OBSERVE: FASTCORE FESTIVAL 5


It hasn’t been that long since the last Fastcore Festival, but once again Vancouver and Squamish was overrun by grind of all stripes for the fifth time in a row on the fourth of July weekend. It was a blast on all accounts.

This was my second time attending and I had an excellent watching nearly thirty absurdly fast, filthy bands coalesce in the wilderness once more. I was a better prepared for the stay this time, the turn out at least felt smaller, there were quite a few groups that weren’t on last years bill that slayed hard; oh and of course there was a slew of weird and hilarious moments.

Organized and accommodated by locals and DIY as all hell. Read on below to see some of the grind madness that I experienced that weekend in photos and video, as well as some decent stories and shit in between the sets.

The first night was a round of pre-festival shows in Vancouver, July 4th. The venues attended were reversed this year: the first was the Astoria and then later everyone headed over to the Rainbow Connection. Both venues are pretty chill and have decent sound in the past shows I’ve attended.

I’m usually early and this time was no different. Once everything started rolling there was an alright sized crowd at the Astoria but I think there may have been less people than the previous year.

So this was the early show line up:


SUBSIST
OSK
STONE TITAN
TENSION
VULVA ESSERS

I’ve missed Subsist on multiple occasions sadly. I think they were meant to play last year’s Fastcore Fest too but didn’t. Or maybe I missed them. Osk I’ve happily seen quite a few times while Tension only once last year and they left an impression. The two at the early show I’ve never had a chance to see were Vulva Essers and Stone Titan, the latter I’ve never heard of before while the former had a wicked tape out last year I enjoyed.

All of the photos below can be seen in hi-resolution format on Flickr here.

If you don’t know Vulva Essers they’re something to hear. From San Fernando, California this three piece rips hallucinogenic, raw, mincing grindcore. Probably the only grind band there who’s guitar player had a pedal board. Also that name right? It suits the sound that’s without question. They opened and it was vicious, playing a short set but impressing nonetheless.

VULVA ESSERS

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Stone Titan as the name would lead you to believe is a sludge/doom band from Connecticut, the only slow band that night. Well not really slow, they had some good energy when not bringing the fuzz avalanche but they were definitely the Begrime Exemious of this years pre-festival activities.

STONE TITAN

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Fucking Tension raging through some of their new shit Westside Grindviolence Forever which somehow destroys more live than even on the tape. This was just a taste of what came later the next day. Brutal grind from California. In both shows it was fantastic to see and hear, the vocals were especially tortured due to the rasp in the vocalists voice.

TENSION

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Finally saw Vancouver’s Subsist, them and Erosion share a hostility that’s guttural. Subsist is a bit more harsh though. Noisy grindviolence, they had a nice tape out last year too which is up on bandcamp. Glad I had the chance to see them.

SUBSIST

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Osk. What more can I saw about these guys? They’re a grind band that is always playing and coming up with extremely strong shit, and live they’re consistent in executing it. This time they’ve got two new records out though so they’re thoroughly grinding those. I remember a lot of their set that night had the 10″ We Will Never Change prominently featured.

An added bit of awesome was they played one of my favorite songs of theirs, one that I haven’t seen them play at all actually: “Endless Repent“. Heavy as hell. If you ever have a chance see these guys.

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As the evening descended the crowd changed venues. The gallery is nice and big with only a few beams obstructing stuff, this time the bands were in the corner.Late show line-up was as follows featuring a good chunk of the next days line-up:


PLF
MASS GRAVE
GOWL
MDFL
HORRENDOUS MISCREATION
THROAT SLITTER
BRIDGEBURNER

First up was the reanimated mutation of Obacha —Throat Slitter is a white-hot powerviolence garrote wire. Searingly fast and fatal. I grabbed a tape and shirt from Tommy as soon as I could because this band is devastating in every respect. Seeing them live is another thing altogether.

They played a shit ton from their 2014 demo which wrecks everything. Go listen to it now. The vocals just peel paint, even flesh if you’re live not to mention the blinding drumming.

THROAT SLITTER

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Following Tommy’s new stuff was Kamloops grinders BRIDGEBURNER, who recently had their gear stolen from them but still grind like nothing happened. I’ve been to a few of their shows and they’re always on point, really crushing shit much like Osk but with a different groove. Last year they ruled and again this year with a new split brought.

