Thursday, July 24, 2014


I thought it might be a fun idea to talk with a couple people who organize fests around the US.  A long time ago I booked a couple fests here in Syracuse and it made me want to rip all the hair I had on my head at the time right out.  I don't know how others manage to do this and consistently make it a quality event.
I'm starting with Joe Hardcore, who is the main fellow behind This Is Hardcore Fest in Philly.  Yeah, it might seem a little weird for this site to cover that particular fest, but honestly every year I see the lineup and it looks incredible.  And every year I find myself being unable to attend.  Some year I'll make it happen.  This year's event (which actually kicks off today!) looks just as awesome with bands like Converge, Slapshot, All Else Failed, and Turmoil all playing the same day.  Guuuuuuhhhhh (sorry, wiping away the drool).  So anyway, read on about what goes into this monster event and how they manage to pull it off.

What do you think separates This Is Hardcore from other punk and hardcore fests happening around the US?

Aside from the tenure of being around from the end of Hellfest and Posi Numbers, which is now an entire generation and almost a half in hardcore terms? We tend to go the extra mile, push the envelope as to how many bands we can fit on a bill, how many kids we can push into a room and how wide of a berth we allow this is hardcore to become to encompass as many bands from multiple periods and parts of hardcore's past and present while maintaining the basic core values of your average hall rental show.
Do you attend other fests (either here or internationally) and get a feel for how others do things and maybe apply it to how TIHC is run?

The basis of TIHC was to not do what others mentioned above had done and sorta bring it back to the basics. this was in 2006 mind you, since then we've been through 8 fest and are on the eve of our 9th and evolution has pushed us above the pack and into the forerunner spot. This is because many things and none of which is based on my attendance at other fests. I would attribute the success to the fest to the support given to it and me from the bands, labels and scene at large.
The reciprocal relationship that allows TIHC  to make the moves and bring in the bands because the support is there is really how we stay afloat.

When do you generally start planning each year's TIHC Fest, and can you give a basic outline of how and when things happen?  Do you have a schedule or playbook sort of organization to putting all the pieces together each year?

Lineup sets the precedence for many aspects but ultimately the template from year to year is adjusted based on what works and what didn't last year. This year we are looking at 62 bands, 72 if you count the side stage and nearly 100 if you count the after parties.
next year will see less bands overall but more time and different aspects evolving to make the fest less of an over exhausting experience.
Having the set players in the staff from production, to stage manager to online team really have crafted the fest into something that runs year round based on the timing in which we confirm bands and the deadlines set by us to get announcments together.
although a year of stress, the sillyness that unfolds keeps the work from being too daunting.

How many people do you have helping you with each year's event and what sorts of roles do they play in supporting you?
I have Greg Daly who is not only one of the premier tour managers in the underground, but one of the most solid punk figures in all aspects. His ideas, zeal for keeping things simple and punk while very professional really have made a difference in the way the fest interfaces with the bands.
Dan Oesterich from Brooklyn being our stage guy really has made the stage and turn arounds flawless.
Having Andrew Memphis Murphy as tech support on stage for the last 8 years makes each sets changeover effortless for the bands.
Chris X being the ubiquitious online figure as well as maintaining a positive relations with all of our vendors in merch land really helps on a daily basis and takes a huge workload day of during the fest off of my back.
Liam O being the coordinator for all food vendors is another key aspect of the growing fest. from having a great relationship with the city food inspectors to knowing the paperwork and having excellent taste and choices in what the kids want, its a job I couldn't do in a million years.
Joel Murphy is my silent partner. Whether its any of the above aspects or his amazing art and web design that make the presence of TIHC stand out and above, he is the rock and guidance that allows me to call at 3 am with an assortment of questions or thoughts to ponder. He comes up and directs all of the tents going up and coming down and is very hands on during the fest and makes the need to do things happen.
Sunny Singh evolved from the guy who videos to the promotional minded bedfellow to the staffer with insight towards booking leads, the social media presence of the fest along with the good natured sillyness that makes what we present online what it is.

The team this year also included Meghan Harper who is an amazing person with insane eye for detail and had alot of hands on time in compiling data for the app and sites as well as input as to ideas for the lineup. It was nice for someone to come in and take the place of Bob Wilson who moved to Florida to start FYA fest .

