Oh, music festivals. Those little bundles of joy that make up most of our summers. Not too long ago, they were once rare. You’d hope and pray Warped Tour would roll on through your town, you’d listen to the radio for special sponsored events, and you’d skateboard around town searching for gig posters. Now, given the popular market, you could see a festival anywhere. Not only that, but they’re announced so far in advance that your summers are usually built around it. Some might say it’s too packed.
We won’t. Well, we understand there are plenty of festivals out there, but we’re always keen on finding out about new ones. It’s actually sort of intriguing how many pop up each year. Every state in the country’s in on the game. Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia, one of the Dakotas (can’t remember which one; maybe both), Maine, etc., etc. This list could go on for hours. Still, we’d love to see more.
But, we don’t want to just see any festival. We like when they throw us a curveball…with spit on it. We want something fresh, something unique, and something that shatters expectations. One way in which this has been effective is how certain festivals have tagged curators. As of late, we’ve witnessed some strange folks behind festivals. Matt Groening, anyone? So, with the likes of Jeff Mangum and Portishead hosting some saucy festivities this year, it got us thinking: Who else would we want behind the proverbial festival wheel?
So, we put together a list. You’ve probably heard of these folks. They’re pretty creative; in other words, we figured they’d offer something fresh, unique, and they’d not only shatter our expectations, they’d shatter your expectations. What are you waiting for? Take a gander. Not only did we issue a list of names, but we’ve also surmised what they could offer, too. It’s a little hopeful, it’s a little borderline fan fiction (okay, it is), but it was fun. Besides, maybe, just maybe, one of them will see this and that lil’ lightbulb will spark some.
Feature artwork by Cap Blackard.
Lynchville: Where the birds sing a pretty song and there’s always music in the air.
There’s a kind of inevitability about the idea that one day soon David Lynch will get to curate his own music fest. Small towns have featured big in his films so Lynchville would be a natural name for it. The guy has the imagination and vision to conceive a host of shows simultaneously, so the event will be a multimedia one encompassing a raft of small gigs sitting comfortably alongside a big stage; a kind of mini SXSW with cinematic sideshows and all manner of life’s little curios. Several locations come to mind but Snoqualmie Falls, a key setting for Twin Peaks gets the call. Musical director Angelo Badlamenti could set up base at The Roadhouse and host late evening shows ending with Julee Cruise reprising “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart” from the pivotal Episode 14. The Bookhouse Boys (UK band) might be the house band and in homage to the enigmatic character from Mulholland Drive, the Legendary Stardust Cowboy would get to play “Paralyzed”.
The David Lynch Foundation already has a foot in several musical doors and recently announced a Pledge campaign bringing together big names and emerging artists. Many would be a shoe-in for Lynchville; expect Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel and Iggy Pop for starters. The big news would be a kind of Beatles reunion. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr supported the DLF launch but it might take all of Lynch’s persuasive powers to persuade them that Liam and Noel Gallagher could settle their brotherly differences and take the Lennon and Harrison roles. Soon Brian Wilson and Mike Love would be rumoured to be making guest appearances. That’s until Liam decides the medley from Pet Sounds is a fooking stupid idea. At which point I can decamp to The Roadhouse and chill out with Lady Lamb The Beekeeper while deciding whether it will be Audrey or Donna on the back of the Harley.
Warren Ellis is an archon of alternative culture. No, not the Australian musician – the British comic book author. There’s few genres he hasn’t written and few lines he’s not crossed. Ellis is man with one foot constantly stepping into the neon-lit puddle of the near future. His iconic comic series Transmetropolitan is a cyber punk tribute to Hunter S. Thompson, Doktor Sleepless is an anarchist’s cookbook for those of us disillusioned by a future without jetpacks, and its sister book, Captain Swing, is a steam punk send-up to rebellions that once were and might have been. Biohackers, body modders, burlesque dancers, cyborgs in training, all walks of counterculture lifeforms look to Ellis as a man of bold ideas. An event of his devising would be a glorious freakshow and no ordinary festivity – it would be the future kicking violently against the amniotic sac of now.
First of all- Ellis’ festival doesn’t officially exist, but word travels fast. Messages on walls irl and virtual, word of mouth, and murmurs in social streams leak the times and places of events. Secret art shows in New York City catacombs, a techno seance in a haunted hotel, hackerspaces and maker collectives are alive with devious projects… the underbellies of major metropolitan areas explode with life the world over. Sure, there would be plenty of “official” shows at eclectic locales such as Los Angeles’ The Edison and other established dens of counter culture, but that’s not the heart of this “festival”. Any street corner can be part the show with the right hashtag. Grinders wearing fabricated Doktor Sleepless masks deploy LED throwies en masse and leave warnings of eschaton events approaching. Who’s playing, you ask? Who isn’t playing. If it’s electronic, dark, experimental, or all of the above it’s on. Since Throbbing Gristle can’t make it, there’s a tribute show of underground music’s finest giving them the send off they deserve. Coilhouse hosts the most sought after secret shows including Beats Antique, Zola Jesus, and a slew of acts so underground you’ve probably only seen them on Ellis’ twitter. With this much artistic anarchy unfurling on the streets it might just force the future into the present.