Last year's Hessfest, a six-band bill assembled by Cleveland artist Derek Hess to celebrate the launch of his website, shouldn't have taken anyone by surprise. After all, Hess was partly responsible for putting the Euclid Tavern on the hard rock/alternative map, with the hundreds of shows that he booked there for the first five years of the '90s. Bands like Green Day, the Reverend Horton Heat, Helmet, and Soul Coughing all made their debut Cleveland appearances at the Tavern as a result of Hess's open-minded approach to booking. The success of the original Hessfest has led to an even larger bash this year, and with the recent closing of the Euclid Tavern, the timing couldn't be better. While last year's bill seemed to focus on stoner rock, this year's lineup promises much more diversity. Headliners Clutch and Karma to Burn will both likely turn in tightly wound rock and roll sets, but the rest of the lineup has its roots in the underground hardcore scene. Boy Sets Fire, Thursday, Waterdown, and Grade are all somewhat interchangeable -- they typically feature melodic, emotive singing one minute and throat-full-of-shattered-glass screaming the next. Canada's Grade, probably the best act of the bunch, is willing to drop all the political pretension in favor of some good old rock and roll. Converge's angst-ridden display of squealing guitars and technically obsessed metal should also be a highlight, along with performances by psychobilly rockers Electric Frankenstein and sets from a diverse group of local acts, including Disengage, Proletarian Art Threat, Keelhaul, and up-and-coming punk rockers the Sign-Offs.
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