When Bled Fest started it was nothing more than a pool party thrown by Michigan local Ben ‘Big Love’ Staub, with bands playing in his basement. 40 People showed up. The second year 200 people showed up. It was then that Ben’s parents figured it was about time for him to find a new place. Which was his old high school.
Since then, Bled Fest (short for Big Love’s Educational Festival) has grown into something bigger than he probably ever thought possible and something where everyone from The Wonder Years and Andrew WK to Every Time I Die and Modern Baseball has graced the stage.
The 13th edition of the festival promises once again to be an epic party with PunkRockTheory favorites like The Flatliners, Cayetana and The Dirty Nil playing along with these 10 bands you need to see.
You can find Pet Symmetry in my iTunes between the Pet Shop Boys’ greatest hits and Pinback. Three bands that sound different. The guys that make up Pet Symmetry also play in other bands that sound different. For Evan Weiss that would be Into It. Over It., for Erik Czaja it is Dowsing and for Marcus Nuccio that other band is What Gives. So why did they start another band? To goof off and have fun. And with their new album, “Vision” (out late next month via Polyvinyl), it doesn’t look like the party is over quite yet.
Do you like Polar Bear Club, Braid and Mock Orange? Then you are bound to like Del Paxton, who have just released their debut album with “All Day, Every Day, All Night”. Their take on mid-90ies emo and pop-punk is all kinds of good. My personal favorite on the album is “Hoodwink”, a track that bounces all over the place. Make sure to yell out for it in between every single song until they play it. I’m sure they will love you for it.
Heart Attack Man
What started as a solo recording project for singer/guitarist Eric Egan, has since doubled in numbers with the addition of drummer Adam Paduch. The duo recently released their debut full-length “The Manson Family”, an album that is way more pleasant than either the band name or album title lets on. They excel at playing indie-punk tunes that come with big hooks and twisted humor. Both “Life Sucks” and “Surrounded By Morons” have found their way into my morning ritual with me mumbling the words while working towards my first cup of coffee.
Ratboys got their start when Julia Steiner met Dave Sagan on her first day of freshman year at Notre Dame. They soon started playing shows as a duo and since then, things have evolved into a beast with ten arms. You could describe them as rodent rock. But seeing as that doesn’t really say anything, you could also use terms like post-country and indie rock. Expect cute songs that gnaw away at your soul.
Charmer has everything you can ask for in a Midwestern emo band. Twinkly guitars? Check. Heart-on-sleeve lyrics? Check. And well, they are from Michigan. So Midwestern? Check. If you like The Promise Ring, Mineral and Texas Is The Reason, you will find plenty to fall in love with over here. They recently signed to No Sleep Records, who will be releasing the band’s first full-length (to be recorded with Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald) later this year.
It might not seem like the best idea to give your band a completely un-google-able name. At some point they apparently wanted to call themselves Windbreaker, which would have been even worse. But hey, it’s not like Backpacks need it. This Mount Pleasant, Michigan foursome has all the melodies and energy they need to stand out without the help of Google. Think Title Fight, Citizen, Balance & Composure.
After having beaten the shit out of his drum kit like the damn thing owed him money for over a decade in The Swellers, Jonathan Diener traded in his drum sticks for a guitar and a mic and started Baggage. The five songs that make up their EP “Cheaper Than Therapy” come with lyrics about mental health issues and the kind of hooks usually reserved for a Weezer album.
After concluding that college wasn’t for him and earning the grades to back up that statement, John Pederson started Amateur Eyes. The band released their debut album, simply titled “I”, two years ago and have been going at it since. While his parents probably weren’t overjoyed with their son’s decision to drop out of college, there is no denying Pederson has a knack for writing songs that are as big on nostalgia as they are on catchy hooks.
Chicago’s Homesafe won us over as soon as we first heard “Guts” from the band’s latest EP, “Evermore”. Big guitars, big melodies and a whole lot of energy balled up in just under four minutes. Fans of Knuckle Puck should take notice of the fact that Ryan Rumchaks plays guitar and sings in this band. Fans of good music in general should take notice that Homesafe’s mix of emo rock and pop-punk is as catchy as an STD. We are fully aware that getting compared to an STD is usually not meant in a flattering way. This is however the exception.
These guys have been playing in a band together since they were 12. First as a christian rock band, now as christians in a rock band. Which is different because not every song needs to be about god. Now they mostly sing about how to be better human beings. Which we need now that an idiot like Trump gets to call himself president. On top of that, if you can record a cover of “Last Christmas” that doesn’t make me throw up in my mouth, then you’re okay in my book.