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Friday, August 4, 2017 at 4:42 PM (PST) by Screeching Bottlerocket
Monday, July 24, 2017 at 10:17 AM (PST) by Johnny X
Created from the mind and liver of NOFX‘s frontman Fat Mike, the Punk In Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival will debut in the Western U.S. this fall with five special events featuring the best in punk rock music and regional craft beer.
Named for NOFX’s classic Punk In Drublic album, which has sold over one million copies, Punk In Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival launches September 16 in Tacoma, WA, with stops in Boise, ID, Concord, CA, Sacramento, CA, and Huntington Beach, CA. NOFX will co-headline each date of Punk In Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival alongside Flogging Molly in some markets and Bad Religion in others, and every show will also feature four other bands. Look for full details to be announced in August at www.PunkInDrublicFest.com.
Each Punk In Drublic festival date will feature up to four hours of craft beer tastings with over 100 craft beers, including some of the West Coast’s best and local favorites. Craft beer tastings are included with admission. Festival hours will be Noon – 9:00 PM.
Fat Mike has joined forces with premier music event producer/promoter Synergy Global Entertainment and respected craft beer event production powerhouse Brew Ha Ha Productions for the festival. In addition, to celebrate Punk In Drublic, Fat Mike teamed up with craft beer pioneers Stone Brewing to brew their very own Stone & NOFX Punk in Drublic Hoppy Lager, which will be available in cans only in the festival markets. This collaboration is a huge show of support by Stone, as it marks the first time ever that Stone has worked with a musician for a can release. They’ve even included the festival tour dates on the back of each can. This is a first-of-its-kind level of commitment from a brewery partner for a festival tour.
When asked how Stone & NOFX Punk in Drublic Hoppy Lager tastes, Fat Mike says, “It’s something to wash the noise away.” However, other slogans offered by Mike that were quickly turned down by Stone included, “It’s the beer of champagnes” and finally, “They say you can’t get beer from a stone…oh shit, we just did!”
“We know we’re crazy for letting Fat Mike in our brewery, but we’re doing it anyway,” says Greg Koch, Stone Brewing co-founder. “We have a lot in common in not only refusing to follow the status quo, but actively rejecting it. I have incredible respect for what he and Fat Wreck Chords have done for the independent music scene. Craft beer is currently in a similar open-your-eyes-to-the-man’s-corporate-obfuscation battle. Is independent craft beer punk rock? Very. And even more so now with this collab. See you in the pit!”
Cameron Collins, Co-Founder & Director of Events at Brew Ha Ha Productions explains, “Craft beer and punk rock are cut from the same cloth. Small, independent, and up against some big challenges: taking on BIG BEER, and local bands determined to do it their way, despite what might make them a quick buck. Punk In Drublic throws off the mantle of the ordinary to create an event unlike any other…a perfect pairing of craft beer and punk rock!”
Catch the Punk In Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival “stumbling through a town near you”:
Saturday, September 16 – Tacoma, WA – America’s Car Museum (on sale Friday, July 28)
Sunday, September 17 – Boise, ID – Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater (on sale Friday, July 28)
Saturday, October 14 – Concord, CA – Concord Pavilion (on sale Friday, August 11)
Sunday, October 15 – Sacramento, CA – Bonney Field (on sale Friday, August 11)
Saturday, October 28 – Huntington Beach, CA – Bolsa Chica State Park (on sale Friday, September 1)
The Saturday, September 16 (Tacoma) and Sunday, September 17 (Boise) Punk In Drublic shows will feature performances from NOFX, Bad Religion, Goldfinger, Less Than Jake, Bad Cop / Bad Cop and more. Tickets for these two shows go on sale Friday, July 28 at 10:00 AM local time at www.PunkInDrublicFest.com.
General Admission and VIP tickets for the Tacoma and Boise shows are priced as follows. Ticket details for other dates will be announced in August. All tickets include craft beer tasting and access to view the music stage for attendees 21 years or older.
General Admission: starting at $39
Early Entry + VIP Lounge: $99
Early Entry + VIP Lounge + Meet & Greet: $199
VIP Tickets include access to a VIP Entry Lane and VIP Lounge, with:
– Exclusive craft beer tastings
– VIP viewing area of the stage
– Private restrooms
– VIP cash bar
– One hour early entry for craft beer tastings (for those 21+), starting at 12:00 PM
Friday, July 21, 2017 at 5:39 PM (PST) by Screeching Bottlerocket
Details on the 2017 edition of A Day To Remember‘s Self Help Festival have been revealed. It will be stopping in Philadelphia, Detroit, Orlando, and San Bernardino. The lineup will vary each date, with some of the bands including ADTR, Less Than Jake, Streetlight Manifesto, and Rise Against.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 8:50 PM (PST) by Goldfinger
Chicago’s local label Don’t Panic Records will be hosting a fifth anniversary party July 21. The event will take place at the Burlington Bar and will feature Davey Dynamite & The Salt Creek Duo, The Cheap Dates, Shots Fired! Shots Fired! and Pylons.
