The first year that Russ "Romance" Murphy put together Horrible Fest, a multi-day underground music festival, he booked garage punks The Black Lips and the King Khan & BBQ Show. The two bands were complete unknowns but in the wake of their Horrible Fest appearances, they developed a local audience and have regularly returned to town. "Almost every year has one band that people don't know and when they see them play, they're like, 'Holy shit! These guys are great," says Murphy one afternoon while sitting at a booth with his co-organizer, Now That's Class owner Paul Schlachter.
This year's festival is an international affair with bands coming from Finland and Australia to perform. "The big difference with our festival is that when you hear music fest, it means you have to sit through something like 4000 bands," says Schlachter. "We have a full back line for each stage. It moves smoothly. Everyone has a time limit except for the headliners. We keep it flowing. We're choosey about how we book, too." Since most of the bands aren't ones you're likely to know, we had Murphy and Schlachter run through the line-up for the four-day fest and talk about the Horrible Fest highlights. Here's what they had to say.
UV Race Movie with Flyin' Trichecos, Royal Blood, Bad Noids and Mr. California/9 p.m. Thursday, May 16/Now That's Class
Russ: The guys in [the Australian garage rock band] UV Race made a film. They star as themselves and it's a fictional story about the band breaking up. It's a 60-minute film. It's not a long film.
Paul: They're getting big. They started off as an off-kilter punk band but have evolved.
Russ: They have some up-tempo fast punk songs that are really good. The movie is really odd and there are lots of visual gags. You'll either love or it really despise it.
Paul: It's been about three years since Flyin' Trichecos — that's my band — have played together. Our singer lives in Italy. He's coming in just to do the show.
Russ: That's the big headliner but this night is more about chilling out and watching the movie.
Backyard BBQ with Burger Boys, Stabberboy and Mr. California/6 p.m. Friday, May 17, Now That's Class
Russ: We do that every year on the back patio. We have free hamburgers and hotdogs and vegan meats.
Paul: We also have piña coladas. And Mr. California will be playing on the roof of the house next door.
Russ: The hot tub will be open. You'll want to get in today before it becomes too disgusting.
UV Race, Timmy's Organism, Richard Papiercuts, The Sleaze, Wetbrain, Cracked Cup, Smooth Brain/8 p.m. Friday, May 17/Now That's Class
Russ: This is the first time UV Race will headline. They played here once but it's been a few years. It was a real wild show when they played here. The singer is chubby and he seems autistic at times. He's a very unique personality and very bizarre and has a unique take on things. The vocals are up front and center.
Paul: Timmy's Organism is also a really cool band. The singer goes pretty crazy. He looks like a caveman and he's a great guitarist. It's good rock 'n' roll, almost like a modern, weirder take on Stooges.
Russ: Timmy's Organism is back-to-basics rock. He always ends the show with something outrageous. We also have Richard Papiercuts playing. He doesn't do live shows but he made an exception for us.
Bowling and Punk Matinee with UV Race, Folded Shirt, Utah Jazz, Party Plates, Trailer Park Tornadoes, The Retrouched Ecce Homo Band, Nervosas/1-6 p.m. Saturday, May 18/Mahall's Lanes
Paul: This is year three of bowling. We rent out the bottom ten lanes at Mahall's. It's all-inclusive for the bands. Ten dollars gets you two hours of bowling and the show.
Russ: People come out for the whole weekend so this is a fun atmosphere. They have food and a full bar.
Paul: Nervosas from Columbus is really good. People say they sound like X. And I just like the name Utah Jazz.
Terveet Kadet, Inmates, Pink Reason, Lotus Fucker, True Sons of Thunder, Classhole, Obnox, Lucha Eterna/8 p.m. Saturday, May 18/Now That's Class
Paul: Terveet Kadet is a thrashy punk band from Finland. They're actually revolving their tour around the fest. They've been around for 30 years.
Russ: They're the first the hardcore band from Finland. It's their only Midwest show.
Paul: It's wild stuff. They're only doing 10 to 12 shows. And True Sounds of Thunder is excellent, too.
Russ: That band features Eric Friedl from The Oblivians.
Paul: They sound like Flipper. And Classhole has the two guys from EyeHateGod but it's more their punk band. It's a garage-y, weird band.
Russ: We have great punk bands playing that night but it's not all garage and punk. Pink Reason is well known on the indie scene.
Horrible Fest Wrap-Up Party with White Load/Femsickliver/6 a.m. Sunday, May 19/Now That's Class
Paul: Starting at 6 a.m. is a dumb idea.
Russ: We thought it would be funny. My band Femsickliver is playing.
Paul: The bartender actually wants to work it.
Russ: This band White Load from Providence wanted to do the 6 am. show. They called me when they heard we'd be starting at 6 a.m.
Paul: We'll have an omelet station.
Russ: I don't think many people will show up.
Paul: Yankee Entertainer will play bluegrass, too. He's this guy I know from Western Massachusetts. He plays in a hardcore band, too.
Russ: He's from SQRM. They played the bowling show one year. He's a bluegrass singer and teacher in his real life.
Paul: That's pretty much all of it. You never know what to expect.
Russ: You can see a punk band and then a band with keys and saxophone setting up to play after them. I want bands you either love or hate. I don't want anything in between.