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Fort Carnage Festivals Speak to Fort Collins' Love of Hardcore

Fort Collins currently has one of the largest growing music scenes in all of Northern Colorado. With many young artists on the rise, FoCo is hearing new sounds and seeing scenes all the time.

One of the most recent and rapidly growing scenes has been Fort Collins’ hardcore scene. Hardcore is a subgenre of punk which sprung up in the 1970s, typically defined by fast, noisy riffs and heavy breakdowns. Paired with loud and screaming vocals, hardcore shows are optimal for wild mosh pits and friendly violence.

Owing largely in part to the local nonprofit Blast N Scrap, there has been an incredible increase in hardcore shows happening in town since 2019. Wherever you go, hardcore, punk, and metal are typically more niche genres- however, the people have been embracing these with open arms.

Beginning in July of this year, 2022, a new brand of hardcore shows has sprung up in Fort Collins - the Fort Carnage Festival series. Taking place at the Lyric Cinema, one of the most loved venues in town, Fort Carnage featured thirteen bands, seven local and six out of town. In the heat of the summer sun, dozens of people gathered on the Lyric’s lawn. The smell of mosh-pit, sweat, and love permeated the air, mixed with the sound of heavy guitars and guttural screams of monstrous, bassy joy.

The first Carnage festival took place on July 10, and lasted from 2-8pm. Local bands Dead Beat, Victim of Fire, Copper Teeth, Opposition Agent, Flahoola, Nightwalker, and As We Rise, as well as traveling bands Oros, Necrosophik Abyss, Skoldvagg, Condemned to Burn, Atomic Shine, and Upper Cut, took over both the Lyric’s outdoor screen and patio stages. With two stages, there was not a moment in those six hours without music.

The turnout for the first Carnage was incredible. The festival, which was officially a fundraiser for the local non profit Blast n Scrap, saw over a hundred people, and made more than two thousand dollars in donations - a record high.

Many of those who attended are and have been part of Fort Collin’s hardcore community for a long time. Many of them know each other, and are close friends. Besides those who are always attending hardcore shows in town, the Lyric saw many new faces that day.

Even in a constantly growing community, new faces can sometimes be rare. With a community full of people who all know each other, it can sometimes feel hard to get ‘in.’ But Fort Collins has one of the most welcoming communities ever.

As with every Blast n Scrap show, Fort Carnage was infused with a feeling of love. Old and new friends embraced each other while moshing in the hot July air. New and out of town bands were celebrated with as much excitement as bands who have been around since the very beginning.

July 10th was the first of three Carnage festivals. The second, More Carnage, took place on August 21st. Featuring bands Blood of Lilith, Watching People Drown, Lungburn, Sludgebroker, Human Paint, JBats, Teratanthropos, Gone Full Heathen, Knife Band, The Leshen, Warcrown, Merekai, local hardcore/sludge band Old Skin headlined, closing out another six hours of moshing and rampant celebrations.

. Three years ago, Old Skin’s debut show was one that helped birth such a lively scene in Fort Collins. Late 2019 was when Blast n Scrap started putting on shows, and seeing an increase in attendance. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, things were thrown a little off course.

“When we came back, our first show, I couldn’t for the life of me get any Fort Collins bands to sign on- I was like, this is not a good sign. But I got some solo Fort Collins acts and Gone Full Heathen, and it was at least a hundred and fifty people that showed up,” said Mic Gorror, who has run Blast n Scrap since the beginning. “The following week was what was known as Deranged at the Grange. Three new hardcore bands in town made their debut- Old Skin, Violent High, and Opposition Agent. It was like, oh man. It’s not gonna work at this building anymore, because the neighbors hate us, but this is gonna work.”

And it did work. Closing out the Carnage Festival series, Carnage III: Carnage Asada took place on September 25th. With an additional third stage, and Live Beyond Limit delivering mind-blowing aerial performances, Carnage Asada was an experience which everyone in attendance will remember for the rest of their lives.

While the Fort Carnage series is new to this year, Fort Collins has always been a place where subcultures and music has thrived. We are lucky to live in a place that has always embraced music and art, even though it’s only recently that Fort Collins has developed from a farm town.

“It’s always been here. We’ve always had a really deeply ingrained DIY scene,” said Maddy Erskine, who is in charge of booking at the Lyric, and was essential in Fort Carnage happening. “And that’s really cool. It gave us what we could grow off of. If Fort Collins had never had music, it would be a lot harder to build this community.”

Community is and has always been the center of Fort Collins’ culture, especially within our music scenes. Even in a small city, finding your people can be difficult. Music and art give us a place to make meaningful connections and to create.

“That’s what makes it so special, is the people,” Erskine again. “Everyone shows up for each other in a way that just makes my heart so happy. You see the same people and they really go to all their friends’ shows. It makes my heart so full to be a part of all of these events, because it’s so important. It’s so important to hold space for this kind of creativity.”

In the past, Fort Collins has always supported DIY subcultures- zines, independent films, and punk music have always been present here. However, in the last decades, these things have certainly been less prevalent- even in the last five years, Covid-19 shut down many shows and events that we all held so dear.

“We had all lost what we loved so much for so long, everyone started showing up to everything,” said Mic Gorror, about the post-pandemic return to hardcore shows. “[This week] in three different venues, we had heavy music playing, and at least two of them did really well. Heavy music did well in this town, but now heavy music is doing extremely well.”

It’s true that the return from covid lockdown has been incredible. Fort Collins’ past has been something we’ve been grateful for, as it gave us our roots. But even more exciting is what the future holds for our music scene.

“I think it would be cool to grow, in the diversity we have in our scene, and to see it get more inclusive. Because still, it’s primarily white men on stage. [I would like to see] more free and accessible music training and knowledge and resources- things like Beatz by Girlz or Boredom Fighters- and to make sure we’re reaching out to everyone with that as well,” Maddy Erskine said. “If you want to see the music scene grow, you need to be open and inviting. The cool thing I’ve seen recently is- the amount of times I’ve been invited or seen someone get invited to shows has incredibly increased. It’s not a ‘if you know you’ll be there’ situation, like no, we’re gonna tell everybody!”

Blast n Scrap has been essential in building such an inclusive community, and is expanding in many different directions.

“I think the kids are the future,” Mic Gorror said simply.

It’s easy to get involved in the local scene, and well worth any time and energy. In our expanding community, new faces are always welcome, and new ideas are met with excitement. Everyone is invited to come out and experience the love and energy Fort Collins has, and to add their ideas and inspirations to the mix.

Information about how to get involved with Blast n Scraps’ various organizations can be found here. The Lyric Cinema’s wide range of events can be found here. The town is waiting for you!

Eddy Merritt is a junior at Poudre High School. She is head author of Cacophony blog, and this is her first year writing for Poudre Press. She is deeply involved in Fort Collins culture, and is inspired by the work her peers do.

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