Jen Reisberg worked on alot of PR elements and maintained a social connection to the many sites that we depend on to talk about the fest.
Brooke Hoffman aids in most anything we need her to and is someone to always count on for a solid opinion.
Bob Shedd who worked through being a father and an relenteless work schedule put us on the map with a few companies that we now have solid relations with. Although his time is limited, he is a great idea guy and a solid team player.
Vanessa D is our newest member and someone who will be developing our own PR team year round to help keep the momentum going and give us more insights and push through the off season and such. Her drive and energy is unreal and she is going to get us places we've never been before.

Big shout outs to the support given to us still from Sean Agnew of R5 productions, a brother, mentor and most helpful person alive.
The staff of the Electric Factory really come into their own during the fest and their professionalism gives us blue ribbon level of support to the bands and customer service for the kids.

TIHC is pretty infamous for the videos you put together each year advertising the Fest.  They're pretty long and usually pretty funny.  Is this something you usually come up with, or a group project?

Sunny and I are the parents but with the coming fall and new projects, we have included everyone including Bananye West, Thomas Oi and a slew of meme making hooligans to bring the TIHC humor to an all time high. 

Are there bands that approach you each year that you would like to have play but for one reason or another (financial or schedules) it doesn't work out?  Are there band that you approach each year that you really want to have play (like dream line-up stuff) but it never works out?

Burn, Chokehold, and xDisciplexAD would make my top of my wish list. Ignite is the last hold out of semi active bands that I need to have on the fest .
Hatebreed was up there but they've now done everything but TIHC so its taken the glimmer out. I prefer solid headliners that are currently kicking ass dabbling lightly with reunions and supporting the working bands today over a reunion fest top to bottom. In the coming years you will see more lineups like this year and that is due entirely because in the past 5 years, every fest ours included have depleted the "OH MY GOD" level bands that kids would die to see.
Additionally, are there any bands you'd really like to have play some year, but they might not quite fit the style of TIHC?  Like maybe some very non-hardcore type band that you're a big fan of?
Obituary, Behemoth, Jedi Mind Tricks, House of Pain, Every Time I Die.  Aside from that I'd like to bring things back to when hc kids were truly supportive of the undergound movement over short winded popular trends. I could book any number of flavor of the month fad bands and kids would be happy, but a long time legend like KRS One would be a long shot as to reaching the core audience.
What's the most difficult part of putting together each years TIHC fest?
Not giving up. Not being downtrodden by complaints. Wanting a band and having to push the limits of what we can spend just to accomodate them so we know the kids are getting their moneys worth.
I wish I could figure a way to make the payment for bands more equal, keep production high and lower ticket prices..
Money is the root of all the evil in this and in dealing with it, I choose often to make less and less so the fest gets what it needs and everyone walks away happy. Its not a solid business plan, but it makes sense to do it this way.
Any big additions/changes, or otherwise exciting things you'd like to mention about this years Fest coming up in July?

Thursday Killswitch is playing alot of Older material
Friday Stephen Brodsky is playing with Converge
Bl'ast has cancelled and Agnostic Front has taken their place.
Alpha Omega has dropped so we've filled the spot with Palehorse
Sunday Madball plays set it off top to bottom with matt henderson flying in to perform with them.
Thanks for the love and support!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Us old farts will be playing a handful of shows out of town this Summer (and in town as well), including a special rare show from Hex alumni LIKE WOLVES in Rochester on August 3rd.  A couple more may pop up before the heat is through, but this is the hub bub as of now:

Friday, July 18th 
Bethleham, PA @ Podrum Mahenzi
doors 7, bands 8

Dying -

To Tremble -


Saturday, July 19th- Philly.  Watching Nothing and Iron Lung, scro'...  unless someone wants to hook up a day time matinee? 

Monday, July 21st
Syracuse, NY
Westcott Community Center
8:30PM. $7

Spoken word/comedy/juggling/deep stuff from TRIAL's
with music from:
DIALYSIS (more Syracuse)
VITAL TIMES (how much Syracuse can you take?)
Friday, July 25th
Binghamton, NY
Fitzie's Irish Pub
8:00pm doors 8:30 start
21+ $5

*Bleak (Syracuse)

*Hell Mary (New Jersey)

*Dialysis (Syracuse)

*Chasing Sokaris (Massena, NY)

*Bubba Crumrine (Ithaca Underground, Mouth to Mouth to Mouth, Brian!, Hiroshima Vacation)

Sunday, August 3rd
Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar