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Pre-fest and Day One: Punk Rock Bowling 2017

The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound.

“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!



Me First And The Gimme Gimmes added to the It’s Not Dead Fest 2

As if a lineup featuring Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, Reagan Youth and the Voodoo Glow Skulls wasn’t enough of a reason to attend, the It’s Not Dead festival has added punk rock’s favorite cover band, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes.

The festival date is August 26th, at the Glen Helen Festival Grounds in sunny San Bernardino, California. This years lineup is packed full of classic punk rock bands, an art festival, and a punk rock swap meet. Yet another reason I wish I lived in California.

Any punker west of the Mississippi has no excuse to miss this bad ass experience, with an extremely reasonable 42 dollar ticket price. Get your tickets here.

Any favorites on this years lineup? Anybody bringing some vintage swag they want to swap around?



DS Photo Gallery: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (w/ Masked Intruder and PEARS), Boston, MA

America’s favorite punk rock lounge act supergroup coverband, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, brought the East Coast leg of their tour in support of their greatest hits album, Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits (April 7th, Fat Wreck Chords), through Boston late last week, their first area appearance in close to seven years. The touring lineup of the Gimmes has been a bit of an ongoing, evolving thing over the years, and honestly that’s one of the things that keeps the band fun and compelling as a live act. On this particular run, founding Gimmes Spike Slawson (vocals, occasional uke hunter), Joey Cape (guitar) and Dave Raun (drums) were joined by longtime touring Gimme Scott Shiflett all but taking over his kid brother Chris’s spot on lead guitar and Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley manning Fat Mike’s bass player battle station.

The Gimmes are always a fun time, and this particular night was no exception. One could imagine a situation in which a revolving cast of punk rock characters in their third decade as a recording and touring cover band (side note: the “Denver” 7-inch came out in 1995 and that doesn’t seem real) would have the occasion to go through the proverbial motions, but that hasn’t been the case. Bentley and Shiflett especially displayed an awful lot of playful stage interplay throughout the set, the latter using the opportunity to flex his mighty, mighty lead guitar skills that obviously get overlooked in his normal role as Face To Face’s bass player for the last few decades. Spike Slawson has long since outwardly embraced the role of schticky, occasionally raunchy lounge act crooner, so much so that you sometimes lose sight of the fact that the guy can actually, really, genuinely sing to a degree that he’s made a handful of other people’s songs sound like his own. The ukulele-led rendition of Madonna’s “Crazy For You” from 2014’s Are We Not Men? We Are DIVA! is a perfect example, though it’s worth noting that Madonna didn’t actually write the song either, so at this point it’s just as much Slawson’s as hers. But I digress. Long story short, Boston can be a bit of a notoriously finicky place for punk bands to play. On this particular night, Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s haven’t put out a new studio album (Greatestest Hits notwithstanding) in three years and still headlined in front of more Bostonians at the packed-to-the-rafters 1100-ish capacity Royale nighclub than they have played for in any of their past headlining gigs here in at least a decade, and that’s a pretty awesome thing.

Masked Intruder and PEARS provided direct and opening support in that order. The crowd at Royale turned out in larger capacity for PEARS than I have ever really seen at that particular venue, notorious for their early start times (can’t keep the EDM crowd waiting…), which was inspiring for a band that’s got a more raw, aggressive, throwback punk rock sound than many of their peers. Frontman Zach Quinn performs as though he’s from a bygone era, his banshee-like wailing and shirtless, sweat-covered pacing around the stage creating the impression of a caged animal chomping at the bit to be released.

Masked Intruder seem to be a perfect fit for any lineup that includes Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s. They might have a schtick of their own going, but it’s a really, really good one. Intruder Red was not behind the drum kit on this particular run — he’s in jail, naturally — but the band seemed to miss nary a beat with Lipstick Homicide’s Luke Ferguson taking up drum duties. Masked Intruder are a fun band who seem to take their role as a “fun band” seriously, without taking themselves too seriously. Blue and Green lead most of the high energy charge, having perfected personas as pseudo-New York tough guy common street criminals, at least until roughly the set’s halfway point, when Officer Bradford gradually loosens up and strips down, at which time the whole thing has the potential to devolve completely. Again, it’s schtick, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s all very well done.

Check out our full photo gallery below, and check out upcoming Gimmes dates here.

 



Me First and the Gimme Gimmes streaming “Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits”

Everyone’s favorite punk cover band Me First And The Gimme Gimmes just released their new retrospective collection Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits, and you can give it a listen below.

The Gimmes will be touring North America and Europe very soon. Their latest studio album Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! was released in 2014.



Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies streams ‘City of New Orleans’ off upcoming album “Rake It In: The Greatest Hits”

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are now streaming the song ‘City of New Orleans’ from their upcoming album “Rake It In: The Greatest Hits” to be released April 7th on Fat Werck Chords. Check it out below.

This is their first release since “Are We Not Men? We Are Diva!”, which was released in 2014.



Punk Rock Bowling announces daily lineups for 2017 festival

While the full lineup for Punk Rock Bowling 2017 was announced back in January, you can now check out the daily lineups for all three days of the Vegas-based festival.

Not surprisingly, the three biggest acts (Iggy Pop, Bad Religion, and Cock Sparrer) are spread out over the three nights, with a slew of additional acts each day.  If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, you can pick up 3-day passes ($125) or single-day passes ($50) here.



Me First And The Gimme Gimmes announce tour dates supporting upcoming greatest hits collection

Get your best Hawaiian shirts ready, boys and girls; Me First And The Gimme Gimmes have got a busy 2017 in the works!

