by Jeff Milo
If he had a reputation, despite that obfuscating moniker, it was as both a passionate musician and passionate music fan. Anthony Gentile, as the Ypsi-based singer/songwriter is known, is distinguished by his beard, his kinetic stage presence and that certain fire in his eyes recognizable by anyone else who willingly throws their whole heart, mind, body and soul into the rickety front cart of the rock n roll roller coaster.
This Anonymous rocker isn't claiming to represent Ypsilanti. That said, he's been curating YpsiFest, a multi-day music festival over in the heart of Ypsilanti for ten years now.
"I just wanted to put together a festival and have my favorite bands play and have my friends come. We called it YpsiFest, the show, because it was just in Ypsilanti."
This has never specifically been an Ypsi thing... Recent line-ups have often been about 50% bands from (or near) the Ypsi/Ann Arbor area, with the rest filled out, mostly 45% by Detroit bands (and then...about 5% by farther out towns, west-siders or even out of state).
It is, essentially, just another local celebration of music and the scene's camaraderie - that...just happens to take place in Ypsi (Mr. Gentile's home, where he currently writes/records/performs with punk-leaning indie-rock trio Disinformants).
Child Bite @ Woodruffs - photo by Doug Coombe
It is, though, inevitably a call for more bridging between scenes. Detroit audiences don't get out to see the Ypsi bands on their home turf (in places like Woodruffs) and vice versa... YpsiFest's more than your usual show, CD-release party or otherwise stuffed-line ups, is special because it acts as a summit - sort of like Mittenfest (but that's a whole other story) - thus, blending together different scenes and audiences.
"Of course, the Internet, and inevitably Facebook, has really changed things, since the first YpsiFest back in 2003," Gentile said. "The word gets out, now. People doing interesting things, who had been relegated to Tuesday or Wednesday nights, years ago, are now getting the word out and music fans, people who go out to see these lives music shows, can be part of the art in a new way. Fans who are into different things and appreciate when people really put an effort in...are finding these bands, bands that have been doing it for a long time, throughout the last ten years or more."
You'll see newer talents like Truman and Double Weirdo amid other bands who've been churning away, like Child Bite or Old Gods ...
"These are real people, in these bands," Gentile says, referencing veterans from bands like Jeff Tuttle, Mike Hard and Shawn Knight. "These are people who are real artists, real musicians and real people, sticking to it, regardless of if there's 10 people or 100 people. And because they've stuck to it, and because they're doing it for real, it's turning into 100 people or more."
"These are guys who didn't just all of a sudden turn great...they have been playing music, whether punk shows or writing and touring or playing huge stages, for 10 years or more. People can see how much they care about it. And people will want to hear it and be apart of it."
When a music festival, or a summit, can sustain long enough to become a tradition - then the progression of the artists, the bands, emerges as a torch passing (and in most cases, a torch sharing), between the younger, weirder, new-wave punk-rockers coming up to shoulder themselves into the older, wiser and wilder metal-inclined hard rockers. It's interesting to hear the dialogue, actualized through blown-out amps, full lunged howls and string-snapping shreds.
Thursday Nov 14
1:00 am Black Jake and the Carnies (main)
12:00 Lawless Carver (main)
10:00 Blue Snaggletooth (main)
9:00 Double Weirdo (main)
8:00 Zombie Jesus and the Chocolate Sunshine Band (main)
7:30 We Can Do Better
Friday Nov 15
1:00 Mike Hard (main)
12:30 Child Bite
12:00 Old Gods (main)
11:30 Oscillating Fan Club
11:00 S.N.A.F.U. (main)
10:30 Crappy Future
10:00 All The Wild Children (main)
9:30 Axe Ripper
9:00 Amino Acids (main)
8:30 Wizard Union
8:00 1876 (main)
7:30 Las Drogas
Saturday Nov 16
1:00 Golden Torso (main)
12:00 Nice Hooves (main)
11:30 Touch the Clouds
11:00 Disinformants (main)
10:00 Decade of Flies (main)
9:30 Jackpine Snag
9:00 Man at Arms (main)
8:00 Fucking Swords and Fire (main)