BY STEPHEN GEORGE
Zerofest, in its third year, fueled by creator’s inspiration
Drake Hatfield, a Louisvillian his whole life, is a variance within the emo and hardcore scenes.
First, the scene-appropriate stuff: He’s owned and run a recording studio, 717 Studios, on Market Street, for two years; he’s been active in music since high school, recording bands and booking shows, which led him to start Zerofest three years ago, with a goal to create a sort of live sampler of as many good bands as he thought needed more attentive ears.
Then the anomaly pudding: Drake Hatfield, 22, is a practicing Southern Baptist, currently a student at Boyce Bible College in Louisville with plans to go into mission work and church planning when he graduates. Put simply, Southern Baptists haven’t had much of a place in gritty underground music scenes, historically speaking. It’s an organization with more than 16 million members and 42,000 churches worldwide. There’s not a damn thing underground about that.
Nonetheless, Hatfield has pushed his concept of Zerofest as an independent music festival with a sturdy conviction, one he’s likely to have inherited from his parents, both international missionaries for the church.
For its first two years, Zerofest was an outdoor gig. Its home was the Belvedere. Year One was a single-day event with a few handfuls of bands, some national but most local. Year Two got, as Hatfield will say, a little out of hand, with 55 bands over a weekend. By the third day, complaints were registering from the Galt House next door, and the Man won out, shutting the festival down early.
“I think I lost a few years off my life doing that,” Hatfield says without humor or irony. On the telephone he is serious and rigid. He doesn’t strike as a person who jokes around much. In fact, during a 15-minute conversation that has nothing to do with any particularly serious or worldly issues, he laughs not once.
Frankly, it’s nice that the guy’s as serious as he is. He believes his task is a mission, and no one wants jerks handling things of import.
“I want people to see and hear these bands,” he says. “Live performance is so much different than just going to MySpace and hearing these bands.”
His ethos on a band’s value — “If a band can’t perform live, they don’t deserve to put out recordings” — is illustrative of his hardline festival ideal, and his exceptions to the rule, most famously the Beatles, are righteous. Likewise, he accepts no corporate funding or sponsorship for the event, although radio station WLRS-FM is getting in on the party with some promo trades.
Ultimately, though, it’s all for the kids.
“There’s a whole lot of music here in Louisville that people aren’t aware of,” he says. “I’ve been really surprised by the talent in Louisville that people just don’t realize.”
Such talent at this year’s Zerofest — a single day affair at Expo 5 (look left for details) — can for the most part be pigeonholed to the aforementioned emo and hardcore corners. A pair of obvious exceptions: Katie Talbert and Isaac Mingo, who both perform solo acoustic tunes, are sure to offer a good action break sprinkled among the 23 bands on three stages in the sprawling indoor complex.
Johnny Berry and the Outliers: three-piece-honky-tonk-touch-o’-country-touch-o’-rock-’n’-roll-loud-’n’-raucous-’n’-raw-twangster-gangsters of the Midwest, nestled right here in the River City like tobacco in your cheek, a bunch for us to chaw when we need a decadent night of swillin’ and swingin’ to the soundtrack of Miller High Life and fine young-country tunes. You can, of course, take the whole shebang home and play it on your personal stereo, so long as your fridge is amply stocked. Although the appropriately titled Shoot! Darn! Yeah! is a fine full-length album chock full of full-length debauchery, you can’t quite do enough shitkickin’ at home to beat the live show.
The boys are on the Uncle Pleasant’s stage this Saturday alongside opener Hell’s 1/2 Acre, another splendorous alt-country affair we have the pleasure of calling our own. Go and do it for your health, you sick, heaving bastards.
Saturday, Oct. 15
2900 S. Seventh St.
$8 (tix available at Wild & Woolly Video, Underground Sounds or online at www.zerofest.com) $12 day of show
5 p.m.-1 a.m.
Band Lineup (sets are 30 minutes each)
My Finest Hour
Leave It At The Door
Sleep Well Apparatus
In The Clear
Too Far Gone
5 Days Ahead
Top of the Fair
Johnny Berry & the Outliers,
Hell’s 1/2 Acre
2126 S. Preston St.
$5; 10 p.m.