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MUSIC

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August 18, 2005
During these warm summer nights, as the sound of my mom's drunken boyfriend hitting the punching bag hung in the living room lays down a rhythm that lulls me to sleep, I can't help but reminisce about a simpler, more carefree time. I remember that in the afternoons I would strip down to my underwear to jump into the local swimming hole, splashing around for hours in the cool, pale blue water. In the evening, as the sunlight faltered, I would empty my mom's famous preserves out of mason jars and using the glass containers to catch buzzing, glowing fireflies and watching them in amazement as they glowed, just for me, until asphyxiation. One of my most precious memories is of the day that my dad kept his promise and got out of jail in time to take my sisters and me to Hellfest at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey.

Even in the rosy glow of my memories, however, things cannot be perfect. Once at the 'Fest, after circling the asphalt perimeter in vein for a reasonably priced parking spot, my dad and I left my sisters in the parking lot and began to argue about which bands to watch as we headed toward the gates. With one hundred and eighty bands spread out over three days on multiple stages overlaps were as unavoidable as the ensuing arguments over which set would offer the gnarliest pit and get us, as my dad would put it, the most "amped." The darkest of these arguments came was when I wanted to watch The Red Death, but my dad was dead set on seeing 3 Inches of Blood. Grabbing me by the arm, my old man drug me across the arena floor, dictating maniacally about the immense power of Advance and Vanquish, 3 Inches of Blood's newest album. Kicking wildly, I struggled to break his grasp, my eyes staring longingly at the stage where The Red Death was ripping through "Consciousness Decay."

But dad was having none of it. "3 Inches of Blood is a band to unite the tribes of mall rats, skaters, punks and bikers under one banner," he screamed into the frightened face of a pierced goth chick, quoting what was surely a statement from the band's website, which he had read in earnest from the Department of Corrections computer lab. I finally got my way by sneaking off to where the security guards were huddled near the soda machines and telling them that my dad was high on PCP. You should have seen the look on his face as he tried to explain that he was only drunk. It was even funnier when that straight edge kid kicked him in the neck for polluting his body as the rental cops dragged him out of the arena. Four hours later, after a piss test and several calls to his parole officer, the metal bars across the back doors of the paddy wagon were unlocked and dad was released with a stern warning from the local police. Needless to say, the ride home was very uncomfortable.

Of course none of that ever happened, because two days after my step-dad's-girlfriend and I picked him up outside the halfway house, the state police raided our storage locker and found the ounce of pot I left in there, along with the 20 or so cases of bourbon that my dad had stolen from a Korean grocer the day before. Less than 96 hours of freedom spanned the gap between dad's release and his re-incarceration, but as it turned out none of that mattered. The next day, citing their inability to meet "unreasonable demands" handed down by the administrators of Sovereign Bank Arena, who I'm sure are normally like really cool, Hellfest pulled the plug on itself, relegating my dreams to the isolation of my mind.

I'm trying to take it in stride though because next year, or whenever Hellfest stumbles back to it's feet, I plan on spending the whole time with my dad if he can get his parole going again. In fact, to make up for this year, I told him we would watch whomever he wants to, even It Dies Today. Everyone thinks that Hellfest is just about hard-core music and the hard-core community, but to my family it has always been about building a bond between my dad and I, my mom and her boyfriend getting a break for three days while we are gone, and my sisters hooking up with whatever cute band is playing on the Hot Topic stage. I can't wait for Hellfest to return. It's gonna' rule.

SEE ALSO: www.hellfest.com

--
Kevin Alfoldy
An aspiring global adventurer who cut his teeth on the sandy beaches and dirty bitches of Southern California, Kevin Alfoldy now spends his non-vacation days in Brooklyn, New York, where he occasionally finds the time to rub the crust out of his eyes long enough to contribute reviews and feature articles for LAS. A longtime staff member, Kevin also captains the tattered, often half-sunk raft of EPmd, our irregular column of EP reviews.

See other articles by Kevin Alfoldy.

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