This past weekend, Fat Wreck Chords reached the climax of their string of 25th anniversary shows. The party began earlier this month in Ontario, and loads of Fat bands toured around the East Coast and Midwest celebrating all things Fat, before the big ‘2 Day Blow-Out’ at Thee Parkside in San Francisco (the tour ended in LA the following day, but living in SF I’m supposed to hate LA or something). A whole city block was shut down to play host to over 20 bands over the weekend, and early Saturday morning I headed over to see what was in store.
toyGuitar was probably the best band to start the weekend, with their pearly chords, surf rock style, and catchy riffs. Even though Miles, Jack, Paul, and Rosie were first to take the stage, the local favorites drew a huge crowd to get the day properly underway.
Okay, ears ready? Heart pumping? You awake yet? If not, Night Birds will take care of that no problem. The stage presence of frontman Brian Gorsegner is something I implore every punk fan to witness. In your face, emotional, but most importantly on point – he brings an added element to the set that was much appreciated by fans.
Western Addiction kept the high-energy flowing as the sun hit it’s high point of the day. Well hydrated with liquid courage, the crowd really began to move to another gritty set.
Bracket is a band I have never seen before, and probably will never see again (unless I get to see guitarist Angelo Celli as he expands his solo work). That being said, I have been rocking to “2Rak005” since I first heard it on the “Fat Music For Fat People” compilation, and when that track graced my eardrums I was both transplanted back to my youth, as well as sentimental to where I was and what this was all about.
Miles and Jack were back on stage, joining Johnny Peebucks, Darius Koski, and new drummer Luke Ray….otherwise known as Swingin’ Utters. I love these guys, and Johnny’s on-stage antics are great to be a part of. Think it’s all psycho faces and face punches? Take a look at Darius and you’ll think you’re in a blues club with his cool, suave strumming. Have a gander at Miles and you may just get stricken by those dimples and then nothing else matters. And Jack, well he just has a style all his own.
The night’s list of bands looked like my childhood playlist as Strung Out prepared to perform to a now-packed house. I always get blinders when I shoot, and sometimes the music takes backseat to the shots, however I had to put the camera down for “Exumation of Virginia Madison” and just rock out. One of my old-time favorites.
Here’s where the progression of bands lost me. I understand Fat Mike needs a break from playing both Me First & The Gimme Gimmes and NOFX in one night, but I thought they might’ve been better placed after Swingin’ Utters or maybe even on the following day, switching with Dead To Me or something. It seemed a little bizarre to transition from the light-hearted Me First to a much more rugged Sick Of It All. Maybe that was the organizers’ intention – anyway, I don’t call the shots, I just critique them. What’s to say about Me First? Their shows are total fun, party-oriented, and often include a little improv comedy from the musicians. I suppose it was a nice break before Sick Of It All.
New York hardcore legends Sick Of It All blast to the stage like a blitzkrieg and barely give you time to catch your breath. The band is intense, in your face, and you can always count on guitarist Pete Koller to drive the energy with his jumps, kicks, and overall exuberant performance. I love seeing these guys.
As the sun was beginning to slip beyond the horizon, headliners NOFX filled what little space was left on Wisconsin Street. The band played for about an hour, the majority of which I spent shooting or side stage looking on with delight. One of my highlights was their performance of “Linoleum”, always a favorite and it gets the crowd going nuts. It’s awesome to see the longevity of all these bands and musicians – both in popularity and capability. Chalk it up to a fuzzy memory but I believe a cover of Rancid’s “Radio” was played as well, which I’ve loved since the two did a split back in 2002. All-day music festivals are always a test of endurance and sun/food/liquid management but when the night starts coming to an end I’m always left wanting more. Thankfully, this party had a Day Two, coming soon…
Have a look at photos from all of the day’s performance below, and stay tuned for Day Two in the following days.
***Big thanks to Vanessa, Jason, Amanda, Audrey, all the staff at Thee Parkside, and everyone else that made this weekend an incredible celebration of being wrecked for 25 years!***