HoZac Blackout Fest: Dictators NYC, Shocked Minds, a Giant Dog, Rainbow Gun Show Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Sat., May 17, 9 p.m. 2014

The Blackout festival, a legendarily drunken annual celebration of punk, garage, and rock 'n' roll presented by local label HoZac Records since 2001, had a blackout of its own from 2007 till 2010, but in its fourth post-hiatus year it's looking as sharp as ever, with big-name headliners the Boys and the Dictators NYC plus some excellent opening acts. As usual the party starts with a Thursday-­night art show, which features work by artists from around the world (Hein Coetzee, Brian Shanley, Rubin) and one of the weekend's most solid music lineups. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, and featuring members of Times New Viking and Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, noise-pop duo Counter Intuits headline (after playing an in-store at Permanent Records at 4 PM), and the two opening acts are among Chicago's greatest weirdos—the Flipper-worshipping Nones and the art-rocking Toupee.

Among the openers for power-poppy UK punks the Boys on Fri 5/16 are 999999999, aka All Nines, the fuzzy bedroom project of Brooklyn-based artist and musician Anthony MacBain, and locals the Man, who play dirgy hardcore punk in suits and ties and scream about the importance of commerce.

On Sat 5/17, the Blackout's final night, provide main support for the Dictators NYC (see below). A new group out of New York, they play streamlined, snotty glam and power pop, a lot like the Carbonas from Atlanta—the band that contributed two of their members. Also on the bill are A Giant Dog from Austin (with members of Bad Sports and OBN IIIs) and locals Rainbow Gun Show. —Luca Cimarusti

All you’ve got to do is look at the Dictators’ underrated debut LP, 1975’s Go Girl Crazy!—its cover features roadie, mascot, and eventual front man “Handsome” Dick Manitoba grinning like a maniac and decked out in wrestling spandex, a red bedazzled jacket with his name on the back hanging up behind him—to understand that this Bronx-born band, like the New York Dolls before them, weren’t too concerned with maintaining a street-tough NYC rock ’n’ roll image. (For the record, this lineup calls itself the Dictators NYC, since not all the original members are aboard.) The blend of shimmering glam and cranked-up protopunk on Go Girl Crazy! is as thick skulled as it is savvy, with songwriter Andy Shernoff (who’s no longer in the band) sneaking addictive arena-rock melodies into the muscle-car hard rock of “Master Race Rock” and “Two Tub Man,” which Manitoba’s harsh vocals cut through like a buzzsaw. The band’s records—including Manifest Destiny (1977) and Bloodbrothers (1978)—didn’t have much mainstream success, but their underground buzz never died, and eventually the Dictators were anointed as revered cofounders of a genre. All three of those early albums stand the test of time, and Handsome Dick’s raving soliloquies have only become more prophetic and insightful with the passing years. It’s like aging a fine wine. For more on the Dictators NYC, see Manitoba’s interview with Dave Springer (aka Little Richie Speck of Chicago punk pioneers Tutu & the Pirates) in Artist on Artist. —Kevin Warwick

Price: $25, $55 three-day festival pass

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