As you probably already know, the band were added to the lineup at this coming May’s Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas. Today brings with it not only a slew of new international tour dates, but a brand-new release as well!

First things first. The new album is called “Rake It In: The Greatest Hits,” and features seventeen of the band’s favorite tracks from their seven full length releases. Check out the tracklist below. “Rake It In” is due out April 7th on Fat Wreck Chords (obviously); stay tuned for pre-order details.

Next up, as mentioned above, is a whole crap ton of tour dates that will find the five-some playing in Europe and the States a bunch between now and July 1st. A bunch of the European and American dates will feature main support from Masked Intruder, and PEARS and Together Pangea will also be making appearances. Scott Shiflett (Face To Face) will be filling in for his brother on guitar, while the almighty Jay Bentley will be filling in for Fat Mike on bass. Check out the rundown below as well!



Me First and the Gimme Gimmes added to Punk Rock Bowling lineup

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are the latest band to join the lineup for the 2017 edition of Punk Rock Bowling. The Las Vegas punk festival’s current lineup also includes Bad Religion, Pennywise, The Bouncing Souls, Choking Victim, and many others.

For more info, head over to PRB’s website.

The Gimmes last released Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! in 2014 through Fat Wreck Chords.



Me First and the Gimme Gimmes announce 2017 European tour with Masked Intruder

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes will be touring European with Masked Intruder in early 2017. The tour poster suggests Jay Bentley of Bad Religion will be filling in on bass for Fat Mike.

Check out the tour dates below to see if there’s a show near you.

The Gimmes last released Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! in 2014 through Fat Wreck Chords. Masked Intruder’s EP Love and Other Crimes came out in July on Pure Noise Records.



Riot Fest Denver announces 2016 After Shows

Riot Fest organizers have announced the official After Shows for the festival’s 2016 stop in Denver, Colorado. A few bands playing these shows include Lagwagon, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Lillingtons, The Aquabats, and Major Threat (a Minor Threat tribute ft. Dan Precision of 88 Fingers Louie).

The full schedule of After Shows for the 2016 edition of Riot Fest Denver can be found below. You can grab tickets for these shows when they go on sale this Friday, August 5th at 10am MDT.



Bad Religion, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Mad Caddies and The Sainte Catherines to play Envol et Macadam festival

Canadian festival Envol et Macadam has announced the first batch of bands for the 2016 lineup, including Bad Religion, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Mad Caddies, The Sainte Catherines and D-Unity. More bands are bands are expected to be announced soon.

Envol et Macadam will take place from September 8-10, 2016 at the Parc de L’Ilot Fleuri in Quebec City, and more details about the festival and ticket sales can be found here.



Me First and the Gimme Gimmes add dates, The Flatliners to European tour

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes have added a few dates to their upcoming European tour, in addition to announcing The Flatliners will be tagging along for these shows.

Find out if they’re stopping near you below.

Me First last released Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! in 2014 on Fat Wreck Chords. The Flatliners’ latest album Dead Language came out in September of 2013, and they have since released a b-sides/rarities compilation titled Division of Spoils in August, 2015.



Me First and the Gimme Gimmes announce European tour dates

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes have announced they will be heading overseas for a European tour in May of 2016. You can check out all of the dates and locations below.

The band’s latest album Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! released in 2014 on Fat Wreck Chords.



Spike Slawson (Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Uke Hunt) unveils three new ukulele covers

Spike Slawson of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and solo project Uke-Hunt recently sat down with Punks In Vegas to share live performances of three new covers as well as a fully acoustic version of a track off Me First’s latest album.

Check out “Crazy for You” (originally by Madonna), “Xanadu” (originally by Olivia Newton-John and ELO), “A World Without Love” (originally by Peter and Gordon, written by Lennon and McCartney), and “Mienteme” (originally by Los Tres Diamantes) below.



Punk Rock Bowling: Night One – Manic Hispanic, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes (Bunkhouse Saloon)

Friday night was the first night of official Punk Rock Bowling club shows, so after already being in Vegas for three days, I was itching to get this thing started! It all started with a night of cover songs, featuring Manic Hispanic & Me First and the Gimme Gimmes at Bunkhouse Saloon.

Before the show, we had a Dying Scene game-planning meetup at the Nugget, and you know how punks do with meetings. So, needless to say, I was a bit late to the show, and missed the first-ever show by The All Brights (Sean Sellers of Good Riddance, Dave Hause). Some of my friends who made it said it was a great set though, so I’ll take their word for it.

We got there shortly after Manic Hispanic started their set. I had never seen these guys live, and it was quite the… experience? They busted through some punk rock classics, of course, with the words changed. I’ll admit, I don’t listen to Manic Hispanic much, but it was comical to hear them changing the words to songs like Rancid‘s “Ruby Soho” (“Rudy Cholo”) and The Vandals‘ “Urban Struggle” (“I want to be a cholo”). Kind of like a punk rock/Chicano Weird Al vibe. Fun stuff.

The main attraction, though was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Everyone’s favorite punk rock cover band switched up the lineup for this performance. Instead of Fat Mike (who was chasing waterfalls with his daughter) on bass, it was Jay Bentley from Bad Religion. Brian Baker (also from BR) filled in on guitar for Chris Shiflett. Baker was pretty quiet most of the set, but Jay Bentley seemed to relish the chance to break free from his more “serious” role in Bad Religion. He was cracking jokes seemingly non-stop, and even did some background dancing when Spike Slawson gave the band a break to do some Uke-Hunt songs solo on the ukulele. It was quite entertaining. Spike was in his normal frontman form, flying through “the hits”. For me though, I think he did a few too many cover songs…

Check out my photos from Manic Hispanic and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes below.