Like your music loud? Then Rockfest is for you

Every city should be able to boast some type of loud, modern rock scene.

And by “modern rock,” I mean commercially viable, somewhat agro but listener-friendly metal. It may not be Slayer or Motorhead, but it’s angst for someone’s ears, and that’s OK.

Durango and its suburbs are certainly no hard-rock Mecca. But if you’ve paid attention, you know every so often metal shows go off at random Durango venues such as someone’s house party, the VFW or the Elks lodge – and, currently, at the casino. There are certainly enough people here to support it. They’re a vocal bunch not afraid to tell me that bluegrass and reggae isn’t their thing, following that up with strong opinions about “musicians” who play laptops.

Live music is nothing new for the Sky Ute Casino Resort, which has hosted shows for years. This weekend, the casino, along with Brad Dobbs and Fullhouse Productions, will dive headfirst into the loud rock scene, with the first of what could become an annual event,“Rockfest.”

I’m glad the Sky Ute is attempting to alter (even if it’s only once) the stereotypical “Casino Circuit.” The proliferation of Native American casinos nationwide has provided a new network of venues for long-running rock bands with no original members, Vince Neil solo shows and one-hit wonders who haven’t had a relevant record since 1978.

“Rockfest” is a six-band bill, headlined by guitar wiz Tommy Bolan (not to be mistaken with the late Tommy Bolin, from Zephyr, The James Gang and Deep Purple) and his band NYC. Think metal with all the theatrics of a Steve Vai-like stunt guitar player.

Scattered Hamlet is a southern rock band, a Kid-Rock-like band playing feel-good hard rock.

The Furnace is a five-piece from Phoenix. The band flips back and forth between hard rock ballads and driving, polished guitar tunes yearning to be an anthem.

1000 Rogues is a Durango four-piece whose debut, “Systematic Destruction,” came out late in 2011. 1000 Rogues has been constant participants in VFW shows with local rock and punk, and its presence on the large stage is a nice spot for a local band at a local show.

Signal 99 and Ethnic de Generation both represent a part of the country that is producing some of the best dark metal out there – the Rez. With apologies to New York and some scattered towns in Norway, the best metal being made these days is in the Southwest. Farmington’s Signal 99 were the winners of the “Best Music Video” and “Best Debut Artist” awards at the 2011 Native American Music Awards. Ethnic de Generation hails from Kayenta, Ariz.; the quartet has shared stages with a long list of bands on the loud-rock circuit and those lumped into the “stoner-rock-under-the-radar” list, for want of a better description.

I’m guessing the best sets of the night will come from the bands that traveled the fewest miles to play.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.