Rough reception

Inaugural Shredfest stirs up more controversy than crowds

Val-halla guitarist Robert Zakaryan.
Photo: Richard Brian

Last Saturday was a perfect day to melt your face off, but Vegas’ sometimes-scorching sun wasn’t to blame. Ten local metal bands performed at Shredfest 2008, touted as “the most brutal event of the year.” But maybe fans didn’t feel like being brutalized—at a smoke- and alcohol-free event, no less—at the Henderson Pavilion, and went to Bite of Las Vegas instead. Or perhaps they chose to spend their cash on a bad-ass homecoming, as multiple bands at Shredfest had fans—and members—still in high school.

Shredfest coordinator Mark Simmons said he organized the festival as a fundraiser to help local bands raise money for recording time and equipment. Bands selling the most tickets garnered first dibs on lineup position. “I think it’s awesome, but more people should have come out,” 17-year-old attendee Saturn R. said of the Shredfest concept.

Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson played emcee as bands gave it their all, despite a relatively small gathering of approximately 100 fans at the foot of the stage. Noteworthy performances included youngsters Val-halla (Simmons’ son plays guitar) and veteran headliner Kid Deposit Triumph, which played its final show before going on an indefinite hiatus and drew much of the remaining audience onto the stage during its night-capping set.

As the day wore on and the sparse crowd dwindled further, however, tensions began to arise. “This was supposed to be an event based on trust,” said Patrick Crisci from participating act DreamScar, upset when his band, among others, walked away empty-handed.

Reached on Monday, Simmons countered: “We had agreements that, first and foremost, [Shredfest] had to be paid for … Total costs were a heck of a lot more than people anticipated,” adding that he met with bands prior to the festival and that contracts were signed, stipulating that bands not selling a minimum of 100 tickets apiece would not qualify for compensation. In a follow-up e-mail on Tuesday, Simmons said he was personally out nearly $1,200 on the event.

According to Crisci, bands interested in playing Shredfest were required to pay $250 or secure an equivalent sponsorship, and were under the impression they would, at least, be returned that sum afterward. “Hopefully [Simmons] helps the bands out, and it’s not all about him and his boy’s band,” KDT’s Mike Otto said. “I don’t think this dude’s a bad dude, but now I have to explain to my band that we’re probably not going to get paid.”

If there’s a Shredfest 2, a smaller venue would probably make a lot more sense. For now, an event with seemingly good intentions has, at best, been marred by miscommunication and, at worst, bred some bad blood within the local metal scene.

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