“Sick of long sets, tough guy personas, and exclusive scenes,” probed the Swamp Fest official website.
“Sick of long sets, tough guy personas, and exclusive scenes,” probed the Swamp Fest official website. Everyone that intuitively nodded along as they read the first line is in luck.
This weekend, August 8-9, marks the first annual celebration of the DIY emotional music scene in Richmond with Swamp fest.
DIY stands for ‘do it yourself,’ meaning the featured bands are not your typical artists that rely on outside support and collaboration. “It really is just less traditional means of putting on shows,” said Mitchie Shue, member of performing band, Truman, and contributing organizer of the festival. DIY music artists rely solely on themselves, their intuition, their talent, and their own set of ethics.
“And then I guess the emotional aspect is meant to be sort of an umbrella term,” said fellow organizer and member of performing bands, Swan of Tuonela and Caust, Will Neer. According to Neer, a lot of the bands that identify as “emotional,” are often stigmatized as screamo or hardcore. This type of music may be “heavy and loud, but it’s not senseless aggression; it’s there for a purpose.”
With the emo stereotype comes certain advantages, however. “There’s definitely a legacy of this sort of music that’s developed within Richmond over the past 15 to 20 years,” speculated Neer. This eclectic music scene in and around the area has paved the way towards success for Swamp Fest organizers.
The Richmond music scene “is definitely one of those things that has been established for a while,” so finding a circuit that exists outside of the mainstream is a feasible possibility for anyone who goes searching.
And that’s exactly what Swamp Fest could be considered, according to Neer — “as a sort of escape from the mainstream.”
As the musicians seek to defy conventional musical standards, the organizers of the festival followed suit. Unlike many popular music festivals across the country, there is no main headliner at Swamp fest. Each day is not a culmination of events leading to one major or more popular artist.
Furthermore, each band has less than a half hour for each set. In fact, “most bands are just going to play for 10 to 15 minutes tops,” said Shue. “Everyone performing understands that it is all for each other’s sakes so no one wants to take up another artist’s time or act bigger than anyone else.”
The camaraderie that inherently exists between the artists performing at this two day event can be seen just in the organization.
The genuine and transparent nature of the different performers’ intent is equally as blatant. The festival costs $10 per day, or $15 for a weekend pass, and there are 21 bands in total.
“The bands would honestly play if it were free,” according to Neer, adding to Swamp Fest’s list of differentiable factors. “It is solely to get all of these bands that don’t normally have the opportunity to congregate together, and showcase them to an audience who may not necessarily have heard of them.”
And with a responsive and curious audience like that of Richmond, Swamp Fest contributors have the perfect opportunity to widen their fanhood and “expose this specific scene and genre of music that is acknowledged on a national scale,” continued Neer. “I would say the mission of the festival is to take advantage of this large network we have within these sort of niche scenes.”
Thus, Swamp Fest was sort of a long time coming.
The fest is currently for anyone ages 18+, but Neer and Shue hope to see this expanded in the future. Since this is an inaugural event, the organizers of Swamp Fest do not have the luxury of performing at a location that caters to all ages. One of the few guidelines for the festival is, “oppressive/discriminatory behaviors and language are unacceptable,” according to the website. Respect is their chief concern — not a bad message and atmosphere for adults and children alike to understand and put into practice.
“We hope it’s a really cool, positive, and inclusive event,” said Shue. “And honestly I really think it will be.”
Check out this preview of the up-and-coming DIY emotional music scene at Strange Matter Saturday August 8, and 25 Watt Sunday August 9 – tickets are available at the door.