For more information on the event you can slide on over to the event page. If you happen to be in the neighborhood be sure to pick up some of the Don’t Panic 5th Anniversary sweet potato and habanero hot sauce.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 10:12 AM (PST) by Goldfinger
For 40 years Montreal has had one of the most beloved and dedicated punk scenes not only in Canada, but the world (if you don’t believe me look at the history of Rockfest). The Canadian scene often gets passed by and overlooked, sure we have great bands, great venues, but it’s cold up here and understandable that bands may want to avoid Canadian winters. So it’s fitting that July 28th Montreal is set to host “77 Montreal”. A one day festival with a historic lineup that will feature Rancid, Dropkick Murphy’s, The Vandals, Madball, The Bouncing Souls and many more.
The festival will take place at the historic Parc Jean-Drapeau, a location that was once the site of the Canadian migration to Warped Tour every summer. “77 Montreal” is hoping to recreate some magic, hoping to bring 40 years of punk rockers together to celebrate the scene in Montreal.
As a Canadian and a fan of punk rock I can honestly say we all owe Quebec a thank you, without them we wouldn’t have poutine, Celine and punk rock. Do yourself a favor if you’ve never checked out a show in Montreal, go see “77 Montreal”.
You can find more information for the festival here.
Canadian punk rockers rejoice, Music 4 Cancer has announced the full lineup for the seventh edition of the festival and it doesn’t disappoint. This years festival will be held in Centre-ville de Sainte-Therese and run September 14th to 16th. This year’s edition will feature Pennywise, Less Than Jake, Guttermouth and many more (see poster above).
For those unaware Music 4 Cancer not only boasts some amazing band’s on the festival, it’s a great cause as well with the festival being ran by volunteers and the money the festival makes going back into cancer research.
You can grab your tickets here.
Sunday, July 2, 2017 at 12:32 AM (PST) by Screeching Bottlerocket
The initial lineup for the 2017 edition of San Antonio, Texas’ Remember The Punks musical festival has been announced. Bands playing the fest include Good Riddance, Pulley, 30footFALL, JFA, Bigwig, The Unseen, and Big D and the Kids Table, among others.
Monday, June 26, 2017 at 11:11 AM (PST) by rick delaney
As if that news wasn’t exciting enough, the festival have announced which bands will perform on which days throughout the weekend. All the details about this year’s event can be found over at their official website, or if you just want a quick look at program so far, check the poster below.
Friday, June 23, 2017 at 3:21 PM (PST) by Screeching Bottlerocket
Check out the full list of new bands below.
More info on Fest 16 (October 27-29) and Pre-Fest 5 (October 25-26) is available on the festival’s official website. Stay tuned for more lineup announcements.
For 4 days every August, 20,000 punks descend on the city of Blackpool in North West England for Rebellion Festival. Now in it’s 22nd year (in various forms) the festival has been one of the most important in Europe for quite a while. This year sees headlines including Bad Religion, The Skids, Slaves, Sham 69 and Pennywise.
Monday, June 19, 2017 at 4:35 PM (PST) by Screeching Bottlerocket
Less Than Jake have announced their sixth annual hometown Wake and Bake Weekend. Taking place on September 1st and 2nd at High Dive in downtown Gainesville, the 2-night stand will feature support from Radon, Inner Circle (the “Bad Boys” band), Coffee Project, and more.
The day before ended in Bad Religion, one of the greatest bands the scene has to offer, continuously kicking it until they kick the bucket. And Day Three was the end of it all, the final day for the punks to don their denims and get out into the sun, to dance and sing and hug their new friends. Day Three felt like a long farewell– a little less hectic, a bit more casual, and still a helluva lot of fun.
Press and VIP lines were a breeze and I got in with no problem at all. To give the new venue credit, each day steadily improved. This is also fair time to mention everything that was happening at the fest that weren’t people with guitars, bass, and drums. Vendors packed the left side of the venue with shirts, hats, records, CDs, tote bags, wallets, necklaces, patches, stickers, with a dozen etceteras. Always a sick reminder that there is not only a cool world out there of punk stuff, but there are also people out there creating it. Doc Martens might have had the most inspired festival booth, featuring big piles of deflated beach balls up for the grabbing. By the end of the night, there were over twenty being pushed around in the pit. I’m not a big fan of Doc’s, mostly because they don’t fit my feet, but even I could admit it was a pretty sly move.
