Horrible Fest Returns to Now That's Class on Memorial Day Weekend

Each Memorial Day weekend for the past 11 years, Paul Shlachter, owner of Now That’s Class, a Westside punk rock club that plays host to an eclectic array of bands and special events (including a monthly night devoted to cult classic filmmaker John Waters), says he’s done producing Horriblefest, a multi-day underground music festival.

And yet, every year, he gives in and presents Horrible Fest, sometimes calling it Not Horrible Fest. “We’ve called it Not Horrible Fest in the past, but we decided to just call it Horrible Fest this year,” says Shlachter one afternoon while sitting at the club's bar. “It’s a long story but no matter what, it’s always just horrible fest.

This year’s three-day event features the usual quotient of cutting-edge acts selected by Shlachter and co-workers Richard Rodriguez and Lia Masari. We stopped by the venue to talk to them about this year’s affair. Here's a day-by-day guide to the event.

Thursday, May 25

Horrible Fest Pre-Party with Brainwashed Youth/Real Regular/Perverts Again/Mourning [A] BLKstar

Shlachter: This is simply a pre-party night with local bands. Brainwashed Youth is a fun fake British punk band. They sing in fake British accents. It’ s a real goof on everything. Real Regular is a noise rock band. Perverts is a newer Cleveland band that’s been around a couple of years and are very popular. You’d call it punk, but it’s very rhythmic and caveman-like and grinding. I don’t want to say monotonous. Mourning [A] BLKstar is also on the bill. They are a very soulful band that we find more interesting than what most locals are doing now. Influenced by early soul, Motown and hip-hop with incredible vocals. We always like to have a local band that keeps the lineup fresh and different than your stereotypical punk show. It’s just a $5 cover or free with the weekend pass.

Friday, May 26

Horrible Fest Friday BBQ with Weed Whacker/Lido Lounge

It’s in the backyard. We have a big BBQ and games. The hot tub will back again. Weed Whacker is a newer band, and they dress like landscapers. They have some type of lawn tools and all their songs are about lawn care. They’re pretty outrageous but put on a good show. They’re very funny. Lido Lounge is a newer band. It has members of Nervosas, which was a popular Columbus band, and the Plain Dealers, the Cleveland band.

Horrible Fest 2017 Night 1 with Warthog/Kaleidoscope/La Misma/Empty Beings/Lacerate/Prostitutes/DJ Deutschland Jerky Rave

 Three of the bands are from New York. They’re all pretty different but have their own popularity. Warthog is an old school hardcore band. They play fast ’80s style hardcore.

Rodriguez: People label Kaleidoscope as a hardcore band, but they’re not at all. It’s very experimental and psyche. They’re one of the more interesting bands that’s playing the festival.

Shlachter: They don’t fit the punk stereotype. And then there’s La Misma. The girl sings in Portuguese. They’re punk but they have a good sense of melody. They’ll be a crowd favorite. They’ve never played the Midwest.

Rodriguez: DJ Deutschland Jerky Rave is Steven Pfeffer, who owns the record store on West 65th. He sings in Nine Shocks Terror, which just did a reunion show, and he has a radio show on WCSB. It’s not any one genre. He plays everything from punk to reggae, and he even loves the Grateful Dead.

Shlachter: They’ll be a surprise during his set.

Masarai: Empty Beings is a good post-punk band from Pittsburgh. I think the singer is a trained opera singer.

Saturday, May 27

Horriblefest 2017 Matinee with Dianetics/Birch Boys/Know So/Roobydocks/Street Gurgler (at the Sidetrack Cafe)

The matinee show is at the Sidetrack Café, a biker bar on Lakewood Heights.

Rodriguez: It’s the more straightforward hardcore show with bands like Dianetics.

Shlachter: One band is from New Orleans and another is from Chicago and another is from Pittsburgh. Street Gurgler is the curveball band. They’re like a ’70s Hawkwind-like band.

Horriblefest 2017 Night 2 with Hank Wood and the Hammerheads/Janitor Scum/BB Eye/Magic City/Bulsch/DJ Cripple Krak

Hank Wood is a big deal to some people. They’re the biggest band of the weekend. They used to have a separate percussion section. They’re great live.

Rodriguez: They’re at the forefront of the trendy scene in New York. They’re one of the only bands that played Horrible Fest before. They’re a rock band with synthesizers.

Shlachter: We tried to make sure that every band hasn’t played before, or at least the last two years. We want all fresh meat. Janitor Scum is all the way from Calgary. They’re a strange punk band.

Rodriguez: Janitor Scum is a solo project for the singer, but she has a backing band for the tour. She uses a drum machine with some keyboards and guitar. It’s a good synth punk band.

Shlachter: BB Eye is good. They’re New Wave-y, and Bulsch is a ridiculous local band. They wear matching turtlenecks and sunglasses and they sing in their own made-up language. Cripple Krak is from upstate New York. He recently broke his ankle and foot but will still DJ.

Rodriguez: He once played Horrible Fest specifically because he wanted to play the 6 a.m. slot.

Shlachter: There will be other secret shows and surprises too. There’s always something unexpected that happens at Horrible Fest.

Horrible Fest, May 25-27, Now That's Class, 11213 Detroit Ave., 216-221-8576. Tickets: $10-$42, nowthatsclass.net.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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