This past Fourth of July, SLUG Lead Designer Joshua Joye (peep his photos HERE!), Managing Editor Alexander Ortega and Junior Editor Genevieve Smith traveled to Ft. Duchesne on the Ute & Ouray Indian Reservation for Shred Fest 2014. Organized and sponsored by the Ute Indian Tribe Center for Alcohol/Substance Abuse Prevention and DJ LA of 90.3 FM Native Voltage Rez Radio, Shred Fest featured six bands, Native and non-Native. Anthony Guzman, the Program Director for the Ute Indian Tribe Center for Alcohol/Substance Abuse Prevention, has been working with the youth on the reservation to promote healthy lifestyles in the context of activities a lot of kids are already into—punk rock, metal, graffiti and skateboarding (Check out coverage of the next day’s Skate Comp here!).
Around 8 p.m., we pulled up to Shred Fest. We missed the first band, Triple Shot Mustang, due to getting a little turned around, but we made it! The bands played on one stage that was set up in the dirt area outside of the Native Voltage radio station, and trucks were parked with families and friends on the tailgates, watching the bands. All sorts of folks were there—little folks to teenagers to grandmothers. The crowd fluctuated between 75 to 25 people throughout the night, and the whole even was relaxed and fun.
Promoted as a sober event, there were no alcohol or drugs at Shred Fest—just a bunch of people having fun and appreciating underground and Native-made music. The Ute Indian Reservation for Alcohol/Substance Abuse Prevention has been working hard to promote sobriety and productivity among Reservation youth. We got to see, firsthand, what a great job they’re doing. The sky was streaked with clouds colored by the sun, and we were reminded of how incredible the West really is. After checking in with Guzman, we settled in to watch the bands.
Pray for Us All
As we surveyed the grounds upon entering Ft. Duchesne, we spotted a triangular building with various flags, ranging from the Ute & Ouray nation flags to the United States’ flag, the Utah state flag and a POW-MIA flag, among others. Just a few yards down the road, we then saw all the people in black T-shirts, and found ourselves walking toward a set from Pray For Us All. These guys delivered bouncy, thrashy hardcore with zero frills, and they definitely have a penchant for breakdowns. Their frontman paced the outdoor stage with a menacing glare as he brandished his mic-holding right arm with “Pray For Us All” tattooed in Old English lettering. There were points where he unleashed fierce death growls that slid into drawn-out wails, and the guitarist’s chugs punctuated the drummer’s mid-tempo beats. Check out these Coloradans for metal-tinged hardcore—they’re like a denser Blood For Blood. –Alexander Ortega
Ṫogkté—an Oglala Lakota/Ute Mountain Ute band whose name comes from an abbreviation of ṫoka kté, or “strike your enemy”—took to the stage after Pray For Us All. While the two guitarists stood with their backs to the audience, the drummer, Eli Miles, who wore a gas mask painted black and white, started the first song with a tom-heavy beat. Suddenly, after a crescendo from the drum set, the guitar players whirled around to face the crowd, donning black and white paint on their faces. Toagle Maza (guitar and vocals) had a bar of white outlined in black across his eyes, which contrasted sharply with the long braids framing his face. He yelled a Lakota saying into the microphone, “Hoka Hey!” followed by: “It’s a good day to die!” and started into some incredibly crushing riffs. Though they’re definitely a metal band, Ṫogkté seem to draw on a wide variety of extreme music for influence. My favorite song that they played was called “Disorder.” It was raw and fast, with heavy drums—reminiscent of early D-Beat, though it could be that I have a tendency of trying to find the D-Beat in everything. In between songs, encouraging words regarding tribal and native unity were spoken. There was something about watching a bunch of punks in studs and boots slam into each other with the sun setting over the reservation, illuminating the clouds in pink and yellow, while Ṫogkté finished out their set, that was truly inspiring. –Genevieve Smith
