Every once in a while IMP sends out one of its rogue journalists on a machine to go to a festival, get super drunk, see a bunch of old friends – and hopefully see some bands to write about. Matt Bacon got a chance to attend this years House Horror Film Festival and this is what happened to him. HUGE thank you to Dante Torrieri (Useless Rebel) of Blow The Scene for his photography work!
The last day of any festival is always brutal. By this point any festival-goer worth their salt is at least a couple dozen drinks in, has had to track down all sorts of illicit substances (Either for themselves or for friends) and then been forced to wander about – utterly lost searching for someplace to eat at some godforsaken hour – crying out as Jesus did on the cross “Eloi, Eloi” Or maybe that’s just me being melodramatic. What can I say? I do this a lot – and veterans know that festivals can be hard sometimes – that’ just how life works.
That being said – I had a bit of a late start to the day, as the early part of the festivities saw me plowing through interviews with a wealth of the bands playing the festival. Of course – I wasn’t going to miss Author & Punisher – Tristan is a mastermind, a genius who breaks all of the rules and has managed to find a sound that is totally his own. His live performance remains incredibly exciting and human – there is an indelible majesty to what he has to bring to the table that makes people like me scrape our jaws from the floor. Author & Punisher is – simply put – among the best of the best. As one friend described it “He sounds like he’s making steel fall from the sky” An apt comparison considering how torturous and destructive this one man band can end up being. Author & Punisher functions at the bleeding edge of musical excellence and his entrancing Housecore set was just another example of that.
And then the hour was nigh for the band I believe to be the best live act in the world right now. The almighty, the one and only, Yob. Mike Scheidt seemed far more comfortable with his vocals then when I had last seen him, a week prior in New York City, his throat issues evidently have cleared up. Beyond that – as any band does – the deeper they get in the tour the more comfortable they become – and this particular set seemed especially vibrant. Slogging their way through tracks primarily taken from Clearing The Path To Ascend and The Unreal Never Lived there was something distinctly fresh about their Housecore performance that made it feel exciting and dynamic. Yob bring the noise and prove that their music is love incarnate. The sense of peace and freedom encapsulated in their set is always refreshing – it shows a new horizon that few can compete with and guided me onto a sonic path of freedom.
Despite the growing fatigue I was in my element. I managed to knock out an interview with a band I had never previously heard of between Yob and Ghoul, making my way back to see the latter perform a wonderfully energetic live show. The thing is – after seeing groups as emotionally heavy as Yob and Author & Punisher are known for it’s always good to take a chance to back off, chill out and do something less potent – Ghoul were exactly that. They feel like GWAR must have twenty years ago when there was still no money behind the band. Their silly stage show, resplendent with monsters, blood and weapons galore was a lot of fun to see play out. Beyond that – Ghoul are incredible musicians, managing to handle surprisingly technical music in between fighting off bad guys from alternate dimensions. I had not gone in with especially high expectations, but by the time they were done I was enamored – rocking out with the best of them.
I didn’t really know what to expect of Zombi. I’d heard their records of course, and I remember thinking that they were tight, but I didn’t really ‘get it’. When I saw the band play live though suddenly something clicked. Zombi have a way of capturing the imagination, weaving intricate soundscapes with a deceptively simple stage set up. Beyond the fact that these guys are extremely talented musicians, the way that they manage to create an overwhelming vibe that can come to dominate a room is very impressive. Their is a very palatable sense of majesty in their distinctly understated art and that’s a huge part of what makes them so interesting to me. You find yourself soaking up vibes that you never even really knew existed and it becomes harder and harder to deny yourself of the surreal magic that the band has been able to invoke. Zombi are pushing a totally unique and exciting brand of music – and in the live arena they manage to invoke things that start to alter the soul.
Incantation where up next and I was left in awe. Like I said earlier – I’m not super into death metal, but these Pennsylvania natives brought down the house like few of their peers ever could. John McEntee’s vocals are absolutely crushing and he has the same kind of stage presence that I imagine someone like Chuck Schuldiner having had. His love for old school death metal is clear in his very vocal desire to kill posers and get the ‘sick fucks’ in the audience moshing. Their is a sort of infectious glee to what Incantation do – you find yourself getting lost in the inherent madness of the music and it is hard to remove yourself from the dark and fucked up magic that is found within. Despite this – there was also a bittersweet element to the set, McEntee dedicated several songs to fallen friends… a sign of where death metal is at these days. Nevertheless, Incantation understand the inherent magic of death metal perhaps better than any other band out there, and they dominated the Aztec’s stage and proved that there is still a place for old school death metal to rule.
At this point I ran over to the Korova to check out Honky, a band that a friend had recommended to me. Featuring members of The Butthole Surfers, The Melvins and Down, Honky are a bizarre sight to see playing gritty southern rock whilst wearing massive cowboy hats and sporting rich beards. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this band – but I could easily see that they are incredibly talented and a lot of fun to watch, moreover, despite the fact that they rarely get to play together, their seems to be a very viable chemistry there. It was funny to see though – Honky are a band who seem like they should be playing on a tiny stage in a shitty bar, not rocking the hundred odd fans at a mid sized venue like the Korova – especially when you know that all three of these guys have had a chance to play to tens of thousands of people all over the world. But perhaps that’s a part of the magic of rock and roll – it certainly added to the glory of what Honky were able to do on that far flung Texas stage.
I made my way back to The Aztec for Goblin then. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this particular set either – and I was honestly let down. Even after the video system had been rebooted (Initially the film had been lagging and jerky – an obvious no-no for a live score) I was left a little frustrated. That being said – I also realize that this wasn’t really for me. And that’s fine. In all honesty – those who had stayed to view this last ritual seemed utterly enamored. Perhaps I’m not deeply enough invested into the world of horror to ‘get it’. In some ways that reflected my general attitude towards this whole thing – it’s amazing – but some of these horror bits left me feeling lost.
As I hung outside the venue, saying goodbye to friends I see far less than I would like, I couldn’t help but smiling. This had been one of the good ones. We had all had the chance to witness some really special things and had a weekend that I don’t think any attendee could easily forget. There was a lot going on – but tha’ts a part of what made it great. The cosmic overload and inherent magic of a festival like Housecore is essential to making it work. It reminds you that while this bizarre and twisted fantasy of festival life is great, we also have to be careful and remember that this isn’t the only way to live. And yet, as we found this beautiful fusion of horror and metal, I got the sense that Housecore is about to tap into something greater, something freer, and it could move the entire genre forward with it.