This last weekend, Alternative Tentacles Records decided to celebrate 40 years of Anti-Social Media by throwing its first ever TENTACLE FEST at The Cornerstone in downtown Berkeley, CA. What followed was an incredible selection of bands whose varied styles were a perfect representation of the wide variety of music that Jello Biafra has curated since 1979. “I put out stuff I like!” he would say more than once over the weekend! Consider this your official recap as we touch on the highlights from this weird, wild, and wonderful 2-day musical celebration of the alternative to the alternative!
We urge you whenever possible follow the photographer links under the photos! Each one took numerous photos of the event! So click to see more!
JELLO BIAFRA: Master of Ceremonies
Despite rumors of him DJing the night, Jello preferred to be the master of ceremonies and introducing each band in turn. Treating the crowd to a few quick stories, Jello kept the spotlight on the bands themselves and held back his traditional flare for spoken word. He was seen all over the club’s floor and balcony watching each band and enjoying the audience seeing the range of artists that have become part of Alternative Tentacles and hanging out with other attendees, taking pictures and exchanging observations on the bands. It was his night and he was a perfect host.
DJ SID PRESSLEY & DJ KEVIN NONE: Spinning Through The History
Since Jello wasn’t DJing, the role was filled by his friend DJ Sid Pressley and DJ Kevin None (AT staffer and host of “Basically Brunch” on radiovalencia.fm: Saturday’s from 10-Noon PST) dug deep into the AT’s back catalog between bands to remind the audience just how deep the rabbit hole goes here at Alternative Tentacles! Pulling tracks from all eras, they were on point the whole festival. We lost track of how many times we stop and thought, “Wait… who is this?” during one great track after another.
Catch DJ Sid Pressley and Jello Biafra spinning another “Incredibly Strange Dance Party” at the legendary Forbidden Island in Alameda, CA on January 18th to hear more what they have up their sleeves!
THE WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY: The Kings & Queens of Cool
Day one of TENTACLE FEST was a completely sold out affair, with the show being packed with one headliner after another, and the first one up was the incomparable World/Inferno Friendship Society. On tour from New York, the band that is simultaneously a humanitarian organization, death cult, and punk rock orchestra captivated the crowd with their “elegance with an edge”, as they played a sampling of their discography and gave a tease of their upcoming album, “All Borders Are Porous To Cats” (due out early next year on Alternative Tentacles Records!) with their new single “Freedom Is A Wilderness Made For You And Me”. Frontman Jack Terricloth was in his element, as his bandmates danced through genres with no regard of what people think punk rock is or should be, rather embracing what it should be. The crowd loved it and they set the bar high for all those who would follow.
ARNOCORPS: Farewell (for now) to the Our Heroes
As the devoted Heroes and Sheroes gathered around the stage, the air was charged but bittersweet. ArnoCorps had recently announced this would be their final show before they were to go on an extended hiatus. Not even the long-awaited release of their new 7” single, “Welcome To The Gym!” could remove the sting of that news. However, that feeling was all but forgotten as ArnoCorps stormed the stage to the sound of a helicopter coming in low over the horizon. The Austrian commandos tore into their set with the trademark machismo that only they possess, while the crowd who had traveled in from far and wide, sung themselves hoarse to their favorite songs! Inzo Der Barrakuda upped his own crowd surfing game with not traditionally surfing on his bass case as he has done in the past, but surfing on his bandmate, guitarist Oddum Kriegtroll! Throughout the show, vocalist Graf Holzfeuer kept the energy up, never losing control of the show even when the crowd stormed the stage for their classic anthem, “Last Action Hero”! It was an epic farewell to a long running fan favorite band… but they were not quite finished yet.
At the end of their set, none other than Jello Biafra joined them on stage to perform “California Uber Alles”. The crowd went nuts seeing the legend himself hit the stage once more. After the last notes rung out, one couldn’t help but remember the ancient Austrian saying, “I’ll be back.”
We will be waiting, ArnoCorps. We will be waiting.
TSUNAMI BOMB: Bay Area legends back from the Dead and Out for Revenge
No one embodies a return to life against all odds, like the band that closed out the night. After the epic finish of ArnoCorps, a band would be hard pressed to follow that performance! North Bay’s Tsunami Bomb not only heard that call, but answered it in full force, leading the crowd in one dark anthemic singalong after another. The newest addition to the Alternative Tentacles extended family, they came out swinging like they had everything to prove and the crowd loved every minute! Frontwoman Kate Jacobi shimmied across the stage singing tracks off their brand-new hit album, “The Spine That Binds” as well as classic favorites from their old albums! Some of the best moments came when keyboardist Oobliette Sparks, grabbed her mic to join Kate for a dual vocal attack. The band was a force of nature with a sound all their own, pulling from pop punk, melodic hardcore, metal, and even goth rock they kept the music going as bassist Dominic Davi (aka head Tentacle at Alternative Tentacles) stalked, spun, and jumped around the stage with abandon. They were the perfect end to an incredible night, but it was really only an extended intermission, because the second half of Tentacle Fest was still to come!
VICTIM’S FAMILY: The Return of the North Bay Punk Rock Icons
While many of the bands featured on the 40th anniversary celebration was part of Alternative Tentacles Records new guard, Victim’s Family helped remind everyone why Jello has had an ear for great music for years. Our second North Bay band of the Festival, Victim’s Family tore into their set with that classic hardcore/funk/jazz/metal fusion sound they’ve always been known for. The crowd was packed on the second night and Victim’s Family had everyone’s attention from the first note. Both vocalist/guitarist Ralph Spight and bassist Larry Boothroyd play with Jello in The Guantanamo School of Medicine, but this was the band they are really known for, and joined by drummer Tim Solyan, you saw why. The trio was unbelievably tight, powerful, and you couldn’t take your eyes off them. A highlight was “Have A Nice Day” off their latest 7” of the same name that sounded flawless.
Once again, Jello Biafra would come on stage for a few songs and just absolutely slayed the crowd when he did. It was epic to see him in action.
ITCHY-O: The Hive has Landed
Going into the final night, many people didn’t know what
they were in for as the final performance began. Many people were expecting
another punk band.
Oh no. Oh no, no, no.
Itchy-O is another beast entirely, from Denver, Co Itchy-O is an electronic, percussion-centered experimental orchestra and it’s all theatrical. The members march in all masked in black, not just on stage but surrounding the audience. During the performance, members with theramins and voice modulators move through the audience. Dragons dance through the crowd as clawed dancing priestesses engage with the audience. Smoke cannons, lasers, and inflatable sea cucumbers dance through the crowd. Playing tracks off both “Burn The Navigator” and “From The Overwhelming” the crowd never stopped moving all night. You aren’t just watching the performance; you are a part of the performance. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced, and they completely destroyed it. It was an incredible finish to an incredible weekend.
No after show would be complete without a mention of the Batcast crew working the merch booth all weekend. “Just” Chris, “Totally” Amber, and Nadine worked the event like champs, taking care of everyone’s requests. They keep AT’s gears going and we can’t thank them all enough! Catch them every few weeks on each episode of the Alternative Tentacles bATcast, on our website or at your favorite podcast platform.
So that was the show, thanks for reading our after-show recap! It was truly a perfect weekend, but of course it leaves us with one last question.
Who will be on Tentacle Fest next year?