“A2, Brute?” by The Original Doc

Many of us have seen or heard about the festival that was supposed be the The Definitive Event of Ann Arbor, A2 Fest, put together by Jeff Pitock of Breaking Point Entertainment.  From what I’ve heard from band and the pictures I’ve seen surfacing already, the show was a complete disaster. You could just chalk that up to Michigan’s horrendous economy if it weren’t for a few little details that I feel are worth mentioning.

Some of you may remember a certain article about a certain “promoter and booking agent,” John Kunz of Arrowhead Productions. The one who ripped off over $100,000 from one show alone, sank the Naughty Donkey festival himself by writing checks his ass couldn’t cash, has been sued multiple  times for not following through on contracts and agreements, and basically made an ass of himself to the entire music community.

Well, as some of you know, Mr. Pitock promised everyone involved that Kunz WOULD NOT be involved with this show after his actions at the Naughty Donkey went public. Well, everyone was lied to. Kunz was there “in charge” of everything.

Anyone who attended the festival agreed it was a flop. According to sources at the event, around five hundred people attended the event, including band members. Do that math. Roughly 250 people there were band members. On top of that, there were a metric shit ton of tickets given away for free, so I have no clue even as to how many people ACTUALLY paid to attend the event.  My guess would be not many.

Bands, including the national acts, had their sets cut short or cut entirely. Hed PE played three songs and were cut off. The same story with Taproot. Why were the sets cut short? Because the show was THREE HOURS behind schedule. How the hell does a “The Definitive Event of Ann Arbor” get THREE HOURS behind schedule?  

Jeff Pitock and John Kunz don’t know how to run a show any better than I know how to perform open heart surgery. Judging by their track records, I’d say that I have a better chance of getting the surgery down first.

I’ll tell you right now, not all of the bands got paid, including the headliners. Some of them did, although I’m not sure who. I’d assume it was Taproot, Mushroomhead and Hed PE.  Why didn’t the rest of the bands get paid? Because Kunz made off with a bulk of the money leaving the bands, staff, and pretty much everyone involved with their proverbial dicks in their hands.  They didn’t even get the free food and water they were promised unless they annoyed the shit out of the people “in charge,” and even then they had to approach them multiple times to get results.

Again, a band had to step in and save the day, and for that I commend you, Uncommon Road.

If The Naughty Donkey festival wasn’t a wakeup call to you bands, vendors, and fans, then I hope this is the wakeup call you need. These people and those like them are ruining our music community one show at a time and we just keep letting them do this. When will enough be enough and no one will work with these guys?

I trust that this article is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure more and more stories will surface after this is posted. Oh, and this one is being posted on the website so it’s impossible to get taken down, unlike Facebook who suddenly finds that telling the truth and trying to stop people from getting ripped off is offensive.

 

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“Ain’t that a Kick in the Kunz” (The Revised Edition) by Metal Doc Brown

So, many of you asked for the original copy of the “Ain’t That a Kick in the Kunz” article to spread. Unfortunately, that was lost when it was removed from Facebook.  However, I remember most of it and will sure as hell be adding the shit I saw in the comments from the thread. (Most popular and viral post ever, by the way. Over 12,000 people reached and over 100 shares and at least 300 comments. Thank you.)

Let me tell you a story or three. (Again)

Awhile back my band was invited to play a show with The Agonist and Orion Nine as the headliners. We were from three hours away and yet somehow still sold the most tickets. (Not bagging on the other bands, but this is a relevant point that will come up in a few.)

We show up to an empty venue. No fans there whatsoever. (Maybe 20 showed up total through-out the night. MAYBE) The headlining bands are already there, but in place of the promoter we talked to is one who was asked to “fill-in” last second because the original had “business to take care of.” (Turns out that business was a fishing trip. Responsibilities a little skewed, right?). Show is a colossal failure. Venue wants to shut the show down by cutting band’s sets short and I don’t fucking blame them. I’d have done the same damn thing. That place was hemorrhaging money by letting the show go on longer than it had to.  The promoter blamed the entire failure on the out of town band that “couldn’t draw anyone.” (While in conversation with me he apologized over and over and told us he’d get us on a better show with a TON of money involved.) Again, we sold the most tickets. Biting the hand that feeds you, dude.

