Rustbelt Ripperfest Founder on the Thrills & Challenges of Running the Cleveland Event

Matt Sachire might be a masochist. The DIY promoter is behind next month's multi-day, multi-venue Rustbelt Ripperfest in Cleveland, Ohio. 

The fest will feature performances from Dropdead, YDI, Body Farm, Woodstock 99, Imploders, and The Hell, among tons of other Billboard chart superstars. An aspect of Rustbelt Ripperfest that I find appealing is its diversity in styles of hardcore punk. Oftentimes, these kinds of things lean to heavily into one side of the sonic diagram.

Going down from February 22-25 in Cleveland, I got the lowdown from Matt about all-things Rustbelt Ripperfest and the work behind the scenes.

When/how did the idea for the fest come to you? 

Well, since I was 14, I always booked a big overbooked show on the weekend closest to my birthday, not for the attention (not that I'm not a glutton for attention) but to make sure I could see my favorite bands and my favorite people.

Last year, my guitarist jokingly said, "might as well add another day and make it a fest." I ended up doing just that with 2 nights, 8 bands each night, mostly regional. But it was at a 21+ bar and a bunch of kids got kicked out, so for 2024 I added different venues for more all ages shows, then it kind of just spun from there.

Now the birthday aspect is gone, and it's just a pain in the ass which is coincidentally on my birthday [laughs].

Dropdead (Photo: Benedetto Manzella)

Anyone who has ever put on a festival like this together knows how much of a headache it can be. How has it been for you so far? What have been some of the biggest hurdles/issues you’ve had to deal with?

I've done smaller fests like a 2-day animal shelter benefit when I lived in Columbus, but nothing of this magnitude. The biggest hurdles are always going to be gear and money. The fest started this year with the $43 in my pocket, then I found a few alcohol companies (one of which suddenly isn't responding), and a label to help throw some money financially.

But with 50 bands, I don't want to have them pay for the other shows, at the same time 50 bands worth of people would put every venue at capacity. I'm doing Ohio bands half off and pay what you can for the traveling bands. I have options if anything happens, but I also would rather not owe a friend a bunch of money for the rest of my life [laughs].

I have talked to Dusty from Skullfest and Ray from Forward Ohio/For Real Fest for advice but both were ran drastically different from each other and did a lot I am unable to do, but I take a little advice here, take a little advice there, and I'll figure out the rest. Also, just time. I have so many emails I constantly have to send and so many things I have to do, next year I'm doing a collective with friends in the scene, I just didn't get the idea this year until me and my friend from Spike Pit booked the majority of the bands. 

Tell me a bit about some of the lesser-known bands on the bill and what can we expect from them?

I'm excited to see Man-eaters, that's the guys from Cülo doing Annihilation Time-y rock 'n' roll riff hardcore punk stuff.

I've always been a fan of Minority Threat, they were originally a Columbus band and I lived with the drummer Antonio for a few months. They're kind of a mix of '80s and '90s-style hardcore, all African American group with songs about racism, police brutality, culture control, etc. It's really cool stuff and you can feel the emotion when watching Jordan sing these songs. 

Drug Abuse and Spike Pit are my bands partners in crime. Drug Abuse sound like OG California power violence, blast best breakdown blast beat breakdown caveman vocals. Spike Pit are my friends and coworkers, they started as a sloppy '80s hardcore-style band and gradually added more metallic elements. Not metallic as in metalcore, but like Judas Priest and Exciter riffs into hardcore punk songs. 

All of the Cincinnati bands on the bill and I have been close for years. Really angry riffs and vocals, everyone in the bands look like a big scary cast member of Deathwish 2, and they're all just great and fun people.

Primitive Impulse is more of a standard raw punk band, while Butchers Dog (featuring Henry from Brody's Militia) are more heavy riffs. Two very fun and intense bands. 

Primitive Impulse (Photo: Josh Brown)

Leaking Head from Rochester are just a snotty punk Trainwreck in the best way. 

Triceratops are older more melodic '90s hardcore-style, real fun stuff. Piss Me Off have been getting a lot of traction here. 

Self Checkout and Woodstock 99 are both definitely going to shine on this show and worth looking at. Good Cleveland hardcore is really all I can say to explain those two. Good riffs, lots of attitude and bitterness, good look, lots of energy. You like Poison Idea? You'll probably like both of those. 

Woodstock 99 (Photo: Michael Thorn)

Lady Parts and Fantasy Lane are coming up from California and doing a few shows with Möwer (Pittsburgh), all three bands worth checking out. Möwer and Fantasy Lane more on the rock n roll motorcycle guy Lemmy side of the spectrum (Möwer does a Mötorhead worship fest in Pittsburgh) while Lady Parts are snotty and angry '80s hardcore. 

Also...I have to shamelessly promote my band, TV Drugs. 

What are some tips you have for people coming from out of town for the fest who have never been to Cleveland? An insider knowledge you can share?

Hausfrau, My Minds Eye, and Mistake By The Lake Records are all solid record stores that are within a short drive. They are all great in their own ways and definitely an easy way to run out of money fast. 

Air BnB can be kind of pricey but the sleazy motels near 117th are sometimes absolutely disgusting. I know people who have found bed bugs and roaches and gotten lice in those places, total hooker hotels. Just make friends at the shows and sleep on their floors or couch, most people here are ok once you break their shell.  

Aside from the Dropdead show, everything is relatively close, find a hotel or someones house and Uber. If you are ever going to any shows at Prototype, park at the train station a half block away. 

What are the odds you’ll break even?

I honestly don't know what to expect. Last year was all at the same bar and we made enough to give all 16 bands a few hundred each, with the limitations of the shows being 21+ and, while I had a fun lineup, no big draws like Dropdead or YDI.

I feel like this one with some of the bands and the "WHAT KIND OF AN IDIOT BOOKS A FEST IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER" factor (it hasn't been that snowy here the last 5 years, just kinda cold), and the new batch of punks and hardcore kids in Cleveland (and everywhere else)  that it will do well. There's no way in hell I'll make any profit, but who the hell does?   

If we do well this year that just means we do more next year. 

Rustbelt Ripperfest runs from February 22-25 in Cleveland.


Tagged: body farm, dropdead, ydi