Excuse the bad pun-but, given that it’s nine years, 187 bands and five stages strong, HELLFEST is damn straight the hottest ticket this month.

Story: Aaron Burgess

Shawn Van Der Poel talks about old-school hardcore with the enthusiasm of a 13-year-old who’s just come back from his first show-only Van Der Poel, president and founder of //radiotakeover and co-promoter (with festival co-founder Keith Allen) of the annual punk/metal/hardcore blowout Hellfest, has seen enough great bands come and go that, by all rights, he should be jaded. But no such luck…

“How can anyone say that bands like Bold, 108 and Outspoken weren’t godfathers of the scene today?” Van Der Poel says excitedly. “That’s why, this being [Hellfest’s] ninth year, we really wanted to push for reunions. Turmoil played their last show at Hellfest; Earth Crisis played their last show at Hellfest; so many great bands ended and started their careers at Hellfest. This year, we wanted to bring people back who started their careers laying the foundation for Hellfest. These guys, to me-even though meeting them many, many years ago and booking shows for them when I was younger was cool, working with them on this level and getting them to come back means so much to me as a hardcore kid.”

Looking at this year’s Hellfest lineup*, one gets the sense that Van Der Poel and Allen-himself an old-school hardcore kid, right down to the huge straight-edge X he’s got tattooed on each hand-must feel like the luckiest dudes on Earth. Besides reuniting the aforementioned hardcore icons, the pair also managed to broker reunions of straight-edge funnymen Good Clean Fun, Orange County metalcore pioneers Mean Season and, in a move that’s still got heads spinning in its massiveness, the classic lineup of Public Enemy. And those are just the ones they could announce as this issue of AP went to press.

“Public Enemy!” says Carl Severson, incredulously. Himself a Hellfest vet, Severson-who also owns the New Jersey-based indie label Ferret Music-is returning to the festival’s stage this year with the band he fronts, Nora. “The hardcore scene has stagnated lately, with regard to bands that actually have something to say. A lot of dudes bitch way too much about the scene or their girlfriends… [but] PE were always about something. I can’t wait to see how it works when you put those guys into the hardcore medium.”
One of the last surviving fests from the ’90s golden era that saw similar events like Krazy Fest and Furnace Fest competing for audiences, Hellfest has not only outlived its former counterparts; it’s surpassed them several times over. And to think it all started eight years ago in upstate New York, with just 30 bands, 300 fans and a hot room.

For the rest of the story, pick up AP 206 below…