Now, a month before this I had played another show for this promoter with Psychostick, Polkadot Cadaver and Downtown Brown.  Nine bands on the bill. Yes, you read that right, NINE fucking bands. Load in had to be at 3pm. That’s how many bands there fucking were. Everyone was pissed, especially the touring bands who had no clue that there were so many bands on the bill, as they hoped  to be able to leave the venue before midnight or so. (Last band didn’t START playing until 1 A.M.)

Now, I forgot to mention I’d been approached by this gentleman to work with his “company” booking bands on small tours and national shows. It sounded good up until the details were laid out. Basically, I book the bands on my own dime, if the show does well, I keep the little percentage, he gets the big percentage (I can’t remember for sure but I’d swear he said a 90-10 split in his favor, but I could be wrong.)  If the show fails, I’m shit out of luck and lost out all of my money invested and he walked away scott free. No me fucking gusta.  I washed my hands of the situation after only twelve hours. Never even talked to or worked with a band for him.

This man’s name is John Kunz of Arrowhead Productions/Starless Agency.

This is also the same man who put together the Riverboat show where bands such as Sevendust, Taproot, and many, many more got fucked over when John made off with the ticket money. (I have heard he also got his hands onto the band’s merch money somehow, I’ll verify that soon.) All in all over $100,000 of debt was put on someone else’s shoulders that night because of him skipping out.

This is the same man who was mysteriously not prosecuted after his partner was found to be embezzling money from a local business (Ben Shawa. Google him.)

This is the same man who screwed over an entertainment related company for over ten grand and less than twenty and lost to them in court. He stopped paying his settlement fees. (I can’t mention details for fear of interfering with the suit.)

This is the man who ripped off a ton of bands at the Naughty Donkey Festival in Orleans, MI. (Whether Igorian likes to admit it or not, Kunz booked most of these bands. He made promises on Igor’s behalf that he knew Igor couldn’t keep.) He also pocketed buy –ons by lying about who was on the show in the first place. (The said DIecast was playing, who made a post about it on their Facebook page, disavowing the Naughty Donkey and said they had never heard from them at all.)  Speaking of Naughty Donkey, my friend Bobby Burns from Primer 55, who was on this show, had THIS to say about Kunz:

“”Since when did they spell cunts with a K and a Z?””

This is the man who claimed to be in charge of A2 Fest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He pocketed hundreds from local bands when in fact he had only planned on buying a stage to place some bands at A2 and never did. Those bands are all out their money and are not playing the show. (As far as my knowledge goes.) Kunz is now completely uninvolved with A2 Fest according to the actual promoter, Jeff Pittock.

The first time I was writing this I received a voicemail from John just as I was finishing the article. It was much shorter than this one and had a quote from one of the bands that he worked with. I can’t find the exact quote now, but basically the band, A Fall To Break from Arizona, paid Kunz for buy-ons to three shows and all of them failed miserably. He kept making the  promises he made me. “The next one will be better.” This band drove from Arizona to Michigan to play the Naughty Donkey festival, promised that there would be over 4000 people. There were 62. I think the math was off on that one.

Anyways, the voicemail called me a “small time internet publisher with no pull” and that he “wasn’t scared and we could meet up face to face if we needed  or have a conference call.” Fuck your conference call, Kunz. Fuck you, fuck Arrowhead and fuck your mother for handing you cash KNOWING that your fat ass was ripping people off!

The next show will not be better, John. You have definitely pissed off the wrong people and now it’s coming back to bite you on the fat fucking ass. You thought the last article was mean and you had it removed, so I’m not holding back this time. See, I have more information now. Over 300 comments on the original definitely had some information for me to browse over to help me hate fuck your career into the ground like a pissed off honey-badger.

So John, let me make this even more clear this time: I am coming after you. I’m not fucking stopping until you are broke and penniless. I’m not going to be happy until you have absolutely nothing left. Oh, I’ve already talked to several people who are going to be getting their court papers ready. Better scam a band to get a suit, because you’re going to need it for court.  You’ve misrepresented yourself, you’ve committed fraud and embezzlement, and it ends now.  You’re not going to be living the dream, you’re going to be living in a fucking box, assuming you aren’t in prison. I guess prison cells are kind of like big metal boxes.  I’m organizing every single fucking person that YOU fucked over and they’re going to take turns fucking your wallet until the only options you have left is either suicide or homelessness.

