Berserker IV is one hell of a festival, taking place over two days (April 14-15) at the Crofoot in Pontiac, Michigan. This year’s lineup features GWAR, Eyehategod and OFF!, plus more than a two dozen other bands. Organizer Shawn Knight talks more about the festival and the bands in this Decibel guest post.
We’re going pretty fucking big this year with Berserker. Veronica & I are incredibly lucky to be partnered up with our host venue, The Crofoot, an awesome 3-stage complex that is perfectly suited for what we want to do. It’s gonna be a blast running around this place.
The 14-year old inside me hasn’t stopped shitting his pants since we announced GWAR as one of our headliners. They always play an infamous club in Detroit (rhymes with Barpos) that has terrible sound & comes with the added benefit of high crime levels, so I think all Michigan bohabs will appreciate the change of venue.
Our other headliner is EYEHATEGOD from New Orleans. What makes this show particularly special is that it’ll be singer Mike IX’s return to the stage after a long period away due to serious health issues. The man was on death’s door, and had a liver transplant just a couple months ago. Now he’s coming out of forced early retirement to celebrate his birthday with us!
As for the other 28 bands playing Berserker IV, not to mention 10 more that are playing our free PREserker kick off show, here’s some clarification on some of the acts whose similar names might cause a little confusion…
We love Ringworm. They are old school metallic hardcore legends, having started in the same Cleveland scene as Integrity back in ’91. They still tour relentlessly, now over 25 years into their career. We had them headline the first Berserker fest back in 2014 and couldn’t resist cramming them onto this year’s line up. They keep getting better too, it’s fucking weird.
The only other worm band at the fest is Boreworm, an underground technical death metal gem from our local Michigan scene. Back in 2014, they claimed the coveted opening slot on the Summer Slaughter tour headlined by Morbid Angel. Everything they do, from their recordings to their artwork, is flawlessly executed. They will be a real treat for any unsuspecting extreme metal fans coming out to the fest!
Like Boreworm, Nightkin is another incredibly impressive death metal outfit we’re lucky enough to have in our local scene. Singer Mike “Gunface” McKenzie is mainly known for his work with The Red Chord, while drummer Zach Gibson (ex-The Black Dahlia Murder) is considered by many around here as the deadliest drummer in the Detroit underground.
Our other evening-oriented band, Night Vapor, hail from Pittsburgh and are a completely different form of deadly. I recently described them as “Captain Beefheart fronting an extremely art damaged metal band with an Amrep record deal.” They describe themselves as “heavy rock and roll for the contemporary weirdo.” Either one works.
FYPM, or Fuck You Pay Me, feature one of Cleveland’s most-cherished elder statesmen of the scene, Tony Erba. Lucky for us, Tony’s never afraid to verbally or physically assault an unsuspecting audience with the bravado of an ‘80s wrestling champion. Their latest record, Dumbed Down, just came out a few days ago on Tankcrimes (Ghoul, Cannabis Corpse, etc) and it rules.
Knowing that one “fuck” is never enough, we decided to pair FYPM up with SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fucked Up) at the fest. These guys are one of Detroit’s hardest working bands, taking their brand of crossover thrash on the road opening for Municipal Waste-side project Cannabis Corpse last year (whoa, another connection!).
Horrible Earth has the distinct honor of having Boston grind-master general Tim Morse on the drums. Mr. Morse spent many years nearly dying with his old band Anal Cunt. Surprisingly, he survived and lived on to grind another day. Last year, Horrible Earth put out Typical Human Behavior, 14 tracks of blistering grindcore a la Brutal Truth, AxCx, etc.
Not everyone thinks our planet is horrible; some think it’s completely empty. Enter Hollow Earth, yet another extraordinary member of the Detroit underground. Hardcore-infused metal interlaced with a desolate cosmos theme. Deep space has always been brutal, but never quite this heavy.
In case you like hardcore punk but haven’t bought a new record since ’86, OFF! is Keith Morris of Black Flag/Circle Jerks fame doing what he does just like he did it back then. I’ve seen them probably a dozen times; they are the real deal. No nonsense, stripped down, fast-as-hell… their set lists are a mile long ‘cause their songs usually don’t break the 1:30 mark.
Off-Ox, on the other hand, is an experimental indie-rock project fronted by my longtime friend & fellow graphic designer Aaron Tanner (Evansville, Indiana). Maybe the fact that he has spent years working on artwork for Ween, all while living in a city whose proudest architectural accomplishment is the house used on Roseanne explains his unique musical output.