This two-day weekend event in the college town of Ft. Collins, CO, was hosted for the first time by local label Owned and Operated (O&O) Records, run by one of the pillars in the punk rock community, Bill Stevenson, drummer for ALL and the Descendents. Moving here about seven years ago, Bill and company also opened the Blasting Room recording studios, which spawned releases from local bands and national acts such as Less Than Jake, Good Riddance, MXPX, Lagwagon, and of course, Descendents and ALL.
The show schedule laminate listed “33 bands in 48 hours,” including local bands Reno Divorce, Someday I, Drag The River, Leghorn, and Armchair Martian, and those that traveled from all over the country just to perform, including The Pavers (fronted by former ALL vocalist Scott Reynolds), and one of my favorite pop punk/heavy metal masters, Ultimate Fakebook. But the real historical event would be the performance of the Descendents earlier in the day, and an ALL in the family reunion later that the night.
As Bill was recording the show in their makeshift tour van outside the venue, he chatted with about the idea of Stockage. “We thought, ‘Let’s try to put on a music festival,’ knowing it was probably going to be sucky the first year. Even though it was a while in the making, if you’ve never done something like this before there’s the potential for screw ups, and then you can’t take it back,” Bill explains.
www.allcentral.com was used to announce the festival and encouraging anyone and everyone to submit their band to the performance pool. A few key bands were hand picked to play, but the rest were picked from a hat. According to Bill, “The original goal was, everyone who was a fan of the group or related to the group in our extended family could have a chance [to be a part of the festival] regardless of their experience or notoriety. So you have quite a diverse palate, styles, and talent ranges, in a non-judgmental scenario where bands can just come and play.”
I was only able to make it for Sunday’s line up, which included the epic Descendents show with a song list that harkened back to the “Milo Goes to College” era. A few years and a few gray hairs later, these guys (sans Milo) still pumped out the favorites with a young at heart energy and professional posh.
Traveling from Troy, MI, A Day in the Life went next, looking like they were cutting class to be there. But their driving sound was tightly wound around heavy guitar rhythms and vicious yet melodic vocals rung with hours of practice and experience. Their song titles on the other hand were hysterical, “I’m Not Crying/My Eyeballs Are Sweating,” and “Do You Have a Map Because I’m Lost in Your Eyes,” were just a few off of their virgin release, Nine Reasons to Say Good-bye on Confined Records (available at www.interpunk.com). They hope to make it back to Colorado, but over the next few months they plan to tour along the east coast, as long as they get their chores done first.
While many on the roster had idolized ALL and Descendents, it was The Last, the seminal late 70’s LA punk rock band, which inspired Bill Stevenson (and many others I’m sure) to do what he does today. Bill demanded, “everyone to come out and watch this show or you’re all fired,” later making his way into the crowd and pushing the little punk moshers to the side like they were balloons.
Leghorn from Ft. Collins followed with an alt country style, doused in pop-ala-TX heavy guitar licks and melodic vocal hooks with a dash of vintage Scotch. Tension Wire’s hit the stage next, complete with a black-eyed guitarist that was all over the stage, and a vocalist full of in-your-face tyrants of rockin’ rampage.
Armchair’s Jon Snodgrass got the crowd’s head boppin’ with their style of “punk rock that people can square dance to” set of tunes from their latest release, “Who Wants to Play Bass” (on www.myrecords.com). During the making of the CD, the title came oddly enough from the tradition of musicians passing the bass baton from Some Davey I, to Abe Brennan from Wretch Like Me, to Zach Boddicker, to “Chadro,” then JJ Nobody, and finally, “Mike the Pike.”
Half of the Hagfish crew, brothers Zach and Donivan Blair, made their debut appearance as the new band Amstrong, and with tunes fresh off their debut release, “Dick, the Lionhearted,” on O&O. Doing quite well in the lead vocalist driver’s seat, Zach and the guys retained hints of the edgy yet sophisticated martini punk that rallied lots of fans back in the Hagfish days, but introduced a style all their own, filled with hooks and pop rock sophistication. “Follow Up,” highlighted Zach’s ability to serenade and create rolling melodies, while Abe Brennan, from Wretch Like Me, jumped in on agro vocals for “Shamus” as he did on the record, and Stephen Egerton from ALL threw down some guitar licks for the Armstrong cause.
Ultimate Fakebook blew everybody away with their mesh of over-the-top arena rock antics contrasted by Bill McShane’s harmonic vocals, guitar rhythm change ups, and the overall pop punk persona. Before they left the stage, Bill called on anyone who know the words to “Alex Chilton” to the microphone to sing the Replacement’s classic, and the whole place erupted in song while a few rockers on stage took vocal breaks to crowd surf with the kids.
As the day progressed into the night, The Starlight became filled with high-energy tunes of every kind, a real positive vibe, and fans and musicians mingling as one. “It’s been like a family reunion for a lot of us,” comments Stephen Egerton, “now if I can just pull it off in the upcoming [ALL] set. I haven’t played some of these songs in years.”
“You know what? Just go for it man,” Jon Snodgrass says with encouragement. “There’s cool thing going on here. Lots of beautiful people.”
Almost twelve hours after I arrived, ALL finally made it out as the last band to go on, and everyone was thoroughly tired and pumped at the same time. Before taking his place behind his drum kit, Bill Stevenson came to the mic to say a few words, “I’m amazed you guys are still standing. We’re gonna play now, but I just want to thank all you good people for turning out, although I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” In a sense he dedicated the show to another punk rock idol with his last comment of remembrance, “And we can’t forget Joey Ramone. I’ll never forgive the rock biz for what they didn’t do to the Ramones.” And with that, the guitars and drumsticks flared as members that had come and gone through the ALL roster did the same on stage. Chad started off the set, then passed the mic to Scott Reynolds to rip out a few songs and the radio hit “She’s My Ex.” Then Karl Alvarez climbed the rafters and the speakers to belt out a cover of “Rebel Yell,” with an agro appeal.
The essence of the Stockage crew’s efforts to support the indie scene also gives this music festival a high level of credibility – making it less about the almighty dollar and big name corporate sponsorships, and more about the almighty love of music and friendships. There are many of us who are disgruntled with the state of the music business these days, and the lack of support for more original indie artists. Bill from ALL sees America embracing the world of mass-market products more and more everyday, “where everything is becoming Starbucks. With bands it’s the same way. They can put together bands now that sound like Descendents or NoFX … they’re all nice and pretty.”
“Like SUM41?” I asked, since that was the first one of many that popped in my head.
Bill hesitates, “I’m not going to make mention of bands. I’ve gotten myself into trouble when I’ve done that in the past.” But he continues by saying, “The corporate dollar is killing not just art or music, it’s killing everything. The whole world is going to be a fucking 7-11. So why not let a bunch of bands play? I like the idea with the label, that we’ve release every local band in Ft. Collins that had any type of interesting sound to them like Someday I. They’re just amazing. And it’s a shame when you see that much musical talent driving a truck for the Salvation Army…and Coke Cola or Budweiser will sponsor these brainless music festivals and then that’s what you’ll buy. Those [companies] are the tastemakers.”
Despite the frustration of having to compete against the big guys, and having the O&O label be, as Bill described it, “a money-eating sieve,” they’re going to keep on trying to make an impact in the very punk rock, balls-out, DIY tradition. And hopefully, that also includes a Stockage ’03.
O&O Records videotaped and recorded the entire festival. So if you weren’t able to make it or want to relive this fab event, stay tuned to www.allcentral.com to get your hands on the Stockage ’02 CD and DVD.