Onto the music! The first band of the day was The Quitters. I was actually pretty stoked to hear them based on the recommendation of DS lens-jockey Cricket Fox. They played first, so there was nowhere near a big crowd (and also, the festival starts a bit earlier on the last day, so you know, folks might be sleeping or something like that), but they rocked it. They played an old school kind of punk rock, stuff that is snotty and fun without being pop punk, and loud and shouty without being hardcore. Its the sort of music that if you wanted to create the original ink drop from which all of punk bled out of (ruining some fine parchment in the process), this would be at the tip of the fountain pen. A real cool blended sound of forty years of music, from Descendents to Refused. Their beats were surprisingly danceable too, as even the security guards were breaking characters and nodding along. The Quitters are awesome, check ‘em out when you get a chance.
Roadside Bombs played next. I would describe their sound as a sort of a throwback thing, like a ‘77 punk amalgam with a bit of classic rock thrown in there. It wasn’t too bad, not really my thing, but I thought they performed well. The next band, Wolfpack might get the award for most interesting bio of the weekend. I was watching them intently, mystified by what I read in the pamphlet: they’re a Melbourne not-for-profit band. Crazy, right? Looking at their bandcamp page, they say they’ve raised $26,000 for charity. Even weirder, and maybe cooler, depending on your predilections, is that the band is led from the back by the drummer. Aside from their tax status, they were pretty dope, playing a pretty riffy style of metal-infused hardcore punk.
Day Three was all about Oi! though. Cocksparrer was headlining and they wouldn’t be the only working class punks to grace the PRB stage. This was the year of street punk and oi. Lion’s Law was the first band to start playing the style in earnest and got my attention for being from one of the least oi places I can think of– France. I thought it was pretty cool, and strangely, a natural fit for the naturally surly French accent. It also made me think about how French punk has been getting more and more attention lately with the likes of Lion’s Law, Guerilla Poubelle, and Not Scientists.
And then, in a weird sort of double feature, we had another oi band playing. This was England’s Booze & Glory, and a lot of folks were here for them. I hadn’t heard of them before the festival, but street punk and oi aren’t styles I follow very closely. I’m also not afraid to admit I’m in the minority though, because from day one I saw tons of punks rocking Booze & Glory shirts. I was starting to get the vibe that these guys were the next big thing in their scene. As far as their sound goes, I mean, I’m not sure what there is to describe. They sound like a band that wears suspenders and throws back pints of lager. The real test of mettle for a band like this is in their songwriting, what they can communicate that all the other hooligans with guitars haven’t been able to do before, or to do it now in a way that’ll communicate it to a new generation. Judging from the crowd, Booze & Glory are a torchbearer for their sound. My only issue is with the placement of these two bands on the bill, while I’m sure their audience dug ‘em a lot, it all bled together for me.
As any dude who likes melodic punk bands, the occasional Dan Yemin hardcore project, and folk punk; I also inexplicably love Tragedy, His Hero Is Gone, and anything else that is crusty and patches well on flannel. And that is why I was stoked to see Discharge. The originators of D-beat, true harcore pioneers, and one of the major influences to a lot of my favorite modern hardcore. For such an old fucking band, they killed it. They had tons of energy and ran through a set that felt like a machine gun peppering of shredded solos and barked declaratives. Of all the acts of Day Three, Discharge might have been the most intense to witness.
I was warned about the Adicts before I got to Vegas. I didn’t have a lot to go on, y’ know? I was told they were great live, but I never really listened to them. I mean, I’m not a big face paint guy, bands with a huge visual presence always felt weird to me, same with bands in costume. I don’t know, it’s one of those things that never really felt right. I mean, I don’t even like the Misfits– what do the Adicts have to offer?
It’s nice to be wrong.
When the confetti cleared, the Adicts were my favorite act of Day Three. This isn’t just punk rock, it’s spectacle. While watching them play and dance; throw cards, balloons, and streamers into the audience, I experienced, what I can only assume, is pure joy. My initial worry was of a band that takes themselves too seriously, who take the imagery from A Clockwork Orange and use it as a way to secure some false sense of danger, when its really just adolescent pageantry. The Adicts know exactly what they are, they embrace the silliness– and most of all– they want you to have fun. They’re a fun band that puts on a fun show. Why else would you wear a cape made of mirrors? It’s ridiculous fun. And their music works with the show they’ve crafted. It’s singalong ‘77 style punk, the kind of stuff that got me singing along without ever hearing a word before. The Adicts are amazing, a punk rock treasure that needs to be seen to be believed.
The light was waning after the Adicts wrapped up and I was left in a bit of a state of awe. I mean, what band can really follow that up?
