RPM Fest, the largest camp-out metal music festival in New England and something that many people in the Valley look forward to each year, is back and coming up quick. Friday, August 30, through Sunday, September 1, are jam-packed with over 50 bands spreading out overlapping sets on three stages. There are activities from metal yoga, game tournaments, and yard games to after hours activities like karaoke, video games, and movies on the big screen and so much more.
The vendors supporting the event range from yummy foods, treats, and drinks to comic books, art, jewelry, candles, and, of course, band merch. So bring spending money! Last year I was able to not only treat myself to some goodies, but I also got an early start on my holiday shopping.
I was able to catch up with Brian Westbrook, cofounder of RPM Fest and he gave me a little insight behind the scenes.
Valley Show Girl: This festival is huge, and there are so many elements involved, not just music. Can you touch on any issues you guys come across when putting something like this together?
Brian Westbrook: It’s a massive undertaking for sure! We start the planning process all the way back in January or February and establish a timeline for everything all the way up through the fest — ticket on sale date, band announcements, design and print deadlines, poster and ticket mailing, confirmations for sponsors and vendors. One issue we tend to have is getting bands or sponsors to confirm in time to have them included on the posters — we try to have those on hand two months before the fest, which means getting them to print two weeks before that, which means starting the layout two weeks before that, and often times we’re still working out last minute confirmations up until that point. Or vice versa, we send the posters to print and days later a band has to drop. It’s unfortunate, but what can you do?
VSG: What have you overcome in order to get these festivals to the public year after year. The spot in Montague is the second location for this festival, correct?
Brian: Correct. The fest was quite literally in my backyard in Greenfield for the first three years. My parents had a two-acre chunk of their property that we had cleared out years ago but had let overgrow. We spent an entire summer clearing the field, cutting down trees, pulling up stumps, and building two stages with the help of a ton of volunteers and band members from the local scene. The first two years of the fest were funded by Kickstarter campaigns and donations before we switched to a traditional ticket model in 2016. We ended up taking 2017 off to regroup and find a new location, as we were starting to outgrow the original site and it was clear we wouldn’t be able to continue there. 2018 was our first year at the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club in Montague and we’re returning there for our 2019 event.
VSG: Are there plans to continue with this space for next year, or is there something else in mind?
Brian: Our current plan is to keep RPM Fest at the Rod and Gun Club until at least 2022. Even then, I don’t see us outgrowing the site, and the club staff are great to work with, so hopefully we can continue there beyond that.
VSG: What’s the craziest moment to date that comes to mind first when you think about RPM’s memories?
Brian: Our very first RPM Fest back in 2014, we had King Parrot all the way from Australia on the bill. That came together in less than a month before the fest, and seeing their set and watching the crowd lose their minds was that first “holy shit, we pulled this off” moment. Beyond that, I love the spontaneous stuff that happens every year — watching my dog Tucker tear up a cardboard box in the middle of a circle pit, wiffle ball games at 2 a.m., Goblet doing a motorcycle burnout to open their set, the glowstick path through the camping area — it’s amazing to see stuff like that unfold organically.
VSG: This year is the fifth, (with one year in the middle that RPM didn’t happen) what does the future hold for this festival?
Brian: We’re already thinking about 2020, believe it or not! We have quite a few bands on our wish list, and we have some cool ideas for additional entertainment and activities that didn’t quite pan out this year, but we’ll be revisiting for sure.
VSG: What can you tell us about this year’s festivities, and what we can expect for vendors, bands, etc?
Brian: We have a trio of killer headliners this year: Psychostick, widely known for their mega-hit “BEER!” and wacky viral music videos; Inter Arma, fresh off the release of their album “Sulphur English” on Relapse Records; and Byzantine, cult favorites who have recently signed with Metal Blade.
For more information about tickets, parking, camping, etc, and for a full weekend lineup, go to rpmfest.org.
FRIDAY BANDS: Psychostick • Thoughtcrimes • Lich King • Bask • Disguise the Curse • OroborO • Conforza • Shadow Witch • Black Absence • Matt Kims Academy of Rock
SATURDAY BANDS: Byzantine • Swashbuckle • Stonecutters • Goblet • Carnivora • Kindling • Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre • Gwell-O • One Ton Tommy Gun • Cry Havoc • Necronomichrist • Heavy Necker • Inverter • Thunderforge • Bone Church • Virus of Ideals • High n’ Heavy • Deranged Youth • Matriphagy • The Steelface Circus
SUNDAY BANDS: INTER ARMA • Moon Tooth • MOBILE DEATHCAMP • HIVESMASHER • Netherlands – Band • Extinction A.D. • Protean Collective • Creeping Death • HarborLights • Husbandry • Problem With Dragons • Leather Lung • My Missing Half • Wasted Theory • Cyperna • Travel Amygdala • Crimespree • Jeopardy • PWRUP • DNZL
Activities: Karaoke and Metal Pub Trivia on Friday, late night afterparty on Saturday with Dirty Lil’ Sex Brats, Rainbowdragoneyes, and Pariah, Promotorhead Podcast on Sunday, Metal Yoga and game tournaments Sat/Sun morning, video games and movies on the big screen, and of course plenty of wiffle ball
Vendors: Food from CherryRail Farm and more, coffee from Dean’s Beans, treats from Crooked Stick Pops, and plenty of vendors selling comics, art, jewelry, clothing, music gear, candles, leather goods, and more.