The Punks Were Corrupted at CY Fest: Well, this got messy quickly. The CY Fest is an all day punk festival at started at about 1 p.m. and ended about 11 hours later, with the many awesome bands spread over two stages. The smaller of the two stages was in the basement of the Belasco, a sweaty, super-hot room that, by about 7 p.m., had sweat, beer and god-knows-what dripping from the walls and ceiling.
We weren’t there for the 1 p.m. start on Saturday — we got there at about 5 p.m., in time to catch the end of Thulsa Doom‘s super-intense set. They were followed by San Diego street punks Cheap Sex on the main stage, who impressed with an arsenal of spiky tunes from over their 22 year career thus far.
Back downstairs (we were up and down all night), the Riffs were one of the best bands of the whole event. The Portland band has a sound that sits somewhere between Sham 69 and Eddie & the Hot Rods — OI-ish pub punk. Magnificent. More street punk followed, in the impressive shape of Philadelphia’s the Virus, and then Mexican band Acidez tore the basement apart. Straight out of Guadalajara, the Spanish-language group blend street punk and hardcore, Exploited-stlye, and the pit got gnarly.
Massachussetts street punks (there was a lot of street punk at this event) the Unseen have a 30 year (and counting) career, and they blasted through a bunch of it on Saturday, after which Monster Squad continued there theme of pummeling the sweat-soaked basement crowd.
Then it was time for the Brits to take over the main stage. The Skeptix are from Stoke, the same part of England that also gave us Discharge. In fact, the two bands kinda swapped members for a while. We think they played “Born to Lose” and “Violent Streets,” but we know for sure that they were awesome.
Downstairs, Japan’s the Erections are another band competing for the “band of the day” title. Deceptively melodic, frantic, hyper-fast punk performed by lads who look the part and sound amazing — the crowd lapped it up.
Essex band Special Duties had a feud with anarcho-punks Crass back in the day which inspired the song “Bullshit Crass” (performed here). They apparently felt that Crass was trying to destroy “traditional” punk, by constantly declaring that “punk is dead,” etc. That’s pretty funny shit. On Saturday, Special Duties was excellent, and songs like “Police State” hit the spot.
By the time Austin, Texas’s Krum Bums hit the basement stage, that room was an oven. Water was passed around to avoid something bad happening to those going apeshit at the front. But hey, it did feel appropriately filthy. The band smashed it out of the park.
The Varukers were incredible. Formed in ’79 in Leamington Spa, in the midlands region of England about 20 miles outside of Birmingham, the Varukers might not have the notoriety of other UK82 punks bands like Chaos UK, the Exploited, GBH or Discharge, but they have an equally impressive resume. On Saturday, songs like “Die for Your Government” went down a treat, and members of most of the other bands on the bill could be spotted in the crowd going wild. Great stuff.
Slaughter & the Dogs headlined, and let nobody down. The Manchester band opened for the Pistols at that infamous 1976 Lesser Free Trade Hall gig that kicked off the Manchester punk scene, so they were one of (at least) that city’s first punk bands. Oddly, and beautifully, they kicked off the set with a cover of Frankie Valli’s “You’re Ready Now,” then blasted through songs such as “The Bitch” with reckless abandon.
And that was it. Hopefully, CY Fest will be back next year. It might take that long to clean the basement.
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