What a great time this is for music festivals in Detroit. We just had the second Hamtramck Music Fest, and also back for its second year is the Berserker Fest. As you might guess from the name, Berserker revels in everything your parents cautioned you against: speed metal, death metal, black metal, metal metal, thrash metal, stoner metal, and a bit of hardcore punk as well. The two highlights will be the sets from Portland's hardcore/metal crossover pioneers Poison Idea and New York City's surprisingly eclectic death metal act Incantation. The fest is put on by Veronica Knight, who runs Apparatus Booking, and her husband, Shawn Knight, the singer for Child Bite.
Metro Times: How did this get started?
Shawn Knight: The idea came to me during the DIY Street Fair, 2013. I was curating a tent of poster artists and thought, "I could probably pull off a similar event [for music]." I've been part of the local scene for a while now, particularly with my band Child Bite. Everybody trusted me to put together a worthwhile event. Chris Johnston (the Loving Touch, WAB) loved the idea.
MT: Is it something you'd wanted to do for a long time?
Veronica Knight: Shawn and I had talked about getting something going that was kind of like how Michigan Fest used to be — pretty DIY, and pretty raw, but on a bit of a larger scale. We wanted to do something where we could bring punk, metal, and thrash under one roof, (well, two roofs) for a weekend. It wasn't really happening in Detroit in the winter.
Shawn: The first year went so well that we knew we had to do it again. I think we'll keep doing it until we have a disaster, so fingers crossed we get to see Berserker XXX in 2043! Last year was really easy to set up. This year has been slightly more challenging, but Veronica jumped in and has been able to take on a lot of the workload.
MT: Do you guys live in that RV yet?
Shawn: Nope, that's more of a long-term plan. We are still renovating it to get rid of that "1980s grandpa" vibe. It's gonna take a while to accomplish all of our plans for the travel trailer.
MT: What acts are you most excited about, and why?
Shawn: Other than the headliners of course, my top three acts to catch at Berserker II are Lazer/Wulf from Atlanta, Like Rats from Chicago, and Doomsday Student from Providence. I've never seen Lazer/Wulf, but I love their new record. Like Rats writes classic heavy riffs; their songs just sound right. I saw them once at a tiny bar in Detroit last year and have been spreading the word ever since. Doomsday Student is a bunch of dudes from Arab On Radar, and if you've ever seen them then you know it's quite the spectacle. I can't wait for that weird vibe to take over the WAB.
Veronica: I am so excited for Poison Idea. They have not been to Detroit, and we are so glad they chose our fest to come back on the scene. I am also really excited for Fuck the Facts from Quebec. I have heard their shows are nuts. I have a soft spot for grindcore bands, especially when the singer is a chick, and you would have no idea unless you saw them play.
MT: What was the single highlight for you from last year's fest?
Shawn: Hearing the Human Furnace from Ringworm tell aggressive moshers to cool it with the "ninja dancing" was hilarious.
Veronica: Ha, yes. I forgot about the ninja dancing! The people and the bands that came out were so great. It just seemed that everyone there was so happy and excited for the event. It's just rad to be a part of such a great community of people.
The festival runs from Thursday, March 12 – Saturday, March 14. Shows begin at 7 p.m. and take place in Ferndale at both the Loving Touch and Woodward Avenue Brewery. Check berserkerdetroit.com for full details. Three day passes are $40, while single day entry is $20.