The event returns this year with the usual quotient of cutting-edge acts selected by Schlachter and co-workers Richard Rodriguez and Lia Massara. “It’s Memorial Weekend and people are getting out of school, so it’s a good time to do a festival — not that most people who attend the event know how to spell or write," laughs Schlachter. "It’s a big undertaking. For locals, everyone we know takes off work and play hooky. I would never say it’s like Las Vegas, but there are no rules. I feel like it’s become an idiot convention, and I mean that in a good way. All the screw-ups come here for a few days.” Here's a day-by-day guide to the event.
Thursday, May 26
Night 1 with LMNTL/Uniform/Pleasure Leftists/Flyin' Trichecos/Glass Traps/Pig Flayer
It’s the kick off night and we have some unique bands this year. We have two weird post-punk bands that sound like New Order or Joy Division with the Pleasure Leftists and Glass Traps. They’re both very good. The headliner is LMNTL, a hip-hop group. They’re really good. They’re from the East side of Cleveland. We always try to do something different. People label [Not Horrible] as a punk fest, but we throw in something different to mix it up.
Friday, May 27
Not Horrible Fest BBQ with Brainwashed California vs. Mr. California/Burger Boys
[The barbecue] is always a very wild event. We have a hot tub. That’s become a tradition. It’s a terrible idea. Brainwashed California and Mr. California are one-man bands who are humorous and silly. Most people around here know Mr. California. It’s parody but very witty punk rock. Brainwashed California is Terry from Mr. California and me. We do a fake British punk thing with preprogrammed drums and bass. We wear costumes. We wear wigs. It’s about a ten-minute set. It’s really silly. We’ve only played one show. We play originals. They’re very juvenile and they’re a mockery of punk rock.
Except for last year, Burger Boys played every barbeque.
They cook burgers on the grill while playing. The barbeque is all about bands that are fun and sort of like joke bands. The Burger Boys have a very charismatic frontman named Bubba.
Not Horrible Fest Matinee with Urochromes/Darvocets/Slave House/Crime Wave/Bad Noids/Yankee Peddler/Yambag
We try to do the matinee concert each year at a different spot and mix it up. This year, it's at the Tall Boys Bike Club at Rustbelt Welding. The Darvocets singer is arriving in a limo with two escorts and a red carpet. That was part of his deal. They haven’t played in four or five years. This band Urochrome is really good. They’re from Western Massachusetts, and they’re a band on the rise for sure.
All the Darvocets songs are about aliens and conspiracy theories. The singer has inflatable aliens and inflatable cows on stage. It’s very wild.
Night 2 with Spray Paint/Giorgio Murders/Fried Egg/Quitter/Vanilla Poppers/Tonawandas
Tonawandas is a newer band. They’re synth punk band. They kick off the Friday night show. Fried Egg and Quitter are out of towners.
Quitter is a synth band from Baltimore. It’s pretty out there stuff. A friend of ours put out their record and turned us onto them.
Spray Paint is on this label 12xU, which is owned and run by Gerard Cosley, the guy who runs Matador. It’s his side label. They’re like a weird noise rock band. They’re really good. They’re the feature band of the night.
Saturday, May 28
Night 3 with Urinals/Predator/Watery Love/Unholy Two/SQRM/Fugitive Family/The Cowboy/Thee Doctor Tim Bones Jones
We’re proud of the Urinals playing. They’re a late ’70s art punk band from the LA. punk scene. They were ahead of their time.
They’re pioneers. They’re ahead of the curve 40 years later.
They’re a lo-fi limited band. It’s very repetitive. They’ve been around since the ‘70s. They have a real clean guitar sound. They’re doing a little tour and have a cult following. They weren’t your stereotypical “fuck you” band. They were art school guys. They were from the same era as the Germs and X and the Weirdos but they’re more obscure.
Predator is a really good Atlanta band. They sound like Wire at times. They’re very energetic and cool. Squirm is a western Massachusetts band. They're a hard core band but every noisy and blown out. Their singer Richie Charles is one of the most aggressive frontman I’ve ever seen.
[Charles] is also well know in the folk world and then he’s in this band where he just screams. Watery Love is a noise rock thing. He also runs a record label. He put out a bunch of bands that are popular now. He put out Kurt Vile’s first record. He sings and plays guitar in the band. It’s disturbing stuff, and I mean that in a good way.
Not Horrible Fest, May 26-28, Now That's Class, 11213 Detroit Ave., 216-221-8576. Tickets: $10-$40, nowthatsclass.net.
“It’s sort of a sickness,” says Paul Schlachter one afternoon from Now That’s Class, the Westside punk rock club he owns. He’s talking about his Not Horrible Fest, the annual Memorial Day festival featuring underground bands and a big barbeque.