Smile Politely

Metalfest snapshots


A Beguiling Mane

Microphones whirled and maiden hair shone like molten gold as Goatwhore put down Friday night’s most convincing set.

There was a series of guest bassists behind a terrifying and physical Ben Falgoust, who managed to personally stare each audience member in the eye as his thumb carved slowly across his throat.

Or his frenzied finger singled you out as his right hand gave resounding, comradely fist clasps to a pulsing audience.

No singer owned the stage or matched the ferocious vitality of this giant composed entirely of rippling veins and snapping tendons.

The eye would find no shelter on stage. The guitarist emodied disdain for all creatures and their lady guest bassist’s mesmerizing cascade shimmering hair would torment and astound the faculties of men and women alike. What dread nutrient, whose nether milk could whip mortal hair to that shine?

The Elder Speaks

Speckmann took the mike. “Here’s our intro…We’re Master.”

After 20 odd years, even a comically brief intro is unnecessary.

The decades-plus were evident in his death growl, which years of depravity have turned from affectation to affliction.

His wispy beard, like his growl, looked earned. It was simultaneously fuller and thinner than younger bands. Thinner in strands, but imbued with the weathered gravitas that comes with doing something longer and more thoroughly than anyone else in the room.

By Master’s set real drunkenness had arrived and a pod of audience members lumbered before the stage with glaze-eyed violence. They would collide and careen into bystandards, like insensate hulks milling blindly in some deep and eternal cavern.

This is Almost Spinal Tap

The metal studs started up from his feet and circled his leather crown.

Singer Chris Gamble was an old guard, able to scream “Here’s some Primal Fucking Rage and Rawness!” with no trace of irony.

“Shout for madness!” he implored. “TO MADNESS!”

“This one’s for all of you dancing in that fucking fiery void!”

Gorephobia has been at it for decades and their audience, last night included, is still asking for encores.

Though after the set they nodded to their inevitable end and asked for the only immortality afforded to venerable warriors.

“Thank you, and Remember Us.”


Maddened Night Whispers

While trying to sleep last night, I could literally still hear the metal. Not in my head, but in the writhing nerves of my ear canal where the microhairs twitched post tramautically like the legs of crushed spiders.

A Welcoming Community

For all it’s pointy piercings and menacing growls, Central Illinois Metalfest is maybe the friendliest fest in town.

Hands are clasped convivially and smiling badasses talk bands and unspeakable acts of fornication over hours of beer and banging.

“People are nice as fuck here,” said Stephanie from Ohio. “In Cincinnati everyone’s a shithead so we act like shitheads. “But here is crazy.”

“At most shows you walk up to the bands and they’re like ‘what the fuck do you want?'” said Farmer City’s Dustin. “Here it’s great, some even let me show them my vocals.”

Metalfest is a good opportunity to meet bands. After each set they can be found lounging behind merch tables and clinking beers with attendees. It’s like the only thing separating them from the crowd is a different colored wristband.

Besides sound malfunctions onstage yesterday, (monitor malfunctions plagued some bands, even the elder giant “Master”) the only other complaints an informal survey could drum up was a slight but noticeable lack of women.

“Of the sausage fest shows I’ve been to, this is the most so,” said Dustin

“It’s like this everywhere,” said Stephanie. “I go to a lot of shows so I’m used to it. Guys are always giving you shit. Guys are always trying to fuck you.”

While discussing this SikFuk was onstage introducing his next song.

“This one’s about two guys and a whore. But the guys don’t want to pay. But they still want to get up on that crusty ass shit at the same time…”

That was from the song Dead Hooker Double Penetration. We went back to discussing women and metal.

Chats with others about metal in Central Illinois inevitable pointed back up towards Chicago, St. Louis or the coasts, though the band Lividity of Peoria has hit it big, while smaller groups carry the banner south of I-80.

Pornmetal a Flaccid Schtick

“Let’s get all you pussy lovers up here! This song’s called Oozing Vaginal Discharge!”

So hooted Von Young of Lividity, Peoria’s own Pornmetal bonanza.

Pornmetal is an unfortunate mix of metal, a genre meant to shock you, and porn, a subject with no shock value whatsoever.

Who hasn’t been looking at porn since they were ten? It’s as commonplace and comforting as that baseball mitt you saved from Little League.

The tired schtick was delivered with the snearing bluster of men who are terrified of women and when they started tossing titty DVD’s to the audience I didn’t know whether to yawn or laugh.

The music wasn’t much meatier.

Von Young’s death growls were tapered oinks with a hint of deflated mouth harp, while the riffs were no better or worse than anything else that night. Though during the soundcheck the drummer put down these funky, tight beats that hinted at a squandered talent.

Late in the show, deep into a series of oinks, five words suddenly rang clear.

“It’s not vagina…it’s CUNT!”

Right, great, next band please.


If Lividity’s empty misogynies left me ennervated, who would have thought a band named Anal Cunt would set things aright.

Anal Cunt was everything Metalfest honed to a needle point. It wasn’t particularly dynamic or creative, but the singer looked down to scream and never looked up. Elbows were everywhere and soaring beer cups bopped bouncers in the frenzied pit.

One mosher was pinned down and dragged out, a few more were led away standing up.

“I just hit a bouncer with a beer cup at Anal Cunt! That is fucking priceless!,” said the cast-out mosher.

His lady friend stayed behind to make peace with the security guards.

“You fucking pussy! A little beer?!! Really?!! Fuck you you fucking pussy!” said she.

Speaking later to security guards you hear a different perspective, especially on the guy they had to pin.

“The guy was already kicked out once for doing stupid shit, but I vouched for him. He was so excited to see the show I got him back in. Then he goes charging these girls with his elbows up. I’m never vouching for him again.”

And that beer cup toss was a third strike for the other.

Fortunately, both those guys had come exclusively to see Anal Cunt and made it all the way to the last song for an epic, satisfying and fucking priceless end.

Midnight — The Shine is Gone

After ten hours of thrash metal your senses acclimate and demonic shrieks register as ho-hum.

By the time Immolation came on, their epic chops fell on literally deaf ears.

Here’s hoping next year organizers can stir in some symphonic, folk or power metal to keep that death/thrash/grindcore sounding as fresh and wrenching as it deserves to.

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