Post. Festival’s Organizers Explain Why the Midwest is the Perfect Place for Post-Rock (Plus Single-Day Tickets & Set Times)

In case you missed it, we announced a couple of months ago that Heavy Blog will be sponsoring Post. Festival, the US’s only (and thus also premier) major post-rock/metal/whatever festival on October 19th and 20th at Indiana City Brewery Co. in Indianapolis, IN. The festival is shaping up to be an incredible event, featuring the likes of The Appleseed CastOutrun the SunlightHeronThis Patch of Sky, and far more. Full weekend passes have been on sale for a while, but we are happy to share that single day tickets are officially available for purchase on the fest’s website. All set times for both days are also now available, which you can find at the bottom of this post.

Before we get to that though, I wanted to talk to the festival organizers about what fans can expect from the weekend, about what makes holding a post-rock festival in the US a more daunting challenge than in Europe, and about why they believe the genre of post-rock is as strong as it’s ever been and only getting stronger. I asked these questions to the two founders of the event, Indiana natives Derek Vorndran and Nason Frizzell, as well as David Zeidler (Young Epoch PR and contributor for our friends over at Arctic Drones) and CJ Blessum (A Thousand Arms and Ranges), who are also organizers. Their responses were in-depth, incredibly thoughtful, and, at times, blunt, but all closely echo much of the ethos of what Eden and I have attempted to carry through in our coverage of the music here.

Nick Cusworth: To ask the most obvious question, how did this all get started? Who came up with the idea for Post. Festival, and how did it turn from an idea into reality?

Nason Frizzell:  Post. Festival has been a topic Derek and I have been kicking around for a few years now.  With events like Vivid, ArcTanGent, Dunk! and Dunk!USA all doing a wonderful job for the genre, we felt it was time for the Midwest USA to see if we could also support the bands and fans. Selfishly it was about seeing and playing with the bands we loved from the US, some that don’t get nearly enough attention globally. Our initial goal was to showcase the Midwest, entirely, but quickly found out there was a huge interest from bands and fans across the United States. We have been very lucky to form long distance relationships and partnerships with many passionate fans/connected individuals that helped us groom our idea into what is now happening in October.

David Zeidler: Derek and Nason approached me at some point after the idea was hatched and a few of the bands had been booked, asking for some advice and ultimately we formed a partnership. I suggested a few bands, helped get a few others booked, wrote some copy for promotional material and will be acting as a co-promoter, but this has been a far less hands-on process for me than dunk!usa was. There was a lot involved in that process that I never expected to have hands-on – booking, contracts, payments, accommodations, artist management, the whole nine. Those things are mostly for Derek and Nason to handle on Post. Festival.

NC: David and CJ, you both were heavily involved in organizing the last big post-rock festival in the US, dunk!USA. What did you learn from that experience, and what do you think differentiates Post. Festival from that?

DZ: I learned that festivals are a LOT of work. All told, it took about a year and a half to get dunk!usa from an idea to a reality, and that’s just starting from the moment when I got involved. In Summer 2017 I was working 50 hours a week at my day job and probably another 35 hours a week doing dunk!usa things as well as a handful of PR gigs and Arctic Drones pieces. It was wild and I was always on the verge of burning out. For a “small festival” it was still a huge undertaking. We shot for a dunk!festival-like venue, in terms of cap per room, and that turned out to be a tough expectation to fulfill, especially for a first year festival in unfamiliar territory. What I like about the Post. Festival concept is how we’re keeping it on the small side — the venue we’re using is 250-cap, so it’s going to have much more of a small-gig vibe, except with a ton of bands spread over two days.