If possible consider donating to these guys because thieves are assholes.

BRIDGEBURNER

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And then MDFL were on, but briefly. They got cut off pretty quick playing only like two or 3 songs. And while short they shoved a jagged dose of brutality in the face of the crowd. Savage grinding death.

MDFL

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Horrendous Miscreation is such a wicked band. The contorted vocals and jagged, ctachy riffing on top of the whiplash drumming is hard to beat. Consistent mangling grooves all through their set and the moshing was intense while it lasted.

HORRENDOUS MISCREATION

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If there’s one grind band that kind of inhabits ther same murky chaos of Antediluvian but, you know, grind — it’s gotta be GOWL. Holy fuck on record their hard to decipher but the lows guitar, the grotesque roaring vocals and blasts are overwhelming live. I wish I grabbed that new 7″. Just ugly shit and a long set too. I had to get out of the crowd at one point it was getting pretty rough.

GOWL

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Later when I talked to a few of the guys in PLF I mentioned that I thought it was cool they were the lone grind band at Rites of Darkness III in 2011. Sandwiched between bands like Grave Upheaval, Impetuous Ritual, Anhedonist, and Aldebaran was this oldschool but mercilessly fast local grindcore band, and grind the place they did.

What stuck out more this time and especially later the next day was the drumming — goddamn ridiculous speed and precision. The riffs reek of burning coals and death, molten aggression is what PLF has been doing for over a decade and at Fastcore Fest they were a great presence.

PLF

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MASSGRAVE went at it hard as the closer for the pre-fest shows. Locals with a lot of material these guys have a honed crusty sound, lots of punk vibes between the straight grind. And very at home in the room too.

MASSGRAVE

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IMG_9577 copy

I think the reason I’m pretty keen on Fastcore Festival’s atmosphere (in the two times I’ve attended) is the same reason I enjoyed the first Gilead Media Music Festival; which is because it feels like a friend’s bash. Quite friendly and kind in spite of the trouble of putting stuff like this on, and everyone’s working together as well as enjoying each others’ time and efforts. Shows at the Soybomb in Toronto sometimes felt this way as well and it was always a great night when that vibe was around.

Anyway this year after busing up to Squamish (which was rainy at first) Anju and Graham of Ahna/Waste Away were kind enough to give me a ride to the spot. A dude named Bryan from Winnipeg (probably in a band though I may be spacing definitely in Archagathus) and PLF’s drummer was there too.

After getting supplies we took the ride to the river bed in forest. At this point it wasn’t raining which is pretty key to later events. The road was bumpy and rough but it was once again drivable for vans loaded with gear and merch. And people.

We arrived at just around 5:00 pm when the tarp was going up over the stage, and people were still arriving. I payed the $30 ASAP then went to set up my tent across the beach in another patch of trees where others had started to do that too. Fastcore tent city.

IMG_9940 copySo I did that, which was key because I didn’t last year. It was pretty lucky last year that the weather was dry and hot so I didn’t need it— I was tired and sore and stayed up all night but it was great, I could deal with it. This time the tent was important because man did it rain the next day and it was not cool even with a tent.

But before that there was an entire day and night of fastcore. The first band was just getting set up as I finished my set up. You’d be surprised at how good things sound out there. This year their were far fewer microphone problems and only once or twice where shit got so crazy where cabled unplugged or an amp was out.

IMG_0386This was the Fastcore Fest 5 line up for 2014, minus Happy Pill Trauma who only half made it; and not in order the day they played:

PLF (Houston, TX)
PIZZAHIFIVE (Lima, OH)
GOWL (Hartford, CT)
SELF INFLICTED (Oakland, CA)
M.D.F.L. (Cleveland, OH)
VULVA ESSERS (Los Angeles, CA)
HONDURAN (Portland, OR)
TRANSIENT (Portland, OR)
TENSION (Orange County, CA)
MASSGRAVE (Vancouver, BC)
HORRENDOUS MISCREATION (Edmonton, AB)
CHAINSAW SQUID (Orange County, CA)
SIXBREWBANTHA (Victoria, BC)
OSK (Vancouver, BC)
BRIDGEBURNER (Kamloops, BC)
SHOOTING SPREE (Squamish, BC)
WASTE AWAY (Vancouver, BC)
POWER TRIP (Squamish, BC)
THROAT SLITTER (Squamish, BC)

All of the follwing photos can be viewed in hi-resolution format on Flickr here. All of the footage are on my youtube channel as well.

