Few festivals experience nearly 250 percent growth from the first year to the second, and even fewer do so while starting deep in the red. That Phuzz Phest has managed to grow from 18 bands to 45, from being hosted in two venues to spread over five, is a testament to the power of community. Philip Pledger started the four-day Winston-Salem festival last September has a means to showcase Krankies Coffee’s Fall 2011 compilation album — 19 tracks of pure, local honey, much of which seeded the original Phuzz Phest and grew the festival’s second installment.
The sense of community that permeates the compilation is also what sets Phuzz Phest apart from other music festivals; there are close friends, sincere admirers, roommates and fellow bandmates spread across the lineup. There are those performing just as fired up for certain sets as those who buy tickets, and the following is a look into where their ears will lead them.
For the full schedule, visit phuzzphest.tumblr.com.
Michael Ray Surber, White Rifles
The Bayonets: Their record Driver is the kind of record that makes me want to write better. With a couple new members their live performances are taking on a whole new flavor as well. Thursday night is going to be insanely good. (Thursday, the Garage, 11 p.m.)
Free Electric State: Durham/Baltimore rock vets. Whoa, just whoa.
Shirle’s vocals move mountains and the rest of the band shreds like it’s Nick Zinner’s birthday. With a new record coming out soon I expect a lot of fresh flavors in their Phuzz Phest set. (Saturday, Krankies, 5:45 p.m.)
Birds and Arrows: Another husband-and-wife act from the Triangle.
So amazingly talented, this outfit swirls around a room like smoke rings. Their performances are like a thunderstorm of love, heartache and accomplishment, an inspiring group. (Friday, Krankies, 7 p.m.)
Eddie Garcia, Jews and Catholics
Adam Thorn: Only if you like great lyrics that are often funny, delivered by a charmingly self-deprecating bang bang pow pow one-man band (Wednesday, Krankies 6:45 p.m.)
Burglar F**ker: Will wreck your mind and bowels; a chaotic skull crush of an experience, with saxophone. (Saturday, Krankies, 9 p.m.)
Drugs: I actually haven’t seen them yet, but it’s Marty Rogers and Scott Brandenburg’s band, and those guys are pretty heroic, hairy chests and all. (Thursday, Black Lodge, 12:30 a.m.)
Matt Park, Airstrip
Gross Ghost: Melodic, earnest, razor sharp and jangly. Sunny and powerful fuzz pop. It gets you in your gut. (Wednesday, the Garage, 10 p.m.)
Whatever Brains: Prolific, psychedelic, hyper-punk; sometimes with synths. Makes your blood cells shake. Blissful. Awesome. (Saturday, Krankies, 11 p.m.)
120,000 Armies: Heart-on-sleeve, excellent, crafted pop songs with a lovely drunk-eyed glow. (Saturday, Krankies, 4:15 p.m.)
Sam Logan, Lilac Shadows
Airstrip: Easily my favorite new North Carolina band. I was really sad to see Veelee break up, but I’m glad that Matt took the darkest parts of his old band and made something newer and leaner. It’s amazing when a band can be both patient and immediate, ominous but direct. This is all really hard to pull off. (Wednesday, Krankies, 7:30 p.m.)
Gross Ghost: They’ve been one of my favorites since I saw them a few years ago and I’ve been listening to their new album Brer Rabbit constantly. They have great ‘90s slacker-rock vibes with killer hooks, plus Mike Dillon is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Causal Curious: I have yet to see them live but everything I’ve heard recorded has made them one of those bands I’ve wanted to for a long time. Plus a friend of mine said their new live lineup has a real Steely Dan-esque thing going on, which will always get me in the door. (Wednesday, The Garage, 9 p.m.)
Nathan Myers, the Old One-Two
Paint Fumes: The word “badass” would be an incredible understatement. They are a band that puts punk rock to shame. They play with unobstructed energy and genuine attitude, and somehow manage to get it done with a very pleasing, ageless tone. (Saturday, Krankies, 10 p.m.)
Naked Gods: One of the few bands you hear that is doing something nobody else is doing and is making it work. It isn’t common to hear such a unique style that sounds so natural. (Thursday, the Garage, 10 p.m.)
Drag Sounds: A band that is able to accomplish the near impossible: to create a sound that is simultaneously 100 percent raw and 100 percent musical. The music is defined by an unmistakable tube crunch, punctuated by subtle melody phrases, and overlaid with some of the most agreeable vocal work you could expect to hear. (Thursday, the Garage, 8:30 p.m.)
Mike Wallace, Drag Sounds/Serious Bangs
Naked Gods: They have that rare ability to synthesize 40 years of American music in these short bursts of noise and melody, but they’re undeniably of the passionate NOW. Live, they live it. Every single one of those dudes is a mountain angel.
RRequests: New vehicle for the solo-wanderings of Charlotte’s Bo White, formerly of Calabi Yau, currently of Yardwork and too many other great bands to remember here. His solo work is literate yet direct, a stylistic enigma. One of the main reasons I took off work for Saturday’s shows. (Centennial Trading Company, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Paint Fumes: The other reason I’m not working Saturday. These guys, IYEZ, Whatever Brains, Burglar F**ker, Krankies is gonna be a smoldering crater. “Smoking dope by the seashore” with these guys wouldn’t be a “waste of time” at all. Seriously, you should believe the hype.
