Punk Rock Bowling Festival: Day Three – Dropkick Murphys, Conflict, Agnostic Front, Swingin’ Utters, The Business, The Mahones, IRA, Avenue Rockers

Monday morning at Punk Rock Bowling brings with it certain inevitable realizations. If you’ve done the weekend right, you’re probably begging for a proper night’s sleep, real food, and some relaxation. You also realize, oh shit! It’s the last day already. Already??!! The weekend seems so long yet so short at the same time. But there was still much more to do before the 17th annual reunion in the desert came to a close. After the Booze & Glory pool party, I ran back to my room to grab more gear and headed to the main stage to see our friends in Avenue Rockers. Battle Born opened the final day of the fest, however as the rest of the weekend attested, I was unable to get to the main stage for the openers.

If Sunday was a day that left to be imagined for me, Monday was the complete opposite. I was excited to see every single band on the bill, and Avenue Rockers started my fest off right. Grit, melody, unending stage energy, and sing along lyrics make these Texans a great show to see.

Next was a band that I wasn’t too familiar with, Colombian punks IRA (Acute Respiratory Infexion). The band is in your face and isn’t afraid to talk about politics that are plaguing their nation. In fact many songs were dedicated to those struggling or under oppression in their homeland.

Canadian Celtic band The Mahones were next to the stage, and I was excited to see what their set would entail. The band is in the process of releasing part two of their two part album (The Hunger & The Fight), which focuses more on their punk influences (vs their Irish influences featured on part one). The setlist sampled heavily from part two, but the band definitely let their Celtic roots shine through. Great set full of energy and movement. The Mahones is one of those bands that is just so photogenic it makes the selection process difficult because every shot is a gem.

As The Business took to the stage, the punks really started coming out. The Business is a band that has been with me for the greater part of two decades, and whenever they’re on a bill I get super excited. While many may stray away from a Business pit, I am driven to like a siren song. Shoot my 3, drop my gear with friend Shahab of GC Records, and B-line it to the pit. While the band didn’t play “H-Bomb” or “Disco Girls”, they did delight ears with “Guttersnipe”, “Harry May”, “(Do They) Owe Us A Living”, and many more classics. Mickey & co. have many more years left in them, and I look forward to being there for the ride.

I needed like four bottles of water to re-hydrate after dancing to the ol Brits, and was ready to go again by the time (my) local heroes Swingin’ Utters began their set. While the music may not be as ‘tough’ as some of the other bands, don’t tell frontman Johnny Peebucks that. His stage presence and just overall craziness is a sight to behold. Punches to the face, pained expressions, and an in your face attitude is Peebuck’s M.O. The band was playing their last show with founding drummer Greg McEntee, and it was great to wish him off in beautiful punk fashion.

From the East Coast….to the desert….Agnostic Front! The NYHC legends were a late add to PRB, filling in for Bad Manners who dropped off the fest at the last minute. To be honest, I think Agnostic Front was a better fit, even though I thought it would be great to see the (not so) Fat Bastard skank it up. I love posting up by bassist Mike Gallo, and just witnessing the jumps. He’s guaranteed for at least a couple, I even managed to get a rare one of Roger! Despite half the band wearing knee/ankle braces, the energy that was on stage was absorbed by the rambunctious crowd. And of course, the band ended with their standout hit “Gotta Go”. Great set from timeless musicians.

I had just seen Conflict two nights before at their club show with Krum Bums, and I was anxious to see them on the main stage. It had been years since I last saw Conflict, but it could’ve been like it was yesterday. The band seems to not have aged a bit and came out swinging from the first chord. One of the standout moments for me was when frontman Colin Jerwood took a moment to talk to the crowd about how we are all one. “Stop fighting, we are all one, we are in this together…everyone here is your friend.” It was a touching display of unity at a festival that prides itself on bringing people together from all sub-genres.

The final band to play the main stage of PRB 2015 was Dropkick Murphys. By this time, the entire festival was packed – brimming with beer, booze, spikes, and anticipation. I was in the zone in the photo pit, fighting some 30 other photographers for position, so I couldn’t tell you what the band opened with. In fact, the majority of their set was a blur. Between shooting, dancing, drinking, and singing along (to what I don’t know), I was trying to squeeze every last drop out of Punk Rock Bowling before the main event concluded.

You can have a look at the complete gallery of photos taken from Monday’s main stage sets below.

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