Festival Coverage

Phuzz Phest 2014 had really Good Vibes

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Phuzz Phest. It was incredible! I got to see a lot of my favorite acts, and there was not a set I didn’t enjoy. Here are a few standouts:

Loamlands played a bunch of material I hadn’t heard since the last time I saw them (February 14th for DBB11 Night 2). This new material has Will Hackney playing the most technically complicated parts I’ve seen from the band. There’s more grit everywhere, including on his acoustic guitar. Each note (both vocally and guitar-wise) from Kym Register feels more confident and deliberate. And of course, the four rotating members of the rhythm section are all some of the triangle’s best (Matt McCaughan (Bon Iver) and Nicolas Sanborn (Sylvan Esso, Megafaun) were in tonight, Terry Lonegan (Hiss Golden Messenger, Mount Moriah) and Brad Cook (Megafaun) have killed it on others). It has been amazing seeing their material grow from the first show they played together 363 days ago, and I see the band continually reaching into territory that no other local band, or any band for that matter, can claim.

Whatever Brains is another band I keep seeing, and after their performance on Sunday, that won’t change. It was very odd to see them in the context of Ziggy’s, which has the most massive stage of any rock club I’ve seen. Rich’s and Will’s vocals felt extremely high in the mix, which gave a very different quality compared to my usual experience of getting soaked up in droning noise. I’m really digging the two bass set up backed by Matt Northrup and Anthony of Winston Facials, Primovanhalen, and local “space” Reanimator. Check out their set on April 17th at Slim’s with the equally amazing Protomartyr.

Richmond’s Nervous Ticks was an extremely interesting find. Singer, percussionist, and noise wizard Liza Jane is spastic and loud, yet with a very amazing flow to her on-stage persona. Killa K beats a Floor Tom and Metal pale with an urgency that matches. And finally, Guitarist and frontman Chaz Tick plays with a harmoniously disorienting energy and speed that you have to check out.

I wrote about The Tills in anticipation of Phuzz Phest here, and their two sets met my expectations 100%.

Favorite set of the fest goes to Greensboro’s Drag Sounds. Drag Sounds have the perfect combination of all of my favorite things going on. The guitar parts are weavy, the bass lines fun, and the drums hit HARD. By the second song I was completely spaced out. Drag Sounds have an excess of good vibes. I can’t remember if this was taken during their set or the proceeding (and also great) band R. Father, but it pretty much sums it up. After that set, I think I mentioned to my friends that “Drag Sounds are great” something like 20 times. Note: their bandcamp releases do not represent what they sound like (yet). See this band live.

As absolutely incredible as my time at the festival was, I think it’s appropriate to mention my own personal feelings of what I’ve been seeing go on in the triangle these past few days. Without getting into details that have been arising through various social media outlets, I just want to say that I live for local music. Ever since I was a senior in high school in Durham, I’ve been going to as many shows as I can. I’ve made some of my best friends, had my best experiences, and met some of the best mentors I’ve had through the shows that many of you reading this have also attended. But all of these things should come second to our responsibility to make sure that the kind of content and events we all attend, promote, support and play so readily are safe for everyone. Do not be afraid to ask people for their support in this goal, do not be afraid to speak out if you feel uncomfortable, and do not be afraid to take a stance against things that might hurt others. It’s one thing to support only those musicians that don’t fall below your own personal threshold or intuition regarding the safety of people, but it’s much more important to actively assist in improving the quality of experiences through your own actions. What this means for me is that I will try to make sure that I am more diligent in making sure that the types of events I attend, talk about, play and get my friends to come to do not have the possibility of being hurtful to others. I’ll try to ask questions and seek responses when situations that feel uncomfortable to me do arise. And most importantly, I will try to make sure that you, whoever you are, know that I’m a person who has made the safety of people within our local music community a core value through my actions and words. We’ll all fuck up and make mistakes, but growing from those mistakes is how we will all actually keep this amazing community amazing for everyone. I also want to sincerely thank those that have come forward and shared their own views and actions including Aimée Argote, Ryan Martin, Philip Pledger, Kym Register, and many more.

Good vibes always,
John Mitchell