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06.06.12 Concert Review 6/6 05.04.12 Gilead Media Music Festival Recap
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Gilead Media Music Festival Recap

So I went to the Gilead Media Music Festival last weekend, but didn't get a chance to finish this up until now, because I had to move right after I got back on Monday night. Anyway, this was my first festival experience at a sold out show to 250 people plus musicians at the Electric Lounge (a three-story venue/bowling alley) in Oshkosh, WI on April 28-29, and easily one of my favorite music experiences so far.
1Saturday - April 28
2Darger + Plague Mother

Both Ohio based noise projects, the former on the ambient/drone side of things and the latter on the harsher end, did a collaborative fifteen minute set to open the festival, which ended up being fairly even between their respective styles. Pretty good, and a relatively sedate way to kick off the festival.
3Arms Aloft

Punk from Wisconsin, but I can't really recall too much about these guys, to be honest with all that came after them, and I believe I only stayed for half their set before wandering around the venue. Just some fun tunes in the vein of Descendents from what I remember.

Doom trio from Iowa that mixes it up with drone and sludge elements to make for a murky atmosphere comprising layers upon layers of guitar buzz and plodding riffs. I hadn't heard them before the festival but I thoroughly enjoyed their set. Also, free stickers!

Great Milwaukee crust/hardcore with lots of energy and even more vitriol. Lots of raw power and grime with this band and it's a shame there wasn't a suitable pit for them - because their music was meant for raging and fist-pumping, if anything - but such is the case when there are merch tables loaded with precious vinyls lining the sides of the room. From an account of my boyfriend's friend from Milwaukee, their shows usually are crazy wall-to-wall affairs.
6Get Rad

Skipped these guys to grab dinner before the four-band punch to the face after them. Sorry, dudes, but sacrifices must be made to fill my stomach with fast food, including consumption of said fast food so I have more money to pay for merch.

Probably my second favorite set of the festival, although my boyfriend and his two friends thought these guys were the best one. Absolutely scathing doom from Oregon and probably the youngest performer there coming in at 21. It's hard to believe he was only eighteen when he recorded his first release. The performance was immense with the frontman, Matt, shrieking as if possessed into the microphone - 'I fell from Heaven through the gates of Hell' - and gesticulating like a manic preacher (reminded me of when I saw The Haunting Presence, who had a similar style of performance, but better, in my opinion). Live line-up included Adam Torruella, the guy who runs Pesanta Urfolk and happens to look like a black metal cowboy (complete with holsters and ten gallon hat). I mean, really, look at them:
8Fell Voices

My most anticipated act at the festival, and they certainly lived up to my expectations to also take my favorite set at the festival. Not sure these guys need much introduction on Sputnik, but black metal from Santa Cruz with their drummer now living in Brooklyn, so they can't perform as often anymore. It was pretty evident that the band, therefore, put all their hearts into this performance together with each other and all their friends at the festival to make for a truly special show. The drummer, Mike, is one of my favorite musicians to see live - I go to every Ruin Lust (of which he is also the drummer) show in Brooklyn, haha - and he surpassed every other instance I had seen him. They played with no microphones, so Joe and Mike just screamed over their instruments, which was a testament to just how intense their performance was. Their droning black metal was completely brought to life and I experienced a rare moment of almost transcendent ecstasy brought on by just how moving music can be. Really, I almost cried at the end of their song off the split with Ash Borer - it was that good. Just absolutely amazing and awesome in the truest sense of the word.
9Ash Borer

I'm not as big on Ash Borer as I was last year (saw them twice in the summer!), but I still enjoy them immensely. Again, a Sputnik-famous band - actually heard about these guys through this site, so thanks to whoever hyped them up! - so, not much to say about this black metal outfit from Arcata, California that hasn't already been said on here. They put on a fantastic show and their atmosphere is supremely thrilling and expansive live, so it was great to see them again.
Also, Kyle, the frontman, cut his hair and now looks like an adorable lumberjack in an Acephalix shirt. Such a babyface, despite the facial hair, hah!

It seemed appropriate to end the first night with a big slab of funeral doom, courtesy of these Tennessee heavyweights (the frontman quite literally - huge man at a festival full of big men). I wish I had been less exhausted, because I probably would have been more engrossed in a funeral doom performance. As it was, I had gotten no sleep the night before, since I had to wake up at 3 AM anyway to get ready for a 7 AM flight, plus traveling, then the actual seven hours of festival time, so I was way too fucking tired to handle this depressed as fuck shit at the end of the night, to be honest. But, yes, the set was a good end to the night.
11Sunday - April 29

Easily the weirdest act of the festival, Mania is a one-man black metal project from Oregon (also the bassist of Leech and owner of the Eternal Warfare label). Still somewhat orthodox in that cold, ripping black metal way, but his live acts consists of him playing drums to guitar tracks and a small computer screen showing clips of subway trains and 90s metropolis scenes, for some reason. Regardless of his set-up, Mania was great to see.
13Baby Boy

This Baton Rouge act announced themselves as the 'least metal' band playing, but with three of their four members coming from Thou, you could still spot some of Thou's sludgier sensibilities coming through their performance. I wouldn't really consider them metal, closer to something like post-punk tinged rock with crunchy guitars, which oddly ended up sounding almost like post-hardcore at times.

