For death metal fans, 1992's Milwaukee Metal Fest boasted an embarrassment of riches. Deicide were booked as headliners for the July 18 all-dayer, topping a bill which also featured Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Cancer, Brutal Truth and Malevolent Creation among others.
Scanning down the event flyer, one could easily miss the promise of a 'special appearance' from King Diamond and - more randomly - LA grunge rockers Dogstar, featuring "Keanu Reeves of 'Bill and Ted'": it was a gig that the Hollywood superstar would come to look back on with great affection.
Dogstar were no Wyld Stallyns, and their popularity never threatened to derail Reeves' burgeoning Hollywood career, but the bassist took the band seriously... at least once they changed their name from Small Fecal Matter. The LA group - who also included Days Of Our Lives/Seinfeld actor Robert Mailhouse on drums - were labelmates of Tool on Zoo Entertainment records, recorded two albums - 1996's Our Little Visionary and 2000's Happy Ending - and played shows with David Bowie and Bon Jovi, as well as performing at the 1994 Glastonbury festival.
But the group's appearance at the Milwaukee Metal Fest is one that has lived long the memory of Keanu Reeves. The actor revisited the day in an interview with GQ magazine in 2019.
"We played Milwaukee Metal Fest," he said, and quickly added, "Got killed."
"I think we played close to [NYC hardcore crew] Murphy's Law," he recalled. "Imagine. So we played a Grateful Dead cover, at Milwaukee Metal Fest. We were, like, 'They hate us. What are we doing here? What can we do? Let's do The Grateful Dead cover [later identified by Spin as New Minglewood Blues]… They were just like, Fuck you, you suck. I had the biggest grin on my face, man."
Happily, thanks to the wonders of The Internet, we can all share in this magical musical memory, as footage of Dogstar's set is on YouTube.
Watch it below:
But the story does not end here, for both Dogstar, who split in 2002, and the Milwaukee Metal Fest, which ceased operations two years later in 2004, are back!
Last week Dogstar shared an image from a brand new band photoshoot, and they are hoping to share new music with the world later this year.
"We will be rolling out some new music this summer, followed by some gigs," a social media post confirmed. "As soon as it's all figured out we will let everyone know immediately. So much to do, but rest assured, we are on it and have assembled a fantastic team that are helping us. We are also going to make a music video to support our first tune. That's all I can say now.
"Can't wait to share our new music with everyone. It's the most satisfying and meaningful batch of songs we've ever done. Thanks again for being so patient with us. We truly have the best, most loyal fans!"
The Milwaukee Metal Fest is also coming back later this month, as Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta bought the rights to the festival last year: taking place from May 26-28, the event features Biohazard, Anthrax and Lamb Of God as headliners, with Machine Head, Napalm Death, Dying Fetus, Corrosion of Conformity, and - in a throwback to 1992 - Obituary, included a stacked line-up. Full details here.
"I am so grateful and thrilled that [Milwaukee Metalfest founder] Jack Koshick has passed the Milwaukee Metalfest torch off to me," Jamey Jasta stated last summer when announcing the news. "He is a visionary and we will carry on the MMF legacy for years to come. So many of us have great memories from Milwaukee Metalfest, and the time is right for it to return."
"Milwaukee Metal Fest has been a labor of love for me," added Koshick. "I started working on it when I was 29; I am now 66. I want to thank all those living and dead for making this dream come true. Most of all, I want to thank the bands, fans, and crews that made this happen. The time has come to move on. I feel Jamey Jasta and his partners will do a fine job representing the brand. Until we meet again, I love you all."