A lot of people have mixed feelings about Pennywise, and I guess I’d count myself in that lot. I like a couple of songs, but mostly see them as the lesser of the 90s melodic hardcore bands to make it big. A little to bro-ey for me, I guess. They have a knack for songwriting though, “Fuck Authority” is ultimately a kind of dumb, almost ritual reduction of one of punk rock’s core tenets, but even I have to admit it strikes a chord. I mean, you could also say punk rock is just a dumb, almost ritual reduction of rock ‘n roll, right? They played a handful of covers in a row, “Wild in the Streets” by Circle Jerks, “Do What You Want” by Bad Religion, in which Fat Mike jumped on stage to help with vocals, and “Minor Threat” by Minor Threat. As is the expectation, they ended their set with “Bro-Hymn” and I got to hear a couple thousand woahs all in unison. Even if Pennywise wasn’t my thing, that was just a little magic.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a punk festival without a little politics mixed with catharsis. Fat Mike appeared on stage before the final set with a statue of a nude Donald Trump. He reaffirmed his beliefs that punk rock and politics are intertwined and not to be unraveled, allowing one of the Stern daughters to be the first to take a swing at the presidential effigy. The bat was shared by various band members as each broke the statue down with more and more nasty blows, batting the president’s dick off, until finally Fat Mike beheaded him. It was a fun, albeit violent sideshow in between the musical sets and a reminder of where PRB’s heart is.
The final act of the mainstage was the exclamation mark in Oi!– scene veterans Cock Sparrer took up their instruments as the air cooled and the festival marched into night. That’s one thing that bears mentioning: at night, Vegas is beautiful. The air is tolerable and the neon gives the city an otherworldly glow. At Punk Rock Bowling, it is a signal for the second half of the day for some, but for everyone in the crowd, it is an invitation to come closer. Cock Sparrer played one of the best sets I’d seen that weekend for devotees and casuals alike. The age old band came out to play old favorites and stuff off their new record Forever. As cliche as it is, they seemed like the kinda guys you’d wanna have a beer with– funny, humble, and talented old school punks. They played a host of tracks that I couldn’t help but singalong to on my first time. If I discovered anything at this Punk Rock Bowling, it might have been a new appreciation of what the best working class punk can do, bring people together and bind them in less than three minutes.
Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was because we were at the end, but this was when I started getting sentimental. I saw a crowd full of people, ages five to sixty-five, and they were singing along and dancing, smiling and laughing. I watched the song “Because You’re Young” become an affirmative anthem for generations of punks, young and old, as they looked back at the road they took in life and let their smiles broaden together. When the set ended, I was smiling too. All the denim, ink, and piercings unloaded into the streets and I saw a community. There was chatter about what they just saw, who they’re seeing next, and when they’ll fly out. Folks threw handshakes and hugs and promised to see each other next year.
A punk show, a party, a community– built from the ground up to rumble every year, to bring old and new together, to close distances– that was Punk Rock Bowling 2017.
Full slide-show below.
Well, it was Day Two, and I was already worn the fuck out. Menzingers played the night before and because of my inane sleep schedule, I got home at three am, then woke up at eight-thirty. Just my luck. But, whatever your level of sobriety or awakeness, Punk Rock Bowling waits for no man.
And besides, this was the big day of the festival for me. My OG heroes, Bad Religion, were headlining. Back when I was still wet behind the mohawk, Bad Religion were the ones who shepherded me into the club– there is no missing Bad Religion, so sleep be damned, I was out in the door.
As for the logistics, Day Two was a step in the right direction for all of us press folks. Most of yesterday’s issues were ironed out and we were ready to party. Security was a little harsher than I remember last year, but only a week after the Manchester attack, it’d have been hard to believe there wouldn’t be changes. Too many of those little things though, and it also starts becoming harder and harder to believe that anything really can be punk rock. It’s a reminder that music and subculture are powerless, no matter how dressed up and resilient it pretends to be in the wake of tragedy. A debate for another day– on to the music.
The Venomous Pinks opened the day with some fast, woah-oh filled punk rock. Kinda hardcore, kinda poppy– like an all female version of Night Birds without the horror and surf lyrical focus. With a little research, I found out that they are apart of the same SquidHat Records family as The Quitters who opened on Day Three. The more you know. Following up The Venomous Pinks were another smaller act, (this is the portion of the day where bands no one’s heard of play, and folks skip for gambling or drinking– which is a shame, because for me, punk rock is absolutely about these young bands injecting new blood into the genre) Ten Can Riot hail from Dallas with a lead singer who doesn’t sound Texan in the least. It’s fast epifat-style jams with some aussie-fied vocals. The crowd wasn’t big, but the folks who were there were receptive to the set and I thought they conducted themselves well enough to keep an eye on in the future.
