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Keeping the 'spazz' alive

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Mackenzie Tewksbury

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A large building in the shadows of Dickinson Avenue was once the heart of a group of local musicians and music lovers with the drive and talent to create something special. 

The space, fully equipped with blown-out speakers, a catwalk-style loft above the stage and scribbles on the walls, came to be known as the Spazzatorium. It was the creative hub for an underground music scene that just wanted to play music. It was shuttered by large blinds and to the average bystander, the fact that a building nestled on Dickinson Avenue housed such a thing would’ve came as a complete shock. But when the truth of what was happening in this building eventually came to light, the Spazzatorium was shut down. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens — and that was just the beginning of the spazz.  

The spirit of the music that once echoed through the blown speakers and the dirty walls now thrives on stage at Crossbones Tavern or parking lots at Christy’s Euro Pub every March at what’s known as Spazz Fest.

Jeff Blinder, leader of the festival, has made a point in keeping the Spazz spirit alive, and with the help volunteers, local music venues and bands, the spazz continues on March 22 for it’s ninth year. Blinder said the festival brings bands from all over the east coast to Greenville, and while they may not be headliners, they are sure to bring a great time.

“I call it the Greenville way. A lot of the bands have shown they can kick butt and Greenville is responding well,” Blinder said. 

Jordan Finn, a long-time Spazz Fest fan, said that’s exactly why he keeps going back to Spazz Fest. He said you won’t likely know the name of the band when they are playing at Spazz Fest, but give it a few years, and then everyone will. 

“That’s what I love about Spazz. It’s just like, “Who are these guys? Let me pop into this bar.’ And then your mind is blown.” 

Blinder said he wants to make sure the festival has something for everyone. Whatever genre of music the listener likes, he is likely to find a venue that has it. The festival is high-energy — there is always something going on. Blinder said while there’s a show at Crossbones, there’s a whole different kind of showing playing down the street at Trollingwood Taproom and Brewery, and an even more different kind of band playing across the street at Pitt Street Brewing Co. 

“It’s sensory overload,” Blinder said. “I mean, people even made shirts that say, ‘I survived Spazz Fest.’”