The band 36 Crazyfists will headline this weekend's Kenai Summer Meltdown concert at Kenai Landing.
Photo courtesy 36 Crazyfists
Before he was ensnared in the world of music festivals, record labels and fans, Brock Lindow and his family fished. From age 6 until his band, 36 Crazyfists, signed their first record label in 1999, Lindow, the band's lead singer, spent his time commercial fishing and working at Kenai Landing when it was a cannery.
"My dad started fishing in the early 70s, but got his own boat and permit in the late 70s," Lindow said. "My uncle's still fishing the inlet. I've got six uncles and they're all fishermen."
Lindow grew up listening to Twisted Sister and Mtley Cre, but he said everything changed in the eighth grade when he heard Metallica.
"I'm a huge Metallica and Slayer fan," Lindow said. "I had sisters who were into Duran Duran and I was into those bands too, but once I discovered more aggressive music that was something I loved from the very beginning of hearing it."
After playing in more than 22 European countries from Italy to the United Kingdom, as well as almost every place in the U.S., Lindow and 36 Crazyfists will be the Summer Meltdown's grand finale this Saturday at the Kenai Landing, playing a full hour before the festival closes at 11 p.m. The meltdown starts at noon and features Omerta, Indefinate Etticate, Fallen Hero and more.
"It'll be a lot of fun," said James Rowell, director of operations for Kenai Landing. "We're really looking forward to it."
For Lindow and guitarist Steve Holt, playing at the Kenai Landing is like coming home.
"Coming down tomorrow and getting to catch up with everybody that I don't get to see very often is going to be cool," Holt said. "I get to spend some time down there and run around and catch up with everybody."
Holt, influenced by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, received his first guitar, a B.C. Rich Warlock, when he was a kid growing up in Kenai.
"It was a good way to spend winters," he said. "I played sports a little bit in high school, but football was not up my alley."
So Holt picked up his Warlock and spent his days playing the Scorpions, Black Sabbath and anything else he could teach himself. Things really clicked for him when he learned to play a power chord.
"It was like, 'I get it, I get how this works,'" he said.
Lindow, who fished and worked at the cannery before the Kenai Landing turned into a tourist attraction, said coming back to play is like coming home.
"I had sentimental value for this place before I got married there," he said. "But because I grew up there and worked there for that cannery not too long ago, that place has a real special piece of my heart."
Now that the Meltdown is in its third year, dealing with permits and other logistics is much easier, but it wasn't always easy. Kurt Bunde, co-owner of AKSoul Productions, said introducing Alaskans to the concept of a rock concert was difficult at first and anticipates the same challenges now that the company decided to branch out.
"We've had to educate some people along the way that a festival like this isn't something like they're used to going to," Bunde said, adding that many of the issues his company's run into can be contributed to Alaska's isolation. "You can't come and go during the event."
Becoming recognized as a successful band from Alaska is just as challenging as throwing a rock festival here. While every member of 36 Crazyfists is from Anchorage, Lindow said their home base is in Portland, Ore.
"Having a base isn't relevant anymore I don't think," Lindow said. "It doesn't matter where we are; all we're doing is writing records and touring."
AKSoul got its start in a much smaller way, working with local bands, doing local shows. But now, Bunde said a lot more of the bigger metal bands are seeking them out rather than AKSoul having to convince them to come north.
"We don't have the venues that seat 25,000," Bunde said. "We have worked with what a great response (the bands) get from the kids up here and how much fun they're able to have doing outside-of-the-box things like fishing and snowboarding."
Anchorage's Meltdown typically attracts 3,000 people a year, but Lindow said he'd be happy if a couple hundred show up.
"Everyone's excited of seeing how it will turn out in Kenai," Lindow said. "We're extremely excited for the people out there, but we'll keep it safe for a few hundred 'cause I don't want to ask for too much."
Rowell said he knows for sure that people all the way from Arizona are going to be there. In addition to the music, staff will be on hand to keep the beer and Red Bull flowing at the beer garden and Sockeye's will be open its regular hours, he said.
"I think Kenai itself is excited about having an event of this size coming to the area," Rowell said. "Everyone I talked to from the check out girls at Safeway and the hardware guys at Home Depot, the community is real positive about it."
The Summer Meltdown starts Saturday at noon at the Kenai Landing. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.
Despite international acclaim, 36 Crazyfists are still Alaskan at heart and have been able to use that attitude to connect with their fans.
"Not a lot has changed," Holt said. "We're definitely your average Joes."
Jessica Cejnar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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