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36 Crazyfists celebrates new album with Big Lake festival Saturday

Rachel Kenshalo
36 Crazyfists -- from left Mick Whitney, Kyle Baltus, Brock Lindow and Steve Holt -- will headline an open-air concert at the Big Lake Open Air Saturday, July 26 Taylor Ramsauer photo

Extreme sports and live music go hand in hand -- at least, according to Brock Lindow they do. The frontman of Anchorage’s most renowned metal outfit, 36 Crazyfists, is also the brains behind the Big Lake Open Air outdoor music festival this Saturday.

“This show has been in the works for a long time; it’s something we’ve been working on for three years," Lindow says. “It’s what I envision Woodstock was like, except this is the Big Lake dirt version.”

Big Lake Open Air brings together local musicians for an outdoor festival. Held at the lake’s south marina, in the parking lot of Big Lake Powersports, the concert follows an afternoon of water sports, including double-wake, big-air and watercross competitions.

“We’re trying to reach that X Games crowd,” Lindow says, referring to the national extreme sports competition that also features live music performances. “Plus, we’ve never done a show in the Mat-Su Valley, so this is really important to us.”

36 Crazyfists is headlining the all-ages show. Other performers include the rock band Delmag, the female-fronted metal group Thera and hip-hop mainstays Josh Boots and Indefinate Etticate. Pikal, which bills itself as a power pop band, and DJ Cross will also perform sets.

For 36 Crazyfists, Open Air is an occasion for celebration after some hard years. In 2011, Lindow's mother, whom he refers to as his "biggest fan," died of cancer. He took a nearly-two-year hiatus from touring and recording to spend time with family and reflect on the loss.

After the much-needed respite, Lindow started channeling his grief into music and in 2013 began writing lyrics for the group's upcoming album, “Time and Trauma.”

“Most of the album is about the passing of my mother, so in that sense, lyrically, it’s the most important album I’ve ever written,” Lindow says.

36 Crazyfists planned a digital self-release on iTunes months ago upon the album’s completion. They didn’t foresee the bidding war that came their way. “We were free agents for a while, planning to release the album ourselves,” Lindow says. “All of a sudden we had a number of competing offers from different labels. We’ll be deciding on a label in the next week or so, but meanwhile, it’s nice to be wanted. It’s a good feeling.”

Lindow provided an advance copy of the album, which he describes as moody and slightly less “metal” than their previous release, 2010’s “Collisions and Castaways.” Indeed, most of the singles on “Time and Trauma” are heavy and melodic, expertly punctuated by Kyle Baltus, who joined the band when 36’s longtime drummer Thomas Noonan retired in 2012.

A few standout tracks include “Also Am I,” which throbs before breaking into a slow but infectious chorus. “Vanish (We All Disappear)” slowly builds, the guitars providing the only percussion until the drums kick in and the track crescendos just past the one-minute mark.

Lindow anticipates that the Big Lake Open Air concert set list will include several tracks from the new album, in addition to fan favorites the band has amassed throughout its 20 years. He looks forward to the show as a time to celebrate that.

“I remember back in the early days, being so scared that it would all end soon,” he reflects. “We’ve seen so much come and go, as individuals and as a band. I’m just really thankful to finally be where we are.”

Big Lake Open Air

When: 4 p.m. Saturday, July 26

Where: 5120 South Big Lake Road

Tickets: $25-$36 at flavorus.com.

All ages, full bar with ID