Punk is alive and well in Wilmington. There’s never been a shortage of musical talent, but this week, the unsung of the underground genre will get their due reverence. The first ever Port City Anti-Fest gets underway this weekend to take the Port “Shitty” on a wild ride it’ll never forget. Taking place over three days and utilizing venues like Scrap Iron Bicycle Gallery, Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern and The Juggling Gypsy, the festival aims to prompt connectivity among music lovers of all walks of life.
“What led me to build a festival that celebrates punk rock music is purely a love for the music and again a desire to give something substantial to the punk rock scene here in Wilmington,” David Crainshaw, lead organizer for the festival, details. “Something we, as the punk scene, could call our own. Early discussions started as mere talk: ideas. I had the smallest seed of an idea for this well over a year ago, and finally that little dream of mine has come to fruition.”
The idea is a Punx Picnic of sorts, wherein all bets are off and raging against the machine is the name of the game. However, fostering a sense of community is still the primary goal. All musicians revel in the ability to feed off each other’s talent; and there certainly will be no shortage of camaraderie among festival-goers and performing acts.
“I want to foster a sense of community, friendship [and] connection amongst the music underground here in Wilmington,” Crainshaw says. “For all those that have never had a ‘home’ or a defined ‘place,’ I want all these musicians and fans to have a home. Home is where the heart is, and heart is what music has always been about for me.”
A Wilmington native for nearly 30 years, Crainshaw primarily has contributed to the local music scene as a diehard fan. This marks his first foray into booking, which he completed with the help of Absolute Zero Media Collective.
“I would like to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to them and also all those venues,” Crainshaw remarks. “The process of culling together the acts has been a tremendous amount of work. I can’t possibly take credit for all of that. Absolute Zero has been key in booking all these 40-plus acts. Suffice it to say, it’s been a lot of hard work all around.“
STAHRKLUBB—a California transplant making his name in experimental music—will be among performers. He was introduced to the techno/rave/extremely hardcore style of music by a friend named “Hugo,” who took him on a sonic path that diverged from his metal sensibilities. Though he likes music genres of all kinds.
“It was mostly interesting because I was a musician with no knowledge whatsoever of digital music,” Pierre Alfonso, the man behind STAHRKLUBB, says. “This was right at the edge of the totally digital age, back in the early-to-mid 2000s. As far as notable artists, there was a lot of Bjork, Benny Benassi (satisfaction), Steve Aoki/Dim Mak catching my attention in those days when I was a teenager.”
The alternative persona was officially formed after a trip to Canada. After living in Wilmington from 2009 to 2011, Alfonso felt the need to break away for a bit in 2013. His adventure in self-discovery led him to French Canada. It was there he concocted the idea of STAHRKLUBB. Upon his return, he decided to begin recording, which culminated in his self-produced “Rapist Fantasy/Soul Collector/God Killer.” He created the CD from 2010 to 2013, and had no original intentions of releasing the compiled music. It brings to life an “I don’t give a fucking shit about shit” attitude that meshes well with punk-dom. The sensibility was derived from the infulence of local acts like Baby Daddy and the guys from 910 Noise.
Now 24, the recording persona embodies many of the frustrations Alfonso experienced while in California: the streets, the real world, lack of funds, and the girls. As well, his music stems from a deep-seated love for the sonic additions to the video game “Grand Theft Auto.”
“I would always wish I could make some music that got promoted and put in that place (like a ‘GTA’ game) where people would get that atmosphere,” Alfonso proclaims. “Most of my overall inspiration/musical influence comes from the realities of the world. I know the realities of not having the resources to produce records.”
Looking toward the future Alfonso is unsure if he’ll record another album, but for now he’s content with being part of the musical communion that will be generated by Port City Anti-Fest. “I think it is a great experience and it will give everyone something to look back at later in life,” Alfonso says. “I love the teamwork and collaboration going on with this event!”
Likewise, local act Monkeyknifehight will be cranking out tunes at the event. The musical collective thrives on playing what they want to hear. Their divergent backgrounds—from guitarist/vocalist Johnny Bonobo’s Ireland punk-scene beginnings, to bandmember Charlie Smith’s history with skateboarding—formed as a two-piece in 2000. Featuring Charlie Smith and Josh Pearson, it has since undergone many line-up changes, resulting in the five-piece collective the band is today. From shots and beers and late-night dances to Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” album, their fortified friendship shapes their music and creates a band experience that’s more than just a gig. They’re a family, who, despite disparate backgrounds, is able to come together and rock out on a routine basis, especially around Wilmington venues. For 2015, they even have plans to release a new album, keeping their presence strong. Their over-a-decade career made them one of the first bands invited to be a part of Port City Anti-Fest. “I‘m looking forward to all of the out of town bands,” Smith details. “I’m hoping this could become an annual event.”
Port City Anti-Fest
Scrap Iron Bicycle Gallery
118-B Princess St.
Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern
1415 S 42nd St.
Juggling Gypsy, 1612 Castle St.