These dudes are doing something special. War Party are from White Rocks, Utah, and unabashedly started their set with an upside-down baby doll tied to a lit lawn torch attached to the drummer’s kick drum. At first, their set opener made it seem like they were bent to burn the world with Black Uniforms/Filth–informed crust punk, but as they dug into their songs, it was clear that this was a hearty dose of black thrash. The guitarist/singer’s screechy snarl shone that they guys were out for post-apocalyptic chaos, and they delivered a fun, almost sarcastic number, “Black Metal is Back.” Their technique is raw, and I thought that they recalled Toxic Holocaust’s minimalist thrash moments. I was on the right track, as they dedicated one of their songs to black thrash n’ rollers Midnight. And whaddaya know: They covered “Nuke the Cross” by Toxic Holocaust as well—with aplomb. As night descended upon this desert show, fans drove the band’s ethos home by anarchically lighting Roman candles and other high-in-the-sky fireworks. Mid-set or so, one singer of the three-piece said, “All people abuse their power. This one goes out to the cops. All cops are bastards!” and they dove into what I could only presume was called “ACAB” with gang-vocal sing-alongs. They even covered “Romeo’s Distress” by Christian Death! The bassist, toward the end of the set, took the doll and held it above the torch flame, then slung it to the ground to say, “Everybody just beat the shit out of this baby,” and all the mosh fiends did. They then closed with “Armageddon After Party” with Northern Ute motorcycle crew members riding their bikes to kick up some dust in front of the stage. The guitarist blew some sort of liquid onto the torch flame, and veritably blow fire like a damn hell dragon. War Party: Salt Lake City needs you to play up here. –Alexander Ortega
All Systems Fail
All Systems Fail, Salt Lake City’s resident hardcore heroes, followed War Party’s fire-breathing, engine-revving set. Travis Nelson, bass, acknowledged the band’s unanticipated Christian Death cover, “That was ballsy. I like that.” Though there were some hiccups with the sound, (the show was in a field—what do you expect?!) All Systems Fail’s set ruled—per usual. The familiarity of Deskonicidos, Discharge, Los Crudos and countless other beloved punk bands shone through, while, as always, the band sounded like they should: themselves. Before launching into “Bully Boys,” Nelson said, “This song kind of goes along with the whole ACAB thing. I guess not all cops are bastards, just the ones with the mustaches.” So … all cops are bastards. Though All Systems Fail’s set was great, the punks were getting tired, and the crowd began to shrink. There were still a couple of mohawked kids nodding their heads, but energy was low. It was a nice contrast, though, to see ASF in an open field rather than a sweaty living room or basement. Don’t get me wrong, I love those stinky house shows, but I also love fresh air and stars. Add hardcore, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist punk to that, and happy independence day, indeed. –Genevieve Smith
Hailing from Farmington, N.M., Signal 99 built up some curiosity from the tiring crowd. After Rez Radio leader Lloyd Arrive elicited some cheers and applause with news of more music and more touring acts at Ft. Duchesne and from Rez Radio, Signal 99 was finally ready for action. They marched onstage wearing gas masks, and their frontman wielded a red hand-crank siren. They ensued with some groovy Southern metal—something like chunky prog. Signal 99 thanked the crowd for staying late to watch their set, and let everyone know that they were there to play. What was particularly warming about their set was that they encouraged Ft. Duchesne’s music scene. They used some pretty impressive pedal boards on which the two guitarists implemented some psychedelic wah effects for some “horns in the air” solos. I’d give them “Rob Zombie + Pantera” for the good, ol’ SLUG equation. They played a song called “Armed and Dangerous” toward the end of their set, which they dedicated to veterans and active members of the armed forces. Take it or leave it—it was the 4th of July, after all. Oh, and the stage left guitarist used to be a male stripper! –Alexander Ortega
Shred Fest was a blast! It was inspiring to witness such an active punk rock/metal community with grassroots involvement. Afterward, Anthony Guzman generously invited us to his backyard to sit around a fire pit. Regarding the music and skate scene in Ft. Duchesne and in other areas of the Reservation, Guzman said, “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”