Local Bands Do Their Part to Unf*%k the World

L-R: Versa Nova's Gray, Smith and Arnold
L-R: Versa Nova's Gray, Smith and Arnold

What would it take to unf*%k the world?

There's hardly enough blog space to launch into discussions on the grand and ultimately futile gestures it might take to make this planet a utopia. But one local band has at least a small-scale blueprint to help a little.

Spread music and share food. That's the plan behind Saturday's Unf*%k the World Fest. A dozen bands will come together at Harrisburg Studios to raise tour funds for local hardcore band Versa Nova, while also collecting food for the Star of Hope Mission.

"Well, UNFTW became a food drive for a few reasons," says Jake Smith, Versa Nova's vocalist. "We are a very humanitarian and morally-driven band, so giving back to our city is always, always a great thing. It's a way to help convince people to support the cause. We really want to set an example and encourage young adults like ourselves to do positive things in our community."

Admission to Saturday's face-shredding show is $10, but the ticket price drops to $7 with the donation of at least a single canned good.

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"I mean, everyone loves a discount and who doesn't have a canned good lying around?", notes Smith.

Versa Nova will headline the event, which begins at 4 p.m. A full lineup can be found on the show's Facebook event page, but other notables slated include Galveston's An Author, A Poet and prog-metallers The Earth As We Know It.

"Every single band was hand-picked for this show for very specific reasons," says Smith. "I am personally a big fan of every band on the lineup, though I will admit I am most excited for the mysterious band called SLEEPERDRONE. We have three Texas Independence Festival alumni: Versa Nova, Myra Maybelle and Bow Before Hours.

"We consider every band playing to be a friend and a very important piece to the puzzle that is our community of music," he adds. "These bands are the future of underground alternative music."

Smith continues:

Once the word started to travel about what we were doing, several of our friends and their bands wanted to support. Once the show doubled in size and we had so many great ideas with food, baked goods, and other various things like that, we began to feel guilty about being the primary beneficiaries for something so many people believed in and the hard work they were willing to put into it, so we really began to push the food drive idea even above the initial benefit we started with.

Smith notes that Versa Nova is approaching its first anniversary in June. The idea is to be in the midst of its first-ever tour when the big date arrives. The band's schedule includes Texas dates and shows in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

"We've never been on tour before," he says. "This is the first time we have hit the road nonstop. We really don't have much of an idea how to raise money for our tour so we decided we would book an onslaught of epic bands, sell snacks, and see where it landed us. The cash raised will go directly to renting us a van for tour and hopefully have enough to help with gas and food."

In this day and age of Kickstarter and the like, Versa Nova chose to join Wayne and Garth, Bill and Ted and other rockers who have used balls-out concerts as a means to an end.

"To be completely honest, we tried the GoFundMe route and no one donated shit," Smith says. "The old school show was a good idea because not only are you helping us hit the road but you are getting an intimate sample of what you are donating to."

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Smith reckons the venue lends itself well to such an event.

"Versa played there last year and really, really fell in love with the vibes of the place," he says. "It's off the beaten track just a bit. It's a new venue and is relatively unheard of, so we wanted to help welcome and promote the new venue by doing something big."

Smith and his cohorts -- bassist Jon Arnold, drummer Daniel Gray and guitarist Preston Griffith -- have every expectation Unf*%k the World will be big because they are an ambitious, hard-working group that has created some good breaks for itself in a short year's time. They're writing new songs for their first full-length album, tentatively titled Red, and have just released "Veal," the first track from the album. Smith has also formed Arson Aisle Productions, which will promote shows including benefit concerts like Saturday's.

Versa's moxie has landed them opening gigs for some of their own musical heroes, where it became clear the group needed to broaden their audience, Smith explains.

"The shows we've been getting have been insane," he says. "We haven't been around too long, so we haven't had a ton of opportunities to play a bunch of big shows, but the ones we have played have been particularly special and a massive learning curve.

"To really understand the significance you would have to know us as people," Smith continues. "Most of us come from the 2004-2005 era of underground music and the same bands we fanboyed over back then with stars in our eyes, we are getting to share the stage with now.

On a roll, Smith goes on.

So, playing with bands like Norma Jean, Between the Buried and Me, Boris the Blade, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, He is Legend, Corrosion of Conformity, and so many more has just solidified the fact that we want to do this forever and will stop at nothing to accomplish that.

Just being asked to support these acts has been such an honor and a pleasure. Just talking about it now seems larger than life. Getting asked to open for bands that directly impacted you musically in the first place is a "pinch me"-worthy situation.

Shows like that have changed us in so many ways. It has brought us closer as a band, it made us more confident and comfortable playing live, and mainly it has killed the initial doubt of, "Is this band going to go anywhere?" It's also done wonders for our relationships with promoters we work with. It lets us know that these companies and people believe in us and truly want to be a part of helping us grow.

Unf*%k the World begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Harrisburg Studios, 6719 Harrisburg. Admission is $10, or $7 with the donation of a canned good benefiting Star of Hope Mission.

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