As spring rolled in earlier this week, hardcore punk and metal bands rolled into Lexington to showcase their talents at the Blood of the Wolf festival, an annual meeting of metal heads that began three years ago.
The festival features 36 bands from around the country playing over three days. Beginning Friday at 8 p.m., the musicians will play nonstop metal and punk. Kentucky acts include The Hookers, Frustrate, Hawkbill, Dirtbag and Arktos.
Festival organizers Chuck McIntyre and Anton Escobar have known each other for almost 10 years, since attending Lafayette High School together.
“Being from Lexington, there weren’t exactly a lot of people interested in the same kind of extreme music, so naturally we were kind of drawn to each other,” McIntyre said.
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The pair now play in a metal band called Tombstalker, which formed in 2008 and will take the stage at Blood of the Wolf. Escobar plays guitar, McIntyre is on bass, and both handle vocals. Before creating the Blood of the Wolf, Escobar said Tombstalker traveled to Philadelphia and Baltimore to play in festivals. Even now in Kentucky, hardcore punk and metal festivals are rare.
“We have a really cool scene here,” McIntyre said. “It’s small but it’s very non-decisive. It’s not cliquey. Everyone supports everyone, and that’s unfortunately something you don’t see in every city.”
He also said Lexington has great talent. Blood of the Wolf highlights Lexington’s punk and metal groups, and the city is often overlooked for this kind of music, he said. He and Escobar wanted to “see stuff happen here.”
Being from Lexington, there weren’t exactly a lot of people interested in the same kind of extreme music, so naturally we were kind of drawn to each other.
Chuck McIntyre, Blood of the Wolf festival co-organizer
McIntyre and Escobar recruit bands to play at Blood of the Wolf through a network of musicians and their friends. Some of the artists are also members of the Wolven Brotherhood, a collective that formed a few years ago. Escobar said a few of the bands will have more notoriety than others, but all are quality bands.
“We know these people personally and have performed with them and sort of built a network through our time touring, and we brought these people back together,” Escobar said. “It’s sort of a reunion, in a way.”
The festival has always been held at Al’s Bar. Escobar said he and McIntyre have booked many gigs at Al’s over the years, and the space allows for a double stage, one in the bar and another in Sidecar, which means that bands on one stage can keep the music going while the next artists prepare for their set. Also, Al’s beer garden was a plus, Escobar said.
During the festival, a limited-edition ale created by Blue Stallion Brewing Co. will be available. Wolf’s Blood is a red-style ale, lightly carbonated and “very good,” Blue Stallion chief financial and marketing officer Kore Donnelly said. The partnership between Blood of the Wolf and Blue Stallion began after McIntyre and Escobar connected with brewer David Workman, their former high school classmate, Donnelly said.
“We are excited to partner with other Lexington businesses to do fun things like this,” Donnelly said.
In the past, Blood of the Wolf has been a 21-and-older festival. This year, the festival is open to anyone 18 and older. McIntyre said a reason for dropping the age restriction was that the festival partnered with WRFL, a community radio station based at the University of Kentucky, to promote the event.
“We both remember growing up, and every single show that would come around here, you’d have to be 21 to get into, and it was kind of a drag,” McIntyre said, “so we are happy to be able to accommodate a younger audience.”
If you go
Blood of the Wolf
What: three-day music festival featuring metal bands
When: 8 p.m. March 24, 4 p.m. March 25, 4 p.m. March 26
Where: Al’s Bar, 601 N. Limestone, Lexington
Tickets: $40, $5 extra for those younger than 21; must be 18 or older