Again holy shit is Throat Slitter an intense experience. In a matter of five minutes they obliterate everything with furious, chaotic riffing, psychotic vocals and concussive, sickening percussion. Live I’m just blown away by the songs. Quick as fuck.

THROAT SLITTER

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Next were the only drum bass combo, where SKUFF sat last time, Power Trip thundered through the dirt.

POWER TRIP

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BRIDGEBURNER sounded even better out in the woods playing a couple of my favorites.

BRIDGEBURNER

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Now I really wanted to see WASTE AWAY which combines SIXBREWBANTHA and Ahna members for some gouging, moldering powerviolence. The tape they released last year I finally got ahold of at a show a few weeks back and a review is coming up soon. The band is one to start following though. Their set had some new stuff and it was even better then the messy, violent grind contortions heard on the demo. Check it out:

WASTE AWAY

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Fucking OSK! They played different songs this time too.

OSK

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In between bands playing and setting up I did get chances to talk with both friends, attendees, and band members. Before Tension played we smoked a little and had a chat. They were with the vocalist for Happy Pill Trauma which I didn’t realize it at the time.

So Tension slay, and they killed it the night before. But like I said there’s something about the environment that brings out extra atmosphere, and everything is heavier at that point. Tension’s set was stronger than the night before with the bass being quite a bit sharper. And the vocals again were sick, strangled and dry but higher than normal giving them a creepier tone.

Before when I was talking with them they mentioned a possible cover/crossover with Valerie from Happy Pill Trauma when it was their turn, and sure enough that happened on the last song of their set.

TENSION

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I’m so stoked on what Victoria’s SIXBREWBANTHA are bringing with their next LP Intravenously Commodified, apparently they’ve been playing all of it on their recent shows. They definitely played a ton of it this Fastcore Festival. Especially later in their set I was just in awe of some of the riffs and drumming.

Mark’s writing and playing is like the grind incarnation of Adversarial but more intricate and deliberate, Tyler’s wicked fast but has a ton of fun within the pummeling. Dude really wanted some weed during his set. I smoked a little with him while he was setting up but I’d rather watch him get on playing because man are they awesome. Their set blew me away the entire way through.

Go listen to and support these guys.

SIXBREWBANTHA

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More MDFL. Just two guys ripping out throats with grimy grinding death, and Patrick (vocals/guitar) was just going off the entire time. Appropriate considering the guitar attack he led next to some impressively passionate and unhinged drumming.

MDFL

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The set Horrendous Miscreation played was non-stop barbaric, ravaging grind and included Mr. Lube Balloons.

HORRENDOUS MISCREATION

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Vulva Essers followed Horrendous Miscreation with more noisy, psychotic grind. At one point I think PLF’s vocals Dave grabbed the mic and went at it which was a nice bonus.

Right around this time one of the people filming the night for a mini-documentary-project, Kay, approached me because all their cameras had died at once; asking if they could use one of mine. I was cool with that because it saved me a little trouble and I also want to see where that project goes. So I’ll probably update this or tweet something when I see it’s up.

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Just as it was peaking into the evening MASSGRAVE came on and made sure the energy didn’t die. I loved their performance this year both nights.

MASSGRAVE

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For PLF‘s considerably long set I decided to stand behind the drum set, I wasn’t that close the night before and the guy can play. Holy shit is PLF fast and savage. Their set was tight running through a bunch they played the night before and crushing the crowd.

PLF

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Ohio’s Pizza Hi-Five made it this year. They are a legendary two piece that know how to grind and have fun. This year it wasn’t different, they brought the crowd to a really high energy once again as it was getting later.

PIZZA HI-FIVE

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Transient‘s set was unbelievable. I thought it was ruthless from beginning to end, violent and stinging riffs all over. They had a long time to lay waste to the darkening forest with sadistic, nasty riffing.

TRANSIENT

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Rising legends Chainsaw Squid were a killer sight at this years Fastcore Fest, with the vocalist/guitarist of Tension getting in on the vocals at one point. Writhing powerviolence madness

CHAINSAW SQUID

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Once again I wasn’t able to get a tape of these guys, they had it all packed up. Fuck it though they’re great live. Self Inflicted brought their raw violence to the dark of night in Squamish this year and here’s some evidence.