Lost In Society were a pretty big surprise for me. I had heard a little about them before the festival, I’d heard some good things about their last album, but as is usually the case, I hadn’t actually listened to them before. Seeing them on the stage, I got the lowkey hype surrounding them. They are a tight young band with some big hooks who know how to work the crowd. They brought in everyone who might have just been nodding along with their finale– playing the song “Not Afraid” and teaching the audience its call and response chorus of “Nice to meet you/ FUCK YOU TOO!” Fists were raised and words were sung, it was an awesome end to the set.
I’ll be honest here. I fucking hate celtic punk. It’s corny as hell roleplay for guys who want desperately to belong to a different culture, or it’s corny as hell roleplay for guys who want to engage in a caricature of their own culture. Basically, it’s almost never cool. So, you can probably say The Real Mckenzies aren’t my thing– they have the celtic schtick with the tempering measure of being from Nova Scotia.. It’s almost never cool, but fuck it, I can say it was at least fun. The Real Mckenzies had a sense of humor and looked to be having as much fun as the audience was. They brought things down and gave a surprising (for me, at least) ode to the recently deceased Chris Cornell. It’s nice to see these old guys rocking hard and having a good time while being conscientious of what happens outside of the insular world of punk rock.
The Dickies are one of those old school bands that sound like the Ramones, kinda like the Spits from the days before. They hail back from the early days where punk and garage rock were almost synonymous. Catchy, but not really my thing again. Crowd dug it, but I can’t be into everything, you know? They played their set and I nodded along and let the kids who were into have at it. Sometimes that’s all you can do.
Now, The Bouncing Souls. For me, the Souls were the first big band of the night, and the crowd supported that observation. Everyone was up front for the Jersey boys. I’m a rare breed it seems– there’s an interesting phenomenon with this band, there are the people who don’t care for them, and then there’s the folks that are die-hards (and there are a lot of die-hards)– I’m just a casual fan of the band, not a know-every-word fan. I always wonder what it is about the Souls that bring people together in such an intense way. Maybe it’s that bouncy mix of carefree fun and occasional insight that can take the right psyche and turn one into a True Believer. Either way, of the one other time I’d seen them, this was definitely them at their best. Singer Greg Attonito was genuinely animated and engaged with the set. The energy was good and they ripped through a setlist of singalongs for an adoring audience.
Choking Victim was one of the reasons I made Punk Rock Bowling an unmissable event. One could argue, if you’ve seen Leftover Crack a handful of times, you’ve basically seen Choking Victim. And to be fair, every time I’ve seen Leftover Crack, they’ve made sure to play “500 Channels,” so there is some truth there. But, c’mon. It’s Choking Victim. If you even like them just a little bit, you wanna be able to say you saw them. I was happy to see they got just as strong, if not stronger response than the Bouncing Souls. There was a moment when I looked around and saw all the punks shuffling back and forth, excited as Stza and co. walked on stage and realized: everyone is here for Choking Victim. The front of the stage was packed with punks, for a moment the entire festival ground became part of the crowd. There was no disappointment, they instigated and antagonized with their music (and made sure I got to hear “500 Channels” for a fourth time), with Stza introducing a song dedicated to the police at the venue, about killing cops. It’s not Punk Rock Bowling, and it’s definitely not Choking Victim without a little authority baiting.
The weirdest part of the day wasn’t so much a disappointment as just a bum note. What the fuck was up with Fidlar? They’re fine folks, I’m sure. They play some garage rock/hardcore/ surfy indie rock amalgam, and I know some of the younger kids are into them. They have a little bit of inherited pedigree as one of the members is the son of a member of TSOL. But, no matter what they take from the sounds of punk rock, there is something off about them. It’s like an impression of punk rock rather than an honest interpretation. The crowd agreed too. It was weird seeing so many open spaces in the pit, people looking around, bored and confused at what these rich kids in costume were peddling. Yeah, they had all the moves– they rolled on the stage to play solos and they screamed into mics, but it never felt right. This is punk for kids who go to Coachella. It felt out of place at Punk Rock Bowling.
