By Eric Banford
Ithaca Underground (IU) will present its second annual ONE FEST, an all-ages, daylong festival of extreme metal, hardcore, and noise on two stages at The Haunt on Saturday, July 2,. The festival will feature Dragged Into Sunlight from the United Kingdom, Primitive Man from Denver, Cult Leader from Salt Lake City and two dozen regional and local acts.
“This year we began booking in the fall, which allowed for us to get well ahead of bands scheduling out for summer,” says IU Board President Bubba Crumrine. “Most of the bands last year were from the northeast, but this year we have acts coming from as far as the UK, Colorado, Utah and more. Overall, we have more bands who are higher on extreme music fan’s radar, and a solid cross section of the blurred lines of metal and hardcore—plus, this year we’ve added an experimental Noise Deck outside.”
The Noise Deck will be on The Haunt’s waterfront deck, and will feature a sample of New York’s best and brightest underground noise and experimental acts, including locals Sunken Cheek, Eating Scabs for Protein and Fä, plus notable acts who are key to their own DIY communities: Limbs Bin, Sparklebomb, Flesh Trade, STCLVR, Licker, FaithVoid and Paper Skin.
The first ONE festival was put together in a couple months, with the goal of promoting the hardcore, metal, grind and punk bands IU had been working with, Crumrine says. “Feedback was positive from bands, fans, sponsors, and The Haunt alike, which is exactly what we strive for. Good energy and a solid turnout—but we knew we could do more with more time. IU supports a broad range of alternative and extreme music genres and we aim to have major event representation for the majority of them.”
Headliners Dragged Into Sunlight (DIS) is an interesting band; little is known about the members as they go by their initials, and the number of band members continues to increase. “We’ve had no contact directly with anyone in the band,” says Crumrine. “They shroud their faces from the audience, performing primarily by candlelight. It’s an anti-consumerist nod to the noise coming before their image as individuals. DIS landed on my radar due to the their “N.V.” collaborative album with Gnaw Their Tongues, an extreme noise/industrial band out of France, which I absolutely love,” he adds.
DIS’ music blends really dark messages with intense, abrasive sound. I asked Crumrine about its appeal to the IU audience. “From an IU perspective, extreme music can offer a reflection of society’s worst qualities, calling them out and spitting them back in the face of humanity,” he says. “It can be a call for social change or a cathartic venting. We all despise some aspect of the world around us, whether they be the large or small scale injustices, or just the general muck we impose on each other.
“Authors and filmmakers do this all the time and we love it, given the success of Thomas Harris’ series on Hannibal Lecter and the fact that ‘Silence of the Lambs’ is only one of three films to ever sweep the Oscars,” he continues. “While some music genres may gloss over these attributes, for the desire to ‘have a good time,’ at some point, humanity’s dark side needs to be revealed and addressed. For those in our society that cannot help but see these aspects of the world, it can be therapeutic and provide a sense of space and belonging when these groups of people are able to come together.”
IU has learned a lot in nine years of doing shows. There’s the practical side, like how to maintain sound equipment and how to keep shows running on time. “And there’s more abstract things like being able to communicate the importance of what we do to the broader Ithaca community, and combining the right mix of genres and scenes into single events or series to get siloed groups to mingle and collaborate,” adds Crumrine.
“At its core, we’ve learned the importance of intergenerational, interracial and inter-orientation groups,” he says. “When we gained our 501c3 status and truly opened our doors to the public, it was a truly inspiring and humbling thing. People came out in droves to help IU, allowing us to do more—put on more shows and therefore serve broader communities.”
Ithaca Underground, according to its website, was founded in 2007 and is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization providing “an all-ages, radically inclusive environment for their do-it-yourself ambitions, ensuring that new and challenging music and art is available to all.” It’s 100 percent volunteer run, strengthened by more than 50 volunteers assisting with logistics, outreach, fundraising, and headed by a volunteer board of seven. In addition to presenting year-round events, IU trains youth and community members on sound, photography, videography, social media, fundraising and grant writing.
Tickets for the event can be purchased at https://ithacaunderground.ticketleap.com/onefest2016.
By Eric Banford