Welcome to the underground

First-ever Ohio Anti-Music Fest at Canal

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Ohio’s Hemdale will perform at the Ohio Anti-Music Fest on Oct. 17 at Canal Public House; photo: Pedro Sales

Although Dayton has always had an underground scene for extreme forms of music, it has rarely been featured on a grand scale on a public stage—historically, it has been relegated to shows in basements, warehouses and art spaces, and only for those “in the know.” This coming Saturday, however, the underground will show its face on the stage of Canal Public House, and it’s not going to be pretty.

CPH will play host to the first ever Ohio Anti-Music Fest, a 17-band extravaganza featuring regional and national grindcore, hardcore and power-violence acts all in one face-melting day.

Ohio Anti-Music Fest is the product of a collaborative effort between local extreme music aficionados Isaac Horne, Randy Bertholf and Ryan Mattox. What started as a mere passing mention soon became something more.

“Isaac mentioned to me the idea of having a festival like this and I was immediately supportive of it,” Bertholf says. “I’ve helped contact venues, spread flyers and generally get the word out.”

With that, Horne went about booking bands. While a few are local, most are nationally known in places well outside of the confines of Dayton. With Bertholf and Mattox’s prior experience hosting touring grind and power-violence bands at house shows in Dayton and their collective gauge for the target audience, the festival began taking shape. According to the organizers, the criterion for the bands selected wasn’t exactly rocket science.

“There’s only three local bands playing and all the other bands are coming from California to Connecticut to Canada, and every band was booked because they’re some of the best at what they do,” Horne says.

Some of the “best” promised for Ohio Anti-Music Fest includes recently reunited Ohio goregrind kings Hemdale, California power-violence upstarts Cave State, Cali-Indiana grind alliance Radiation Vomit, California fastcore unit Apeshitter, ultra-fast grinders Deterioration from Minnesota, noisegrinders Gowl from Connecticut, crust-grinders The Plague from Canada, blast-beaters Nak’ay from Indiana and Maryland Deathfest alumni Pizza Hi-Five from Lima, Ohio.

According to the organizers, they believe that Dayton is an ideal showcase for a huge grindcore/power-violence festival for a variety of reasons.

“The support for the DIY scene in Dayton I feel is very strong, and in the Midwest in general compared to other areas of the country,” Bertholf says. “There are several fests in the region that are similar to what we’re attempting here, and all of those fests have been successful. We want to have a similar experience in Dayton. The support is here for the genres, but now we want to showcase these styles on a much larger scale.”

“The Midwest, more than anywhere else I’ve been in North America, has consistently hosted the most absurdly stacked grindcore fests, like Shut Up Fest in Lima, Napalm Fest in Ft. Wayne, Michigan Grindfest…” Horne adds. “And if that helps generate more interest in grindcore in Dayton and makes it a more frequent stop for touring bands, that’s great too.”

And what it all boils down to is the original intent of the festival organizers—a chance to see some of the most underground yet prominent grindcore and power-violence acts in one day in a central location right in the heart of Dayton anyone who lives in the vicinity can have access to.

“From the shows I used to have at my house, I know there is an appreciation in Dayton for extreme music,” Bertholf says. “Since I no longer have that house I have had many bands contact me about where the new DIY spot in town is for shows and how the scene is in general here. This is a way I can respond to that. Some of the bands involved with this fest have played Dayton before and are very excited to return. Others have never been here before and after October 17, they’ll know that Dayton is alive and as good a place to play as anywhere!”

And for those of you who may feel outside of the underground circle, festival organizers want you to know you are indeed welcomed as much as those who are already in tune with the type of festival they are presenting.

“I would say, if they know about music, they’ll love this fest,” Bertholf assures. “For anyone more casual, this scene and the people involved are extremely down to earth. These will be no egos and no bullshit. Just a bunch of people who like to thrash and have fun. Everyone is real approachable and humble. This is going to be one huge and fun party.”

As for the goals for the Ohio Anti-Music Fest, the organizers are keeping things simple but optimistic.

“I want Dayton to have a good reputation in the music world,” Bertholf says. “We may be one of the smaller cities in the Midwest but we still turn out in force to support and know how to put on a good show! I would love to see the perception of this fest grow into something of legendary status—where it’s something people from all over talk about and look forward to and bands are eager to be a part of.”

The Ohio Anti-Music Fest takes place Saturday, Oct. 17 at Canal Public House, 308 E. First St. in downtown Dayton. Show begins at 5 p.m. and is available to patrons 18 and up. Tickets are $13 at the door. For more information please visit canalpublichouse.com.


Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.



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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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