Sound and Fury 2009 Ended in a UHaul
…and here are some brief anecdotes about it.
Every now and then I’ll say something like, “Oh this one time a drunk dude flipped his truck in front of us at Sound and Fury and went running off into the night, and then we (Guns Up!) played our set and everyone got pepper sprayed by security at the end, and directly afterward Trash Talk played out of a UHaul outside because they knew the show was about to get shut down and people were stage-diving off the roof.”
And people will kind of look at me like I’m just making this all up, or at the very least I’m probably just exaggerating.
Welp, I’m not.
-Michael Kinlin (Guns Up!)
Bob (Shedd), Todd (Jones), and I (Riley) booked Sound and Fury from its inception in 2006 through 2009 — so this would be the last iteration we booked together. It was probably also our most difficult endeavor in regards to dealing with venue management. As I started writing this, I felt like I should get some more perspective on this, so I enlisted a few friends. From here on out, anyone not identified will be me. BS is the aforementioned Bob Shedd. JLP is John Liam Policastro — know as PBoy to some — vocalist of New Lows, and as of late journalist for VICE, Bullett, Vocativ, The Daily Dot.
When we started Sound and Fury (2006), we booked the fest in Ventura — at a venue that Todd had been booking at for years, which had recently been rebranded as The Alpine-but you may have known it as Skate Street (it doubled as a skate park). We were familiar with the staff, and they trusted us. There were rarely issues and they understood how to handle an aggressive crowd. Unfortunately, The Alpine closed abruptly in between 2007 and 2008 (in part because they didn’t want to just be doing Punk shows, even though we were the only ones packing their venue. Go figure.), and we were left scrambling for a venue.
BS: The Alpine provided us a venue that was large but felt intimate. It was open, bright and allowed for there to be a lot of people in the building without that unnerving feel of being on top of someone else. We had a strong working relationship with them and they were, during all of our interactions, appreciative of all of the shows we booked there.
Not wanting to exit Ventura County at that time we scoured the area for venues. We had some outlandish ideas, some of which I still may want to use someday so I won’t spill the beans on those, but we ended up finding what we thought was a great location: Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. Now, if you went to Sound and Fury in 2008, 2010, 2011, or 2012 you know this venue well. But the big, round, acoustically-unfriendly room is not where we wanted to have the fest. We wanted to hold it in the boxy room off to the side of the grounds, but they had a wedding scheduled for our standard Last-Weekend-in-July date. We settled on the big room.
BS: Want to know how we ended up at Earl Warren Showgrounds? The sign. That big digital sign that is visible from the 101. Years before we even started S&F, I was on the return trip from a Knife Fight show in Northern California and we cruised through Santa Barbara very late at night. For some reason, that sign was on and I always remembered it. When it came time for us to hunt for a new venue, I went on several scouting trips, both by myself and with Riley, to Ventura County and Santa Barbara county, and we found a few very good spots that would’ve worked, but Earl Warren seemed like an overall easy choice.
We also considered doing the fest at Casa De La Raza (also in Santa Barbara), which would have been a smaller venue than The Alpine. Though the size became a factor we considered and pushed us to Earl Warren, we were very much of the mind, even then, that bigger was not always better and that a smaller venue could have made things very interesting.
We had 3 or 4 walkthroughs with our production team. The sound guy, the stage guy, and the venue people. We realized the room was big, so we concocted the idea to use moveable walls to keep things tight. Despite all of our preparations, we were still unhappy with the result. The room sounded terrible, and no matter how many people piled in, the room didn’t feel intimate. We also had to maneuver around Earl Warren’s employees who simply didn’t give a shit about anything to improve the experience. We knew halfway through Day 1 that we wouldn’t book Sound and Fury at Earl Warren again. Not that there weren’t amazing moments…
BS: 2008 was fun and probably deserves it’s own story, but it was in some ways defined by the room. The sound was not nearly what we would have liked it to be. The room was large, and we were aligning our ideas on what and who to book to grow the fest, so it happened that we added what some may consider bigger bands than had played before. As with many venues, if there is a disconnect, than the process becomes arduous. We were having to deal with the staff much more than actually be involved with the festival, which was disconcerting. At one point the festival was absolutely being shut down half way through Saturday night, but we managed to talk them off the ledge… but that’s another story for another day.
