It’s hump day. There’s milk all over I-70. The weather is a little cooler than most would prefer for this time of year. So, why not reflect back on MACRoCK from about six weeks ago with this shot of Wailin Storms … wailin’ away (sorry, we had to). If this doesn’t say, “The Week Is Halfway Done!” then we don’t know what does. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Mullinix. For more of her photos, visit https://www.facebook.com/bucketofrock.
Hey, did you know it’s Audrey Hepburn’s birthday today? She would have been 85 today. Anyway. Check out this photo of The Sea Life at last month’s MACRoCK. We don’t really have a food reason to be plucking this particular photo out of nowhere, but they look to be having fun, right? Right. So … well …. happy Monday! Photo courtesy of Cassandra Mullinix. For more of her photos, visit https://www.facebook.com/bucketofrock.
With April nearly gone and May marking the unofficial official start of the festival season (kind of), we thought we’d flash back to a few weeks ago when the great Cassandra Mullinix went to MACRoCK, took some photos, and clued us in on some of the things she learned. So … how about we take a look at the above photo of Eskimeaux performing as part of the Harrisonburg, Virginia, gathering? Sounds good? Good. Only three more days of April, friends. Will May bring its usual flowers? That’s quite the question. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Mullinix. For more of her photos, visit https://www.facebook.com/bucketofrock.
Let’s start the week off with this photo of Kenny Tompkins at MACRoCK earlier this month. You know who Kenny Tompkins is, right? He’s in New God. And New God has a great album out. So, you should stream or purchase or bootleg or whatever you need to do in order to check it out. Why? Because your life will be better for it. A happy April 13 to all, and to all a good morning. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Mullinix. For more of her photos, visit https://www.facebook.com/bucketofrock.
Tyler Grady performs at MACRoCK over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Mullinix. For more of her photos, visit https://www.facebook.com/bucketofrock.
The following was written by Cassandra Mullinix. We love her to death and while some of us were taking in Old Indian’s vinyl release show on Saturday, Cassandra was busy mac-rocking-and-rolling her way through Virginia. Below is her recap.
MACRoCK, hosted by WXJM out of Harrisonburg, Virginia, is consistently the best little music festival that you could spend your money on. If I had my own award for music festivals, I’d give it something like the J.K. Rowling underdog award for all the once-undiscovered bands that have played there, who are now making big names for themselves. It’s the place to catch great bands on the rise to national status.
Do you like college towns? Do you like college radio stations? Do you like the area’s best local bands? Those are three reasons — at the very least — why you should put MACRoCK 2016 on your calendar next year. Now, here are five more why MACRoCK is most excellent.
1. All of your friends play there. Whether you’re from Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Washington D.C., or Philadelphia, you are bound to see some homies at MACRock. We rocked out with our local friends Goodwolf, New God, Rozwell Kid, Wish List, and RHIN (in no specific order) and totally had a great time getting to know some D C. bands like The Sea Life and Paperhaus.
2. Bikes and bands. Need I say more? No, but I will anyway since I’m here writing and all. MACRoCK happens at the perfect time of year to knock the winter dust off your bicycle and take it for a spin around the alley ways of downtown Harrisonburg. It’s also the best way to quickly get back and forth between showcases and beat some of the lines at night. Shout out to the great folks at Shenandoah Bicycle Company — I always plan a little time to stop by the shop and talk bikes.
3. Where do you find out what the drink of choice is among bass players? Why, MACRoCK of course! Thanks Eskimeaux for that fun photo of your bass player sipping on a martini (extra olive) on stage. Keep it classy.
4. It’s crowded, but it’s fun crowded. Unlike a lot of festivals, the venues at MACRoCK maintain a sweet spot for capacity. It’s crowded enough to feel like you’re part of something, but not so crowded that if you go get a drink, you fear that you’ll never make it back up front to catch that one band you really want to see. After-parties at Crayola House? Well, that’s a different story.
5. The music and the bands are accessible. There is no great divide of backstages or barriers between fans and bands at MACRoCK. In fact, the closer the two are together, the more fun the experience. Go nuts! Tell the lead singer about your cheesy story of when you first heard their songs and instantly felt connected to the band. Or draw silly sketches of the band and have each of the band members sign the drawing. Whatever. It’s a music festival for you. It’s a music festival for the fans.
