“We Don’t Go For Big, We Go For Ridiculous”: Best Friends Day 2010

by | Aug 18, 2010 | MUSIC

In less than 48 hours, the Ninth Annual Best Friends Day Weekend will begin, kicking off with a Thursday night show at the Bike Lot. Over the course of a long three-day weekend, the festival will encompass at least 6 more events, featuring live performances by Andrew W.K., Propagandhi, and reunited hardcore legends Negative Approach, among many others. It’s come quite a long way from its origin as a one-day get-together at which all of the attendees were actually best friends. But co-founder Tony Foresta believes that the spirit of that original event still lives within the current incarnation of Best Friends Day.


In less than 48 hours, the Ninth Annual Best Friends Day Weekend will begin, kicking off with a Thursday night show at the Bike Lot. Over the course of a long three-day weekend, the festival will encompass at least 6 more events, featuring live performances by Andrew W.K., Propagandhi, and reunited hardcore legends Negative Approach, among many others. It’s come quite a long way from its origin as a one-day get-together at which all of the attendees were actually best friends. But co-founder Tony Foresta believes that the spirit of that original event still lives within the current incarnation of Best Friends Day.

“If that feeling wasn’t still there, I doubt that we would still be doing it after this long,” he says. “It feels different sometimes, but I think that has a lot to do with me getting older and not recognizing 80% of the people that attend now.” However, he insists, “that’s not a bad thing! I’m proud that not only Richmond folks but people from all over the world have embraced Best Friends Day as their own. Thats really important to me.”

This year, Foresta and his compatriots have prepared an amazing variety of entertainments for their best friends around the globe, beginning with the show Thursday night at the Bike Lot. The show is headlined by veteran power-popsters Lemuria, who’ve just released a single called Ozzy on Hex Records, and also features the anthemic, emotional punk stylings of Banner Pilot, whose album Collapser (Fat Wreck, 2009) is a must for fans of Latterman and Dillinger Four.


Black Army Jacket

But the real story, at least for the old-school heads, is the first show in 12 years by Black Army Jacket, a late-90s era power-violence band featuring Municipal Waste’s Dave Witte on drums. According to a Noisecreep interview with bassist Carlos Ramirez, the band “felt we should have closed out Black Army Jacket in a better way.” To that end, they booked two reunion shows featuring the band’s definitive lineup–Witte, Ramirez, ex-Milhouse/Disinhil guitarist Andrew Orlando, and vocalist Rob Lawi. Ramirez doubts there will be any more after the second reunion show in New York next month, so you’d be well advised to make it to the Bike Lot on Thursday and catch them while you can. Ohio pop-punks The Dopamines (now featuring Mikey Erg on second guitar) and local masters of epic metal Inter Arma round out the lineup.

On Friday morning, those who are capable of both skipping work and getting out of bed will be able to head down to Mojo’s Philadeli (733 W. Cary St) at 11:30 to sign up for Field Day. Field Day is a new Best Friends Day event for 2010, replacing the scavenger hunt of previous years with an event that keeps everyone in the same place but still involves lots of running around. Ten teams of four will compete in a Decathlon of Oblivion, with the grand prize being free admission to Friday night’s show and Saturday’s all-day event at Hadad’s Lake. “We wanted to do something different this year, that was more of a spectacle but still ‘Best Buds’ related,” Foresta explained. “I’m really excited about it. Ward and Erin cooked up some funny shit. I can’t wait for the Tug-o-War event.” The festivities will kick off with a noontime performance by Richmond instrumental math-rock combo, Field Day, after which everyone will relocate to Holly Street Park (at the Western end of Holly St. in Oregon Hill), where the competition will take place.

Friday night, after the Decathlon ends and the sun sets, The Canal Club (1545 E. Cary St.) will be the location for one of the two main events of this year’s Best Friends Day. Andrew W.K. will be performing solo, accompanied only by his keyboards and programmed beats, but you can be sure that he’ll party just as hard as ever. Canadian punk powerhouse Propagandhi, whose recent album Supporting Caste is a career highlight and (perhaps not coincidentally) the most metal thing they’ve ever recorded, will also be performing, along with Richmond’s favorite sons Municipal Waste, who should need no introduction for RVA readers.


Crowd during Municipal Waste, BFD 5

When asked about booking Andrew W.K. for this year’s festival, Foresta told us it “was something that we’ve been trying to pull off since BFD 4. Now we actually are able to afford to make it a reality. Every year we take the majority of the money that is made and put it into the next year. That’s how we were able to fly Propagandhi here and to have a line up of Municipal Waste, Andrew WK and Propagandhi all on a 20 dollar show. We try our best to make one of the cheapest musical events going, while still being able to afford to put it on. A lot of the bigger bands that I’ve worked with on this have even taken pay cuts to be a part of it, and to make it fun and cheap.” Baltimore’s Deep Sleep, whose angry hardcore features intriguing hints of melody and can be heard on their CD compilation Three Things At Once (released by Richmond’s own Grave Mistake Records), will also be playing, as will Savage Brewtality, a fun, intense hardcore band from Gainesville, Florida.