Why? Because FUCK YOU, that’s why. You don’t come into my neighborhood fucking my friends over and gloating about it, thinking you’re the shit. You don’t go around fucking over the bands who work their asses off. You wouldn’t know hard work if it bit you on the ass.

I remember what the fill-in promoter said to the pissed off nationals from The Agonist show, “Welcome to a John Kunz show.”

Welcome to the Doc Brown show, motherfucker. Where I make the rules and your opinion doesn’t matter.  You’re done.

Get out. Stay out.

Needles’ Review Cattle Decap./ Decrepit Birth @ Blackened Moon ft. an Interview w/Bill Robinson of Decrepit Birth

Last night i attended the Cattle Decapitation show at the blackened moon is Lansing. Other than half the bands dropping the show, it was great… i was bummed that neither Origin, Battlecross, or Aborted could make it, but the remainder of the bands on the bill pulled it off and put on a great show.
Ive listened to Rings of Saturn alot prior to seeing them live, but to be honest i didnt expect them to be very tight. But i will admit right now, on this very, very rare occasion…. I WAS FUCKING WRONG!!!!! They were spot on note for note and tap for tap.
Decrepit Birth was amazing. Though i would consider myself biased seeming that the ARE one of my favorite bands… at least top five. Which made it that much more exciting to stand face to face with Bill Robinson (vocals) of Decrepit Birth and ask him a few questions ive always wanted to ask. He was a super nice dude and he didnt even hesitate to leave the merch table just to spare some time for an interview before they’re set. And here it is……
DJN: First and foremost… welcome to Lansing… And How is the tour going? With that kind of line-up you must be having the time of your life.
BR: So far so good, the tours going great, good times. Alot better than i expected to be perfectly honest.
DJN: Really? I was stoked to see you guys on a tour with Cattle Decapitation. And Decrepit Birth is one of my favorite bands and being a long time fan ive noticed that each one of your albums brings something new to the table. “…And time begins” was just utter brutality, “Diminishing Between Worlds” became a little more melodic/progressive, and your latest “Polarity” added a very new Ambient/Atmospheric feeling to the mix. What do you think is the logical next up for your next album?
BR: You’d have to talk to Matt (sotelo) about that. I cant say anything or hell get pissed at me.
DJN: Oh ok fair enough. So is he doing most of the writing?
BR: Haha im just kidding with you, but no were all pretty much involved the same. But after Diminishing and Polarity having so much similarity between the two as far as the melodic… id look for maybe a little bit back to more brutal along with the melodic… and you know, who knows? Whatever Matt decides to throw on the table. Hes inspired by so many different types of music.
DJN: As am I.
BR: Yeah, same here, same here… but im just a vocalist as far as music goes
DJN: your lyrics tell stories of transcendence, metaphysicality, and becoming one with nature. With Nihilist themes and advanced vocabulary. Where do you get your inspiration?
BR: Uhh…. I dunno i live in California, {chuckles}… I guess i get it from there, the earth you know?… and psychedelics… I mean look around its all like one big psychedelic trip…. i mean it stimulates my Psyche, so to me at least its one big trip.
DJN: Agreed… next question…. Since the incarceration of your former guitarist Mike Turner, Decrepit Birth has gone through seemingly endless line-up changes. Do you feel your current line-up will stick together for a while?
BR: I hope so… to me we have really great thing going right now. But the way life is sometimes, Life takes priority, so some of our past members have quit. You know, touring is pretty brutal you dont make any money and you live in a place thats expensive, and not everyones like me and chooses to live alternatively, and im nothing special you know, im just lazy, no better fuckin word.
DJN: Its all about dedication.
BR: Yeah so i hope they stick around.
DJN: I hope so man… two more questions…. We all have our favorite bands and we all like to dream about performing with said bands. If you could play any instrument or vocalize for any band what would it be? Id play the drums for Decrepit Birth… (spoken like a true fan boy)
BR: {chuckles} I would sing for Decrepit birth.
DJN: Good answer haha.
BR: Yeah, i dunno theres just too many bands i like… id like to learn to play the piano, id like to play most string instruments, im really into strings. im into classical, im into fusion.
DJN: Im a BTBAM fan so im right there with you.
BR: Hell yeah man… they’re good guys
DJN: Not To Mention they are amazing live. But i digress. Last question… What is your favorite food to eat when you are stoned? I like hommus and pretzel chips. {chuckle}
BR: Tacos Morenos.
DJN: Yeah? What is that Exactly?
BR: Its a really good mexican…. uhh tacorria not really a restaurant in Santa Cruz. Its simple….. really simple but stoner FOOOOOOOOD. Like pizza is stoner food, same type of thing but its like god damn this is not normal mexican food!
DJN: {chuckles} Ok! Well thank you for your time I really appreciate it…
BR: No problem man
DJN: And good look with your set ill be there in the front row.
BR: Right On.
They played a great set… very high energy…. very brutal…. very tight. And then there was Cattle Decapitation. If youve ever saw them live you dont even have to read any further… they never fuck up…….. ever. And they always play everything almost double speed…. And Last night was no exception…. My face hurt from it being melted off. I dont think i stopped head banging for more than five seconds to take a drink of my beer. Travis’ vocals were horrifying… i couldnt sleep all night…. and when i finally fell asleep at about 6am… i had nightmares… he is the devil. Im convinced…. but thats fine.

