HoZac Blackout Fest recap

Jeff Walls

NoBunny at Blackout fest

NoBunny looking on nervously

This weekend, all the stars, planets, and floating space trash in the HoZac Records universe aligned for Blackout Fest, the formerly annual, now occasional blowout held at Chicago's “most sophisticated ballroom,” the Velvet Perineum. If you're into the primitive punk and garage rock that HoZac traffics in then this was without a doubt the place to be: A sort of nightmare-trip rainbow gathering for people who love hating things. The last Blackout fest was in 2006, and this year's incarnation, the 10th anniversary of the first Blackout, felt like a much-deserved victory lap. HoZac, along with labels like Goner and In the Red, have kept their fingers on rock 'n' roll's spooky, frantic pulse while the world of “indie rock” wandered through the valley of the shadow of bullshit and back again. They are as central as any other label to the great garage rock revival of the last few years, and a list of HoZac's roster and alumni read like a who's who of bands keeping rock music dumb, fun, and evil.

The festival's first highlight was the guttural one-two pummeling delivered by Indiana's TV Ghost and Brooklyn's K-Holes. The Spits, probably the most revered act on the bill, closed out Friday night with a crushing set of degenerate scuzz. On Saturday, Michigan's Peoples Temple kicked out some slick garage-inflected jams and Chicago's own Heavy Times shepherded the audience through the crucial zone between second and fourth beers with their early evening set of cracked surf violence. Philadelphia's Reading Rainbow got everybody bopping with their new three-piece set-up delivering shimmery, blown-out punk. The hands-down highlight of the fest was Cleveland's Puffy Areolas, who came on right as the audience was putting paid to the “blackout” part of Blackout Fest. Spurning the stage in favor of the floor, they unleashed a relentless, visceral assault propped up by some astonishing earthquake-like drum work. It was pure nihilistic catharsis spawned in the depths of post-industrial wasteland frustration.

The Puffies were a hard act to follow, but Clone Defects/Human Eye weirdo Timmy Vulgar did an admirable job as Timmy's Organism. The always frenetic NoBunny delivered his usual sweaty thrills, and Chicago and Boston proto-punk legends Tutu and the Pirates and Nervous Eaters closed out the weekend.

[Photos 1-13 by Micah Schmelzer. Photos 14-25 + NoBunny cover photo by Tyler Trykowski]

1. Hozac founders Todd and Brett outside of the Velvet Perineum.
HoZac Records Founders Todd and Brett

2. The Spits
The Spits at the Blackout Fest

3. Crowd (with Miss Alex White) watching The Spits
Crowd watching the Spits

4. The Spits
The Spits

5. Mickey
Mickey at Blackout Fest

6. TV Ghost
TV Ghost at the Blackout Fest

7. K-Holes
K-Holes at Blackout Fest

8. Radar Eyes
Radar Eyes at Blackout Fest

9. Heavy Times
Heavy Times at Blackout Fest

10. Heavy Times
Heavy Times

11. People's Temple
People's Temple at Blackout Fest

12. The people

13. The people

14. Atmosphere

15. More atmosphere

16. Saturday lineup
Blackout Fest LIneup

17. The Brides
The Brides at Blackout Fest

18. K-Holes
K-Holes

19. Nervous Eaters
the Nervous Eaters at Blackout Fest

20. Timmy and the Organisms
Timmy and the Organisms at Blackout Fest

21. Tutu & the Pirates
Tutu & the Pirates at Blackout Fest

22. TV Ghost
TV Ghost

23. NoBunny

24. NoBunny

25. Crowd for NoBunny
Crowd for NoBunny at Blackout Fest

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