A rare performance of a side project of the drummer of Fell Voices - he had described it to me before as 'black metal Sonic Youth', and that's not too bad of a description, especially with the added noisiness of a live performance. Members of Ash Borer and Fell Voices rounded out the live line-up, and their performance was excellent, despite the fact that they could only practice for a short time in a van beforehand. If you couldn't tell from my Fell Voices overture, I have a huge musician crush on Mike, because he brings so much energy to his performances, whether it be in Fell Voices, Ruin Lust, or Sleepwalker, that he is always enjoyable to see, although this time in the capacity of lead guitarist! He's just as frenetic on guitar as he is on the drums.
15A Scanner Darkly

I felt bad skipping these guys for lunch, since Adam, the guy who runs Gilead and put this whole festival together is in it (this was a reunion show), plus it's a grindcore band about fucking Philip K. Dick, but considering everything else going on (and that the people with the car wanted to go during this set), I didn't have much of a choice!

Crushing sludge/doom from Milwaukee reminiscent of Neurosis, but more bleak in feeling than imposingly majestic, as I tend to think of Neurosis's atmosphere. It's not exactly surprising that the vast wastelands of flyover farm country turns out all these cheerless bands, haha. The guitarist tossed his instrument in the crowd at the end of the show while the drummer knocked his kit over, which I think is a rather pointless thing to do, especially when the guitar hits me partially on the back when I duck to avoid it. If you're going to destroy your shit, destroy it - don't do these weak, half-assed knocking things over and throwing-but-not-really antics to avoid damage to your instruments.
17Mutilation Rites

I've seen these guys plenty of times in Brooklyn, and I'm not as enamored of their music as a lot of other people at this festival seemed to be, but I think they're satisfying black metal with thrashy elements. Not at all pretentious, considering the other well-known black metal bands coming out of Brooklyn consist of Liturgy and Krallice, although rumor has it that George, the frontman, was a dirty hipster only a few years ago, hah.
18The Body

These guys are always a fantastic experience live, with extra emphasis on 'experience'. Their two stacked amps make you feel like your internal organs are vibrating (I can actually feel the cartilage in my nose vibrating), especially if you?re in the first two rows, like I was. Pretty amazing to witness the wall of sound this duo makes along with Chip's piercingly high shriek, and my ears still hurt a bit even with earplugs in. Also, Chip pulled up his shirt to wipe his face so I finally got to see his legendary enormous gut in its full glory.

Featuring the only woman performing at the festival, these Minneapolis black metallers put on a decent show, although I thought there were some dull stretches interspersed with the good parts, so I wasn't as into it as most of the crowd was. The frontwoman's blue flower-print jumper made me laugh a bit, but apart from her questionable sartorial choices, she puts out some nasty vocals. Her voice was well suited to the relentless violence of the instrumentals, although this was somewhat to their disadvantage, as I found myself getting bored at parts when they felt rather repetitive (especially the lack of variation in songwriting) in spite of their overall impressive performance. As an aside, I thought the bassist was somewhat distracting because he looked like a massive douche with his slicked back hair and trying to look cool by standing amidst the gaggle of female fans who had surged up to the front with one leg up on the stage for most of the show. Blech.

I liked these guys' release last year, but wasn't terribly blown away by it. I'd say I felt similarly about their set, although special credit has to be given to the frontman, Dallas Smith, who wailed away maniacally with indefatigable energy in a voice that reminded me of wet concrete mixed with some glass. They also debuted 'Shifting Sands', a song from their upcoming split with False.

Performing their 2007 Tyrant in its entirety, these Baton Rouge doom-sludge metallers always put on a superb show. Although I was psyched about seeing Tyrant live, especially 'Fucking Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean', out of the now four times I've seen Thou, the show I saw last summer at ABC No Rio is still the best, probably in part due to the lack of a stage altogether, allowing for maximum crowd interaction - and also just the crowd in general. The stage banter was still as amusing as ever, especially when some guy in the crowd yelled out, 'Less glitter on the drums!' regarding Josh Nee's shimmery gold kit, to which he responded with 'Less jean jacket in the peanut gallery!' But I don't know, something just seemed off about the experience for me, even though the actual music and Thou's stage presence were stellar as usual and made more special by the rarity of hearing these tracks live. Still, I enjoyed myself fully, tore up my neck from headbanging, and was sad to see the end of this awesome weekend.
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