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“We Play Blackened Brutal Technical Buttcore”

Ah…genres. Those useful little labels we use to describe what happens when enough bands coincide with a certain sound. We use them as tools to help zero in on finding more of the kind of music we love, to broaden our horizons, and…to compare the size of our cocks?

Yes. Cocks. That’s exactly what I think of people who constantly start these senseless genre wars. I see them every single fucking time I want to check out various promotional Facebook pages, YouTube videos, at shows, at stores, and even on statuses when a band is merely mentioned as something a cat’s fart away from its aptly named genre.

Shut the fuck up. All of you.

Shut.

The fuck.

Up.

What fucking difference does it make when these fucking arguments are brought up? What point are you trying to prove when you get all bent out of shape and screech “SACRILEGE!” every time someone says Meshuggah is a Djent band (on a side-note: Djent is pretty much a genre at this point. Suck it up like a big girl and deal with it). You seriously start a 97-reply thread with more of your kind throwing your dicks around like they aren’t all comparable to a baby dill.

Fucking assholes. All of you. Suck your ego up with a bendy straw, change your di-di, and get with the rest of the sensible world and let people figure this shit out on their own. 85% of the time bands leave themselves open to a number of different possibilities of classification, this is a good thing. They certainly don’t need you pounding your chest over your keyboard when somebody is the tiniest shred off in their interpretation of said band’s music. That’s what people use music for, to connect to in their own personal way. Everyone is exposed to different music at different times in their life, sometimes less than others. Just because someone does not possess the knowledge to know that Death’s influence is felt in massive loads of modern metal simply because they never had the opportunity to listen to them or were never told of them does not discredit them as fans. You people should be assisting these sheltered souls to find said bands to gain this knowledge and experience, not bashing them over the head with your egotistical ballsack.

You know what else they’ll gain? The good sense to not give a fuck so much about goddamn genres and just enjoy the music with people who can do the same.

“Shitty O’Toole’s” by Lil Michelle

      Understandably so, I’m always a bit apprehensive to book at a venue at which I’ve never booked before.  The vast majority of the venues at which I book, I’ve attended shows at before, and are run by friends of mine.  I’m not the type to insist on dealing with only people I know, or treat with great suspicion people I don’t know, as that would be making unfounded assumptions and greatly limit the resources with which I have to work.  However, it’s completely justified to have an amount of “stranger danger” with a venue, considering how much the show’s success depends on it, and especially when it is a new venue that has recently started booking shows.  I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, unless they give me compelling reason to not trust them.  Trust is a necessary element in booking, especially when it comes to a venue.  Once trust is broken, it can never be fully restored.

A recent show I booked was originally supposed to be at a venue at which I’ve booked numerous times and am friends with the booking agent, owner, and employees.  I was informed that there was a miscommunication leading to double-booking on that date.  I don’t hold it against them, they are very good to me.  Therefore, that necessitated finding a new venue.  I was having trouble finding another venue that was appropriate for the show and had the date available.  Therefore, I tried a new venue that a friend had told me about, at which friends’ bands had an upcoming show: Sporty O’Toole’s in Warren.

