Formed in 1997, seminal screamo pioneers, Connecticut's Jeromes Dream created the very foundation for all that we know and love about the emoviolence genre. There should be no need to explain who these guys are to anyone who has spent any time in the internet screamo-trenches.
New York's The Sawtooth Grin have almost a mythic quality to them. Formed in 1999 in what was a truly lawless time for a genre eventually categorized as mathcore, TSG stood atop the relatively small mountain of others. In true cult fashion, they faded into the shadows after a single LP, with a handful of other recordings being released posthumously. 24 years since the birth of the band, they return with a new album and honor us with headlining one day of this year's fest. 2023, the Return of the Tooth.
the sawtooth grin
euclid c finder!
Mathy, catchy, and of course crushing, Euclid C Finder! was born in Baltimore, Maryland and has since won the hearts of all who dare to be crushed. Recently they spent time in Salem, MA recording new material with Zach Weeks at God City Studios. Not known for playing many shows, they’ve allowed us to partake in the mayhem this year.
Orlando’s Gillian Carter have been around for what seems like an impossibly long time for a screamo band without any real hiatuses. The work ethic, live performance, and determination of Logan Rivera should at least win you over through attrition if nothing else. After destroying last year’s fest, it seemed only right to let them come back and pulverize the few pieces of people they left behind.
Malevich. Atlanta’s blackened, slogging husk of an entity, have a tendency to put the listener in the darkest hole they’ve ever been. And then they show you that hole has a basement. Having spent the last half of a decade crisscrossing the United States on multiple tours, spending a surreal moment on Adult Swim, and collecting unsettling stage props, they return to Chicago to consensually harm us all.
Back to Baltimore for screamo veterans Eyelet. Having experienced more ups, downs, and lineup changes than most bands could endure, it’s remarkable that their last LP still managed to be considered hands-down their best work to date. We’ll have the privilege of seeing them perform twice this year. Once at the pre-show in a battle set with Crowning. And again for the main fest where they’ll be playing their latest LP “The Devil Shining Out Your Eyes” in full.
black matter device
I don’t remember who said it, but someone somewhere once commented that Meth was one of the only bands around these days carrying the torch for legitimately scary music. It would be very hard to disagree with whichever scholar that was, as last year’s fest set seemed to immediately change the mood, environment, and general safety of all in attendance. This year they return to introduce their new LP for us, a great deal of time before it’s release.
Home to any number of screamo bands, Richmond, Virginia’s dissonant riff masters Black Matter Device have been bringing the high paced skronk since 2014. Catch them on Saturday making their standard amount of terrible, horrible noise.
Jimmy Fallon has The Roots, Middleman Records has Coma Regalia, and ZBR can claim Crowning as their house band of choice. Whether housing bands, hosting the preshow, being tech for the fest, or co-running the label, Crowning is baked into the DNA of ZBR FEST whether you like it or not. This year we return to the pre-show to battle Eyelet in a battle set for the ages.
Home to what some would refer to as the golden era of emo and post hardcore, Massa Nera have inherited the shine put on decades of New Jersey’s finest. Zegema Beach has been along for the ride from the beginning, and seeing them grow into the band they are today has been an incredible, yet not surprising ride. Their latest album, “Derramar | Querer | Borrar” was years in the making and immediately carved a spot on any number of year end lists. Veterans of every year to date, it wouldn’t be a trve ZBR FEST without Massa Nera.
Iowa’s Closet Witch are an elusive animal. Abrasive and pummeling, the few basements I’ve seen them destroy are baked into my headbank forever. This year they’ll give us twenty minutes to soak up the violence.
Because Blind Girls is from Australia. Which we’ve learned is VERY far away from Chicago. So it’s without a doubt an incredible thing to have them grace our fest this year. Whether beautiful or assaulting, there’s an unmistakable urgency to Blind Girls. I’m so fucking excited.
Gorgeous screamo out of Bogotá, Colombia. This band has been consistently killing it over the last half a decade, taking part in some of the best splits of the last few years. Yet somehow this isn’t the band traveling the furthest to play the fest.
Having recently toured with these folks, it was an easy decision to add them to this year’s fest as they night after night crushed it with a set that feels both huge and subtle. They’ll be coming to the fest fresh off a tour with The World is a Beautiful Place.
