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Space Jam Music Fest returns to Fairgrounds Oct. 12

  • Members of the band 404, a punk, grunge and progressive rock band from the Waterloo area, plowed through a set last year at the Space Jam Music Fest at the Floyd County Fairgrounds. 404 returns to Space Jam this year. (Press file photo James Grob.)

  • The Fourth Space Jam Music Fest has been scheduled at the Floyd County Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-13. The music will start at noon on Saturday. (Press file photo James Grob.)

  • Members of the band 404, a punk, grunge and progressive rock band from the Waterloo area, plowed through a set last year at the Space Jam Music Fest at the Floyd County Fairgrounds. 404 returns to Space Jam this year. (Press file photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

It’s a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of metal.

The Space Jam Music Fest has been scheduled at the Floyd County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 12. The music will start at noon Saturday and last through the night. Camping will be available, with RV hookups and beer and liquor provided by the Floyd County Fairgrounds.

This will be the fourth annual Space Jam, and the second year it’s been held at the fairgrounds. A total of 14 bands are set to take the stage. The all-day local music festival features a variety of different musical styles, and as the night progresses the music gets heavier and heavier.

“There are a few new bands in the lineup, but the lineup is just as diverse as last year,” said Jesse Miller, drummer for the band Astral Space. “We’ll start off with more acoustic stuff, then some classic rock, then hard rock and then more metal as we go into the night.”

The majority of the bands have local or regional roots. The event is organized by members of the band Astral Space, from Charles City.

“It’s basically just kind of an end-of-summer gathering for everyone,” said Miller. “Bands all tour a lot in the spring and summer, then they take a break when the weather starts to cool off. This gets everyone back together for one final show in a good positive atmosphere, and gives us something we can all talk about through the winter.”

The grounds open at 10 a.m. on Saturday and the music begins at noon. One must be 21 years old or older to purchase alcohol, and no outside drinks will be permitted. There will also be several vendors at the festival. The show is all day Saturday, then again until around noon on Sunday.

Miller said that although people don’t usually think of heavy metal music concerts as kid-friendly events, Space Jam is family-friendly.

“A lot of people bring their kids,” he said. “It’s a very positive atmosphere.”

The first two Space Jam Music Fests were on a farm near Sumner, and drew crowds of around 150-180 people. The jam outgrew the farm, however, and Space Jam went public and moved to the fairgrounds for the first time last year.

Miller said it was a successful transition, and several hundred people came to the show and had a good time without incident.

“Last year was definitely a learning experience,” Miller said. “We were figuring out the ins and the outs, but it went real smoothly. This year was a lot easier, we know how everything is supposed to function.”

Astral Space is a five-piece electronic metal band that combines “heavy synth leads over breakdowns and grooves.”

The band was founded in 2006 by brothers Jesse and Shane Miller, with Shane on vocals and Jesse on drums. Bass guitar player Randy McFarland joined the brothers about a year after the band was formed, and four years ago, Andrew Hammang — who goes by “AJ” — joined and plays guitar and does synth production.

Chase Dubiel is the newest member of the band, and plays synth, samples and turntables. The band lists Lamb Of God, Alice Cooper and The Browning as influences.

Another band playing at the festival, Anger Incarnate, is also based in Charles City. Members are vocalist Michael Mallory, drummer Neil Larson, bassist Matt Schepp and guitarist Nick Weipert.

Anger Incarnate also lists a wide range of influences, from classic rock such as Pink Floyd and Zeppelin, to thrash in the likes of early Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera and Sepultura, to “all the extreme metal of today.”

Other bands playing at Space Jam include Guilty of Treason, Hardship, Phoenix Curse, Jim-Jones, Signs of Insanity, LyinHeart, Grave Corps, 404, Faces Turned Ashen, the Rush Cleveland Trio, Illusive Flavor, Dan D & the Felony and James Wood.

“It really comes down to, we all have mutual friends in all of these bands,” Miller said. “We’ve been going hard for the last 10-12 years, and we’ve made friends through playing shows at a lot of the same venues. A lot of the bands also have mutual bandmates. We’re like brothers.”

One such venue is Spicoli’s Reverb, a live music bar in Waterloo where many of the bands play regularly.

Miller said that almost every genre of rock is covered in the Space Jam lineup.

“No one is left out,” he said. “Everyone can come out and enjoy their genre of music, and maybe then stick around and experience some new music that they wouldn’t have heard otherwise.”

Guilty of Treason is a heavy metal band out of the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area. Hardship is a hardcore band from Des Moines and Waterloo. Phoenix Curse and Jim-jones, are metal bands from Waterloo. Signs of Insanity is a five-piece metalcore band out of the Kansas/Oklahoma panhandle area.

LyinHeart is a hard rock and anthem rock band out of Waterloo that lists Motley Crue, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest among the members’ many influences. Grave Corps is a five-piece “horror rock” band from Cedar Falls. They blend punk, metal, and rock n’ roll with a horror movie twist, with a wide range of influences including The Misfits, Avenged Sevenfold, Kiss, and Rob Zombie, among many others.

404 is a punk, grunge and progressive rock band from the Waterloo area, while Faces Turned Ashen is a punk rock band from Cedar Rapids.

The Rush Cleveland Trio is an Iowa bar band with decades of experience that plays both covers and originals of “American Music,” while The Illusive Flavor is a more mellow, acoustic rock band, from Sumner.

Dan D & the Felony is a rebel-rock, acoustic rock band that plays the Cedar Valley region and throughout Iowa. James Wood is a one-man band out of Michigan who plays acoustic guitar rock. Wood has been performing live all over the midwest for more than 10 years.

The concert is sponsored by the radio station KFMW, Rock-108 FM out of Waterloo. Members of Astral Space will be on the air promoting the concert and playing some of their original songs on the station’s “Noise from the Garage” program, Sunday night from 7-9 p.m.

Miller said he’ll be watching the weather forecast for next Saturday. The concert is set to go on, rain or shine. Should the weather become unbearable, there will be a stage under a roof so the bands can keep playing.

“We’re hoping for the best weather we can get, because the plan is to be outside just like last year,” he said.

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