As I sit and stare at my laptop screen, I despair over how I will fit the events of a three day music festival into one compact article. NYDM Spring Bash 2015 was nothing short of an entire lifetime shoved into one weekend. My experience was the same as last year in some respects; I felt as if I had adapted to a whole new life by the time I had to pack up and drive back to Minnesota. Such is the way things are when one’s mind is constantly stimulated by an exquisite mixture of work and pleasure. That being said, I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning.
We set out on Thursday morning. Brian Olson (5SRC MN Warrior) had spent the night with Ogar Ironpaw (5SRC MN Warrior) and I at our apartment to make the trip easier since he lives over an hour South of us. I, of course, slept fitfully – anxiously anticipating the events to follow. From Mankato, Mn., we embarked on our 6 hour journey to Cudahy, Wi. at 10am. There was little time for breakfast, so we opted for gas station food. I drove the entire way, as usual, and I am not complaining. Long drives are something I relish. The guys slept most of the way, so I just listened to music and tried to guess what I’d be doing and who I’d be seeing over the next few days.
We arrived at the Ramada with little time to check in and visit with our brothers and sisters. I was greeted with cat calls from one of the balconies when I exited my car. It was Greg Chilton (5SRC President) and several others from our chapter. They hadn’t seen me since I’d dropped a bunch of weight so apparently this was their way of complimenting my appearance. I flipped everyone the bird in response, and the cat calls became laughter. My crew and I hurried to get settled in and exchanged pleasantries with others. Once everything was ready to go, we headed to The Metal Grill.
I was expecting to work all three days of the fest, but Randy Kastner (NYDM Midwest Regional President and Savage) didn’t have anything specific for me to do on day one. I spent most of my time mingling and hanging with Ogar. Over the course of the day, there was a good flow of familia from all over the country filtering through the doors. I was able to meet many of my regional brothers and sisters in person for the first time. It was all a blur, because in the back of my mind I was constantly creating and re-creating plans for the next two days. I’d been told it was my responsibility to man the green room on Friday and Saturday, and my main duty was to keep food and beer stocked for the bands. Anyone who knows me understands that I take feeding people very, very seriously.
I brought two large crock pots with me to Spring Bash because I was making my famous Coke-Ham. I’m talking Coca-Cola here, not the powder that was so in demand in the 1980s. I also brought the hams, and these had been left to simmer from the time I arrived at our motel room on Thursday, to Friday morning when we arose to go back to The Metal Grill. Brian and Ogar helped me carry the crock pots to my car and kept them steady while I drove. Upon arriving, I set the food up and wandered around the venue while waiting for bands to arrive. It was during this time that I saw Derek Jensen (WADM Oly Crew President) in person for the first time. I wasn’t entirely sure it was him in the beginning; after all it’s different seeing someone in front of you than looking at their picture online. However, I confirmed his identity by double-checking the mental image of the picture of him onstage with his shorts unzipped and his hand jammed into his underwear. Yup. This was the guy. I wasn’t able to talk to him because I was on my way to check on the green room, but after a quick inspection I made a beeline for the outdoor merch area, which is where he was headed. As soon as I stepped outside, there he was, chatting up some other patches. Having no idea what to say, I just walked up to him, pointed at his face, and said, “You are Derek.” He looked over one shoulder, then another, then at me and replied, “What’er you accusin’ me of?” Not wanting to leave the green room along for too long, I quickly introduced myself, exchanged pleasantries, and zipped back to my post.