CJ Blessum: dunk!USA was a great experience in all facets. Getting the opportunity to come alongside the dunk!festival people and learn the ins and outs of what makes a festival successful was invaluable.  What those guy do in Belgium is profound and is 100% the pinnacle of how a festival should be run. In the past few years, it has become very evident to me that the way Europe treats the post-rock scene is considerably different than the way America treats the post-rock scene. It’s a little tiresome to continue to rag on the States for this, but it does require those of us putting on festivals, touring in post-rock bands and selling music to dig in a little deeper and do the extra work necessary to help get the energy and excitement Europe has for this type of music to start to resonate here. Getting the opportunity to partner A Thousand Arms with Post. Festival is another chance for us to continue to foster this scene and help it bloom. While the scale of this festival is much smaller than dunk!USA the mentality is the same and the passion for the music is the same. I’m really looking forward to seeing the end result and hopefully continuing to build this festival and the scene in general here in America.

NC: I know my coastal elitism is probably showing, but I was genuinely surprised to see this take place in Indianapolis, which is not a city I associate with much beyond sports. What makes you think Indianapolis will be a great place to host a music festival like this?

DZ: The answer here is pretty simple: Derek and Nason conceived of the festival, and they live in Indianapolis. But to expand a little bit, there is a really strong collection of bands from the Midwest, and I think we all did a great job of pulling together those artists and giving them a showcase. It’s kind of the same thing that we said about Burlington for dunk!usa — cities like Austin, LA, Chicago, Boston, they already have their festivals. Cities like that certainly don’t need MORE music festivals. You just become another number at that point. We like that Indianapolis is a unique location and are really hoping that attendees dig the city when they arrive, and that the Post. Festival gives them a reason to want to come back again and again.

CB: Coming from Montana, anywhere is pretty much better when it comes to this type of music. Don’t get me wrong, I love Montana and wouldn’t leave it for the world, but when it comes to festivals centered around instrumentally focused music, Indianapolis sounds wonderful. The midwest is also packed full of really great bands and the geographical location does make some sense as Indianapolis is more centrally located.

Derek Vorndran:  Nason and I reside in Indianapolis, so this was a big deciding factor to book Post. in our hometown. Indianapolis is surrounded by a lot of major Midwest cities, and can be an easy commute for most fans to attend. Indiana not only has a diverse and growing music community. It is home to some of the best major indie labels in the industry (Joyful Noise, Secretly Canadian, Dead Oceans, Jagjaguar), online retail music giant Sweetwater, and a fast-expanding food and craft beer scene. Not to mention, Indianapolis is a great cost effective city to visit compared to our coastal friends.

NF: I will mirror Derek’s response a bit. I am very proud of Indianapolis and the Midwest for what we offer when it comes to culture, food and beer. Although our “big city” rivals boast more of each, I am excited to see our visitors’ reaction to how we do things here. We believe Indianapolis is the perfect place for fans from all over the United States to come together to experience an event.  If you draw a 5-hour circle around Indianapolis you have some of the best “post” music the USA has to offer, so it made sense to start it here. The response has been amazing and our hunch was absolutely correct- over 80% of our tickets sales have been from both either the East or West coast.

NC: Aside from the fantastic and diverse lineup, what should fans expect from Post. Festival? What is the general vibe you’re going for, and what sort of experience are you hoping attendees will have?

NF: The fans will truly make the vibe and experience happen, no doubt.  Luckily, post-whatever fans have shown that they are the most compassionate and loving fans of their genre. I have forged so many relationships with the band members and fans from all over the world over the past few years and am eager to meet everyone in Indianapolis. I believe this will feel a bit like a tinder date meets a family reunion (shit.. Is that weird?) for most of the people attending and I pumped to be a part of it. We are also lucky enough to add the incredible beer of Indiana City Brewery into the mix to give this “reunion” a celebratory feel.

CB: A Thousand Arms will be facilitating the merch booth and, like dunk!USA, we will be bringing as much vinyl and CDs as we can along with exclusive merch for Post. Festival and Heavy Blog Is Heavy. Our selection is continually growing so there’s a huge opportunity for people to check out some physical music formats in between sets. We also have a handful of really exciting new releases coming out on A Thousand Arms Music in the next month or so and we hope to have physical copies available at Post. Festival.

