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Bummer in the Summer 

The alt. fest returns

It's back -- again. The not-quite-moribund Placebo Collective marks the 10th anniversary of Bummerfest this weekend, expanding the all-ages, all-local alt. music event into a two-day marathon.

For those who don't remember Placebo, we offer a brief history. Founded by a group of teens in 1999 in an Arcata warehouse, the youth organization's worthy goal was to create a space where those under 21 can enjoy music and other arts activities in a drug- and alcohol-free environment.

In 2001, the Placebo joined forces with music promoter Michelle Cable of Panache Magazine fame to put on an all-ages alt. music fest in the basement of the Eureka Vet's Hall. Since it took place on the same weekend as a fun-in-the-sun rock/rap event called Summerfest (not the same one currently in operation), they dubbed the party Bummerfest.

In part because the Placebo kids were not experienced in dealing with bureaucrats and in part because the music they enjoyed tended to be loud, Placebo's own venues ended up getting kicked out of Arcata, then Manila, then a warehouse in Eureka. Through it all, they continued the annual Bummerfest, always in the basement of the Vet's Hall. The group's last viable home of its own was in the Ink People's space in the back of the Muni. The January 2010 earthquake that shook Eureka closed that building and Placebo was once again homeless. By then they'd lost steam -- it looked like the end. Then last summer, Devon O'Leary, who'd served on the Placebo board back in the day, decided to revive the four-years-dead Bummerfest.

"I'd always loved the Placebo and Bummerfest," said O'Leary, who has played the fest in various bands over the years. "I took over as program manager for Placebo, and one of the first things I worked on was reviving Bummerfest, which was always our most high profile event." Bummerfest 2010 did not exactly revive Placebo, but it pulled together a few dedicated volunteers, Renee Davis, Chris Allen and Chastity Blade among them, enough for another Bummer.

The word went out in February, a date was chosen, the hall was rented and before they knew it, bands were volunteering to play, enough for two days of non-stop music.

"We actually had to turn a few away because we had so much interest," said O'Leary. He admits, "The future of Placebo is still up in the air, but we're hoping Bummerfest will serve as a catalyst to bring new people in."

What do they have planned? "It's really eclectic musically," said O'Leary. "Part of the fun is discovering new bands and helping build a fan-base for bands who haven't played outside their genre comfort zone.

"We'll have Food Not Bombs doing food again; Humboldt Free Radio Alliance will be back with pizza, again, and the vets will be doing hot dogs and burgers." (The veterans also have a full bar across the hall for those 21 and over.) "It should be fun," O'Leary concluded.

Bummerfest 2011 takes place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 20 and 21, in the basement of the Eureka Veteran's Hall (10th and H streets) with doors at noon both days, music at 1. Admission is $10 a day, $15 for both days. Advance tickets are available at local record stores, just $12 for a weekend pass.

The line-up (subject to change):


1 p.m. The King Salmon Duo

1:30 - Quit Bitch'n

2:15 - Rick Fugate

3 p.m. - Mason Bell

3:45 - Terrorist

4:30 - Manilapede

5:15 - Savage Mentality

6 p.m. - Radios In Caves

6:45 - Pleats and Pockets

7:30 - Medicine Ball

8:15 - Out of Sheep

9 p.m. - The Monster Women

9:45 - Eureka Garbage Company


1 p.m. - The Tweeners

1:30 - knot They're

2:15 - IRB

3 p.m. - NEVER DIE

3:45 - Killa Bandits

4:30 - Bitch Doctor

5:15 - The Revocateurs

6 p.m. - Silent Giants

6:45 - Neighbors

7:30 - Chamber Fables 54

8:15 - Jeeze Louise & the Lost Luvs

9 p.m. The Smashed Glass

9:45 - Les Singes de la Mer

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About The Author

Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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