"Lowest of the low. Now sink into your fucking hell," scream the five dozen or so sweat-drenched kids brave enough to stand up front and sing along, all the while dodging the swinging fists and spin kicks of the crazed pit warriors surrounding them—not to mention the torsos, knees, and skulls of the midair stage divers. The microphone is fumbled, but seconds later picked up by a member of the crowd who knows each and every word. There is no disconnect between band and audience here. The packed room is one big family of angry kids yelling angry lyrics. This is the scene during LA hardcore band Terror's headlining set last year at Rain Fest. With each passing year, the fest gets bigger. In 2007, Rain Fest transpired at two different VFW halls during Memorial Day weekend and featured Northwest and California bands. For its second year, the fest moved to the Viaduct, a now-defunct all-ages venue based in south Tacoma, and drew bands from as far out as Australia. For the next two years, the inmates ran the prison and called the shots. I spoke with the festival's organizers about selling out three days at Neumos.
How much control do you have over what goes on during Rain Fest at Neumos?
Brian Skiffington: Every show runs the same. They have a formula. It runs on time and it's professional. It's not like we don't have any control over it; it's just that we don't need to. We don't need to be taking tickets, we don't need to be doing security, and we don't need to be running sound.
You can focus on the other important thing...
BS: Actually enjoying the fest.
Zack Ellis: That was one of the selling points of moving it to a "professional" venue. It takes all of that out of our hands. We had to worry about the volunteers and how everything was running, and now they'll handle all that stuff and we can just focus on relaxing and having a good time.
Did you guys expect the fest to sell out? What are your thoughts on people scalping the tickets for way over the $70 original price?
ZE: We expected it to sell out, but none of us expected it to sell at the rate that it did. I definitely never thought it would sell out in four days. As for kids selling the tickets, I don't really care.
Have you seen any of them go on eBay?
BS: I saw one going for 300 bucks, straight-up. [Laughs]
Well then, I guess the question should be, how does it feel to put on a fest people are willing to spend $300 on?
BS: Stupid. [Laughs]
ZE: Not worth it. One hundred dollars a day. Woof.
Matt Weltner: I'm just jacked-up that anyone would pay that much for this hardcore show I'm putting on. I can't even imagine. On that level, I guess it's flattering. On the other hand, I think there's got to be a limit on it. I think hardcore is a community and it's a lot of passionate, like-minded people, and I don't think it's fair to profit too much off people's passion like that.
BS: I actually kept tickets for myself and I'm selling them for $300 apiece.
After four years, there's still never been a fight at Rain Fest.
MW: Which is just crazy, considering all the people crammed into the Viaduct. It always seems like when you go to a big hardcore show and there are kids from all over, things tend to get a little weird with different hardcore scenes...
ZE: Different mosh styles. [Laughs]
BS: Yeah, it depends who your teacher was on YouTube. [Laughs]
MW: Zack is my teacher.
BS: More like sensei. The mosh sensei.
MW: That's the thing. I don't know if you guys know this, but we've been training for Rain Fest. Zack's been doing P90X, and I've been hitting the weights, like squats and deadlift-style.
MW: I'm expecting 800 hardcore kids to descend onto Capitol Hill and stay there for three days. I'm expecting to run every restaurant and every bar within five blocks of here. [Laughs] I'm expecting to see so many Black Flag shirts, Minor Threat shirts, Champion shirts, and Have Heart shirts.
ZE: I'm expecting more Black Flag bar tattoos than any other weekend.
It just so happens that a large amount of the neighborhood will be out of town at Sasquatch!.
BS: They abandoned the fort, and now it's ours.
ZE: I expect to sweat an insanely high amount and to be out of breath the entire weekend.
BS: I don't even know.
ZE: Whatever. You're going to be drunk the entire time.