Loco like a fox
Thanks to large crowds and
a few success stories, some bands are beginning to see Locobazooka as a viable
by Chris Kanaracus
The first year, it was just a party," says former hair-rocker
Dan Hartwell, the promoter behind this Sunday's Locobazooka 2000 concert. We'd
have to agree. The show, now in its ninth year, will feature more than 30 local
and national rock acts and is expected to attract more than 15,000 to Green
Hill Park. Year one, the crowd numbered more like 500. Back then, the event was
called Localpalooza (Hartwell changed the name after he was issued a
cease-and-desist order by the promoters of the now-defunct Lollapalooza
alterna-tour), and was held at the Northboro Fish and Game Club, a quaint
venue, to say the least. The "souvenir stands" were a row of rickety card
tables, and the headliner was the now-disbanded Worcester rap-core band
Bonehead. The "second stage" was in the club lodge.
Over the following six years, the show skipped from home to home, landing at
Shore Park, Chooch's in North Brookfield, and finally at Green Hill Park five
years ago. Along the way, the crowds got bigger, the sponsors better-heeled,
and, perhaps, a few bands got that crucial career bump-up from the gig.
Hartwell, himself no stranger to the rigors of the music business -- in the
'80s, under the nickname "Danimal," he fronted several local hard-rock groups,
including Cracked Actor and the Noizy Boyz -- is quick to hype his show as a
"springboard" for rock acts on the way up. He points to 1998's concert, which
featured current super-groups Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit, and where
local-now-national favorites Godsmack turned in an immortal, fist-pump-worthy
set. And Harvard's almost-there Reveille nailed their first contract shortly
after the 1998 show.
No doubt the lesser-known acts on this year's bill bought into Locobazooka in
the hopes they'll be next. Bought in is the operative phrase; bands buy blocks
of Locobazooka tickets to resell in exchange for 15 minutes on stage. The
arrangement, although common at other festivals, has garnered Hartwell a fair
amount of criticism over the years from local bands, who complain that the
system amounts to "pay to play."
Hartwell counters that he sells tickets to bands at a reduced price, which
allows the groups to turn a profit. With slightly less bravado, he adds his
show allows local bands exposure that they can't get anywhere else. You get the
sense, though, he's sick of the subject. "It's old news," he says.
Old news or not, a member of the New Hampshire band
Paging Reality complained about the set-up to Boston's WBCN (104.1 FM), which
has run house ads bashing Locobazooka's sponsor, rival WAAF (107.3 FM). In
recent days, the flap has dominated between-song chatter on both stations. Not
every act objects. Jay Lawn, frontman for Boston rap-metal combo 7th Rail Crew,
who played the festival in 1998, says a return to the Locobazooka stage this
year was a no-brainer for his band. "Look at Kid Rock. I watched from the side
of the stage by the dj, and said `Hey, these guys are pretty cool.' [Kid Rock]
had just one song out at that point. Then from there, just look. He blew up.
Hopefully, I can tell that kind of story someday. We're looking for this show
to catapult us to another level."
Last week, we armed ourselves with a bottle of aspirin and sat down with a
small mountain of CDs and promotional materials supplied by some of the bands
on this year's bill. Some were okay, others great, and a few? Ehhh. One thing
is for sure: if you're over the age of 25, bring earplugs and get some rest the
night before. Here's some of what you can expect.
Wrestling is a fledgling Boston-based wrestling promotion, that, like so many
of Locobazooka's out-of-the-woodwork music acts, is scrambling for attention.
The oft-maligned but undeniably fun art-form of professional wrestling is
currently at a popular peak. WWF stars such as the Rock and Triple H earn
millions of dollars a year and have moved beyond the ring into TV commercials,
network talk shows, and even feature films.
But these guys didn't get there overnight. Most of the pseudo-sport's
superstars had to start at the bottom, in the seedy world of independent
wrestling promotions. There are no sold-out arenas on wrestling's so-called
"indy circuit." Instead, grapplers pay their dues before modest crowds in
armory buildings, high-school gyms, and even campgrounds for as little as $20 a
night. Sometimes, they don't get anything.