NC: Given the sheer number of music festivals for literally all genres and sub-genres of music under the sun in the US, why do you think there haven’t been more festivals here focused on post-rock and metal despite the raging success or interest in European festivals like Dunk! and Vivid?

DZ: This country is fucking huge, man. I think that’s a major factor, especially when you’re dealing with niche genres like we are. When you’re in Europe, it’s manageable to get to Zottegem for dunk!festival from most other surrounding countries. Air travel inside of Europe is reasonably priced, and you can literally drive through a couple of countries in a single day to get to a festival like the ones they have over here. You can’t do that in the United States and it makes things complicated. It cost $1050 to fly from California to Burlington. You just can’t reasonably expect the average person to be able to make that trip, even if they adore post-rock. So I think that’s one factor as to why.

But also – and it really sinks in once you’ve been to Europe – things are just different in the States. Modern post-rock has a lot of roots in America. Bands like Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, Russian Circles, Pelican, Caspian, they’re all American bands that set the template for the majority of post-rock that you’ve been hearing for the past decade. But a lot of people here just aren’t as vigilant when it comes to attending shows as what I’ve seen in Europe. The Europeans just seem to support the arts more vibrantly and naturally; it seems to be more ingrained in the culture. When I was touring around France and Germany and Belgium with Ranges back in May, they played a handful of early-to-mid week shows where there were anywhere from 50-110 people in the crowd, and you’d see kids, grandparents, and everything in between. We’re really trying with all of our efforts to allow this music to shine and to be appreciated in the way it deserves, but like anything niche, it’s still a process. Obviously, there are great, dedicated fans all over the United States, but that circles back to the sheer size of the country. It’s not easy to get people from all over to travel to a single location for a niche festival. That’s why it’s great that this festival is being conceived as a more intimate event. Especially in Year 1, it’s important to not shoot for the moon right off the bat, but rather to craft a reputation with a great product and let it grow bit by bit from there.

NF: Along with the distance, I think it’s partly due to the fickle nature of music fans in the United States. I cannot speak for anything EU, but I can attest to the hardships of grinding out shows for minimal fanfare. On the bright side, I feel a groundswell in the Midwest with a yearning for our genre. Indianapolis has long been a Metal Mecca and it only makes sense that subgenres like doom, stoner and post-rock have been received well. Being in a self-proclaimed “dadband”, it’s been amazing to see the change in our scene’s focus and the level of support we have received over the past few years. We don’t always have time to be fans in attendance, because we are being pulled thirty different ways, but when it can happen — it’s always an awe-inspiring night (or day). I think the age group that generally attends our type of shows are in the same boat, so it’s hard to get down on anyone that loves to support live music, when they can. Additionally, the Post subgenre is one that cannot be faked, especially live, so it is one where the fans are more passionate and appreciative of a live performance.

 

NC: Eden and I have been making the argument for years now that in spite of the naysayers who claim post-rock/metal is dead, the music has been steadily moving forward and becoming stronger. This is in no small part because of people like you all with what labels like A Thousand Arms, PR outlets like Young Epoch, and compatriot blogs like Arctic Drones have done to build a real community and platform for bands in the scene across the country and beyond. Is this something you feel on your end as the ones driving a big piece of the community, and how do you keep the momentum going?

