BY TIM HINELY
Why did it take me so long to get my ass down to Memphis and attend Goner Fest – the 16th annual event?!? I have no idea. The last few years my pal and I went out to Cropped Out in Louisville, KY and since that wasn’t happening this year we decided to do Goner Fest and that, my friends, turned out to be a great decision.
We got lucky with a cool Airbnb in midtown spot right n the middle of all the action (walking distance to one of the venues).
We missed The Limes at the opening ceremony at the gazebo (spittin’ distance from Goner Records who, of course, are the final folks who put this festival together……we made two trips to Goner to record shop, most excellent shop! Killer selection and friendly, helpful staff).
Thursday night at the Hi-Tone started with between band DJs Anthony Bedard and Mitch Cardwell revving the crowd up. Minneapolis’ Green/Blue, a band made up of folks from top-notch bands like The Soviettes and The Blind Shake, got the party started and their energy jolted me out of my sickness (my scratchy throat had just started…it was to get worse over the weekend).
Madison, WI’s, The Hussy, who have a new record out on Dirtnap, blazed through a set of hi-nrg tunes and were certainly having fun doing it. I met head Hussy Bobby later in the night and he was a righteous chap.
Sweet Knives were up next and this band features Memphis legend Alicija Trout who’s got lots of charisma. Not my favorite band of the festival or anything but did enjoy most of it.
Louisiana’s Trampoline Team very well may have been my favorite band of the festival. A chant/ jitter punk growl that sounded like the same song over and over. A totally d\freaking GREAT song so even if it was the same song I sure didn’t mind. Don’t miss these folks if they blow through your town.
Canada’s early ’70s psych band Simply Saucer (featuring Cleveland legend Craig Bell) bored me… well at least for the first half of the set then really turned it on and the 2nd half of the set and burned.
At 1:00 AM I was still standing upright an thank god ‘cos the King Brothers took the stage and proceeded to ….well, dump a garbage can full of all kinds of muck all over the unsuspecting show goers (or maybe they were suspecting). They growled and grunted their way through set wroth the singer mostly in the crowd standing on hands and shoulders. These guys were insane.
Of the afternoon bands at Memphis Made Brewery the ones I really enjoyed were New Zealand’s Vincent HL (Crazy Horse meets VU said I), Tucson’s Lenguas Largas (above; a few folks from Resonars) dripped and oozed rock and roll blood. Kelley Sanderson, who used to be in Those Darlin’s (a DAGGER fave) played a nice folksy solo set.
Back at the Hi-Tone on Friday night the DJs were Siltbreeze’s Tom Lax and Feeding Tube Records’ Byron Coley a few guys who know a thing or two about music. Good music.
We missed Mall Walker but caught Richard Papiercuts et Les Inspecteurs and I think I like the recordings a bit more than seeing them on stage. His Scott Walker meets Joy Division sound is certainly unique but again, gimme the records.
Paul Caporino has been doing the M.O.T.O. (Masters of the Obvious) machine for many years with a hundred hit songs and they played my fave “Dick About It.” Lots a energy and hooks and rapid fire tunes.
Good natured Aussie folks Thigh Master delighted the crowd with their wiry n’ wired pop sounds and they were among my faves.
The last time I saw Nots, was when they blew through Denver about 4 or 5 years ago as a quartet but think they’ve been a trio for quite some time and certainly delivered don this night with 30 minutes of pure RAWK.
Headliners on this night was Oblivians (the band featuring Eric from Goner) and hey, having Quintron on keyboards was like getting extra whipped cream on your ice cream. Another one of my favorite sets at Goner as these gents barley had 4 walls and a ceiling left by sets end.
Of the afternoon bands on Saturday the ones that converted me were the high energy of Opossums and New Zealand’s two-piece Na Noise (above; featuring one of the gals from Vincent HL) who plunked out a clutch of excellent songs. What can I say, I’m a convert.
Canadian punk band Priors (above) seemed like they came to do two thinks, drink beer and play some great punk rock and succeeded in both (singer was a total character) while the Dixie Dicks gay take on country was hee-larious and loads of fun.
Tucson’s Resonars (above) have been a fave of mine for a long while and they did not disappoint at all. Leader Matt Rendon has too many good songs to count and played many of them on this night while closing out the afternoon gig was Oblivions/Reigning Sound’s Greg Cartwright (below) & the Tip Tops doing a lovely set of gravelly/soulful tunes. Still love his vocals.
Back to the Hi-Tone for Saturday night and the DJs were The Mummies’ Russell Quan and Bazooka Joe (Slovenly Records) and these cats had a bonafide dance party going on!
We only caught the last tune or two by Teardrop City (featuring Laurie Stirrat) but got front and center for Australia’s Parsnip (below) and while I like their new record (out now on Trouble in Mind) the live set was even better. Lots o’ energy, charisma and fun, catchy songs.
Not sure why I expected to not like Giorgio Murderer but really liked their set. Two guys on synths and a drum machine (at least from where I could see in the back of the club).
Memphis faves Hash Redactor drilled holes with guitars all night (the band also featured 2 Nots and one Ex Cult) and it was another one of my fave sets. Do not miss if they fall into your town.
Tommy and the Commies hail from the great white north and brought their mod fun down for a quick but catchy set while the kings of budget rock, The Mummies (below) hit the stage at 1:00am (with a short film beforehand) and played all the hits (including their cover of Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge”). What a night.
Closing ceremonies in the sun was a nice way to end the festival with the Sharde Thomas & the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band who had the crowd raising their hands and shaking their feet.
Gonerfest is a top-notch, Grade-A, must-attend annual event. Eric, Zac, and their team put on an excellent festival and the folks who attend really love and appreciate it (translation: no dicks at all, everyone was cool).
I got my ass out there this year, so next year it’s your turn – and I plan on being there as well.