It took considerable effort to get in contact with the booking agent, and after numerous emails and phone calls to multiple people, I finally reached him.  He confirmed the date, stated the venue had a PA, although not a great one, and a sound person, and everything was looking good.  Two weeks later, I received an email from him stating that they would not have a PA, and that we would need to provide one.  This was a few days before my friends’ show, so I immediately called one of my friends and informed him of this.  Turns out, the booking agent had never contacted anybody involved with that show and let them know.  The information somehow didn’t get communicated to the bands, who had to go out the night of the show and rent a PA.  I wasn’t able to attend the show due to heavy snow that night, but my friends in the bands advised me the show went well, with the exception of the PA situation.

Therefore, I wasn’t worried.  I had already asked the bands to bring a backup PA in case the venue’s really sucked, and had gotten that taken care of.  The day of the show, numerous other issues not related to the venue came up: first, the out-of-town band cancelled.  I was able to find a local band to replace them.  My door person cancelled two hours before the show.  I figured I could find somebody to fill in, or do door myself, and that issue ended up working out.  I had emailed the booking agent earlier in the week to follow up as to whether he would have someone to help with sound.  No response.

Once at the venue, the first band ended up arriving a bit late, then realized one member had forgotten his equipment, and had to drive a bit of a distance to retrieve it.  The second band arrived shortly after, but they had some equipment issues and needed to use the first band’s mic, part of the equipment that was left behind.  That left the headlining local band, who were playing their first show after a year’s hiatus, I was not moving their spot.  The fill-in local band hadn’t all arrived yet, I didn’t expect them to, as I had told them it was ok to show up a bit later, as they were scheduled to play third.

I had been advised ahead of time that the owner was a jerk who didn’t like to have any sort of live music at his bar.  For that reason alone, why they even have live music there, I have no idea.  I had several questions for him once I got to the venue, he was cool at first, but as the place began to get packed and he was the only bartender, he became pissy with me about asking questions and obtaining smaller bills for the door.  It got to the point at which I had to send other people to ask questions and get change on my behalf.  His service as a bartender was horrible, and it took a wait at the bar on average about 15 minutes to get a drink.  The show started 45 minutes late due to the aforementioned problems, but I wasn’t worried because I had been advised previously as long as we were done before 2, it would be ok.  I sent a band member to ask the owner, to verify.  He stated the owner said the show had to be over before 1!!!  Not what I was told previously.

So, in short, sound was pretty bad due to the PA’s we had, which were never promised to be great.  We switched the second band to be first, which didn’t make much of a difference due to their equipment concerns, and the headlining band to be third, to make sure they got to play.  The fill-in band didn’t get to play due to time constraints, but I paid them just the same, we had a large turnout, so the bands and the door person were paid generously and to their satisfaction.

However, the headlining band was unhappy with the sound, there was a lot of talk on the internet, and I had to do a lot of peacemaking and damage control.  I make the best decisions I can as a promoter, with the resources I have and the circumstances that exist, and am very smart and strategic in running a show.  I don’t hold the issues with the bands against them, shit happens, it’s part of booking shows.  They’re good dudes, and I’m sure if it could have been prevented, it would have been.  When a clusterfuck of problems arise and the venue doesn’t hold up to its promises, I have to think fast and act quickly.  Though if there’s anything anybody doesn’t like, I get blamed and have to deal with harm to my reputation as a promoter.

So, please learn from my experience: don’t book at a venue that doesn’t provide a PA, *ever.*  In order to make money, one has to spend money, and a PA is a necessary investment in order to get people to come into one’s establishment for live music and spend money at the bar.  The bar profited handsomely from the turnout the bands and I brought in, though we were used and made to look like fools.  Anybody who promises something and doesn’t deliver, when they knew from the beginning that they couldn’t, and tells somebody one thing and then the opposite later, when he knew all along, is a fucking liar, plain and simple.  The bands and I have been doing what we do for many years and have a large amount of knowledge and experience, don’t make us suffer because you are new to this and don’t have a fucking clue about anything.  Show respect to the people who help you.  Anybody who doesn’t respond to someone or convey important information just because they have bad news to give, is a coward and a little bitch.  I say whatever I have to say, regardless of whether it’s good or bad.  And that’s why I’m making this situation known, I don’t want to see anybody get burned as badly as the bands on that show and I did.

