Jonson Kuhn | New SCENE
The New Worst Fest is anything but new, it’s definitely not the worst, but it is a festival, and it’s coming back to Fort Collins from 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, at the Lyric Cinema located at 1209 N College Ave.
Described as a “raucous and irreverent outdoor festival” the New Worst Fest came to life roughly 15 years ago in a vacant lot in Old Town by Chip Guthrie who was looking for a spot to host an impromptu punk rock show. Fast forward from there eight years, and that’s when two local musician friends, Craig Powell and Jessica Hazlett, took over the reins in 2016. Stacy Sevelin came on board with Powell in 2019 and the two have been providing FOCO audiences loud, aggressive punk rock music every summer since.
“One of the reasons why we started doing this is so that loud bands can play outside,” Powell said. “It seemed like with a lot of outdoor festivals in Colorado, there were a lot of jam bands and things that were maybe a little bit more palatable, so when we first started doing this, there just wasn’t a lot of loud music outside, at least not on this sort of local level. We’re trying to keep loud, aggressive rock and roll alive.”
Powell and Sevelin aren’t just business partners. They’re also bandmates in Senorita Sometimes, which in many ways, according to the duo, only strengthens their bond and makes them better at getting sh#t done.
“We’re a really good team,” Sevelin said. “When I’m stressed out, he’s not, and when he’s stressed out, I’m not.”
Powell added: “Every day we’re texting each other, and one of us will be saying, ‘Oh my God, we’re gonna lose our ass,’ and the other one says, ‘No, dude, it’s gonna be fine.’ And then the next day the other one of us will be saying, ‘Oh my God, we’re totally gonna lose our ass,” and then the other one says, ‘Dude, we’re good.”
New Worst Fest has traditionally been a charity concert, having raised thousands of dollars for various organizations in the past, however, this will be the first year that it’s not technically a charity show…but it still kind of is. As Powell explained, he realized that raising money for the bands was quite a charity all on its own.
“In my head, I was thinking like the people that could use the money are these bands,” Powell said. “These broke-ass musicians are always putting out their time and energy playing benefit concerts, but then who benefits the bands?”
While each year’s festival has more or less been held at different locations around Fort Collins, Powell and Sevelin are hoping they’ve found a permanent home this year in the Lyric, as this will be the first year New Worst Fest will grace the backyard of the popular FOCO multi-purpose venue.
“We want the Lyric to be the host of this forever,” Sevelin said. “And we want this to be the loudest, biggest grassroots festival in the history of Fort Collins.”
From the brilliant mind of original singer/guitarist Adrienne Rae Ash, Plasma Canvas is certainly a local northern Colorado punk band that needs no introduction. After spending some time as a two-piece, Ash said the band recently expanded its lineup to a 4-piece with Jordan Pasquin on drums, Jarod Ford on bass, and Miles Stevenson on guitar.
The crew just dropped their new record, “Dusk” earlier this year, and if that weren’t enough, they’re fresh off a tour with the Descendants this last May. Plasma Canvas isn’t a band that’s known for sitting still, and to prove the point, they won’t just be playing one festival on July 22. They’ll be playing two. Before taking the stage at New Worst, the band will be starting their day in Denver at the Punk Rock Saves Lives Festival featuring Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Flatfoot 56, and Smoking Popes.
“We’ve been a part of a couple of the New Worst Festivals,” Ash said. “Craig and Stacy are really great. They’re in bands themselves and just wanna put on cool shows. Everyone involved in New Worst Fest are good people, and they’re always working on doing something meaningful and impactful in the community, so I always have fun playing this fest.”
Headlining along with Plasma Canvas is Greeley’s very own rock band INTHEWHALE, which consists of Nathaniel Valdez and Eric Riley. Also known for never slowing down, Valdez and Riley have been hard at work on a new full-length album set to drop this October. In addition to the new album, they’ll be releasing a new single a week after New Worst Fest on July 28.
“Fort Collins is one of our favorite places to play on earth, and Plasma Canvas is one of our favorite bands to play with on earth, so we’re STOKED!” INTHEWHALE said.
Joining INTHEWHALE and Plasma Canvas on the New Worst Fest lineup will be Jesus Christ Taxi Driver, Senorita Sometimes, Robert Shredford, Knife Knife (another Powell project), Joy Subtraction, and the School of Rock House Band.
Powell and Sevelin will be the first to admit they’re not concert promoters, and truth be told, they’re not even out for a profit. They’re just simply trying to bring local bands together to have a good loud time. So far, they’ve been successful, and so long as punk rock is alive and well in the streets of Fort Collins, they’ll continue to be successful for many summers to come.
“This is just a special festival that we can come out and celebrate these rock bands and play really loud and not have to worry about anything and just come as you are and rock out,” Sevelin said.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit lyriccinema.com/home.