When: Fri., May 12, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. and Sat., May 13, 3 p.m.-2 a.m. 2017
A few weeks back, the whole country had a good laugh at Fyre Fest, an ambitious "destination" music festival in the Bahamas. The promoters paid Instagram models to hawk passes for thousands of dollars, promising legacy bands like Blink-182 and "one-of-a-kind experiences" in exchange.
As we now know, those luxury experiences included cheese sandwiches and disaster relief tents on a gravel construction lot. The whole ordeal cast a concerning light on the festival industry's attempts to provide "authentic" festival experiences in an increasingly homogenized market. When every fest looks like Coachella, how do you stand out?
It's easy to forget that, in the shadow of these mega-fests, DIY continues to thrive and provide the sort of unique group experiences that only genuine grassroots communities can create. For seven years, Chapel Hill's annual Savage Weekend has become a destination festival for an inclusive, ever-growing national family of underground artists working in technoise, oblique pop, black metal, psych, synth-punk, multimedia performance art, and just about everything else. The point is that you can't easily apply a single genre to Savage Weekend. No single act is the "headliner" or "draw." There are no brewery or legacy tech sponsors. Hidden in the Nightlight on Rosemary Street, down the road from UNC, Savage Weekend is a two-day populist bacchanal and one of the best annual DIY music events in North Carolina.
The festival was hatched from the mind of Carrboro's Ryan Martin, who records as Secret Boyfriend. His strong connections in the American underground make his lineups unpredictable and educational, no matter how deep you run in any given scene. This year, more than eighty acts are scheduled over the fest's roughly twenty hours of music. Every act gets fifteen minutes and the pace is brisk. You can spend a whole set reacting to the last one you just saw. On the local front, this year includes the gritty noise techno of Floor Model, the drone explorations of Blursome and Iggy Cosky, and the post-punk spasms of Fitness Womxn. On the touring end, a small sampling includes the mesmeric performance art of Providence, Rhode Island's RRLEW, the avant violin of Kentucky's Sara Soltau, the calamitous feedback squall of Florida's Male Model, and the spacious New York City techno of Bookworms. When the festival wraps in the wee hours of Sunday morning, attendees will leave with their brainpans rattled, countless new friendships will exist, and DIY will continue to sustain itself. —David Ford Smith
Price: $20 each day