There were a lot of bands to see during the two day event that is MACRoCK. We wish we could have seen even more of the great bands on the lineup, but we were entirely grateful and satisfied to see performances by the folks listed below.
- Wish List
- Trophy Wives
- Rozwell Kid
- Elvis Depressedly
- Stephen Lee
- Tucker Riggleman (Bishops)
- Tyler Grady (Goodwolf)
- John R Miller (Fox Hunt)
- Kenny Tompkins (New God)
- Wailin Storms
- The Sea Life
- Uncle Bengine and The Restraining Orders
- Told Slant
Rozwell Kid performs at SXSW. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Mullinix. For more of her photos, visit https://www.facebook.com/bucketofrock.
You have to love Rozwell Kid, right? Right. Rising from the ashes of Shepherdstown’s The Demon Beat, the quartet released their “Good Graphics EP” last month and rocked and rolled through SXSW (as Cassandra pointed out a couple weeks ago). They’ll be at MacRock this weekend in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and we recently caught up with them via email about receiving praise from Fuse, how SXSW turned out, and their upcoming tour with Superheaven and Diamond Youth. You can check them out on Facebook and Twitter, if you so desire, and if you have the opportunity to see them play, you really ought to take advantage of it – all signs appear to show that these guys are ready to blast off into a world far bigger than Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. So … enjoy!
First and foremost, how was SXSW this year? Did you guys make any notable contacts or play any notable showcases or have any notable stories you might be kind enough to share? It’s always a madhouse, I know, but overall, how do you think it went?
The more removed with time we are from SXSW, the cooler and cooler it gets in retrospect. We were fortunate enough to play some great showcases (Infinity Cat, Exploding In Sound/Stereogum, Do512, The Midgetmen’s Jumpstart Texas) and we met a lot of really cool people. It’s just a logistical nightmare for bands loading in, parking, etc. I woke up with some extreme anxiety the second day of SXSW, but it all worked out. I mean, thousands of bands do it every year, so it can’t be that difficult (that’s what I was telling myself). In the end, it all went smoothly and we made some great friends. Everyone at Do512 is a rock and roll angel.
Likewise, I see Fuse named you guys one of their 10 favorite discoveries at SXSW. That’s pretty amazing. How did you find out about it and what was your initial reaction?
I was ego-surfing on Google and saw it. I was stoked when I found it. At first I thought it wasn’t actually FUSE-Fuse, you know? Once I realized it was actually the music television channel that used to be Much Music, I floated to the ceiling.
Now, for a little background. How did you guys get together? Where? Why? When? If you could, just give us a brief rundown of the beginnings of Rozwell Kid.
We’ve been together for almost four years. We knew each other from playing in other bands in the West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania area. And we all have similar taste in rock and roll music.
Who were some of your biggest influences and why?
We all love rock and roll music because it pumps us up. I draw a lot of influence from Weezer, Ozma, The Shins, Nofx and Green Day. The Beatles, too. I love melody.
You guys are on Broken World Media. What led to you deciding to partner with that label? How did you guys come together?
Derrick, who runs Broken World, approached us about releasing our first record (“The Rozwell Kid LP”) on cassette. Derrick is from West Virginia originally, so that small sliver of connection was cool, even though it turns out we have a lot of mutual friends. I’d never actually met them before we decided to put out the tape, but everything went well and they introduced us to a scene that was entirely new to us. The reception for the cassette was very positive, so we just kept moving forward with new releases.
Have you guys played MacRock before? If so, what’s your perception of the festival?
Yeah, I played MacRock a few times with my old band, The Demon Beat, and Rozwell Kid played last year. It’s always really, really fun. I like the smaller scale of the festival. All the shows feel very intimate and the energy is palpable throughout Harrisonburg. I love it, actually, and I’m really stoked to be back this year!
What’s your perception of the music scene in and around Frederick – over in West Virginia, and the like?
I live about 45 minutes from Fredrick but I’ve only played there a few times over the years, so I’m not really an expert on the subject. It seems like there are some really great bands starting up in town and I’ve heard shows there can be insane.