DZ: Here’s the deal, man — let me use horror films as an example, because that’s my other area of expertise. I adore 1970s horror films, but I also hate when people say that horror is dead in the present day. Once an era has passed, it immediately has the benefit of selective audience memory. Horror fans right now have to suffer in real time through every awful “Slender Man” or whatever other dumpster-fire flicks are coming out, so it’s easy to look back at the 70s and think about Halloween and Dawn of the Dead and Texas Chain Saw Massacre and say, “Man, everything was great back then, they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” But that’s a load of crap, and they’re just forgetting all the terrible films that also came out during that era, just as time itself has forgotten them. There are few things easier to do than look at the past with rose colored glasses, but there are also few perspectives that are more damaging to modern creative works. Falling back on the old “the past is where it’s at” belief stifles one’s ability to grow as a fan. It’s easy to listen to the same Godspeed [You! Black Emperor] and Mogwai records you’ve always loved, but those albums aren’t going anywhere. Please take the time and go listen to Outlander, or Winter Dust, or Old Solar, or any of the tons of other amazing bands out there doing intriguing work. This genre begs for continued discovery.

The fact of the matter is this — in 2002 there were a barely more than a handful of post-rock bands. Now there are more than you could ever count. That alone proves the genre is ever growing. But it also ensures that there is going to be more mediocre material to wade through. That’s what makes our jobs ever more important — people like ourselves are crazy enough to work through all the material and pull out the stuff that has real value. We just have to keep doing that and hope that listeners find artists to grab hold of. With A Thousand Arms, the Post. Festival, the expanding dunk! brand, and for myself with Young Epoch, we are just looking to help support and build up the music we enjoy, and it seems like we’re doing a pretty decent job thus far, even though there’s still so, so much more work to do.

CB: One of our many mantras at A Thousand Arms is to “stay the course”.  We’re not going to blow this thing wide open in the span of a year, it is going to take a lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of patience to keep it growing. The return is not always instant or even obvious, but all of us share the same passion and the same vision of where this scene can go if given enough fostering. We love what we do and we love to see it actually working on multiple levels, be it new listeners buying a record or listening to a compilation, or in the form of festivals popping up around the country.

Post-rock is nowhere near dead, it’s only dead to those who are afraid to spend some time investigating and seeking out new, lesser-known bands. There is a ton of talent out there and every year we are trying to expose this talent to more and more people not just in the States but across the world.  From compilations to festivals to releasing records on our label, the whole point of this is continue to grow and hopefully entice a few new people to actually take some time to invest themselves in it as well.

NF: Working with incredible partners like CJ and David have made it apparent that the genre is most certainly not dead. It is definitely evolving, which means it is growing. If we stayed with the formula started by the “holy trinity” of post-rock, shit would get so boring.  I was sucked into the genre about 5 years ago, coming from a very indie rock background. I never understood post-rock, besides using it to chill, until I dug deeper.  Now, I can attest to the emotion conveyed in the music makes me feel more connected than a standard “verse, chorus, bridge song” could ever do for me. We are so lucky to be able to be a part of CJ’s “stay the course” in a small way and hope it continues to grow stronger for many years. Globally, it has been wonderful to connect, listen to and experience music from every country in the world. Post-rock has a reach most major genres can’t touch — the emotion of the actual music can connect a guy from Podunk, USA to a group in Jakarta, Indonesia eternally.

 

NC: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Post. Festival?

DZ: I mean, it goes without saying that I’m excited to see everyone, but my zero-bullshit, non-diplomat answer is Heron. Those guys really knocked my socks off last year, and You Are Here Now still stands as one of the best post-rock releases I’ve heard in the past couple of years. I’ve already seen Lume play in Burlington this year, and it’s officially time for a way wider audience to get on board for them. A dark horse would be Seeress, though. Not many people know them, but when we featured them on last year’s “Open Language, Vol II” comp they may have the been the band that got the strongest response from listeners. I got a ton of messages from fans, and from other artists, who were all shocked that they had never heard of them before. They have a huge, heavy sound and I am incredibly excited to see how that translates to a live setting.

 

CB: Zaius is top on my list.  Their latest album Of Adoration is incredible.  Man Mountain is another band who just put out a killer record and is always enjoyable live.  I think what is most exciting is that there really isn’t a band on the bill that I’m not looking forward to seeing.