There were so many bands filtering in and out of the green room I don’t clearly remember very many of the members. While I was tending to the food, Dank Delong (NYDM Rockland County Vice President) of Whiplash told me liked the ham I’d made and gave me a hug and a thank you, so that memory stayed with me. What I remember most about my work that night was when Bongzilla arrived. Between the two crock pots there was still nearly an entire ham left before they arrived, but all of it was gone shortly after. I can’t say I’m surprised by this, and I’m sure you all understand why given the name of the band. All of those guys were characters; the vocalist, Mike “Muleboy” Makela, in particular. Since there were police circling the venue I asked them to smoke outside only, and because drinks were not allowed outside I reminded them to keep bottles and cans in the green room when they inevitably ventured out the door with them. Mike misheard me and began smoking in the green room. When I clarified, he apologized profusely and then laughingly asked me what to do if he wanted to smoke and drink at the same time. We discussed imaginary scenarios, then the whole band came outside to chat with myself and several members and prospects who had gathered outside.
Thanks to Ben Vadnais, who was prospecting at the time, I was able to leave the green room and watch Bongzilla perform. They are one of my favorite stoner/doom bands so it was quite thrilling for me to see them for the first time. Their music was warm and relaxing, the flow of it soothing my racing thoughts. The riffs and rhythms they used were slow, simple, and repetitive. Everyone on stage seemed comfortable and relaxed. I suppose these aren’t the kinds of things usually said about a band at a metal festival, but Bongzilla is a different kind of animal. The majority of the songs they played that night were from “Gateway”, my favorite of their albums. Since it was released in 2002 it brought back a lot of memories both good and bad, but mostly good.
After Bongzilla finshed up, I cleaned up the green room for Saturday, then went back to the hotel with Ogar. We were exhausted so we went to bed after mingling a bit.
On Saturday, I woke early and went shopping for fresh snacks and sides for the green room. Randy made a crock pot of delicious shredded beef for the bands to devour, so I arranged the sides and the crock pot of beef and waited for bands to arrive. On this day of the fest, the bands used the green room minimally. It was not the dinner rush type of chaos that it was on Friday. Ogar had been assigned to help me, so we sat with the food until the bands started and then alternated visiting with familia inside the venue and coming back to the green room to restock and check on the few bands who used the room.
The first band I was able to catch for the day was Agrinex, featuring Chris Hick (5SRC IA Captain) on vocals. Chris was impressive in his full suit of flat black plate armor and corpse paint. All other members were sporting traditional black metal regalia. Agrinex’s live performance is at once grim and hilarious. While playing their songs they are completely serious, but between each a dialog exists between Chris and his guitarist, Robert. The words they exchange and stories they tell between songs provide a contrasting comic relief that makes them more relatable to the audience than many black metal bands. I was also able to watch Sexual Atrocities’ set, which was quite the experience. The band’s music is absolutely furious, but their stage performance is quite silly, and in a good way. Each member had a costume on – I remember a ridiculous, brightly colored ten-gallon-hat and a luchador mask. The band threw an inflatable sex-toy goat into the crowd and it was bounced around like a beach ball.
It was on this day that many prospects were patched in and became Warriors, the patchings taking place across multiple areas of The Metal Grill’s grounds. Among those who went Beyond the Gates were Kris King (5SRC MN Warrior), Cliff Funruiner (5SRC WI Warrior), Kitty Thurston (5SRC MN Warrior), Paul Ochtrup (5SRC WI Warrior), Brandon Neal (OHDM Warrior), and Dave Dalton (INDM Warrior). Congratulations to all for putting in so much work!
I was so exhausted by the end of Spring Bash that some of the Wisconsin Crew finished off the food and cleaned up for me. I only stayed awake for a few hours after getting back to the hotel. Ogar and I crashed for the night and then he, Brian, and I packed up and returned to mundane life back in Minnesota on Sunday morning.
Truly, Spring Bash is an even that should be high on everyone’s yearly “to attend” lists. Many familia from all over the country gather at this prestigious festival every year and come back home with great memories and stories to tell – if you don’t believe me, just ask anyone who has attended and be prepared to listen for hours! If you’re free at the end of April in 2016, Spring Bash will there to welcome you. Come partake in the debauchery and camaraderie!
-Logos Ironpaw: 5SRC MN Captain