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click to enlarge Bummerfest buttons - FROM THE COLLECTION OF BOB DORAN
  • from the collection of Bob Doran
  • Bummerfest buttons

It's back. Bummerfest, an all-day, all-local, all-indie, all-ages music festival returns to the basement of the Eureka Vet's Hall this weekend after a few years off.

The first Bummerfest took place in the summer of 2001. The kids who put on all-ages rock shows under the Placebo banner were without a venue, but bands wanting Humboldt gigs kept e-mailing them. Michelle Cable was going strong with Panache Magazine and related concerts, although she did not have a regular venue either.

"We had all these bands that wanted to play here in June," recalled Ryan Carlise, one of the founders of Placebo. "Michelle had a bunch of bands that wanted to come the same weekend."

By chance there was a music festival called Summerfest planned for Willow Creek in June (not related to the Mad River Summerfest of today) with metal bands and hip hop, the opposite of the indie rock bands favored by Placebo and Panache at the time. So as a joke, Bummerfest was born, conceived as an anti-summer rock fest.

"We decided to do it in the Vet's Hall basement, which is kind of a dark gloomy bummer space," said Carlise. "As it turned out, half the touring bands backed out and we ended up doing almost all local bands. In the following years we had more out-of-town bands and turned it into a two-day thing."

Chris Colland's band Audio Wreck played the first Bummerfest. The late Robb Rierdan played guitar in the band. "Robb was the one who came up with the name Bummerfest," said Colland. "We had an aversion to the whole butt rock attitude of Summerfest and wanted to poke fun at them and that whole sunburned scene. We even got dry ice so we could have fog inside."

In subsequent years the event flourished, outliving Summerfest and growing into an alt. extravaganza mixing locals with touring bands. Then after a last hurrah, a tribute to Rierdan (who'd died of a drug overdose) Bummerfest disappeared. Cable had moved Panache to New York; Carlise had moved to Portland. A couple of years ago they attempted a revival but found it too difficult to do from afar. 

Then earlier this year, former Placebo board member Devon O'Leary decided to bring it back. This being 2010, he started a Facebook group looking for help. Renee Davis and some others stepped up; they arranged to rent the Vet's basement on Aug. 21 and began assembling an all-local line-up including O'Leary's ska band Killbot Factory. Colland volunteered the services of his band, Eureka Garbage Company. But as of last Friday he was not sure if they're playing or not.

"We told them we'd do it, but they sent us an e-mail saying they didn't have room. That's funny: Here we helped start the festival, and I'm pretty sure we played every one of them, then we get shit-canned. Now I hear they're saying they have room because someone else cancelled. We never agreed to anything, and we haven't heard from them, so I don't know if we're playing."

Well, EKA Garbage is on the bill as set a week and a day before the fest, one of 18 bands playing on two stages with styles ranging from ska to alt. blues, alt. metal to death western, girl groups, boy bands and alt. who-knows-what. Variety guranted.

The Bummerfest schedule (as of Monday): Doors at 11 a.m. Scotch Wiggly (12:30), Chamber Fables 54 (1 p.m.), Killbot Factory (1:30), Children of the Sun (2 p.m.), The Wild Lungs (2:30), Oliver Brink Band (3), Neighbors (3:30), Big Days of Tundra (4), Jeeze Louise & The Lost Luvs (4:30), Madhammer (5), Enceledus (5:30), Out of Sheep (6), Sadistic Hallucinations (6:30), Manilapede (7), White Manna (7:30), Wet Fez (8), Eureka Garbage Company (8:30), The Monster Women (9 p.m.). 

The Placebo presents Bummerfest 2010 at the Eureka Veteran's Hall at 10th and H sts. on Saturday, Aug. 21. Proceeds go to the Placebo Collective and to the Youth Services Bureau RAVEN Project, serving homeless and at risk youth. Advance tickets are $10 at The Works and Missing Link Records. Admission at the door is $15. For more information check out the Bummerfest 2010 Facebook Group or

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

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

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