself as one of America’s premiere metal festivals and must-see Summer music attractions in the region. The 2014 iteration sported more than 50 hardcore bands on six stages and was so well run that it was damn near perfect.
Thousands braved the fairly intense heat and humidity to attend, and all of them were rewarded with a well organized, day-long extravaganza of metal, mosh, mayhem and monstrosities. National Rock Review did an amazing job with their involvement and with more merchandise booths, dunk tanks and plushy jousting matches than you could count, there was plenty of fun to be had traveling from stage to stage amongst the attendees.
Heavy hitters like Kill Switch Engage, Gemini Syndrome and Tantric gave energetic, high-quality performances as expected, but for me it was some of the lesser known, intensely hungry bands that really stole the show and personified the spirit of the entire Dirt Fest experience.
1876, a local, Flint, Michigan band was my first stop on the festival map and they exceeded any expectation I might have had going in. Fueled by a raging youthful attitude and inspirations which include bleeding and bourbon, these guys threw down a barrage of hyper punk ugliness that easily got the early morning crowd jacked up well before most of the acts even had a second cup of coffee. Seek them out.
Next, I had a chance to hang out with Murder FM vocalist and frontman, Norman “The Gnar” Matthew before their performance. Norman is a fun guy. He’s the type of person everyone wants to be around. His eyes grow big and his face lights up with every thought, making you feel special and genuinely connected, and that carries over intuitively into the band’s fiery live show which gets the crowd involved, howling along wildly and experiencing the same kinetic connection that Norman provides personally.
Growing up on the music and showmanship of legendary performers such as Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue gave “The Gnar” a huge thirst for big drums, big shows and big entertainment, and Murder FM clearly strives to explode with those larger than life concepts every time they hit the stage.
Touring with bands like Korn and the Deftones and hooking up with the iconic Rob Zombie have done nothing but grow the band’s love of the arena atmosphere, and with a string of sexy, rock-metal singles and videos under their spiked belt, it’s not hard to see why fans are eagerly awaiting their new album, “We The Evil”.
Labeling yourself Murder Fucking Music may seem a little brazen, but these guys use their charisma and flair for the dramatic to intimately connect with the crowd to form an organic, moshing mob of blood thirsty accomplices that might very well destroy today’s generic music status-quo right alongside them.
Get in on the bloody action yourself by catching these guys on tour or checking out their latest video on Revolver.
As the sun finally departed and gave way to a nice breeze, I wandered over to see the Dirt Fest finale on the National Rock Review stage from Beast In The Field. Beast is another local Michigan band, and they are well known for their earsplitting, outrageously loud sound and mind crushing, megalithic tone.
I arrived to watch in stunned amazement as cab after cab of 4x12 insanity was artfully arranged to create a veritable wall of silence-damning audio power. 14 cabs in total, forming an epic pyramid of woofer Valhalla that was clearly designed to serve the growing crowd a memorable near deaf experience.
Eventually, Beast In The Field began their set in what I can only describe as an eruption of gargantuan stoner might that choked the night air into submission and throttled the crowd down into head bobbing doom mode. It’s hard to believe that a mere duo can produce that insane volume of raw sound, but when you see the determination and malice that goes into bludgeoning the drum set and the passionate torturing of the guitar, it starts to make some sense.
Along the way, you get an acute realization that all that raw power is being maniacally crafting into something beautiful and rare and blatant intensity eventually just cannot mask it. Although I wouldn’t dare call it delicate, I would hazard to say that there’s quite a lot of beauty to go along with this beast, and ultimately that beauty gets through- and it's glorious.
Beast In The Field is the only group of the three that has a vinyl release, and, indeed, they have several of them on the Saw Her Ghost label. Each features very impressive occult artwork and each is undoubtedly “holy shit" heavy. Their latest release on vinyl, Lechuguilla, will be available later this year.
Heading out for the night, I couldn’t help thinking back on just what a truly delightful experience Dirt Fest 2014 had been. It was truly a fun and unique experience filled with amazing people and memorable performances from start to finish. I know I will be back, and I hope you will plan to join me there for Dirt Fest 2015.
Photo credits Gerfupelspat, Oldfatbroke