Can you give us the names of some bands or artists that you think we might not know about, who we should know about? I’m sure you’ve come across some pretty great acts on the road – who are some of the best of the best?
Goodwolf and Bishops are two great West Virginia bands who are really hitting the road and getting out there. Also, the band Neat from Lafayette, Lousiana. We just played with them and they were siiiiick!
What does 2015 hold for Rozwell Kid?
We are doing a North American tour supporting Superheaven and Diamond Youth from May 15 through June 21. Then, we have a split 7″ with The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die coming out in June. It’s called “Fourteen Minute Mile.” After that, we are going to tour as much as possible and write and record a new record.
And finally, what can we expect from your set at MacRock?
We are going to do our best to perform our original material with a delicate balance of passion and reckless abandon.
Hey, did you know that Macrock was going down this weekend? We know, we know. We’re all ready to go for Old Indian, Time Columns, Heavy Lights and Wish List at The Faux School, too. But let’s say you live in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and you don’t feel like making the drive to Frederick. Well, if that’s the case, you’ll have Rozwell Kid rocking your face off. Thus, this video. We’ll be back in a little bit with a Q&A with the band as they get ready for this weekend’s festival. So much rock. So little Internet.
MACRoCK, the music festival held annually in Harrisonburg, Va., usually on the first weekend in April, captures the real spirit of an independent music festival meant to connect bands with fans without all the corporate influence hoopla of a festival like SXSW.
In fact, MACRoCK has a rich history, beginning in 1996 when it was founded by James Madison University’s student-run radio station, WXJM, and booked the likes of Superchunk, Dismemberment Plan, and at the time, the little known Elliot Smith.
MACRoCK then broke ties with the college and the radio station to continue on as an independent nonprofit organization aimed to carry out the mission of showcasing truly independent local music acts from across the country, and keeping fans informed about artists and happenings throughout the independent music scene.
The two-day experience this year ran from afternoon hours to the wee hours of the early morning packed with high-energy rock shows full of enthusiastic college kids who weren’t afraid to get a little touchy feely with some playful pushing. Despite the fact that fans obviously owned the floor at MACRoCK, there was still some room for us older post-college adults and journalistic professionals, which made it feel more like a legitimate festival rather than just a string of college rock shows.
Showcases featured metal blends such as the currently buzzing Iron Reagan from Richmond, Va.; a rainbow of punk genres from pop to post-hardcore/ post-punk; and “listening” rock genres, such as experimental and folksy singer/songwriter storytellers.
Friday night featured a fun run of female-fronted bands with D.C.’s own Merge Records artist Ex Hex as the shining star. Saturday night had dueling headliners — pop punk hooligans Diarrhea Planet at the Blue Nile venue and TY Segall-endorsed Memphis punx Ex-Cult (formerly Sex Cult until they were forced to change the band name with a cease-and-desist from the established New York Label under the same moniker) — at the Clementine.
Other highlights included teenage female duo Skating Polly from Oklahoma, who did not disappoint with a set filled with teen angst and stage antics along with girly indie pop. They might have been stripped down (just vocals, bass, and simple drum lines), but they were still youthful rock at its best.
Some familiar local names you might have known at MACRoCK 2014 included pop-punk alt-rockers Rozwell Kid from Shepherdstown, W.Va., and the Funny/ Not Funny record label who has released albums by locals over the years from the former bands Prison Book Club and Demon Beat, and the current band Bishops from Shepherdstown.
Rozwell Kid, a band that channels the spirit of a “rager” keg party set to a warped Weezer soundtrack — and who are always worth seeing when they play Frederick or Shepherdstown — received many accolades after their bigger-than-life set on Saturday.
So, that’s a wrap on MACRoCK 2014. If you want to get a flavor of SXSW or what SXSW claims to be, skip all the big ticket showcases, massive venue lines, and the airplane flights, and check out MACRoCK next year. All you have to do is take the two-hour highway cruise down to Harrisonburg, Va., and get connected with independent music.
– This story was written by Cassandra Mullinix. Follow her on Twitter @bucket_blogger.