High Octane: Summer Metal Fest 2017


Summer Metal Fest 2017

All good music begins in the garage. Music festivals, too.

“I did a show in my dad's garage last summer and started talking with one of the bands that played and started October Punk Fest last year,” said Ypsilanti-raised Ryan Wilcox, 37.

Wilcox has upped the mosh and morphed October Punk Fest into the Summer Metal Fest, which happens July 8 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds.

“This year the Farm Council Grounds was booked in October so we moved the date to July and changed the name,” Wilcox said. “I'm still deciding if I want to do both shows next year; I know for sure I will be doing Summer Metal Fest again.

While the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, best known for 4H events, antiques, and auctions, might seem an odd place to hold a metal festival, the space holds a special place in Wilcox’s family.

“My wife and I had our wedding there in 2012, so I was very familiar with them, it's a easy location to do a festival like this with the space to hold a big crowd,” he said. “I haven't had any difficulties doing the festival there, they have a lot of electrical hookups available so that makes it easy for the sound system needed.”

The sound system and renting the grounds are just two of the expenses Wilcox faces; paying 15 bands is another. It’s why he had to sell his car. “I had a 2005 GT Mustang I sold this year to be able to put together the Summer Metal Fest,” he said.

While there a dozens of subgenres in heavy metal -- death, tech, doom, etc. -- all the bands playing this festival are steeped in metalcore, a genre that often features screamed verses, sung choruses, and middle-section breakdowns. If you know SiriusXM, it's basically the Octane channel. “I listen to metal more than I do any other music genre so that played a big part in my decision” to book the festival this way, Wilcox said.

There are numerous bands from Michigan and Ohio playing Summer Metal Fest, as well as one from Indiana and one from the East Coast. “I had mostly bands from Michigan in the [October Punk Fest] I did last year, so I am very excited that this year I attracted bands from out of state,” Wilcox said. “It's amazing to see how driven all of these bands are, I have a full set list and more bands want to join the lineup. Convictions which is my headlining band, they recently did a big U.S. tour and a tour overseas.”

Europe is a long way from a garage in Ypsilanti.

1:00-1:30 Otiose
1:45-2:05 Collections
2:20-2:50 Echo Of Silence
3:05-3:35 OCEAN GRID
3:50-4:20 After The Ashes
4:35-5:05 I, Embodiment
5:20-5:50 Northern Shores
6:05-6:35 Five Hundredth Year
6:50-7:20 GHOST NATIVE
7:35-8:05 Ascendence
8:20-8:50 Art Of The Fallen
9:05-9:35 10/31
9:50-10:20 Of Virtue
10:35-11:35 Convictions

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.

Summer Metal Fest takes place Saturday, July 8, at Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor Saline Rd, Ann Arbor. Tickets are $12 in advance and $12 at the door. Parking is free.