Under in the past year — Friedl toured there with his band the Oblivians, and Ives recently attended music conferences in Brisbane and Perth — providing an opportunity to scout bands for Gonerfest. “Power from Melbourne, who’s playing on Friday night, is the band everybody was talking about in Australia,” says Ives. “They’re a proto-punk Sharpies-style group. They’re doing a U.S. tour off the back of their Gonerfest appearance.”
“These bands from far, far away take the initiative to get here on their own and head this way for Gonerfest,” says Friedl, mentioning other international acts he’s eager to see, including Ireland’s Oh Boland. “All these people made the fest a destination, if not destination for their trip. That’s always been a really cool part of Gonerfest: the chance to see these acts that in a lot of cases have never played America before.”
Friday’s and Saturday’s concerts — at night at the Hi-tone and during the day at Memphis Made and Murphy’s, respectively — will feature a mix of Goner-signed acts and label favorites including locals Aquarian Blood, Buck Biloxi (from New Orleans), and Blind Shake (from Minneapolis). The event will also see notable first-timers like Gun Club alum Kid Congo Powers performing.
Gonerfest 13 also marks a historic return, as Atlanta rock and roll wildmen Black Lips will headline the Friday Hi-tone bill.
“Black Lips are playing for the first time since Gonerfest 1,” Ives notes. “They were actually one of the first calls we made when we tried to put this whole thing together back in (2004). And they came down, and it was crazy and great, but we haven’t had them since then. So it’s great to have them back on the bill 12 years later.”
Each night at the HiTone will have a special guest emcee. Greg Lowery of Supercharger fame will handle the honors Friday, and comedian and broadcaster Tom Scharpling will introduce acts Saturday. Before that, Thursday, Black Oak Arkansas’ iconic frontman Jim Dandy will be the compere. “We’re really looking forward to that,” says Friedl.
On Sunday, things will cool out with a daytime finale at the Cooper-young Gazebo from Mississippi gospel-blues artist Rev. John Wilkins. “It’s a real nice way to slow down, calm down and close it out,” says Friedl. “Put a little religion in the deal.”
Gonerfest continues to find new partners this year, including Apple Music. “We’re doing a media partnership with them,” says Ives. “We’ve set up a curator account and have some playlists that we’ve put together for itunes. Will be interesting to see how that works and if that has an impact for the bands.”
And for the third year in a row, Goner has paired up with Memphis Made Brewing Co. to create a Gonerfest-branded beer. Gonerfest XIII Session IPA marks the first time Memphis Made has canned a beer. In addition to being sold at the festival, it’s also available at local retailers while supplies last. “It’s on shelves and flying off them,” says Friedl. “It’s tasty and fun, and always cool to do something with our neighbors Memphis Made.”
As they take in the calm before the inevitable storm that will begin Wednesday, Friedl and Ives are feeling good.
“Last year, we sold out or were close to sold out each night, and we’re ahead of 2015 so far in ticket sales,” says Ives. “We’re in good shape. We’re just getting ready and looking forward to a lot of great music.”
Atlanta punk band Black Lips returns to Memphis for a slot Sept. 30 at Gonerfest.