But, even the weirdness of Fidlar couldn’t really quell the energy of the evening. Bad Religion was going to play. The one band everyone has in common. The gateway band that survives the initial waves of growing taste. Bad Religion are a hard band to grow out of. The crowd moved in a rush toward the stage as the opening notes of “American Jesus” rang out. There was a lot of discussion over what they would open with at Punk Rock Bowling, among the guesses were “True North,” “Against the Grain,” and “Do What You Want” (mine), but Meredith (photographer extraordinaire) and Jeff (friend of Dying Scene, and all around chill dude) nailed the selection. What could me more iconic and rousing to bring the punks together for a headliner? When I’d seen Bad Religion before, they played pretty solid ninety minute sets, so it was actually kind of nice to see a shorter, crisper stage headlining set, about fifteen minutes shorter with a more casual sense of kinship and fun. For Bad Religion, it felt like their thousandth victory lap, and they’re still smiling past the finish line. The set had one extremely notable moment, when NOFX singer/bassist Fat Mike ran on stage in a dress and high-jacked Jay Bentley’s bass to play with the band on “We’re Only Gonna Die.” That’s why you go to Punk Rock Bowling, folks. It’s those kind of moments that you can’t get anywhere else.
They closed with “Fuck Armageddon… This is Hell” as per usual, a song that has become their own “Bro Hymn” over the years. The great thing about Bad Religion though is that they have so much good material to work with, that whatever comes before that is sure to be great. To list all the songs they played would be a challenge (and fucking boring), but you got hits like “Supersonic,” “Generator,” “Los Angeles is Burning,” “Do What You Want,” “Suffer”: whatever they play, it’s gonna be good.
The fest was a-raging that night and despite the weird misstep with Fidlar– who should’ve traded spots with the Bouncing Souls and played earlier in the night– I had to admit it was one of the best lineups of PRB I had ever seen. Choking Victim, Bouncing Souls, and Bad Religion are three pretty huge bands, and I managed to see ‘em all in an evening. That’s killer.
Check out what happened in the photo gallery below and stay tuned for our final installment in our drunken recollections of the beauty and madness that is Punk Rock Bowling!
Blackpool, UK’s annual punk gathering Rebellion Festival has released a full breakdown of the set times for all bands. The lineup, including Bad Religion, Pennywise, The Skids, Slaves, Propagandhi, Good Riddance and a ton of others, is looking as strong as any previously.
Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 4:24 PM (PST) by Carson Winter
“A Horse With No Name,” America
Last year, I was a novice. I didn’t understand what Punk Rock Bowling would ask of me. This isn’t just another three day festival– it’s a party. It’s an excuse to get together with your punk friends, old and new. There’s beers, there’s all your favorite bands, and then there’s a couple thousand punks to see you through it. Punk Rock Bowling is a party that rages across Memorial Day Weekend, and having been broken-in last year, I finally understood.
You have to know the basics. Vegas is a city built in a desert– you’re gonna be hot. Vegas is dry, because it’s built in a desert– drink water. Vegas is at its hottest when the festival starts– wear shorts. There’s also the issue of scheduling. Last year, I went all in and went to more club shows than I cared to see. There were too many nights of me nodding along to bands I only kinda-sorta liked and then yawning my way out the door. This year, I knew what it was gonna take. When Punk Rock Bowling is laid out before you, there is enough to do without adding to it. I picked two club shows, ones of bands I loved, and then I stuck to that. This is my vacation after all, and I took it on my own terms– with that new level of focus and experience, I was ready to tackle the behemoth that is the 19th Annual Punk Rock Bowling, and I’m happy to say I had a blast.
The basics of the festival are simple. Three days of bands at the main festival, culminating in a big headlining act each night. After the festival, but often times with a fair amount of overlap (this is one of the more unfortunate things about the festival– if you want to see the openers at your club shows, you generally have to leave a song or two into the festival headliner) there are club shows featuring stacked and varied lineups. Street punk, skate punk, acoustic, hardcore, classic, sad melodic stuff– it’s all there in walking distance from Fremont Street. Which is, I would say, the festival’s greatest coup, eliminating the need of DDs or even really any sense of vehicular self preservation. It’s all right there.
Besides the festival and club shows, there were also pool parties with stellar lineups in their own right, flash tattoos from Bouncing Soul Bryan Kienlen, a comedy show sponsored by The Hard Times, punk documentary screenings, and of course, everything else Las Vegas has to offer on its own. You get the idea. Punk Rock Bowling isn’t just catching a show or two– it’s a 24-hour, three-day job, where the workforce is tattooed and hellbent on fun.
I arrived to Vegas two days early, so I had plenty of time to settle in. My first PRB extracurricular was the aforementioned comedy show. It took place at the Gold Nugget with a lineup of punk comics, headlined by Sideonedummy founder Joe Sib. We all filtered in, not sure what we were in for, and as one would imagine, the front seats were the last to be taken. Goodrich Gevaart, Hard Times writer and comedian, encouraged folks to take the front seats, promising that “it wasn’t that sort of show,” and that no one would fuck with them “in a way that wasn’t fun.” I’d never seen any live stand-up before, but I’d watched a fair amount from the comfort of my home. I was happy to say that all the comedians present were hilarious, poking good natured fun at the punks and themselves, sharing stories about their punk past. My favorite bit was when John Michael Bond brought an audience member on stage to play the game Sad Man or Bad Man, where we had to guess whether the lyrics on the screen were those of a pop punk band or a mass murderer. Good times were had by all. I hope this is a tradition continued by next year’s Punk Rock Bowling.
