In 1966 Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech, during which he said “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times.” Only about three years later, Janis Joplin followed that up with the maxim “Time keeps movin’ on.” This is all just to say that we continue to live in interesting times. Perhaps the most interesting, as far as old Chinese curses go. We look back in history–of which the Cold War era seems particularly comparative (when we aren’t feeling particularly unkind)–and we see more than a few contemporary resemblances. And while the news cycle can get brutal, its incredible to have spaces that can act as a temporary haven from daily woes…even when its a haven of brutality, itself.
Sound and Fury this year continued the years-long streak of incredible curation and production, but more than that, this year more than previously the idea of a community coalescing around S&F really came to the fore. Some of that is due, no doubt, to the incredible and timely reunion of Have Heart, a truly legendary hardcore band that no one thought would ever play again…not for any bad blood (as the various members innumerable sideprojects involving various iterations of one another including Sweet Jesus, Wolf Whistle, Free, Fiddlehead, and Clear would easily disprove) but for simply the reason that I have seen only happen once in person–when a band got on stage and played their set so hard and so well that the fans left immediately without encore…completely satisfied. The band had done what it needed to do. Have Heart left like that–on an incredible wave of goodwill and trust and no small amount of tears. Now, n 2019, when we needed it most (as history teacher Patt Flynn made note at the show), Have Heart rode back in on that wave of goodwill, and they rode it right into one of the fervent hotbeds of hardcore and community, Sound and Fury.
It was really a match made in heaven, delivering on all fronts. But that has been largely due to the tireless efforts of Riley and the crew at Sound and Fury working incredible hours and literally performing miracles to create an inclusive, open fest that continues to outdo itself every single goddamn year.
This year STARTED with former members of Bane’s band Antagonize. Can you imagine? A lineup that BEGINS with Bane alumni. A lineup that keeps delivering after that and touching on most if not every exciting and up and coming hardcore act around right now–Fury, Power Trip, Abuse of Power, Vein, Year of the Knife, Incendiary, Drain, Diztort, Inclination, Candy, Firewalker, Initiate, Dare, Dead Heat, and Basement. That is a veritable who’s-who of hardcore headliners in the scene.
But, truth be told, it all, impressively, seems largely unimportant. Sure a big draw this year was Have Heart’s reunion, thats undeniable. But this is an event which has become a touchstone for people year-round. It’s something that has become a presence that people interact with on a new level. Sound and Fury has become something more than just a festival. Through its impeccable curation, through its savvy and authentic engagement with fans, and through its PASSION for its attendees, its become a community that is being treated with passion in kind.
I’m a painfully shy introvert. Despite being involved with the scene for 15 years, I have made few friends from it and continue to have difficulties actually interacting with people at shows. But this has given me a unique eye as both an insider and an outside observer. Sound and Fury is a catalyst in a scene that is becoming increasingly tight-knit. Bonds created through music, strengthened through interaction, sustained by social media, are hardened in the forum that Sound and Fury creates every year. Being a photographer, I can see this especially in drawing photographers who’s work I admire from all over the country and helping give audience and support to To the Front–a concert photography collective who held a show the next night after the fest. But I even heard it first hand when I sheepishly struck up conversation with the other human shoved as close next to me as railingspace would allow–a tattoo artist from Santiago, Chile who said “Have Heart isn’t even one of my favorite bands…it just felt important to be here.”
Sure the Have Heart reunion show was just as insanely epic as I could possibly have imagined–a full fledged break from reality that ended in a thousands-person pileup to “WATCH ME RISE,” but it was the Sound and Fury team who made every aspect of that a possibilty from literally the ground (which surely gave out under the crushing weight of all that fist-pumping goodwill) up. In little choices–like the push on vegan foods, the separation of the merch from the stage floor, or more than anything on the use of a photobooth year in and year out, Sound and Fury manages to constantly keep the focus on the music and the community. While, sure, the social media aspect is more odious than I would normally go for, the intention that this is a festival that is ostensibly focused on community lives right there in that damn photobooth. Bring your partner(s), your friends, your lovers, hell bring a stranger or just yourself. You are HERE, it says.
And in interesting times, here is probly the best place for us.