Turning 60 and Turning Up The Volume On Heavy Music Experiences

I turn 60 next month. Personally speaking–outside the birth of both my children–it’s the biggest year of my life. My mathematics career is taking me to Melbourne, Australia, to give the opening keynote for a Mathematics Symposium in September.

I was born in Hobart, Tasmania.

Before that, I will be at my first music festival in 20 years, Ripplefest, in Austin.

A book I started writing three years ago about heavy music is going to be published in September.

Sunil Singh - Sonic Seducer
Sunil Singh – Sonic Seducer

It’s not a surprise to me that a festival I am going to is the exact same in size, scope, and spirit as the one I went to back in 2004 when I drove across the Canada/United States border with an expired driver’s license–on my 40th birthday–to spend four days in a dive bar called The Nyabinghi in Youngstown, Ohio (full story of how I managed to cross the border only a few years post 9/11 is in the book).

It’s a stoner rock/doom festival. Most of my friends–even those who like heavy music–will draw a blank on every band that will be at Ripplefest in September. For me and everyone going, the lineup is so ridiculous that it feels made up. 

Sweden’s Dozer, who have been around since 1995, plying their trade of heavy riffs and heavy melodies through the ever-widening lens of the genre, are a Bucket List band for me. If they played, for example, at Coachella–with that light and sound–they would blow every artist off the bill.

At Ripplefest, because the scene is so rich in talent, that statement–thankfully–can’t be made. I know for a fact that Domkraft will shatter my soul.

I will be covering the festival for MetalTalk, and I am excited to give the readers an intimate view into what I believe is the greatest genre of rock music for the last four decades–desert/stoner/doom.

Desertfest, happening in London next month, is one of the four outposts for this festival. The others being Antwerp, Berlin, and New York.

Those aren’t the only festivals. There’s Freak Valley in Germany, Sonic Blast in Portugal, and Sonic Whip in the Netherlands–just to name a few.

On my side of the Atlantic, in addition to Desertfest New York and Ripplefest, we have Planet Desert Rock–going into its fifth year–organized by John Gist. I plan to be at that one as well.

Earlier, I proclaimed this scene as being the greatest in heavy music. One proof of that is the international presence of bands at these festivals–regardless of where they are being held. North American bands like Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu treat Europe like a second home. And European bands find much comfort coming over here.

That’s because the total experience of being at these festivals is different than most. The delta between bands and fans is zero. Musicians and fans will mingle before and after the show, spending time sharing drinks and sharing stories.

It’s all about the community. It’s all about the heaviness of the music. And for me, it’s all about turning up the volume on my life through the intensity of not just the musical experiences but the personal ones of meeting old and new friends.

As corny as it sounds, we all love each other in this now vast and sprawling community of exploring the boundaries of heavy and boundlessness of lasting human connection.

Sleeve Notes

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