We are once again staring down an installment of Goner Records' annual throw-down, and this one is packed with 35 bands (from far corners of the globe to local heavy hitters) and spread across four days and five venues (the Hi-Tone, Murphy's, the Buccaneer, Cooper-Young Gazebo, and Crosstown Arts, who will host the accompanying "The Art of Graceland Too" exhibit).
Thursday, September 24th
Since their last Gonerfest bill two years ago, Ex-Cult has toured extensively behind their great Midnight Passenger sophomore album and follow-up 12-inch EP Cigarette Machine, making for the well-oiled band that will ring Gonerfest 12's proverbial opening bell at the Cooper-Young Gazebo at 5:30 p.m., Thursday afternoon. That evening, the Hi-Tone features locals the Sheiks (whose latest 7-inch "I'm Broke" b/w "I'm Gonna Make It in My Mind" was just released). Up next is the ragged and scrappy pop of Australia's the Pink Tiles, the foreboding urban psych of Ex-Cult's J.B. Horrell and wife Laurel Ferdon (ex-NOTS) as Aquarian Blood, and an accurate purveyor of the oft-misused "dark punk" tag via New Orleans' Gary Wrong Group. New York's Pampers and Jack Oblivian close out night one.
Friday, September 25th
Friday afternoon's 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. parking lot show at the Buccaneer features Birmingham's Nowhere Squares, Melbourne, Australia's Kit Convict & Thee Terrible Two, the Bay Area's Pookie & the Poodlez, and Manhunt from Austin.
A short break later, and it's the heavy and mean psych-noise-punk of Oakland's Musk, who open the evening at the Hi-Tone and whose self-titled album (released last year by the Holy Mountain label) comes recommended. Then Cuntz bring their decidedly Australian blunt-force punk-noise back to Gonerfest in the wake of a great third LP Here Come the Real Boys (released last year by Chunklet Industries). These asterisk-obligating Aussies will be followed by Memphis' own NOTS.
Next up, Detroit's tireless Timmy Lampinen performs as Timmy's Organism before Ty Segall performs his first and only live show under the T. Rex-rendering musical persona "Ty-Rex" (to celebrate Goner Records' November release of the Ty-Rex discography full-length). Headlining Friday is the legendary Sonny Vincent, best known for founding the criminally underrated first-wave punk rock band The Testors.
Saturday, September 26th
Saturday at Gonerfest means the "nine-band blowout" portion of the festival at Murphy's, when said number of bands blaze by between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. thanks to the clockwork alternation between the indoor and outdoor stages that allows for back-to-back sets. The New Orleans trio of Rob Watson Craig III (of Giorgio Murderer/Buck Biloxi fame), Sarah Mason (proprietor of Pelican Pow Wow Records), and ex-NOTS member Carly Greenwell is Black Abba, who, along with the recent Goner Records roster additions, kick off the afternoon on the indoor stage. Craig III will then pop over to the outdoor stage to draw from his bottomless well of personalities as Lord High Panther, which will precede his headlining set as Giorgio Murderer (indoor stage) by several hours. Also anticipated is Christchurch, New Zealand's Salad Boys with the most infectious and generally well-crafted version of New Zealand's Flying Nun "sound" since that label's late-'80s/early-'90s heyday. Up next is Shadow in the Cracks, the new side project of the Blind Shake's Jim and Mike Blaha. The sibling duo has an upcoming self-titled debut on Goner, out this October.
Headlining the outdoor stage is Memphis' Sweet Knives — essentially the reformed Lost Sounds (one of the more important players in the modern garage-punk movement's evolution) with the obvious exception of Jay Reatard, who co-led the band with Alicja Trout (Sweet Knives is the vehicle for her Lost Sounds compositions). And let's not forget sets by Cleveland's extremely prolific Obnox (ex-This Moment in Black History, ex-Bassholes), Kansas City's Wet Ones, and the U.K.'s Ultimate Painting.
New Orleans' First open Saturday night at the Hi-Tone and feature (spoiler alert!) headliner Quintron plus other NOLA notables. As for the concept, the band's name is derived from the rule that they only occupy an evening's first time slot. Richmond, Virginia's Ar-Kaics will then do a fine frozen-in-time re-creation of the most minimal of '60s cave-punk before an altogether different take on punk by Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, who, despite a name that suggests low-level mafia muscle moonlighting as particularly antagonistic rockabilly revivalists, do bring the antagonism and apply it in generous quantities to the timeless catchiness of the New Bomb Turks mixed with the intensity of Damaged-era Black Flag. Following the aggression of Hank Wood is the mayor of Rabbithole, U.S.A., aka NOBUNNY, to charm the pants off of everyone else in the room with his first Gonerfest appearance in four years. Words don't do the Blind Shake's live show justice (as will be confirmed by anyone who saw their Gonerfest 10 appearance), and Jim and Mike Blaha's (plus co-founder Dave Roper on drums) culmination of updated '90s noise rock and visceral garage-punk (perfected on last year's Goner release, Breakfast of Failures) is absolutely not to be missed. As per the earlier mention, the can't-go-wrong proposition of Quintron will headline.
Sunday, September 27th
For Sunday afternoon's closing ceremonies (Cooper-Young Gazebo), it's King Louie's Katrina Memories — Louie Bankston's one-man band with monologues based on the storm that annihilated the hometown that defines Bankston and many others who will be performing and attending Gonerfest. Alicja Trout's excellent power-trio River City Tanlines will shut the whole thing down.
For more information on Gonerfest 12 including information on Golden Passes and single event tickets, visit gonerfest.com.