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New York's Still Alright: An Interview With the Stellar Punk Festival's Organizer

Fest featuring some of the best band in punk today, begins on April 17th in NYC

photo by Tod Seelie (more of Dawn of Humans)

Thursday. April 17th marks the beginning of the second annual New York's Alright fest. Catering to the punk and hardcore crowd, New York's Alright will host over thirty bands from New York and around the world in various venues over the course of five days. In addition to being able to catch some of the best contemporary punk and hardcore outfits during the fests main shows, New York's Alright has also inspired a special record store day event at Heaven Street Records (where you may also purchase tickets to the festival), an Easter Egg hunt, a BBQ / punk market and several affiliated dance parties and after shows. Last year's New York's Alright made for some lovely memories such as great shows, gigantic brawls, general chaos, all night drug fueled mania and even every member of Goosebumps shitting themselves; according to front man Ray Dryburgh. We sat down with fellow Noisey writer, and one of the fests organizers, Reed Dunlea about this years' fest, punks talking shit on facebook events and learning how to navigate "the system".

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While there are still a few tickets left for some of the main shows, all shows are expected to sell out. Locals are encouraged to purchase tickets in store at Heaven Street Records (184 Noll Street at Flushing Avenue) in Bushwick, but out of town folks can still purchase tickets online via the links below.

NOISEY: What was your original intention with booking the festival? What role do you think a punk and hardcore fest in New York has in relation to the day-to day-local scene?
Reed Dunlea: The intention was simple. We are aware of what is happening right now in punk and we know that New York City is one of the hot spots of hardcore and punk in 2014. We wanted to highlight New York's place in punk now and have an opportunity to bring in bands that define their localities, a few international acts…

Are you trying to cater a bit more to locals or to people who are traveling here?
Hopefully both. A big draw for this fests are the New York City bands, so anyone from out of town can experience a lot of what our town is about. But everyone in New York City wants to see local bands like Dawn of Humans play anyway. I think what sets our punk festival apart from others is that we have been very deliberate about the audiences experience and comfort. We want to keep everyone happy. We formatted everything in a very specific way, making sure that there were no multiple shows happening at the same time, among other things. I think we kept in mind what would be easiest for out of town people as well as our friends here.

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I saw on the Facebook event that somebody caused quite a stir by commenting on the fact that New York City bands are headlining shows as opposed to touring bands. How can you speak to anyone who thinks that is wrong?
A shitty basement show is a legitimate thing, but this fest is on another level than that. This isn't about the standard formula of local bands play first and the out of town bands playing last. Bands are happy to play this fest no matter when they are playing because they are going to be playing in front of hundreds of people who are enthusiastic and they are going to be paid really well. We are taking care of the bands really well. We are paying them well, we are putting them up, we flew a bunch of people here, and all the bands can get into every main show for free. We are taking care of our bands. We are not worried about set orders making people happy.

I guess some people just see it as a sort of disrespect.
It's a big festival with a lot of people coming. We can't make everyone happy.

Can we address why Adam Whites, who helped to organize the festival and runs the Katorga Works label, did not want to interviewed about the fest? It seems that he doesn't want a punk Festival being published about for whatever reason, but is allowing it to happen in the end? Seems to be an age-old argument in punk.
He isn't being a fascist about it. He knows that I feel differently than him about this issue, but we are working on this together and we need to be flexible with one another. It's a lot of work and a lot of give and take. In any case, Punk now has a long history of involvement with mainstream culture and a real paranoia about how to do it. There are a lot of people who are involved with punk that think that any sort of involvement in a corporate structure is inherently wrong- and they have a fucking point. There are also people like myself who understand that Punk can be more than that. If you are doing anything that people are interested in- weather they are part of your scene or not and they want to talk about it you can either contribute to how you a represented and have a say in how things are talked about or say 'fuck that' but something is going to be said about what you are doing either way. I feel wanting to be pure and exclusionary, but do you want to set the tone about what is being said about punk or do you want someone who doesn't get it to set the tone. But other than VICE, what other major media outlets want to cover a shitty DIY punk fest? When an opportunity presents its self, don't you want to control how shit goes down? I know that a lot of punks don't always want to involved in mainstream culture yet they work shitty jobs at a restaurant or something, bringing fancy food to the kinds of capitalist society, selling bananas harvested by slave labor. Look, this world is fucking evil. This is a disgusting place. You do need to be careful about how you want to navigate your life in this world. Props to you if you don't want to involve yourself in certain things but you have to acknowledge that are involved already.

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Le Possion Rouge seems like a really unlikely place to hold a punk fest. It's really swanky, sterile and expensive. Why did you guys decide to host the bigger shows at LPR? Place doesn't feel punk. It doesn't feel like you can go off and get freaky there at all.
They allow people to go off and have fun. They don't have security on the stage. They let us run the show. You can basically do whatever you want there. Don't set off fireworks or break bottles…

But man, the beer there is so expensive.
Well, where else can we host 700 people? We don't have the means to host that many people. If it were a perfect world, I would love to have every show at a warehouse in Bushwick. But we don't have the resources to make that happen. There is no DIY venue that can accommodate what is necessary for us to pull this all off. They have a full staff there so it is a minimal headache for us and they let us do what we want, that is the bottom line. We are pragmatics because we have to be. We will throw more punk shows at DIY places where there are not an extra 500 people in town to attend the shows. Sure, beers cost too much money and I am sorry that everyone has to pay five dollars for a Rolling Rock but sneak in a flask or some shit. Get drunk before you get there. Take drugs. If punks wanna get fucked up, they are going to get fucked up.