SELF INFLICTED

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This time Gowl were more decipherable compared to in Vancouver, no less heavy and all about dirty, low powerviolence. The lighting and setting were perfect for their mangling grind, again having a relatively long set.

GOWL

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I had never heard of Honduran prior to their performance here, but the Portland grinders did not disappoint. They were definitely different in that it was chunkier, slower hardcore riffs rather than blazing grind most of the time. I absolutely got a noisecore vibe from them on some of their songs that night which made for a nice change in the blur of fastcore. Good shit I recommend looking in to,

HONDURAN

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I was eager for the last band to play because Shooting Spree rarely put anything out right now but they have new stuff in their brains, and play it when they’re on a stage. Even if they only played their existing dicography I’d be there. So fast, so gnarly and wild. Do want that Ether Binge split…

SHOOTING SPREE

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It was pretty late by the time the last band got off the stage. Between bands I had bought a few shirts and tapes, the festival poster, and had a few chats. Smoked a decent amount of weed with a bunch of people, and then I went back to my tent to have some sleep.

I woke up and it was raining off and on pretty good, and cold. Not unexpected, so I went down to the fire on the beach to warm up and check out who was still raging at this hour, take in the damage, and to warm up a bit. I wasn’t surprised to find that, on the misty beach, there was a solid group of people who were still going from the night before.

I think it was nearly 8 am. The morning after is consistently a pretty interesting moment in the fastcore fest timeline and it wasn’t much different this year. There was a soggy bun fight with an epic moment and a lot of comedic nonsense, eventually a chicken masala fight between Tommy (Obacha, Throat Slitter) and mad-partier Andy, who also enjoyed dunked buns alongside Issac who drums for Horrendous Miscreation. Those guys were up all night and only passed out later on. All this was little different then the half naked wrestling of last year, but no less silly or hilarious.

This went on for a while as did some singing, and it was pretty funny, warming me nicely in the rain by the fire. Band members and attendees eventually made their way to the beach sporadically in the next several hours as those who had actually slept at some point were waking up.

Eventually I packed my tent up and hung out under the stage tarp for a while, looking for a ride into Squamish while talking with a few band members as it poured, Dave from  PLF, a couple of the SIXBREBANTHA and Tension guys, and then Self Inflicted who smoked a ton of hash before they took off. That was awesome.

As everyone was mostly gone or trying to leave, the clean up was happening. Dave and I among others cleaned up the remains of the night because we we’re just standing around avoiding the rain anyway.

Then there was the mud. And the vans loaded with merch/gear that had not left before the rain… in the long, muddy logging road. Some made it out ahead of the shit storm largely because they parked well before the actual spot, but Gowl’s van (could be wrong) got stuck near the end of the road — eventually getting a tow truck, which got stuck too.

That took some time to unfold. Around the same time SIXBREBANTHA’s van was trying to make it out to no avail on the first hump out of the spot. There was a good hour of bracing and planking and pushing, which I engaged in as well because the more pushing the quicker we would get out of there (in theory). And still there wasn’t much progress.

Only when the rest of the group from up the road came back saying the tow truck got out, and all of them (around 15 people) just heaved from all angles of the van, did it climb the hill and make it out. At which point we all walked after it. I eventually got a ride into town and caught a bus back into Vancouver. I got back to the island to rest a few hours before work.

I enjoyed the festival this year. I heard that some of the organizers were concerned about the sizable amount of people and those not paying the $30 to be there. I don’t know the actual facts around that, but if people weren’t paying to support all that went on there and the great bands that worked hard to be there and play, then that’s really shitty and hypocritical. It was the first thing I did when I arrived and I was already going broke getting to Gilead Media Festival II in the next week.

Organized and put together well without too many technical issues and the line up was great. Aside from the weather at the end I think I had a better time this year, and I had a great time last year. A lot of thanks goes to everyone who keeps events like this going and the owner of the land for allowing a bunch of degenerates to make noise on their property. It generous and means a lot.

2 thoughts on “OBSERVE: FASTCORE FESTIVAL 5

  1. Thanks for documenting all this. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to find the Transient bandcamp page for their album I got on vinyl.

    Hope to see ya next year!

  2. Pingback: Gilead Media Festival II: Day One -

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