AS220’s Foo Fest 2012 was the second one I have attended; the first since I became a resident of Rhode Island. Both of the festivals that I have witnessed have been filled with fun and spectacle; however, being directly involved as a volunteer this year provided me some insight into the people and processes that make this annual celebration of art and community happen. I arrived on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. and participated in the full assembly and coordination of the event. I was left amazed at the hard work and cooperation of everyone involved. I left for a few hours in the afternoon only to return to the festival and stay there to help uninstall and clean up after the event was done.
There were many highlights, playing a variety of different styles of music, including: Thrillhouse‘s cosmic riffing summoning a Viking ship (Created in collaboration with Artist-In-Residence Dennis McNett and the AS220 Industries) and corresponding gigantic monsters from Big Nazo. Sandworm’s brutal noise-inflected black metal caused people to frantically hurl themselves all about the AS200 indoor stage. Humanbeast and Meager Sunlight, back to back, provided danceable synth pop with discernible darkness lurking somewhere underneath the surface. Drum and bass duo SONGS’ stony doom metal played from the floor, resonating and reminding me of when I listened to nothing but Sleep. Hard Nips’ caffeinated, sultry Japanese/NYC punk headlined the indoor stage. And, of course, headliner Big Freedia’s frenetic NOLA bounce incited a sea of young, sexy flesh on stage, gyrating their lower halves with apocalyptic glee.
But for my money, the most startling performance was Spiritual Recess. Spiritual Recess is just one dude. One dude whose set was minimalistic, unrelenting noise; music stripped to its barest structures. All ideas of melody and pleasantness and reinforcement were expelled in the service of creating loud, abrasive sounds. When you listen to Spiritual Recess, you sort of have to forget whatever definition you have of music. Does that sound cliché? Hey, I was drunk and sentimental.