Echoing bands like 7th Rail Crew, seven-year wrestling veteran Draven, 24 (born
Vincent Ratte -- Draven took his ring moniker from the title character of
1994's The Crow) sees his match at Locobazooka as a chance to reach a
wider audience. Draven performs for Chaotic Wrestling and about a dozen other
promotions as one half of a goth-themed tag team called the Damned. On average,
the Rhode Islander works about 120 times each year in venues from Maine to
"I've wrestled for five people and for 2000. It's just part of the work ethic.
No matter how many people are there, I always give them my best possible
match." Of course, when he and his partner Mad Dog face high-flying Kid Krazy
and suave Derek Destiny at Locobazooka, it'll be before 15,000 fans, a point
not lost on Draven. "This is a huge opportunity. We're going to go all out."
These four grinders are enjoying a radio push (perhaps aided by singer/moaner
Biff's dad, Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath fame) but may have trouble
distinguishing themselves from the pack with their electronica-charged,
galloping batch of neo-metal tunes. Nothing too risky here. The riffs are
nothing new and the hooks are few. Liner-note watchers will find this band's
lyrics more intelligent than most, however.
Closer Than Kin
Ferocious punk attitude and riffs, but with a growling, Pantera-like bottom
end. Recalls hardcore favorites Bane, except with more melody. This is
straight-ahead, tight, frenetic stuff.
Days of the New
This dark, acoustic-guitar-driven band, led by Morrison-esque wunderkind Travis
Meeks, made quite a splash in 1996 with their self-titled debut album
(Outpost). The track "Touch, Peel, and Stand" was the longest-charting
number-one rock track ever, and the record went double platinum. Not bad? Well,
Meeks promptly fired his band after that and reappeared in 1999 with another
self-titled record -- this time dabbling with techno, metal, and even classical
forms. Meeks's profile has been low in recent months, but count on him and his
newest crew to provide a (comparatively) soothing capper to the day's
This Chicago foursome may have won the hearts of MTV and hard-rock radio, but
they also score the prize for most unoriginal metal-band name. Regardless,
Their winning sonic combination shows a definite touch of anthem-metal -- think
Iron Maiden or Queensryche's Geoff Tate -- and plenty of chugg, but with a neat
electronica vibe that scampers deliciously around the edges of their songs'
bombastic arrangements. Crazed vocalist David Draiman moves strikingly -- and,
at times, quite annoyingly -- between alarmed babble-rapping and a skewed sense
of melody. And should Disturbed fall prematurely out of favor with the WAAF
crowd (as, truth be told, is definitely possible) guitarist David Donegan will
likely hang his nose rings somewhere safe. He's a monstrous talent.
These LA horror-ish grinders have slowly, surely, and inexplicably built a
solid following, which they'll no doubt keep as long as Marilyn Manson remains
in seclusion. We never thought we'd say this, but: come on back, Marilyn, we
Metallic hardcore from Nashua, New Hampshire, with emphatic, bell-clear
baritone vocals, backed up with low, churning guitars that suggest a sack full
of muzzled rattlesnakes. Downtrodden are a group with their eyes cast on the
role of dynamic-range in metal. On every cut on the band's self-released
Delusions of Grandeur, there's a distinct ceiling-floor differential at
play. Smart. One to watch.
This year, 34 bands will perform on three separate stages.
FYI: Many sets will overlap.
Loco Stage (main stage #1)
10 a.m. Capitol Seven
10:30 a.m. Change of System
11:00 a.m. Twisted
11:30 a.m. T-House of the Almighty
Noon 7th Rail Crew
12:30 p.m. Loose Monkey
2:10 p.m. Ultraspank
3:10 p.m. P.O.D.
