Fuzz Fest 5

All about the bands

Chris Taylor grew up in a time when rock fans ferociously took up factions. Punk, hair metal, jock-rock, noisy lo-fi, it’s like you had to choose a side. “If you were a punk rocker downtown in Ann Arbor in the 80’s on a weekend night, you were kinda scared cuz some jocks might roll up and beat your ass,” Taylor recalls. “For somebody like me, an artsy-kid who wasn’t in to sports, (rock/punk music) was essential. It was like, suddenly, I found a tribe. It was way more intense back then, pre-Nirvana. But it also seemed way more honest.”

The fifth annual Fuzz Fest takes place June 21-June 23 at the Blind Pig. Taylor, a punk/rock/metal journeyman from groups like Blue Snaggletooth, Mazinga, and Scott Morgan’s Powertrane, founded the festival to celebrate some of the gnarly-sounding, pedal-blazed, low-end pulsing, echo-splashed, reverb-soaked, drum-heavy outfits that might not get enough of the spotlights they deserve.

“One of the main reasons I do Fuzz Fest is that, in Ann Arbor, in Ypsilanti, and throughout Washtenaw county, there are so many bands here, as well as in Detroit and Michigan, that deserve more exposure. I remember back in the 90’s, trying to get on to the Ann Arbor Art Fair and a dude saying to me, ‘Wait, doesn’t your band usually play in dark, smoky bars?’ And it’s like, well, yeah, BUT…it bothers me that the heavier or weirder kind of rock music gets regulated to that.”

Taylor’s aim is to create an inclusive rock fest that allows for artists utilizing synthesizers and those surging mighty Marshall Stack amps, as well as those that specialize in metal, neo-psychedelia, punk-revivalism, or even guitar-centric , surfy indie-pop.

Fuzz Fest boasts an eclectic selection of rock. Photo by Chris Taylor.
Fuzz Fest boasts an eclectic selection of rock. Photo by Chris Taylor.

The lineup

Fuzz Fest features 11 bands per night, including Detroit breakout acts like TART, legendary grimy punk auteurs like Timmy’s Organism, epically spacey electronic-rock from Voyag3r, and doom-metal from Temple of the Fuzz Witch.

“I try to mix it up with all different types of rock,” said Taylor, which defies the doctrinaire divides that he grew up with. More than that, he wants to foster the same sense of community and acceptance he felt at DIY basement shows in the underground/hardcore-punk scene of the 80’s.

And then there’s the inspirational factor of just flying one’s freak flag, as it were–or continuing the spirit of the Stooges and MC5 by passionately scorching through 3 chords and a 4/4-drum rhythm—and coming under the spell of the kind of energy that can create in a room; a very amplified room, (like the Blind Pig).

Rock formations

It can be inspiring to hear Taylor talk about the unique enchantment of edgy/intense/eclectic rock n roll music, because as a lifelong follower of comic books, a skateboarder, bassist, guitarist, metal-enthusiast and a significant sci-fi/fantasy fan, he understands valiancy that comes along with an intense group of artists creating a voluminous harmony of riffs and drum hits under boomlights. It doesn’t matter where your journey in rock music begins…(Taylor would advise it not to begin with the actual band, Journey, fyi)…, but as long as that journey takes you to a place where you feel welcomed and encouraged to let out your wilder sides, then that’s all that matters. That’s what Fuzz Fest is all about—celebrating the all the gnarly, nifty, noisy sides of rock and bringing them together under one roof.

Fuzz Fest starts on Thursday, June 21, and continues throughout the weekend at the Blind Pig.

Music starts at 7pm each night. Follow online at facebook.com/fuzzfestmichigan/ for updates, schedule and more information.

Jeff Milo
Jeff Milo
Jeff covers music for Current, posting weekly show previews and highlighting new bands in the area.

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