Groups, tickets, streaming, schedule and more
In 2005 Eric Friedl and Zac Ives of Memphis’ Goner Records were planning an album release for one of their artists, The King Khan & BBQ Show. They intended to book a small show at the Buccaneer Lounge, but so many people asked to play on the line-up, the one-night gig turned into four days of music with over a dozen bands. . They dubbed this accidental festival “Gonerfest”. The festival – presented by Cooper-Young’s record label and retail outlet – was to become one of Bluff City’s unique and everlasting cultural events. Seventeen years and 18 events later – there were actually two separate festivals the first year – Gonerfest is still going strong. This year’s edition promises to be particularly memorable, with the return of festival inaugurators, The King Khan & BBQ Show. Here’s what you need to know before heading to Gonerfest 2022.
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An evolving music festival
Over the years, Gonerfest has become a Memphis flagship event that attracts hundreds of fans from around the world. Musically, the event has grown and transformed, expanding beyond its trash and garage rock roots. It has also garnered support and sponsorship from companies ranging from FedEx to Apple Music while maintaining its singular artistic spirit and community vibe.
The past two years have marked a major logistical shift for Gonerfest as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 festival was held as a streaming/online-only event. In 2021, Gonerfest returned as an in-person event, while also being streamed – an option available again this year. Historically, Gonerfest’s main nightly bills had taken place inside the Hi-Tone Café. But given the pandemic, Ives and Friedl opted to find a new outdoor venue in Midtown’s Railgarten, which will again host all festivities in 2022, including daytime/evening concerts September 22-25.
Performers from around the world
Headliners of the year include Bay Area garage/soul combo Shannon & the Clams, the aforementioned international R&B rockers The King Khan & BBQ Show, and pre-Oblivians/Reigning Sound Memphis band Compulsive Gamblers. Fred Lane & His Disheveled Monkeybiters, Minneapolis psych-rockers Green/Blue, Chicago indie rockers Mint Mile and Philly psych strummer Rosali – are also set to appear. This year’s festival will see the return of a strong international contingent led by Australian artists Gee Tee, Michael Beach, Partner Look, Screensaver and Research Reactor Corp, as well as Swiss artist Leopardo, UK synth band Freak Genes and Montreal punks Retail Simps. On the local side, Memphis post-punks Ibex Clone and Unapologetic label hip-hop artist A Weirdo From Memphis (AWFM) will perform, with the Magic Kids’ Bennett Foster returning to the stage with a new solo project .Highlights from the four day festival include the following f:Thursday: The opening night of Gonerfest – from 5 p.m. – will feature a powerful headlining duo, with The King Khan & BBQ Show and Shannon and the Clams. Sydney’s Research Reactor Corp also appears to be a highlight, with the Aussie band making their Memphis debut.
Friday: The day/night festivities will begin at noon on Friday and will continue until 11 p.m. More than a dozen acts are scheduled, with expected sets from Britain’s Freak Genes, Memphis noiseniks Aquarian Blood and Nashville’s Snooper, among others.
Saturday: Another long day of music on Saturday will kick off with Austin’s OD-EX and culminate with headliners the Compulsive Gamblers. Another dozen acts will play in between, with sets from local garage great Mister Jeff Evans, Melbourne’s Michael Beach and a Detroit rock double hit from Negative Approach and Tyvek.
Sunday: Sunday’s closing bill will feature an appearance by Mississippi bluesman RL Boyce and a performance by The Falsestarts, an all-star combo featuring Memphis musician Tim Prudhomme, Tripp Lamkins of The Grifters and Steve Shelley by Sonic Youth.
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MC and special guest DJs
The roster of MCs and DJs at this year’s event offers another exciting side to Gonerfest. Thursday’s opening ceremonies will be hosted by Memphis trash-rock legend Ross Johnson, while Goner TV’s Billups Allen will also assist the compere, along with Sick Thoughts’ Drew Owen. The festival’s DJ sets will see music spin by a selection of notables, including veteran music critic and author Byron Coley, Timmy Vulgar of Clone Defects and Human Eye, Australian radio host Annaliese Replica and the maven of Memphis music and WYXR program director Jared “Jay B.” Boyd.
Tickets and streaming passes
A handful of gold Gonerfest passes — which grant access to all events — are available for $100. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the Railgarten door each day. Cost is $30 for Thursday and $40 for Friday and Saturday shows. Admission to the Sunday show is free. For those unable to travel to Memphis to attend or wish to watch from the comfort of home, Goner will be live streaming all performances. Viewing tickets for this are $20. Live and streaming tickets can be purchased at Gonerfest.com.
September 22-25 at Railgarten, 2166 Central Ave.
For the full schedule or to purchase tickets, visit Gonerfest.com.