After all of that action on Friday night, the temptation may be to sleep late on Saturday morning, but you’ll have to get up early if you don’t want to miss some of the action, which begins at 10 AM in the parking lot of Fine Foods Market (700 Idlewood Ave) with a free performance by Tim Barry. After that performance is done, To The Bottom And Back bus services will be providing free rides to Hadad’s Lake, with shuttle services running back and forth between Hadad’s and the Fine Foods parking lot all day. This way, everyone can plan not to have to worry about making the drive–an especially good idea for those looking forward to drinking during their stay at Hadad’s. This arrangement represents a new evolution in Best Friends Day’s continued attempts to collaborate whenever possible with local businesses. “We try our best to keep the local businesses in the loop, so people can check them out while they’re running around town,” Foresta said. In the past, this involved “making their restaurants a stop in the scavenger hunt, or having a power violence band play their grocery store parking lot,” but this year’s collaboration with To The Bottom And Back represents a new apex of community relations, in which local businesses come together to improve the festival experience for everyone–even those in the community who aren’t attending. “Mojo’s and 821 Cafe both pitched in and paid the folks at To The Bottom and Back to drive their school buses to and from Hadads all day!” Foresta said. “Talk about teamwork!” The Best Friends Day crew have done their best over the years to make relations between the festival and the community as good as possible, and Foresta really sees this paying off. “I think over the years a lot of local businesses have realized that Best Friends Day isn’t just people coming here to get drunk and trash the town. BFD is people from all walks of life who live in or come to Richmond to experience all of the fun and beautiful things this place has to offer.”


Negative Approach

Hadad’s Lake (1140 Mill Rd., Richmond, VA 23231) offers plenty of entertaining activities, including swimming, basketball, horseshoes, volleyball, and paddleboats, but those who attend this year’s Best Friends Day event at Hadad’s, on Saturday from 11 AM until 7 PM may find it tough to tear themselves away from the stage. Headlining the day will be reunited hardcore legends Negative Approach, whose most recent release is the EP Friends Of No One, a six-song recording session from right before their original breakup in 1984, lost for 25 years and only found in the last year or so. That EP is available from Taang! Records, and its raw, lo-fi sound does nothing to blunt the impact of the music within. Also appearing on this unbelievable eight-band bill will be Minneapolis melodic punkers Off With Their Heads, whose latest LP In Deslolation is on Epitaph Records.


Brainworms at the Bike Lot, BFD 6

Local supergroup Brainworms will be playing their last show ever, and as hard as this is to believe, coming from a band whose first half-dozen shows were all billed as their “last show,” it seems that this time it really is true, and we’ll all miss them a great deal once they’re gone–so make sure you get to Hadad’s and see them one last time! Chicago’s The Arrivals will also be bringing their brand of post-Leatherface melodic, emotional punk to us, and Algernon Cadwallader will play their delightfully off-kilter melodic math-rock jams for us all as well. But wait, there’s more! New Jersey’s The Measure [SA], who just released a split with New Bruises on Kiss Of Death Records, will play a set of their jittery pop-punk to get everyone bouncing around, local jazz/funksters No BS Brass Band will jam out on horns and percussion, and Sundials will start the whole thing off with a set of catchy, poppy punk. And to top all of this off, if at any time you get hungry during the afternoon, Carytown Burgers And Fries will be on-hand, serving Vegan, Veg, and Carnivore varieties of their excellent menu, so that everyone will be able to chow down!

You might be ready to crash after all of that, but if you’re still awake at 10 PM on Saturday, head on over to Strange Matter for an aftershow featuring dual-drummer icons of heaviness The Catalyst, the emotional post-hardcore of Worn In Red, Brooklyn math-rockers Tournament, and the raging punk rock of The Two Funerals. If you make it to every event on Saturday, that’s over fourteen hours of fun, music, and friends! Pretty ridiculous, for sure, but also very, very awesome.

But that’s still not all! One final show remains, beginning at 1 PM on Sunday, at Gallery 5 (200 W. Marshall St.). Government Warning will be headlining, playing their fast, old-school hardcore and bringing Best Friends Day 9 to a close in fine, raging style. Also appearing will be Gainesville punk rockers The Grabass Charlestons; Richmond’s finest garage-rock/hardcore hybrid, Cloak/Dagger; Philadelphia’s Amateur Party, who feature members of Armalite and Off Minor; and local post-hardcore rockers Mouthbreather.

Tony Foresta and the rest of the Best Friends Day crew have put in a ton of work to bring us this year’s festival, and while he enjoys the results, there can be some associated headaches. “My biggest problem is more about the behind the scenes stuff like getting the backline and booking hotel rooms and doing things that I normally take for granted when I’m touring with my band,” he says. “It’s hard work to book a show. It’s REALLY hard work to book a fest. Karma is finally paying me back for all of the times I’ve pissed off promoters on my Waste tours.” He laughs. “Now I know how they feel. Being a promoter is usually a thankless job and a lot of these people do it because they love the music. I know that’s why I do it. There are some shady bookers out there, but the majority of the promoters I’ve met over the years are just music fans.” As fellow music fans, we should all be able to appreciate what everyone involved with Best Friends Day have brought to us this year. Their hard work is everyone’s gain.

For more info about Best Friends Day, go here or here. For advance tickets to Friday night’s show at The Canal Club, click here. Advance tickets for that show and the Gallery 5 show on Sunday can also be purchased at Vinyl Conflict (324 S. Pine St.).

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.




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