What started as a one-day festival hosted in lieu of the PopFest in 2009 has grown to an impressive four-day festival hosting nearly 30 bands on three stages in two venues. Derek Wiggs treated PopFest as a celebration for his birthday and nearly 10 years ago, when PopFest temporarily died, Wiggs decided he would just throw himself his own party.
But this party was different.
It involved all of his favorite bands playing for hours inside and outside of Little Kings Shuffle Club, Wiggs’ home away from home. As this festival grew, the gap in the music scene for punk music began to get smaller, and eventually SlopFest became known as the punk and metal festival of Athens.
“It was a one-day thing the first time and it’s grown each year but it’s just kind of a tribute to PopFest, but the sloppy version of it,” Wiggs said.
All the proceeds from this festival go to the Girls Rock Athens nonprofit which works to empower women and women-identifying individuals through music education and creativity. While the bands play their music, Girls Rock Athens play its part by running a collective merch booth where all bands can sell their merch.
The festival is hosted on the cusp of the annual Girls Rock Athens music camp happening the last weekend of July, so proceeds are able to fund the camp right before it starts.
“When I was a kid I just got handed a guitar like it was a boy’s toy, but not as many girls get that opportunity, so I think Girls Rock Camp is a very nice thing to have,” Wiggs said.
This four-day festival starts on July 19 with bands rotating from the indoor stage to the outdoor stage until July 22. On July 22, the bands migrate to Hi-Lo Lounge and play a final “cool down” show to finish off the festival.
The lineup for this year includes notable Athens bands along with newer bands and bands from out of town to cover genres such as punk, heavy metal, heavy rock and a few others sprinkled in for variety. Must-see bands include Motherfucker, Ghost and Goat, Luxury Vehicle and Monsoon.
"It’s always a very happy, community focused festival. Everyone’s there who wants to be there and be part of the music community of Athens."
- Erica Strout, guitarist and vocalist for Motherfucker
A four day wristband is $12, or each day is $5 at the door.
For some, this is their first time performing. But other bands are veterans to the festival. Motherfucker has been playing SlopFest since the year it started and treats SlopFest as its birthday, since the 2009 festival was the first show it played as a newly formed band.
Each year the festival is a celebration. Members bring cake, shoot confetti, attempt to cover other bands in sparkles and look forward to spending four days with their friends in the music scene.
“It’s always a very happy, community focused festival,” said Erica Strout, guitarist and vocalist for Motherfucker. “Everyone’s there who wants to be there and be part of the music community of Athens.”
Strout sees this festival as a keystone in the Athens punk and heavy rock music scene, hosting the bands in a collective four days to celebrate a genre often shadowed by the popular alternative rock and pop scene.
“The heavy rock scene in Athens is on the small side, and I think that creates unity, but at the same time it would be nice to see more bands who were playing heavier music and finding an audience for it,” Strout said. “Athens isn’t as interested in rock-and-roll as I would like them to be.”
SlopFest is more than just a festival to attendees like Stephen Cramer, who has avidly attended SlopFest since it started, with the exception of two years he wasn’t living in Athens. SlopFest provides a positive space for him to mingle with the “punks of Athens.”
“I definitely missed it [those] two years because it’s such a positive festival. It’s mostly punk, but positive punk, friendly people,” Cramer said. “If you’re interested in talking to strangers, SlopFest is a great place to be at. You might find your next favorite band or your next best friend.”
Bands begin playing on July 19 at 9 p.m. and continue until midnight with bands alternating from the indoor stage to the outdoor stage at Little Kings every 30 minutes.
The July 20 and 21 shows both start at 8 p.m. and run until midnight, and the final day only has three bands billed and is hosted at Hi-Lo Lounge from 9-11 p.m.
“SlopFest is a thing that is really important in this community and it’s made affordable, it’s made fun, it’s something for the people by the people,” Strout said.