Like most things that become New Orleans institutions, Creepy Fest started somewhat by accident. The brainchild of independent record label owner and horror filmmaker Bill Heintz grew out of a gory hippie spoof called Creepy Dean.
Heintz, himself a member of long-running horror-punks The Pallbearers, called on local punk and metal acts to soundtrack the film about an apartment complex full of tree-huggers warring with an unsettling new neighbor. After the movie was released, Heintz used his knowledge of booking shows and releasing records via his Terror Optics label to throw a soundtrack release party. That show spiraled into something that Heintz said was “bigger than expected”: a three-night throwdown showcasing all that the local punk and metal scene had to offer.
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It was a good time, so Heintz decided to do it again. And again. And so on until the present, where the festival is entering its 10th straight year of bringing all the macabre energy that a city that likes to parade its dead through the streets can handle.
While the first three iterations of Creepy Fest were a largely local affair, word quickly got around among the small network of Gulf Coast punk acts who like death as much as d-beat. The fest grew to allow for out-of-town acts who wanted in on the action (that action being on a flyer alongside movies with names like Goregasm). While the fest has always been an incredible time for local acts and people in love with the spookier side of things, this year Heintz stretched out for a big get: the deathrock legends TSOL will play their absolutely unassailable first two albums at Santos on July 13.
“It’s the 10th year. I had to go big,” Heintz explained, before noting that the festival is limited to a certain size by design.
“I try to make sure it’s not too big, because I’m doing a lot of this by myself,” he said. “It still gets out of hand.”
In spite of the rise in the fest’s profile, it still retains the vibe of a reunion and celebration of a small community. And the energy of all of these like-minded souls coming together keeps Heintz willing to put the energy in to shaping the fest year after year.
“Once it’s done, it gets talked about all year long,” he said. “And that’s what motivates me to keep doing it even if it takes up six months of my life.”
While all of the Creepy Fest sets are worth dropping in on, don’t miss the return of Dead Boys to New Orleans or the screening of Kings of Sleaze, a documentary about a band that stirred nationwide controversy with their crude and offensive lyrics.