This weekend, Destroyer Fest brings the best kind of doom and gloom to St. Petersburg
Lucy Volpe knew something was brewing.
Experimental metal concerts like the Scion Music Fest and Southern Darkness Fest were reigniting Tampa Bay’s rep as an American metal hotbed, and local bands like Set and Setting were making national waves. And she knew the region was hungry for more.
“For a city that used to be considered the metal capital of the world, I felt like we weren’t really living up to that name,” said Volpe, 29.
So in 2014 she founded Destroyer Fest, an event catering to fans of heavy music’s many extreme subgenres — doom, drone, sludge, prog — and it was a success. This weekend, Destroyer Fest returns for two nights in downtown St. Petersburg, with acclaimed Virginia group Cough topping a bill of some 15 Florida bands.
The popularity of fests like Destroyer, Scion and Southern Darkness — as well as one-off concerts by experimental heroes like Boris, Sunn O))) and Baroness — is showing those bands and their booking agents that the spirit of bands like Deicide and Morbid Angel hasn’t entirely left Tampa Bay.
“I know a lot of bands that have toured through here that were really influenced by the metal that has come out of Florida, especially in the death metal days,” Volpe said. “I want us to be an inspiration again. I want us to be a destination again. And I think we’re headed that way.
Among the Florida bands on the bill, Volpe is high on High on Miami’s Shroud Eater, Cave of Swimmers and Crud; and fast-rising locals Weltesser, who just signed to Prosthetic Records.
“Good things are in store for them,” said Volpe, who booked Weltesser’s first show in at a Destroyer Fest after-party in 2014. “And that was the whole point of Destroyer. I just wanted bands to get that kind of exposure and take off in this industry.”
The festival is reaching out to the community in intriguing ways, too. Tampa Bay Brewing Company greated a special one-off beer, Destroyer Annihilator, an oak-aged Doppelbock, that’ll be on tap at both venues Friday and Saturday and throughout November at Urban Deli and Drafts, 2410 Central Ave. Artist Frank Strunk created a custom tap handle. And Volpe notes that the fest is largely run by women, from its artwork to its after-parties to its major sponsors.
“I thought the whole point of a local music festival was to expose people to what amazing music that we have besides indie and electronic,” she said. “There’s punk, there’s hip-hop, there’s metal.”
Destroyer Fest, she hopes, will prove that.
“When I book bands like Weedeater and Cough,” she said, “I want them to go back to their agents and be like, ‘Listen, why are we overlooking Florida? There’s demand there.’”
Destroyer fest begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Fubar, 658 Central Ave., with Set and Setting, Outside Threat, Ether, Grave Gnosis and Disevered; and an after-party with Gaul and Thunderclap at the Emerald. Saturday brings Cough, Shroud Eater, Cave of Swimmers, Weltesser and Nixa to the Local 662, 662 Central Ave.; plus Crud and Junior Bruce at the Emerald’s after party. Tickets are $10 and up per day, $20 and up for both days. After parties are free with a ticket, $5 without.
For tickets and details, click here or call Daddy Kool Records at (727) 822-5665.
-- Jay Cridlin