2009: Finding a Home
There was an issue: we had begun to seriously burn out. Bob had moved to the East Coast, and Todd or I needed to find a new venue. Earl Warren wasn’t an option. The Alpine was dead. Todd knew of a former skate rink in his hometown of Oxnard called El Rodeo that was now primarily a Mexican nightclub. But the room was BIG.
BS: When this was an old skate rink in the eighties, all of the Nardcore bands would play there, and Black Flag definitely played this spot as well. Todd being from Oxnard also made me really happy to do this here; not enough people give respect to what unique and influential things came from a relatively small town in Southern California.
Something that was important to us was finding a venue that was comfortable letting us do whatever we wanted and trusted us to be able to manage the crowd. After meeting with the people who ran El Rodeo, letting them know what we were about, giving them a DVD of our 2006 fest so they could see with their own eyes — having them be down with it — we decided to do the fest there.
Then we started booking the bands. The lineup came together so well. In retrospect I feel like the 2009 lineup was our strongest — and a lineup that was only possible due to a conflation of circumstances that make a lineup like it very improbable these days — at least for a reasonable price.
BS: We always talked about how the lineup for Sound and Fury wasn’t meant to be Bob/Todd/Riley Fest — we wanted something that really hit the notes of what was going on in hardcore in the moment, what was really ticking. We were all in our mid 20’s when Sound and Fury started, and felt doing a festival that appealed exclusively to people our age wasn’t all that fun or interesting. That said, 2009 was the year that all three of us, but especially Todd and I, felt like we put our stamp on the festival. I don’t think you’ll find Floorpunch, Despise You, and Title Fight on the same stage again any time soon. That diversity, which turns off some, was important because again, we were booking this for the people who were still discovering hardcore and experiencing different types of bands.
We ended up doing a small stage as well so we could book more bands, and do some “special” things like have Touche Amore play on the small stage, and have a secret Ceremony set (they played 2x that weekend).
July 31, 2009 (Friday)
Despite knowing (as well as they could understand) the number of people we would be bringing to the venue, and the type of crowd it was, the people who ran El Rodeo acted surprised as 1,500 kids piled into the venue. We hired our own security, who were familiar running punk shows to handle the doors and the crowd during bands — we hadn’t had any fights in the first 3 years of Sound and Fury, and didn’t ever have that type of vibe or even the concern that it would be an issue.
Todd was working the stages, so when El Rodeo management came into the office where Bob and I were doling out wristbands and told us they were calling their own security, and that we would have to pay them — we were spinning. El Rodeo proceeded to quote us a rate of 1 guard per 50 kids at $22.43/hour, which would’ve been an astronomical rate of just over $5,000/day x 3 days.
It was some straight organized crime shit and we knew it. So we kept putting it off, and telling them we were going to have to see how things went, and we could talk about money at the end of the weekend. From then on, there was a terrible vibe between us and the security, and us and the venue management.
JLP: For purely selfish reasons, I remember Sound And Fury 09 specifically because it was the craziest single show we ever played and we almost didn’t get to play it (Due to Seinfeldian confusion we didn’t even make it onto the official announcement and flyer). We had just shown up in Oxnard without our bass player Jo Kelly, but had four bassists in his place for the set, which is always a good start, and made Jo the human equivalent to a bowl of Total. We were not even near the entrance as Shawn of New Lows said, “I don’t know about this one, man. These security guards seem like dickheads”, while we watched a well oiled security team from the venue kick up a trail of dust inspecting every van that had lined up along the main road squarely in front of the venue. We had no idea how prophetic those words could have been because we both were blessed to see one of those dickheads pitched off the stage during a fever pitch of hatred between them and the crowd.
We had agreed with El Rodeo that there would be In’s & Out’s all weekend up until a certain point, basically the same set of rules we’d had the 3 years before. When their own security came in, they became pretty whimsical about everything we’d agreed to. There was a large portion of Friday where we would have kids come up to the Ticket Booth and come tell us El Rodeo Security was refusing to let ’em back into the building. We would then have to go out, tell El Rodeo Security it was ok, and get them back in. They would begrudgingly allow it.
