"It was a lot of fun," recalls Truth Cell guitarist Shane Murray, whose band Slackjaw appeared on the 1994 edition. "On a bill like that, you get to expose your band to a lot of people you normally wouldn't get to."
Though few believed the concept would never return, a revival is underway. Beginning Wednesday, eighteen deserving acts will take the stage -- six a night -- to deliver their punchiest thirty-minute sets. One song from each will be included on a fourth Loaded volume, scheduled for release later this year. Unlike previous editions, the new disc will get nationwide distribution and marketing, with an emphasis on college-radio airplay.
"The potential is awesome," Murray says enthusiastically. "You can do endless things with something like that, depending on how business-savvy your band is."
As with the original series, variety is king, with seasoned favorites such as the Band That Saved the World and Jesse Jackson 5 playing alongside acclaimed new-ish acts such as Salt the Earth and Ghosty. Bands from neighboring cities have been invited as well, including Manhattan ska toasters Ruskabank and KC grit-rockers the Last of the V8s. The V8s will be in good company with the pulverizing thrash of the Esoteric, whose recent tour with Coalesce was the stuff of mosh-pit dreams. Also returning from the road is Jumbo's Killcrane, whose sludgy sonic molasses has become an underground favorite in Lawrence. Having just completed a lengthy road jaunt and wrapped up recording its third album, the quartet is more than prepared to bring real rock home to roost.
"We're a well-oiled machine," frontman Erik Jarvis deadpans. "I'm ready for it. It's definitely going to be interesting. Maybe people can break through their little capsule of music that they're into, have an open mind towards genres that they wouldn't listen to that much. But really, I don't care if you like us or not."