The third annual Rocktoberfest, hosted by area metal band 44MAG, will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at Sons of Italy, 144 E. Fourth St. The event is a gathering of the denim and leather tribes, where area metalheads and hard rock 'n' rollers treat their ears to power chords and thundering bass, as well as some vocal howl and growl tricks.
"Rocktoberfest goes really well," 44MAG lead singer Jared Mondell said. "We like doing it. Our fans like coming out to it. It's a lot of fun. We have three other bands including ourselves. Our friends, Faith In Exile, are coming from Pottstown. We met them last year at the Millenium Music Conference. Also Titans and Skinny Rinkus."
When asked about his response to people who say Williamsport is not a metal town, Mondell said, "People do say that. I can see why they would say that. But there are metalheads in Williamsport and they come out in droves for shows like this."
This year's Rocktoberfest, though, isn't composed of strictly metal acts.
"We're metal, Faith In Exile is metal but Skinny Rinkus, they play some metal stuff," he said. "But they do other stuff, like cover songs. Titans aren't metal but we've been playing a lot of shows with them and it works. Their crowd likes us, we like them. It works out."
44MAG started Rocktoberfest because they wanted to do a show to celebrate Halloween, so Mondell, a member of the Sons of Italy, approached the club about renting the backroom out. It's worked out well.
"We have our friends come," Mondell said. "We can keep ticket and drink prices low. It's always a good time. We change the line-up every year. We invite our friends and see who's available to play. Honestly, this year everybody is playing everywhere on October 29th.
"We started planning for this show about three to four months ago," he said. "We knew we were going to do it. We started asking around. We've been playing with Faith In Exile for over a year. We started playing with Titans in the past six month. We've known the guys in Skinny Rinkus forever."
Skinny Rinkus will open the show at 8 p.m., followed by Titans, then Faith In Exile. Each band will have a 45-minute slot. 44MAG will close out the show and as headliner, will play a bit longer.
44MAG switches out the band line-up every year at Rocktoberfest - past bands that played include metal acts like Random Axe and Shark Attack.
"It's hard to put on a show in this area where you can rent a room and still have alcohol," Mondell said. "So finding a room big enough to accommodate our needs for the event is great. Sons of Italy has a nice-sized stage in back. We just roll our PA in and we play."
The origins of Rocktoberfest and 44MAG's relationship with Sons of Italy started when the group celebrated its 10th anniversary by renting the space out and doing "Magtallica," a 3-hour tribute to metal legends Metallica.
"It's basically like any band-bar relationship," Mondells said. "We're bringing the crowd. They're buying the drinks. They like us and treat us well - we treat them well. It's mutually beneficial."
It's been a busy year for the band. In addition to organizing Rocktoberfest 2011, they've toured extensively and have more gigs lined up heading into winter.
"All summer we've been playing around different places, kind of spreading out, writing new music, road-testing those and now, after Rocktoberfest, we're going to have a few local gigs over the holidays," Mondell said. "We're doing Smokey Jo's for the night before Thanksgiving, as well as the night before Christmas Eve. We're doing New Year's Eve at Tommy's in Muncy."
But according to Mondell, "the majority of the time, 44MAG will finish up the writing process and start recording their next album."
The cover charge for Rocktoberfest 2011 is $10. Each group is selling tickets in advance and there are a limited number available.
"We can only have so many people in that room," Mondell said. "So bandmembers from all of the bands have tickets to sell for $10 a piece. That's four bands, a whole night of music, for $10."
While it's not a dress-up or costume contest type of affair, he said people can do whatever they want. In fact, last year 44MAG dressed up as the Village People.
"When we came out dressed as the Village People last year, it got a good rise out of people," he said. "It was fun and completely unexpected. But we encourage that. We might do it (dress up), we might not - it depends on how we feel. Anything goes at this place."
The band will have its traditional 44MAG-salute where they buy whiskey shots for everyone who comes to the shows - "we've been doing that for years."
"Everybody always has a good time," Mondell said. "We always have surprises, so I don't want to give too much away, but we're definitely working the past couple of weeks tweaking the setlist, putting some new songs in it. It's going to be fun."
For more information on Rocktoberfest 2011, check out the Facebook page for the show.