The stand up ended just in time to start another bar tab and then head off to the first show of the weekend, a set of acoustic performances by Off With Their Heads, Brendan Kelly, Steve Soto (of the Adolescents), and locals No Red Alice. The Beauty Bar is one of my favorite venues in Vegas, and usually has the best deals in town ($6 PBR and a shot is the equivalent of holding up a liquor store in other cities– straight up robbery). It’s a smaller space with an outdoor stage, but intimate, and therefore perfect for the sort of show this was going to be.
No Red Alice started the show with a pretty breezy set with lots of asides and jokes. At a couple points the vocalist even started strumming and singing Off With Their Heads’ “Clear the Air.” They played some acoustic punk that reminded me of Chuck Ragan’s more punk-driven solo stuff. I was nervous for Steve Soto, as the last time I saw an old school punk-rocker-gone-solo was in a similar setting last year didn’t go nearly as well (looking at you, belligerent Grant Hart). Soto was humble and a pro, playing countrified acoustic songs with writing chops to spare. He gave the audience fair warning that he wasn’t going to do any Adolescents’ songs, because, “they’d sound like shit” on acoustic. Brendan Kelly came up next and played a pretty straightforward set of mostly Lawrence Arms songs. I was joined by Dying Scene head honcho Dave Buck around this time (who, in infinite kindness and wisdom, made sure I kept a drink in my hand for the rest of my night). Dave’s a big fan of Brendan Kelly’s solo stuff, and was disappointed by the lack of I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever tunes, as for me, I’m always good with some Larry Arms. Off With Their Heads ended the night with a set of tunes that translated a lot better to the acoustic setting than I would’ve thought. Folks were screaming along and holding beers to the night sky. All in all, a pretty great way to end the night.
The next day, we woke up, probably way too early and wandered around Fremont for a while, drinking beers, meeting people, and getting stoked for the fest. It stands to say, that a couple things did change this year at PRB. The location was moved, and with that comes some good and some bad. Maybe this was the new venues fault, or just general disorganization, but the press and VIP folks had a helluva time getting in the first day. So long was the wait, in fact, that we missed the entirety of New Trends and part of Mobina Galore. When I did get in though, I went straight to the stage to see the latter in action. Of all the early openers I saw in Vegas that weekend, Mobina Galore stands as the best. They sounded loud and full for a two-piece, with gravel-throated vocals and hearty melodies. It’s like a stripped down version of the Reinventing Axl Rose version of Against Me!, and for me, they were easily one of the highlights of the fest.
Drug Church were one of the few post-hardcore acts of the fest, and as expected, provided a different feel from the rest of the lineup. This is the sort of stuff that goes with cold winters and black T-shirts, and accordingly, it felt a little dissonant for a sunny afternoon in Vegas. Still, I was impressed with their composition as well as their intensity. The other band who could perhaps lay claim to a similar genre was Plague Vendor, who played next. The crowd grew substantially for the Epitaph post/garage/psych band, and they threw down a set of performances that were a little bit Iggy and a little bit At the Drive-In. At this point in the day, the stage was christened with a thrown bra, and I got to roll my eyes as singer Brandon Blaine located the admirer and asked her to prove it was hers. It was a kind of dumb, rockstar misstep in banter that marred an otherwise good set.
I’d never seen the Interrupters before, but man, they were one of the other biggest surprises of Day One. I’m not a huge ska guy, but I was humming along and smiling throughout their set. They brought a lot of fun to the festival and I could tell a large part of the attendees were smitten by their upbeat ska-punk tunes. Their cover of “Sound System” by Operation Ivy was a huge hit, and probably the best version of it I’ve heard aside from the original. The Spits played next, and were fine, but not really my taste. Just some pretty solid, three-chord punk rock in the vein of the Ramones.
OFF! was the next band on the Day One lineup that I wanted to see. I’d seen them before, and I’d see them again. There’s something about OFF!’s unhinged throwback hardcore. It’s music from another time, performed by one of its originators, given new life with the help of a new generation. Keith Morris is as vital as ever on stage, going off about politics (as one could guess, a post-Trump PRB is going to have a fair amount of politics, a theme that would run through every day of the festival), moving across the stage like a caged animal, spitting words like poison seeds. This is also a good point to mention that one of the upgrades in the new festival grounds were two large screens where folks who weren’t up close could see the action in crystal-clear high definition– although the venue seemed lackadaisical about making sure it was showing what was going on on stage for the entire set, rather than show sponsor commercials, or even more dull, the Punk Rock Bowling logo on a black screen.
