Jesterfest II in Canandaigua DIY Punk Twice As Good
Last year Jesterfest showed us what the DIY punk ethos was all about and what music and small town America can accomplish together. So it comes as no surprise that there would be a Jesterfest II, exactly one year later.
Once again the event was organized and promoted by Jeff Berry of the Canandaigua local band Soulsick, who headlined the show. Everyone who played last year, except those who have since broken up, returned. Plus there were some newcomers most notably Canandaigua's Badon Hill, Rochester's Endangered Youth and Buffalo hiphop Emcee MD.
The show started out with two young newcomers Cessation and Alien Autopsy. Buffalo rapper EmceeMD followed passing out rubber dinosaur heads for a song called "Raptor Mosh." The Bricks returned from last year with some very talented young kids joining them on the stage. Radiance was back from last year with a new lineup. No parents were filling in for their kids this time. Ian Blackwood who appeared as a member of since-disbanded Father Goat last year was back with a new folk-punk project The Sikedelic Pooridge People.
The show really kicked into high gear when Tyranitar returned from last year with more heavy metal based on historical struggles involving Joan of Arc, the Israelites, and Native Americans. Local Black Metal artists Badon Hill did a powerful instrumental set before introducing their new vocalist Dustin Conklin. Canandaigua's Beyond Solomon and Saturn returned with a new sound featuring 7-string guitars and initiated a new dance. They were followed by Rochester's Endangered Youth, who were unable to play last year because of another engagement. They completed the final piece of the show that was missing at the previous fest. The show was headlined again by Canandaigua's Soulsick, whose members Jeff and Matt Berry organized the show. These guys were busy. Jeff also plays drums for Radiance and Matt also plays bass for Tyranitar. Guitarist Tyler Coats took the stage in a red and black jester costume and the band finished up with their trademark song "Jester" after which the festival is named.
Last year, promoter Jeff Berry spoke about what a powerful force for change music can be.
When asked about how he thought this year's event brought about change, he had this to say:
Well the first example I think of, which kind of sounds egotistical, is the way we as SoulSick played our set list. We are a metal band surrounded with a scene (that disgraces us) of bands that need to be the most brutal, the most show-stopping, the best, and we played with a goofy outfit and crazy face paint. And i really loved the way we performed Sandcastle, with Tyler sitting down, almost like he was telling a story through his guitar. The best word I can use to describe that moment is "connection." I think being able to do these things is a way to remain true, high-spirited, and grounded. I it would be really nice to see the day where "local music" translates to "brotherhood," not "competition." That is a change I try and make with my music. Unite and empower people instead of comparing and criticizing.
Not "egotistical" at all, truthful and accurate. When asked about the "scene that disgraces us" this was his response:
Its all a competition. Everything has to be bigger and better. People have forgotten what music is about. Music is about uniting and showing that were all the same, instead of tearing us apart by criticism and trying to prove who is better. From my personal experiences, people don't have the same passion about it anymore, they don't care about a message they are sending, directly or indirectly. They're just trying and follow a fad and do it better than the last guy. Violence or destructive behavior at shows in the scenes I've been exposed to is also becoming more and more "normal" and making me more and more mad. People should feel free to have just as much fun as the everyone else there, and they can't do that when people are "throwing down" and breaking stuff and making a complete mess of the establishment. I honestly don't understand how it came to this and why people seem so determined to ruin this.
This could also describe our political discourse, our foreign policy, our business model as well as the way we treat the earth and each other. Hopefully music can bring about some positive changes. Nothing else seems to be able to.
The rest of the pictures are in the gallery