“Arise The Titan”

I’m pretty sure at this point that Ohio is pissing a lot of people off to be producing this kind of curb-stomping metal.

Hailing from the middle of the armpit of Columbus, Arise The Titan is exactly what happens when you combine that feeling of wanting to go Super Saiyan on a small animal after spending an hour in a Wal-Mart with the self-respect of wanting to hear a solid, musically inclined band to provide the soundtrack to your Call of Duty campaign.

While not directly described as such, their music is essentially a grander form of deathcore. Before you get all up-the-butt about me saying so, I’m not talking about music that can’t stop a breakdown once it’s started. No, Arise The Titan is a different breed. With many artists in the genre sonically shitting the bed these days, these guys are giving them a reason to fill their loins in fear.

So what can Arise The Titan do for you? Well, for starters their ultra-intensified approach can clear every last stick of butter out of your arteries in a matter of 2 minutes of the first track off their newest release “Our Collective Destroyer”. If that chest-bursting attitude over the entire EP isn’t enough for you, they will neuter you. With any number of sledgehammers they can deliver. These aren’t your grandma’s breakdowns, either. These things are rarely boring and almost always leave your head bobbing as if you just went on a date with Jack The Ripper.

“What about me and my soft, supple eardrums?”

Well my boy, we’ve got plenty of knives for those. The guitar work laden throughout is enough to satisfy any flavor of metaller out there. Not only are they massive in tone, the melodies and ambiance is enough to send you running to the “repeat” button plenty of times over whatever other straight deathcore bands are limping to the barn with.

Whether you’re a fan of what I gather is called “brutal” or not, Arise The Titan should be A-Numero-Uno on your list to check out. If you’re in the mood to “Grand Theft Auto” on your town, get to one of their shows or better yet, get them in your venue. I just hope your insurance is up to date.

“36th Street Is Hood To The Core, Duh”

I don’t know how much more Dirty Duh Productions could live up to their name. It’s almost frightening.

If that’s the only name you can come up with, I can only imagine what would be in store for a show booked through them. Turns out, exactly as I imagined.

Come showtime Saturday night, the 36th Street Lounge, Dirty Duh Productions, and Hood Core all dropped the ball. Big time. Between a massive lack of communication, no sound system, from what I can tell hardly any promo, no pay, no drinks, and absent organizers, it looks one big pile of fuck for whatever band decided to stay for this garbage example of professionalism. Oh yea, that’s right. Only two did. Bravo for having the patience for such idiocy. One band decided to no-call/no-show that shit (Chip Fundy…wtf kind of name is that?). Eye Remain skedaddled before a single song was ever played. Shame on you both, get a tin can on a string if you can’t call ahead or get a pencil and paper if for some reason your mouthholes are too broken to tell anyone you’re ditching.

That’s two of the dumbest fucking things to do at a show I can think of. What’s the goddamn point of booking if you’re just going to completely bail or show up for 5 seconds and leave? If you wanted to waste your own time and gas, you should have just drove the van off a damn cliff for a while.

Hood Core, if your bands are on the bill at least have one person there to help out. Otherwise, they are just bands there on their own time and dime. Also, that name is just…ugh, nevermind.

As for DD and 36th Street, either stay out of the game or straighten the fuck up. Shit like what happened Saturday night is about the worst example of a Michigan metal scene at work and you should be entirely ashamed of yourselves for being too incompetent to know better. I could have had a better show in my bathroom from what I’m being told of the mockery you tried to pull off. Don’t have cash to pay the bands? Then don’t twist their nipples about it and tell them that up front. At least offer them a few beers! Oh wait, someone did until you went all McDuck and pulled that offer out of their hands. Real classy move there.

Better yet, if you don’t have a fucking sound system, then don’t have motherfucking shows! How hard is that to figure out?

My best idea yet. When you fuck up, don’t blame anyone but yourselves.

Then don’t repeat your mistakes.