I guess the next step is opening another DIY venue that is as big as 285 Kent was or bigger.
I've been looking into doing that for a long time, but I just don't have the money or the time or the business chops to pull something like that off and no one that I know does either. In the meantime, we got to make concessions. Pay a little more for tickets; be in a weird venue we might not like. And sorry if you don't have twenty bucks to go to a show, but you probably fucking do, actually. People are spending money like fucking crazy here, and most of it goes to booze and food and cab rides. Every once in a while it's not the worst thing to shell out a little extra cash to see some of the best punk in the world. If you don't want to, that is too bad. Don't.

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Who are you most looking forward to seeing?
Every band is amazing. We curated this fest very specifically and there is not a single band playing this fest that I am not stoked to see. That being said, there are a hand full of bands that I have not ever seen or I have not been able to see that much. I am really excited to see Lumpy and the Dumpers. Martin is a true freak of the underground in the realest way. I am stoked to see Infernoh. I can't wait to see the Inmates play New York City again. Gas Rag. La Misma. But I am excited to see every single band.

Did you guys have to do anything differently this year? Did you have to learn from any mistakes?
No major issues last year, but we scaled back a little bit. We shaved down the shows a little bit so it could be a more user- friendly experience. By Sunday last year, I didn't even think I could make it to the last show. I was so partied out. Yah, and that is why instead of doing a matinee and a night show on Sunday, we just did a five band late afternoon show. With an Easter egg hunt and a punk market. Gonna have a BBQ too. We saw the few minor problems that we had last year and worked those kinks out.

What were some of your favorite memories from last year?
Everyone going to Tommy's Tavern after Saint Vitus shut down the Nuts show. The ABC No Rio show was some seriously posi shit. Glancing around the room, everybody was just smiling and stoked and sober. It was cool. It was the first time that Una Bestia played in the states and they blew everyone away. Drapetomania, S.H.I.T., Birth Deformities and Sad Boys were killer too. The insane dance party at 285 Kent after the last Sunday show was chill. I wish I wasn't loading out gear the whole time.

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Thursday, April 17th

Dawn of Humans

S.H.I.T.

Sadicos

Blotter

Goosebumps

@ The Wick (260 Meserole St)

Brooklyn, NY

8pm, $20, All Ages

tickets: http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/488571?utm_medium=bks

-Friday, April 18th

Inmates

Anasazi

Omegas

Warthog

Proxy

Mercenary

@ Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleeker Street)

New York, NY

5pm, $20, All Ages

tickets: http://www.lepoissonrouge.com/lpr_events/new-yorks-alright-april-18th-2014/

-Friday, April 18th

Zyanose

La Misma

Aspects Of War

Life Chain

@ The Acheron (57 Waterbury Street)

Brooklyn, NY

Aftershow, $10, 18+

no advance tickets

-Saturday, April 19th

Blazing Eye

Nomad

No

Pleasure Industry

@ ABC No Rio (156 Rivington Street)

New York, NY

2pm, $10, All Ages

no advance tickets

-Saturday, April 19th

Infernöh

Crazy Spirit

Gas Rag

Wiccans

Stoic Violence

Murderer

@ Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleeker Street)

New York, NY

5pm, $20, All Ages

tickets: http://www.lepoissonrouge.com/lpr_events/new-yorks-alright-april-19th-2014-2/

-Saturday, April 19th

School Jerks

Lumpy & The Dumpers

Varix

Creeping Dose

@ The Acheron (57 Waterbury Street)

Brooklyn, NY

Aftershow, $10, 18+

no advance tickets

-Sunday, April 20th ("BBQ & Market")

Hank Wood & the Hammerheads

Die

Savageheads

The Impalers

Razorheads

@ The Wick

Brooklyn, NY (260 Meserole St)

4pm, $20, All Ages

tickets: http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/488581?utm_medium=bks

Complete list of bands playing New York's Alright:

Anasazi (NYC)

Aspects of War (Boston)

Blazing Eye (Los Angeles)

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Blotter (Austin)

Crazy Spirit (NYC)

Creeping Dose (NYC)

Dawn of Humans (NYC)

Die (London)

Gas Rag (Chicago)

Goosebumps (NYC)

Hank Wood & the Hammerheads (NYC)

Impalers (Austin)

Infernöh (Malmö)

Inmates (Cleveland)

La Misma (NYC)

Life Chain (Halifax)

Lumpy & the Dumpers (St. Louis)

Mercenary (Atlanta)

Murderer (NYC)

No (London)

Nomad (NYC)

The Omegas (Montreal)

Pleasure Industry (NYC)

Proxy (Montreal)

Razorheads (New Brunswick)

S.H.I.T. (Toronto)

Sadicos (Los Angeles)

Savageheads (Boston)

School Jerks (Toronto)

Stoic Violence (Los Angeles)

Varix (Minneapolis)

Warthog (NYC)

Wiccans (Austin)

Zyanose (Osaka)