In the pulsating heart of Marghera, Venice, something remarkable unfolded on the 19th and 20th of May, 2023. A rhythmic symphony of amplified rebellion resounded through the walls of Centro Sociale Rivolta, as the venerable Venezia Hardcore Fest celebrated its milestone tenth year. This well-loved convergence of the hardcore scene, born from the dynamic spirit of the Venezia Hardcore Crew, seized its rightful place once again after a two-year hiatus, standing as an emblem of resilience, passion, and community.
Having made a triumphant return in September 2022, the festival strove towards its decennial celebration with an undying fervor that could only be matched by the fervent expectations of its attendees. Fans from far and wide flocked to this revered gathering, marking their calendars for what promised to be an unforgettable weekend amidst the enchanting Venetian lagoon.
The festival boasted a stellar lineup, a veritable roll-call of over thirty bands, promising to make the stage quake with the raw energy of their performances. International acts such as High Vis and Bongzilla intermingled with esteemed veterans of the Italian scene like Raein, while rising local sensations also seized their moment to shine.
From the commanding strains of Raein performing ‘Il n’y a pas de orchestre,’ to the gritty reunion show of ED, the festival was a riotous display of the diverse, eclectic energy that makes the hardcore scene so vital and captivating.
Beyond the music, the event also offered a vast merchandise market and its much-anticipated traditional skate area, enhancing the communal, celebratory atmosphere.
In this exclusive retrospective, we sit down with the indomitable festival crew that orchestrated this monumental event, delving into the heart of the festival’s narrative, the incredible experiences, the challenges, and the triumphs.
From its grassroots beginnings in a rehearsal room to its current standing as a beacon for the global hardcore punk community, the journey of the Venezia Hardcore Fest is a testament to the power of music, unity, and unyielding dedication.
Please take us back to your first edition and tell us about the initial idea for this gathering
When we say that Venezia Hardcore Fest is “a rehearsal room concert that never stopped dreaming”, we mean it. We really started as a rehearsal room show, just with almost 1000 people attending.
In the beginning it was just three of us (Samall, who’s the mastermind of the event; Piero, the autor of the Trivel logo, and Leonardo, Samall’s bandmate in Slander). We were three twenty-something guys spending our days playing foosball in a youth center and smoking in Mestre’s parking lots. Life was pretty boring and we had no clue who shared our musical and artistic interests in the surroundings. So we decided to do things ourselves and create with our own hands the opportunities we craved for. In our dialect we say: “Dai fioi per i fioi”, which is quite tricky to translate. It’s kind of “By the fella for the fella”.
We started with a small gig involving local bands in a pub in Mira, a town close to Venice. This led us to become friends with other guys from other towns nearby and expanded the circle of the people involved in our project. Then, we organized the first proper Venezia Hardcore Fest in a rehearsal room. The response was amazing, both in terms of attendance and of consolidation of the team.
In 2014 we moved from what was then called the Pop Corn Club, also in Marghera, to the CS Rivolta, which has been the home of the festival for many years now. In addition to moving to a bigger location, the event also changed perspective, but without betraying our origins. We never planned to become a “big” event: we still do not, we want to keep it welcoming and folksy.
After all, our primary aim was to bring people together. Music is fundamental, but most of all it’s the people who make the Fest; both the people volunteering to make it possible and the people hanging out and having fun. There’s a big family gravitating towards Venezia Hardcore, and that’s precisely what makes it such a vibrant, unique, and inclusive scene in the global hardcore punk community.
How was the pandemic era for your local scene and the fest (2019-2023)?
In my opinion, most of those years have been pretty terrible for our local scenes to be honest. Those have been some crazy and tough times for sure, lots of people had to re-shape their lives and we clearly witnessed some dark days for local bands and their music.
First proper shows have been returning only around springtime in 2022. There still was a lot of uncertainty around live music, its laws, but most of all we often caught ourselves wondering how people would have felt about this kind of shows which – as you know – are really based on physical interactions.
We approached Venezia Hardcore Fest 2022 with lots of doubts and question marks in our heads, but people’s feedback has been great and everything felt just right as the festival started.
How is the post pandemic era in your local metal and hardcore scene?
Not that bad, apparently things have got back to the pre-covid era and are running in full effect now. This has led to a bunch of enjoyable and packed shows, which is obviously great – but most of all, people are willing to play music again so hopefully we’ll have some fresh bands coming up shortly and this is always good, you know?
Feel free to recommend some new up and coming bands from your area worth a check in 2023.
Well, they’re not exactly “new” but Fulci surely is one of the most interesting and powerful projects coming out of Italy over the last bunch of years.
Shifting towards softer sounds, Jaguero has been getting a lot of buzzing over 2022 and they’ve been cooking a lot of things which might be released soon so don’t sleep on them and catch up with their music.
What an eclectic set of bands you had this year! Congrats! Can you tell us a bit about this unique selection of artists?
We always try to build a lineup that features something for everyone. Even if the name of the festival may suggest something different, each year we’ve been delivering a full-range selection, going from death metal and grindcore to indie and screamo bands. We’re constantly aiming to offer a unique lineup every year, and if some of the bands we booked played at Venezia Hardcore Fest already, we arrange special sets with them. So it’s always gonna be a one-of-a-kind show!
Was it tough to get Raein on the bill?
Not at all, actually. Samall booked Raein at some festivals here and there over the years and we’ve always been in touch with Michele – their drummer – who is actively involved in this scene with his screen-printing company as well. Things lined up pretty quick and easily, and we think having them playing their “Il n’y a pas d’orchestre” in full is gonna be one for the books, definitely!
Apart from these performances, what else did you offer during the fest?
There’s so much actually! First of all, on Saturday May 19th we hosted a skate contest in our very own skate ramp. The ramp remained accessible to anyone willing to bring his deck to the fest: in the past few years we also had some Vans pro riders keeping people stoked and keeping the good vibes going the whole time.
There was be also a huge market area with dozens of stands, including record labels & distros, tattoo shops and clothing brands. Also, one of the most appreciated sides of the fest is the food area, with two locations delivering great food, including delicious pizza and vegan dishes – there’s something for everyone!
Check out our special feature on Stegosauro here.
Is there anything else you’d like to add, both festival and non-fest related?
Over the last bunch of years we’ve been witnessing some golden days for alternative music. Turnstile’s Grammy nomination testifies that so much went on overseas and it’s just one of the multiple examples we could bring to the table.
USA and Australia have a lot going on at the moment, there are so many young and talented bands coming up and local scenes are growing bigger month after month. We hope people will manage to get this vibe going in Italy as well.
Support your local scene if you love this shit, don’t be afraid to get involved and connect with people if you feel you’re in your comfort zone.
Pick someone and start creating something cool – whether it’s a book, a show or starting a band, a fanzine, etc. Build memories you will cherish for your whole lifetime!