Tyler Byers, Mutant League
Gross Ghost: Gross Ghost just came out with their first full length, Brer Rabbit, and every song on the album is amazing. Saw them at Krankies a couple weeks ago and was really excited about what they are doing.
Burglar F**ker: There’s no shortage of indie-rock bands in the area and it’s really refreshing to see someone do something different. They are my favorite Triad band and are always unpredictable live. Expect waves of noise and thrashing. (Krankies, Saturday, 9 p.m.)
The Critters: The Critters are from Asheville and I’ve been trying to get them to come to Greensboro/Winston for a while. They dress up in wild outfits and are just extremely talented guys. Can’t wait for Winston to learn how to Crittercraze! (Saturday, Krankies, 5 p.m.)
Tom Peters, the Critters
Hiss Golden Messenger: I read the feature on Hiss Golden Messenger in Shuffle and I’m curious about that. (Saturday, Krankies, 7:15 p.m.)
Paint Fumes: I saw an awesome music video they did. I’m not sure if any of them were even in it.
Mutant League: I haven’t seen Mutant League since they came to play at this festival we were having in the woods in Old Fort. It was called the Bigfoot Bonanza because the landowner believes the area to be inhabited by Sasquatches. He wrote a book called Nature’s Secret Agents, which is a great read. (Saturday, Krankies, 6:30 p.m.)
Marty Rogers, Drugs
Economy: It’s always good to see beautiful people make beautiful music that has little regard to genre, trends and labels. It’s just honest, heartfelt music that is transmuted from the world around them, and that’s hard to do. (Wednesday, the Garage, 11 p.m.)
Ramps: I know people are up in arms about their overt occult references and their nearly pornographic stage antics, but their rock is solid and true, and probably the only thing keeping them from transcending to the astral plane. It will be interesting to see this spectacle in broad daylight and slap dab in the middle of a line up of 13+ badass bands. (Saturday, Krankies, 3:30 p.m.)
IYEZ: Winston’s own prodigal sons return with their prismatic spray frequencies. Not unlike the sound of inter-dimensional entities making love while being washed over by rhythmic waves of static, emanating from an electric sea of color and sound. Closing out the fest with Paint Fumes, Whatever Brains and Burglar Fucker, there is sure to be some chromosome damage. (Saturday, Krankies, 12 a.m.)
Derek Torres, T0W3RS
Airstrip: Matthew Park’s nuanced pop melodies are injected into a dirty wall of sludge by this veteran outfit. Airstrip is the band you’d get if the late Trish Keenan (Broadcast) wrote songs for Sonic Youth. (Wednesday, Krankies, 7:30 p.m.)
Gross Ghost: Their debut LP Brer Rabbit has already found a place in my 2012 Top 10 list. I can’t get enough of Mike and Tre’s garage anthems.
Naked Gods: Boone heroes Naked Gods have convinced me the only way to make a record is on the side of a mountain. Their Southern-tinged folk songs are lifted up by dancing guitar melodies and a dangerously precise rhythm section.
Shaina Machlus, Serious Bangs
Honey Rider: The earnest beat of Honey Rider is the reason I decided to pick up drumsticks! Ooey gooey melodies with nowhere to go but straight to the heart, Honey Rider live is like Valentine’s Day every day. (Saturday, Krankies, 8 p.m.)
Miss Eaves: Shanthony Exum lays down serious power, whimsy and intellect, leaving one no choice but to break it down. If it weren’t for Miss Eaves and her unique rhymes, our music scene would have a serious Shanthony-sized hole. (Friday, Afterparty, 12 a.m.)
Ramps: There’s something refreshingly simple in Ramp’s undeniably catchy style of rock. Live, Ramps feels something close to putting on your favorite t-shirt or maybe a really good back scratch.
Shanthony Exum, Miss Eaves
Ear Pwr: Hearing Ear Pwr for the first time is what inspired me to start writing music. This band is so hyphy, with fat synths, punchy drums and hilarious lyrics by Sarah Reynolds. (Friday, Afterparty, 12:30 a.m.)
Honey Rider: A California surf-rock inspired duo always entertains with badass drumming by Harper and cool vocals by Eric Swaim.
Judy Barnes: Jodi Burns operatic voice sparkles and glows, and is candy for your ears. (Saturday, Krankies, 2:30 p.m.)
T. Lee Gunselman, Casual Curious
Naked Gods: Boone’s rowdy and riffy quintet puts on one of the more energetic no-BS rock shows I have seen from a NC band in awhile. Awesome guitar melodies and a tambourine?! What more could you ask for?
The Hive Dwellers: Current project of Calvin Johnson, founder of K records, Beat Happening, and Dub Narcotic Sound System. Calvin is an engaging performer and lyricist, and will be playing over a dynamically subdued backing band that could fit into a Nuggets compilation. Also, Calvin makes great reggae and dub mixtapes and I expect him to have some for sale at the show. (Thursday, Krankies, 7:45 p.m.)
Paint Fumes: First saw these guys when Casual Curious played in their disgustingly awesome, paint fume-filled basement in Charlotte this past summer. They played Black Flag covers until 3 a.m., rolling around on the floor, submerged in a centimeter of mud, grime, beer and probably some blood and glass.