I won’t bury the lead here. There were a lot of punks who were there to see Iggy, and probably a lot more who wanted to see Discharge, Pennywise, Cock Sparrer, The Dickies, The Adicts, Fidlar, and a lot of others throughout the weekend, but for me, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes were my most anticipated act. Yeah, it’s true: I have a soft spot for oldies and Fat Wreck– if you grew up with NOFX and parents with a radio, you probably do too. They didn’t disappoint in the least. Singer Spike Slawson oozed greasy charisma as he crooned out pop standards, introducing many with an obligatory, “This next one’s a cover.” As I was watching them play, I could only think that if any band represented Vegas, it was them. They were as happily gauche as neon, slots, and floral prints and a lot more entertaining.
Iggy Pop was up next, but I had places to go. Yep, that’s right, club show. I stayed through the first couple of songs, and as soon as the Godfather came on stage, hordes rushed up toward the stage, going crazy for “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Passenger.” I got to see a little glimpse of that famous stage presence before I left, but alas, I had to bounce. Iggy Pop is cool and all, but I didn’t grow up with him and I’ve never been much for my hobbies becoming obligations. There were tons of punks going wild for him though, so I didn’t feel too bad leaving him to his fans. That’s part of PRB, you gotta do it on your own terms.
What I left for were two of my favorite bands playing on the same ticket. It was Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Toys That Kill, The Lawrence Arms, and the Menzingers. Stacked lineup. I left Iggy in time to see about half of Bad Cop/ Bad Cop’s set. Their harmonies were tight and they played some songs off their upcoming album, including “Amputations.” New songs are usually a bit of a hard sell in the live setting, but from what I heard at the show, Warriors is gonna be a killer album.
The Bunkhouse is set up uniquely, it’s an outdoor venue (mostly)– similar to the Beauty Bar– but much larger. It’s a big dirt lot with an outdoor bar and a dead pickup in the middle for our most brazen to sit. Connected to it is a small indoor venue. They did a pretty cool thing at this show, by alternating the opening bands playing inside and outside, to make set-up easier and keep things moving along. So, Toys That Kill played next in the indoor venue, and I listened and nodded along from outside with a PBR. I’m honestly not that familiar with the band, despite seeing them before, so I used that time to chat with my other Dying Scene peeps about the events of the day.
The last time I saw the Ramblin’ Boys was a brief encore in Portland, where the Falcon went into the crowd as a conga line and came back as the Lawrence Arms. So, technically, I only saw them for two songs. Seeing them for a full set was one of my white whales. We all have bands we want to mark off our bucket list– The Lawrence Arms are one of mine. They came on with all the bravado and swagger inherent in their reputation, promising to “rock the dicks off” everyone who came before them. They played a lot of tracks off Oh Calcutta!, including my absolute favorite, “Recovering the Opposable Thumb,” and ending with “Are you there Margaret? It’s Me, God.” It was an awesome set with a whole lot of energy, but as great as it was, The Lawrence Arms were only my second favorite band playing that show. The next was going to be something.
I’m a pretty reserved guy most of the time. Sometimes I’m in the pit, but most of the time I’m sipping a beer and singing along in the back. I don’t mind. The days of feeling guilty if I don’t knock elbows during my favorite song are long behind me. I’m there to listen and hang. All of that nonchalance leaves when I see the Menzingers. My favorite bands come and go, but the Menzingers are one of those that I couldn’t shake if I tried. Chamberlain Waits, On the Impossible Past, and their most recent, After the Party will be spinning for a long time coming for me. Some bands write the score to your life, the Menzingers are my Hans Zimmer. So, I went nuts. I was screaming along, I was hugging new friends, we were closing our eyes and beating our chests, howling out slice-of-life vignettes that have been internalized to a heartbeat. The Menzingers played a fantastic mix of old and new, opening with “Tellin’ Lies” and ending with “In Remission.” One of the biggest surprises of the set was a Rancid cover. They rocked “Roots Radical” and we rocked with them, the booze and the fervor even encouraging my usually reserved self to start a circle of drunken skankers.
Day One ended with a big bang, and our lives were started anew in a baptism of nebulas and catharsis, reborn and re-energized– blah, blah, blah. We were tired. We slept and we rested up for the insanity that would be Day Two.
Check out the gallery below and stay tuned for our follow-up articles detailing the continued debauchery that is Punk Rock Bowling!