Show Review: Voodoo Glow Skulls close out Punk Rock Bowling at the Backstage Bar

With a main stage lineup featuring Cocksparrer, NOFX, Descendents, and Against Me!, there wasn’t a whole lot left to ask for from the final club show of the Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival, but the Voodoo Glow Skulls sure as hell delivered.

As weary, dusty punks trickled into the Backstage Bar venue, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to relax.  By the time we got there a little after 10 p.m., Slow Children had 10 or so people in a circle pit…not bad, considering that there may have been a total of about 15 people in the bar!  They are a tough band to dislike, playing catchy, thrashy punk.  It was a shame they had to play so early.

Vegas-based Sounds of Threat took the stage next.  They play the kind of early-80s hardcore punk that reminds me of Bad Brains and Minor Threat, and more recently of my friends in the up-and-coming band Cry Havoc.  I just wished that lead singer Jesse Young kept his shirt on…the antics detracted a little from the overall sound, but hey, they got me in the pit so that’s saying something.

Las Vegas was also represented by Guilty by Association, a no-frills, straight-up hardcore band.  I didn’t see much dancing going on, but overall they held the show together well and entertained the growing crowd.

Finally, the “secret” band, Voodoo Glow Skulls, took the stage.  Although they weren’t officially announced on the lineup, word spread fast at the festival and tickets went fast at just $5.  Their set started an instant party in the now-packed room.  Lead singer Frank Casillas took to the stage in a luchador mask, and despite a broken guitar towards the beginning of the set, they rolled right through and kept the high energy vibe throughout the show.

As a huge ska fan, one of the things I always look for is a horn section that is totally engaged in the show.  Sure, you’re not always going to be playing, but I want to see some damn enthusiasm!  Eric Fazzini (sax) and Ruben Durazo (trombone) do not disappoint, with quick transitions from horns to backing vocals to just dancing around.

The crowd really dug in midway through the set, as the Glow Skulls played some earlier tracks, including “Charlie Brown” and “Shoot the Moon,” off of their first Epitaph release, 1995’s Firme.

If you missed them this time around, be sure to catch Voodoo Glow Skulls next time they hit your town.  And check out the supporting acts, too.  Punk Rock Bowling has a heavy focus on attracting some of the best big acts around, but the up-and-comers deserve some love, too.


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