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This Ain't No Picnic
May 18, 1999

Some of the most popular and respected names in experimental and underground rock, including Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney and Guided By Voices, are scheduled to play the "This Ain't No Picnic" festival July 4 in Irvine, Calif.

Sonic Youth will headline a bill that includes Rocket From the Crypt, Sunny Day Real Estate, Superchunk, Apples in Stereo and Mike Watt. The all-day show will be held on three stages at the Oak Canyon Ranch park.

"[These are] diverse voices -- bands that aren't scared to be different," said Mike Watt, the ex-fIREHOSE singer/bassist whose most recent solo album, Contemplating the Engine Room, featured "Breaking the Choke Hold".

"There's not one sound for everybody that day," said Watt, whose early-'80s punk band the Minutemen recorded the song "This Ain't No Picnic," which inspired the festival's name.

Organizer Paul Tollett of Goldenvoice Promotions said once New York noise-pop innovators Sonic Youth were booked, he looked for newer bands that Sonic Youth had influenced.

"It grew into more than we thought it would," Tollett said. "Bands are still calling now trying to get onto the show and it's all filled up."

Other groups confirmed to play include avant-garde bands such as the Boredoms, Hovercraft and Scarnella, emo-rockers the Promise Ring, singer/songwriter Will Oldham and the Belle and Sebastian literary side-project, Looper.

Watt said he hasn't played the festival's namesake song in 15 years, but he may teach it to new collaborators Nels Cline and Bob Lee for the show. The Minutemen broke up in 1985 when singer/guitarist D. Boon died in a van crash.

"I was really proud that they asked me if they could call it that," Watt said. "Maybe it'll make people think of D. Boon."

Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth, initially comprising of guitarist / vocalists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, guitarist / bassist / vocalist Kim Gordon and drummer Richard Edson, were formed in New York City in 1981. A product of the No-Wave music scene of the late 1970s, the group had their roots in abrasive, experimental music, with Moore and Ranaldo having previously worked with the experimental composer Glenn Branca. The band were joined in 1985 by drummer Steve Shelley, and have now recorded 14 albums together, as well as many side and solo projects. Their work has been consistently challenging and innovative, and they are widely regarded as one of the most intriguing and influential bands of their time.


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