 

DV: Of course, I’m literally excited for every band we have on the bill and think we couldn’t have done a better job getting the bands we did.  One of the main bands we had to have this first year was The Appleseed Cast. They are one of my favorite bands of all time and we had to have them play. I can’t wait to see them again and extremely happy they will be apart of this fest.


NF: Growing up to “End of the Ring Wars” to actually playing with them a few years back, The Appleseed Cast is the obvious answer for me, but This Patch of Sky gets my vote. TPOS has become an integral part of our Festival and have stayed very involved. I’m not saying they are “teacher’s pet”, but I am saying they sincerely love their fans and the genres we are trying to support.  Their passion for what they do has created a new level of appreciation for me for their music. I could say that about many of the other bands (Heron, Outrun the Sunlight, Staghorn, Man Mountain, Shipwreck Karpathos) and hope this doesn’t rub anyone the wrong way, honestly.  Fanboy in me is also very excited to see Lume and Coastlands — I love Lume’s newest album and can’t wait for Coastlands to drop the new one on us by October!

NC: If there’s anyone reading this who’s on the fence about attending Post. Festival, what final elevator pitch would you give them to buy a ticket?

DZ: I’ll tell people the same thing that my girlfriend told me when I was telling her how badly I wanted to go see Cave In, Isis, Pelican and Old Man Gloom at the Caleb Scofield Tribute in LA this October, but wasn’t sure if I should pull the trigger: stop being an asshole and just do it. It may sound like a dick thing to say, but when you think about it, you only have precious few opportunities to experience things that you love. If you want to go, just go. These kinds of events don’t exist perpetually. They need support from fans. If 250 people turn up this year then we’ve got a success on our hands and we build forward in utter confidence. If 250 people decide “well, I dunno, it sounds amazing but…maybe next year…” what they may be forgetting is that next year isn’t always guaranteed. As I can happily say about all of the events I’ve been involved with, the product is on point. All we need is the attendance and we’re off to the races.

CB: It would be easier to just sit at home and listen to all of these bands on Spotify. Might take a few minutes to build a playlist, but eventually, you could just pop the entire festival playlist on your stereo and sit back and enjoy it in the solitude of our own house. But, you’d be missing out on what makes this genre so special. Sure the music is great, but when you boil it all down, it’s the people involved that make festivals like this unforgettable. This could be your once in a lifetime opportunity to share a moment with a group of people you have never met before but somehow, for reasons unexplainable, this group feels like an extended family you’ve known forever. It’s something you just have to experience.

NF: A chance to fellowship with like-minded fans and bands that all share the same enthusiasm about the genre is a definite reason to show up. We set this up as a small gathering, because we couldn’t think of any other way to have it. If you have not purchased a weekend pass, my sincere hope is you pick up a single day ticket to experience the only event this year to promise the best bands of the genre together in one place. We did this for us, as a fanbase, so we can create something together that will hopefully continue to grow in the future.  We can’t grow without making this first year the best it can be.

You can find more information about Post. Festival and purchase tickets at their website and on Facebook. The festival’s full lineup and set times are below. Also, if you are planning on attending, keep your eye out for some of our beautiful shirts, which will be provided by A Thousand Arms!

Friday, October 19th:

6:00 – Bullet Points
7:00 – Staghorn
8:00pm – Coastlands
9:00pm – PILLARS
10:00pm – Heron
11:00pm – The Appleseed Cast

Saturday, October 20th:

2:00pm – March On, Comrade
3:00pm – Minor Movements
4:00pm – Seeress
5:00pm – Zaius
6:00pm – Metavari
7:00pm – Man Mountain
8:00pm – Shipwreck Karpathos
9:00 – Lume
10:00pm – This Patch of Sky
11:00pm – Outrun the Sunlight

Comments

"We're all fools, all the time. It's just we're a different kind each day. We think, I'm not a fool today. I've learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we're not perfect and live accordingly." - Ray Bradbury






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