We stayed at the venue until 1:30am hashing out all of the issues with the Security.
August 1, 2009 (Saturday)
Day 2 pretty much went off without a hitch…back then we wouldn’t announced the lineup order until the day of.
Floorpunch / Mind Eraser / Cold World / Violation / Title Fight / Bracewar / War Hungry / Despise You / Mr. Highway / Black Breath / Take Offense / Hatred Surge / Colin of Arabia / New Lows / Mindset / Skin Like Iron / Bad Seed / Rotting Out / Swamp Thing / Deep Sleep / Mammoth Grinder / Gypsy / Badmouth
August 2, 2009 (Sunday)
Psyched to Die
Gone But Not Forgotten
The Rival Mob
Cut the Line
There was a weird vibe all day. Despite being very chill Saturday, El Rodeo security, like Friday, was painfully obtuse on Sunday.
Near the end of the evening, there was a huge commotion out back of the venue. There were police everywhere.
In the venue.
Outside of the venue.
There was a ‘copter.
Some dude FLIPPED HIS CAR in the back alley…
JLP: Security was so tough that even if you and your band were able to get your van past their gates, they still wanted to completely search your van. This didn’t sit well with Boston boys expecting a Californian utopia of lewd leisure. We refused and parked a mile away. Being a stubborn guy it didn’t take more than a few beers and a joint to begin to fuck with them in a subtle manner. There was a large sliding gate with two metal prongs that locked into their fence. As they would open it to wait for people to pull in I began shoving the wheeled gate towards their heads and they’d get their heads knocked silly by the prongs. I had jumped back to the venues side door after shoving it towards them so they never figured it out.
It was during one of these sadistic time wasters that I’d heard a frightening sound around the corner. Since not many people were outside I slid through the gate and ran down the alley where I saw a gleaming white SUV on its side; it had apparently tried to make a sharp turn in the alley and tipped, causing a couple windows to blow out. Making my way towards the back of the vehicle facing me, I was stunned to see a small man in this towering wreck forcing his way out the back hatch- which now looked like a door due to the automobiles size and the fact that it was on its fucking side. As he quickly set his feet from the upturned upholstery into the dust of the alley while bleeding profusely from his head, I asked him if he was ok. Although quite dazed and bloody he did not answer- instead doing a perfect involuntary impression of a dog who had not been outside all day. After doing a quick pounce in every direction available he bolted down a dimly lit side alley, only leaving the echoing sound of footprints in his wake as his headlights illuminated the alley while the engine hummed on its side. This took all of 2 minutes, which made it the closest to a Simpsons episode I’ve ever been in.
I don’t know if it was exhaustion or stress or what but I wasn’t really phased by it at the time. More than anything the increased police presence kinda made things a bit uneasy, but the overturned car was met with a collection, “Welp…” and everything kind of kept going after the initial shock wore off.
BS: Honestly, I was barely aware that this happened. My memory is that there was some commotion, and when it was clear that it had nothing to do with the fest and no one was hurt, it was off my radar.
The next-to-last set of the night was Guns Up! These are good friends of mine and I love this band so I feel like I always overrate just how good they’ll do or how into them people will be. To counteract that, I try and always underplay how insane their sets will be, or how much other people will be into it. And they always blow it away. As usual, this set was great, but towards the end, the El Rodeo security guard on stage left started getting a bit antsy and throwing people off of the stage. Typically when security acts in this way, it’s because they have heaps of Yellow-Jacket backup with them, and can intimidate crowds into following their instructions. This guy was solo, though.
At some point Lee & Garrett from Trash Talk come to all of us and tell us they want to set up so they’re ready to go right after Guns Up!’s set and can play before the show can get shut down (since police were already mulling around outside). We were more than ok with this. The last thing we want to happen is for a band to not get to play, and people who come to not get their money’s worth.
BS: Lee and Garrett were always great to us. I think they saw the writing on the wall, and had a really cool idea on how to essentially turn the chaos into something very memorable.
