In May 2022, “elder emos” rejoiced when organizers revealed this year’s Furnace Fest lineup. Not only did the Birmingham, Alabama-based festival promise the first U.S. show from celebrated Seattle rock band Sunny Day Real Estate in over a decade, but also unveiled a bevy of bands who’d be performing their landmark releases, some of which are decades old.
The event includes a Midtown reunion, an Elliott reunion where the band will perform False Cathedrals, Thrice performing Illusion of Safety, Four Year Strong performing Enemy Of The World, Blindside performing Silence, Pedro The Lion performing Control and over 90 additional performances across the late-September weekend.
Furnace Fest is held at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday, September 23 – Sunday, September 25th. All-ages are welcome and children five-years-of-age and younger are free.
The festival was founded by Chad Johnson, a local promoter, and owner of Takehold Records in 2000 as a three-day music festival held annually at the historic landmark. From 2000-2003, Furnace Fest hosted more than 300 bands. Furnace Fest took a seventeen year nap before a small group of organizers conceived together what they believed would be a one-time reunion. That reunion was so well-received that organizers decided to plan the event again in 2022.
“Elliott was a band that we pursued pretty hard. We tried for three years to get Elliott on board and the answer was always no,” organizer Ryan Luther, who handles booking and band contracts for the festival, says. “When Sunny Day Real Estate announced their reunion and plans to play Furnace Fest, I think the opportunity for involvement was a little more appealing, but Elliott still said no. We just continued to negotiate and they finally said yes. That seems to have turned in to a subsequent run of about half-a-dozen shows.”
There were a few that got away, admit the organizers. “Bane was a big one,” Luther says.
“Strongarm was another that we’ve tried to bring back,” Johnson recalls. “Starflyer 59 was one that got away. Discount has been another we’ve been talking to the last three years. Grade has been one we’ve wanted to get.
“Dillinger Escape Plane, Botch, Coalesce,” Luther adds.
“Yeah, those are the trifecta,” jokes Johnson.
Despite the handful of misses, the lineup is still packed with heavy hitters. Mastodon, The Ghost Inside, Alexisonfire, Descendents, New Found Glory, The Story So Far, Poison The Well, The Acacia Strain, Anti-Flag, Earth Crisis, The Joy Formidable, Dying Wish, Kublai Khan TX, In Flames, Nothing, Shadows Fall, Stretch Armstrong, Movements, Morning Again, Strike Anywhere, and more are all confirmed for the 2022 event.
“We focus a lot on the experience; from the moment someone purchases the ticket to the day they return home we want it to be a seamless and really well thought out experience for them,” says organizer and Birmingham-based entrepreneur Johnny Grimes about the focus of their planning. “We don’t want people to feel like they’ve just come and seen some bands, we want them to feel like they’ve created a community and had an experience. From port-a-potties, to vendors, to food trucks, to access to water, all of those things play a significant role in that. We pay as much attention to those details as we can.”
Johnson says that their dedication to providing a positive and memorable experience for every attendee. “The venue is so unique and so special. There is no place that I’m aware of that is quite like Sloss Furnaces, which is a national, historic landmark. It is also very old and can be a bit dangerous in some areas that we close to the public. Last year, we hired a company last year to help us think through the festival through the lens of someone who has access needs — who has mobility issues, auditory needs, or a visual disability. We’re really trying to think through all that [so that those individuals also have their needs met].”
The full lineup, ticket prices, payment plan options and more are available at their website and additional information is available on Furnace Fest socials, including Twitter and Instagram at @furnacefest and Facebook at @wearefurnacefest.