Bamalama Fest in Alabama Could Land You in the Slamma, Mamma Jamma

Terrible Twos from Detroit, photo by <a href=
Terrible Twos from Detroit, photo by Canderson
posted Thursday Jun 5th, 2008

The Bamalama Festival gets underway this weekend in Huntsville, Alabama. Hosted at the Flying Monkey Arts Center on Seminole Drive, a converted cotton textile mill from the early 20th century, and featuring acts from all over the United States and one from across the big pond, it looks to be a pretty good party. If you are within driving distance to Huntsville, you'd be a dumbass to pass up the chance to partake in this 3 day rock'n'roll and booze spree. Boosting such fringe activities such as gin-guzzling, hotdog-gorging, and even a moon bounce for the drunken buffoons with energy for that sort of thing. Kicking off Friday night and spanning the weekend through Sunday, June 8th, the fest is packed with must-see acts from all over the rock'n'roll spectrum.

The lineup Friday night is the most impressive. The opening acting Plexi 3, the Milwaukee threesome featuring the husband and wife team Ryan King and Wendy Norton, who got their start together back in the late 90s while Wendy was in the Reacharounds, and Ryans was with the excellently bubbly yet abrasive act, The Kill-A-Watts. Now, nearly a decade has past and they've moved their efforts into a cleaner pop sound that is the perfect vehicle for Norton's saccharine voice that reflects 60s girl pop through a modern sneer. Sliding into the next spot on the bill are the similar sounding The Carrots from Austin, Texas. Playing more down tempo pop tunes, this 8-piece band features backup singers who send them further into the The Ronettes territory, but followed by The Strange Boys next on the bill, you won't find yourself too far into the sugar bucket of retro-flavored tunage.

The Strange Boys, another act from Austin, but base their sound in the weirder, later part of the 60s when the cadence of R&B smashed into the toxic waltz of folk music, and turned into what we call today psychedelic music. With an upcoming LP due out on In The Red Records, it seems like these guys are headed for the big time! But before you get dressed up in a burlap pullover and start sniffing the lilacs, take a breather because next on the bill are Detroit's Terrible Twos. There will be a sonic schism Friday as they hit the stage, as playing dangerous, noisy and pointed punk, Terrible Twos' music brings to mind a vision of robot gorillas under the spell of a hissy fit. Their debut full length LP on Criminal IQ Records stands as one of Detroit's best examples of the exploding scene in the wake of the post-garage hype let-down, and burns through the residue of white belt ethos with fists full of cinders.

Then as to intentionally shake things up again, Thomas Function are up next and are quite a departure from the Terrible Twos. Playing modern pop with sounds that swings into the wise disenchantment of such punk heroes as the Buzzcocks. As if they were trying to allude any comparisons, they craft their songs around a folk vibe, with jangling guitar, and vocals that are nasally and pronounced. With their debut appearing earlier this year on the Bomp! imprint Alive Records, and a West Coast tour planned for October, these cats are on a roll. To end the evening in a full-swing party riot, the folks behind Bamalama Fest put the Trojans of party fouls, LiveFastDie at the headlining slot. After their show this past weekend in Chicago, festival goers are in for quite a treat.

Saturday gets started at the crack of noon with an art, zine, and Poster show. Then a little later at 2:00PM, the daytime show gets going featuring a performance from the one-man-band act Mosquito Bandito. I don't think there's a OMB out there that doesn't at least take something from Hasil Atkins, as the Bandito certainly does, but he mixes in a thicker layer of fuzz bringing the rock-a-billy rhythms closer to The Cramps' territory, where they belong.

After the afternoon activities have adjourned, don't think for a second you'll have time to go back to the hotel or apartment to get some rest, maybe put some sliced cucumbers over your eyes, or choke down a hitter or two, because back at the fest things will be getting rolling with Traditional Fools, Jail and Vice City Rockers (VCR) all in opening slots. The real treat Saturday night is a performance from the Denton, Texas booger-rock outfit, The Wax Museums. Constantly reminding us that rudimentary rock'n'roll is the glorious basis for some of the best acts around, from The Ramones to all the way to Angry Samoans, the Wax Museums play their music as if it involves an armpit fart and rubber vomit, without getting lost in corniness.

Sunday, you'll be little tired, but hang in there dude. The showcase Sunday night kicking off early at 5PM is an excellent lineup. Starting out the show is Amber Alerts, one wing of the Mobile, Alabama Glue-wave contingent. Their split single with Wizzard Sleeve just released this month on Jeth-Row Records promises to be a keeper for sure. Next up is the Feeling of Love, the Franco weirdo act from Metz, France. Playing the sort of scathing, repetitious drone that is a the center of Glue Wave, they bring in elements of blues that give them an aural flavor that is jangly and corrosive. Currently on their first US tour, Feeling of Love are picking up fans across this stupid nation at an alarming rate. If you're lucky enough to get a hold of any of their recent releases, the new one on Floridas Dying, and another on Yakisakana, it's best to pick them both up.

Right after Feeling of Love get done, the newest slop-pop act to catch ablaze, The Barbaras hit the stage. Playing the short of lo-fi pop that everyone seems to be lapping up these days, they just came out with their debut single on the revered Goner imprint and have landed a deal with In The Red for a future album. Pine Hill Haints headline the show and there are rumors of an appearance from the mysterious Milwaukee act, Rocktopus sometime over the weekend as part of the festival as well.