4:20 p.m. Disturbed
5:30 p.m. Days of the New
Bazooka Stage (main stage #2)
10:15 a.m. Stillbourne
10:45 a.m. Downtrodden
11:15 a.m. Twisted
11:45 a.m. Mantra
12:15 p.m. Drop 360
12:50 p.m. Children of the Korn
1:40 p.m. Cold
2:40 p.m. Apartment 26
3:50 p.m. Dope
5 p.m. One Minute Silence
Future of Rock Stage
10 a.m. Nameless Fear
10:20 a.m. Violate
10:40 a.m. Paging Reality
11 a.m. Raymond
11:20 a.m. Malevolence
11:40 a.m. Labb
Noon Breeding Ground
12:20 p.m. Red Mercury
12:40 p.m. Head Rush
1 p.m. Gage
1:20 p.m. The Orange
1:40 p.m. Rebound
2 p.m. Closer Than Kin
2:20 p.m. Liquid Gang
This hard-working Brockton-based crew take the melodic rap-and-rock path carved
out by acts like Shootyz Groove and run it through today's
Korn/Godsmack/Deftones wringer. On their recent, self-titled EP, vocalists Rob
McIntyre and Mike Reardon spar in good-cop/bad-cop fashion to invigorating
effect, while the rest of the group manage to play a few riffs that this
weathered genre has yet to beat to death. No word, though, whether or not the
disc's barnstorming production values will transfer over to Locobazooka's
This New Hampshire-via-Tulsa foursome call their music "funk-metal fusion." To
us, it sounds more like gloomy speed metal performed by a cyborg-like drummer,
a surprisingly slap-happy bassist (there's the funk!), and a guitarist who pays
constant squealified homage to Pantera's Dimebag Darrell. The group's
self-titled disc is a touch ponderous at times, but is tightly performed and
One Minute Silence
This British sensation's current hit single "Fish Out of Water" is
catchy enough, but generic in comparison to the leonine, razor's-edge guitar
grooves and masterful drumming that mark the remainder of One Minute Silence's
second album Buy Now . . . Saved Later (V2). Overall, the band have a
knack for finding the ebb-and-flow paradigm that's imperative to good,
non-thrash metal and should induce roiling with ease during their afternoon
set. And when the day's moshing is through, perhaps fans will take time to
contemplate the many informed political and social themes explored in the
Call them Salem, New Hampshire metallurgists with a spacy bent. Their Web site
boasts of an upcoming gig with faded '80s rockers Slaughter -- a dubious honor,
indeed. Good thing their own CD, Issues, is slightly more modern and
We have to admit it. When we first saw P.O.D's video for "Southtown" enter
heavy rotation on MTV, we scratched our heads. A more generic rap/metal song
simply couldn't be written. Then we peered a little deeper into the many phat
riffs, the ghetto-honed angst, and non-preachy Christian attitude on the
group's Fundamental Elements of Southtown (Atlantic) and realized we had
jumped to conclusions. Look for P.O.D.'s searing, amazingly dead-on cover of
U2's "Bullet the Blue Sky" as a set highlight.
They may be young (average age 17) but the seven-member Stillbourne are heavy
beyond their years. Their self-released disc, Trials, mines turf favored
by aggro-happy mooks such as Messhuggah, and there's even a dash of Isis-like
noisecore in there. Such anger. The group also boast one of Locobazooka's few
female performers in guitarist Nicole. No word if she plays de facto
school-marm to this Slipknot for the junior-high set.
T-House of the Almighty
This Randolph-based band are a mishmash of every late-'80s early-'90s style.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, though: their self-titled 1999 EP is
Bud-fueled cock rock at its finest. To their credit, the boys make use of
lighter material to go with the gruff stuff, especially on the Rage-meets-Chili
Peppers "H.W.P." Mostly, though, expect mosh-tastic fodder like the rock-stupid
"Jump in the Mud," which is currently enjoying limited radio airplay.
And so on
Other bands on the bill include Mantra, Labb, groove-rockers
Loose Monkey, Capitol Seven, Rebound, the Orange,
Change of System, Gage, Nameless Fear, Seventeen,
Head Rush, Raymond, Violate, and Twisted.
And between sets, the Big Nazo Puppet Troupe will wander through to
entertain the crowd, and Boston-based Chaotic Wrestling will offer a few
bodyslams to go with all those booming beats (see sidebar).
Seth Gitell can be reached at sgitell[a]phx.com.
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