Veterans of almost any era of screamo, the lords of the split, Indiana’s Coma Regalia have put out releases with a nearly unmatched consistency. It helps that founding member Edie runs the integral Middleman Records, and has been a stalwart supporter of the scene since as long as I’ve known the scene ever existed.
Mouthing’s EP or LP or whatever it is might be the angriest thing I’ve ever heard. From the pace to the production to the absolute throat slicing vocals, it is just relentlessly painful. It’s also very deliberate and inventive, incorporating a lot of thought and strategy into the crunch. A perpetual intensity they seem to be able to wield in whatever direction they choose.
Everything about this fucking band looks like fun. Couple of real life cartoon characters out of Brooklyn make up this bass and drums duo who play some of the strangest dance-riffs you’re gonna hear. I have a feeling we’re all gonna be sweaty during this one.
Portland’s Rainmaking were the first band we wanted to ask to play this year’s fest. Wall to wall catharsis on top of some of the most interesting riff-writing I’ve heard in a long time. Now tell them they have to play “Potliquor”.
ROTTING IN DIRT
Among the heavier things we’ve released, I knew we were going in on this album as soon as I heard “Seizing in the Warmth of Lilith’s Embrace”. Almost always antagonistic, every song on this record sounds like it’s supposed to insidiously hurt you.
A fest outlier, Minneapolis’ Victor Shores will be providing the much needed emo-punk revival that absolutely must be right around the corner. The Skeletal Lightning alumni just released their latest album on Tomb Tree.
With roots in the chaotic tech scene of the early to mid 2000s, Orphan Donor is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Jared Stimpfl, formerly involved in the band Motel Bible and currently drumming in Secret Cutter. Known for not playing many shows, we’re honored they would grace us with a set at this year’s fest.
Veterans of the scene, Carrion Spring has gone through many incarnations in their nearly 15 years of screamo life, while always being helmed by Adam Brock Ciresi. This year’s configuration makes their return to the midwest to remind us of their worth.
Since we had Past Forms on the preshow last year, it seemed only right to have New Forms on this years’. For only having about 6 minutes of recorded music from 2019, New Forms have managed to stay present and active with their brand of classic ferocious emoviolence after a few lineup changes.
Tim Horton’s own Terry Fucking Green are making their second attempt at playing our Midwest edition of ZBR FEST. After passport issues kept them away the first time, this time around they’re determined to make it into the van for their first chicago show. Will they ever release new material? Will that one christian guy with the same name on their spotify ever release new material? Find out both in May.
Thick riffs out of Kansas City, Nerver has always managed to stay on the peripherals of screamo awareness. Having contributed to our second installment of Meditations’ 4 way split series, these 4 strapping young lads recently released their latest LP on The Ghost is Clear Records.
Side project of label founder Dave Norman and jack of all trades Jesse Mowery, Apostles of Eris have taken a good honest swing at Coma Regalia’s record for most screamo split releases. They’ve assembled a full band for this year’s preshow so we can finally be graced with their physical shape as the Megazord of Vancouver and Richmond, Virginia.
apostles of eris
Speaking of Apostles of Eris’ copious splits, Portland’s Gossip absolutely crushed their half of the split last year, and will be bringing their epic and pulverizing style to this year’s preshow.
The tiny city of Providence, Rhode Island gives us yet another entry this year with Amitié. Boasting members of Dreamwell, Worst Days, and the founder of label Illuminate My Heart Records, New England’s screamo scene continues to infect this year’s lineup.
Having opened last year’s fest, we knew we needed to invite Scenario. Back for this year. Having just finished recording and mixing their new LP, the kings of the high string pull-off riff are back to burrow their way into the sceamo worlds’ collective consciousness.
Michigan’s Heavenly Blue runs 7 members deep, and The Polyphonic Spree of screamo returns for this year’s fest on short notice to once again bless us with their brand of bittersweet audio harm.
Two bands enter, one band leaves. Eyelet and Crowning will be participating in a battle set to the literal death at this years’ preshow. If you don’t know what a battle set is, get your ignorant ass to Empty Bliss on May 5th to find out.