Anyways, the Guns Up! set continues, and security guy continues tooling out. So at the end, he gets virtually surrounded and pulls out pepper spray and starts going nuts with it. You can see it at the end of the Guns Up! video (above).
JLP: Guns Up! was just about halfway done playing as I wrenched myself inside the crowd near the side exit to the back parking lot. Stage potatoes evidently had a Gremlin level amount of water tossed on themselves because a multiplication of benched moshers cluttered the stage in seconds. Unfortunately for one of the guards brave enough to wade into the audience, he decided to try and grab a kid on crutches from the stage in a pathetic attempt to clear it off. Within seconds he was reduced to a human skunk — desperately clamping his finger on the trigger of a pepper spray can while being pitched off stage where he found himself alone with his actual back to an actual wall as a horseshoe of a hundred kids slowly shrunk towards him.
I have no idea how that resolved. Maybe it was Lee running in and telling everyone to get outside NOW— Trash Talk is playing out back.
It was insane. I’m so glad this was captured on video.
Trash Talk plays roughly a 20 minute set. That kind of energy —it was like seeing your first show. It was very raw, very alive, very gritty, and everyone was in unison. You could feel the energy of everyone there.
That show was one of the first times I looked out and was like “Holy Shit — this is actually happening.” Kids from all over the world are causing straight up chaos. The kind of chaos only punk / hardcore could provide. When that girl dove off the roof I knew that set would go down in the books as one of our craziest. I mean I’ve seen some shit but I’ve never seen someone dive off a 2 story building while a hardcore band is playing…out of the back of a UHaul.
-Lee Spielman / Trash Talk
A kid jumped off the roof, the metal awning you see hanging over the door was ripped down. Exit signs were destroyed. Doors were kicked in. The police showed up — and were actually there pretty much the entire time Trash Talk played but I don’t think they knew how to stop it.
“I got up there by climbing a cast-iron fence that was surrounding the building…I wanted to see better.”
What was going through your head?
“This will be a lost easier to jump than to climb down” — denim.n.leather
But yeah, the place was trashed. So Bob, Todd, and I are doing what amounts to an Exit Interview with the venue management to settle what typically amounts to incidentals. In previous years, that would be a handful of broken mics.
So the son of the venue owner walks us to every part of the venue that is demolished, semi-berating us. The stage is hanging by threads. Metal doors were kicked in. As noted above, metal awnings were destroyed. All the while, Matt Fox (Shai Hulud) is following us around asking us for his bands money.
BS: Poor Matt, like a lot of dudes, was just trying to get out of there. Good guy.
Anyways, we walk into the back office, and he (son of owner) reiterates each thing that’s busted up, and then brings up the security issue. And he says, “So what are we gonna do guys?” and I remember plain as day, Bob saying:
“We’ll give you a thousand dollars”
…and dude goes “Ok! Let’s talk about next year in a few weeks?” — I have no idea how or what they paid the 20–30 security guards they had come every day.
BS: As Riley said, we knew this whole thing was a scam. The damage done to the building was significant, but at the same time there was no way we were giving them a dime for the security they provided. I won’t go into specifics beyond saying there was direct conflict between their staff and us as well people who attended the fest. Not acceptable.
Kinda blown away that it actually worked, we left as quick as we could, and went out to the parking lot. Which by this time was virtually empty. Bittersweet to not be able to revel in the awesomeness of the weekend with anyone but ourselves, we each left straight from the parking lot, and as odd as it sounds I don’t think we’ve all been in the same room at the same time more than 5x since.
I remember the UHaul rental place being very confused as to why there were shoe prints all over the truck.
I front flipped off the top of that thing straight onto my back. I for sure thought I broke my shit but I crawled back up and kept it moving. Pretty sure it was the adrenaline that kept me moving.
-Lee Spielman / Trash Talk
The moral of the story? There isn’t one really. But Sound and Fury 2009 was fucking awesome.
Sound and Fury will be taking place this year (2016) June 10 & 11 in Downtown Los Angeles @ the Regent Theater. Tickets are on sale now at soundandfury.la