Partying ’til the wee hours had apparently caught up with everyone on Day Three as the early afternoon kicked off to lightly attended Punk Rock Pool Parties and pre-fest shows all around Downtown Las Vegas. Hell, most folks didn’t show up to the festival proper until closer to 4pm, well after the opening acts had completed their sets. Some of our staffers were also moving a little slow that morning as well. Luckily they made it in time to cover almost all of the acts. Check out our coverage of the third and final day of Punk Rock Bowling 2016 below!
Pictures by The Marvelous Milhouse
As I approached the outer walls of the festival grounds, I could hear Sic Waiting mid-set, which meant I completely missed Vegas locals, Rayner open the final day. Luckily, I had just seen them a week or so prior at an incredible little show down in LA. I figured that trying to squeeze the pool party in before heading over to the festival was a bad idea but I thought I would still at least make it time for Sic Waiting’s full set. Guess I was wrong. If either of these stellar acts come to your city though, you must go check them out. Both put on rabid, energetic performances, well worth the price of admission. Not to be missed…unless you’re at a pool party. Anyway, on with the parts of Day Three I bothered to show up for!
With the folk subgenre gaining in popularity, it’s no surprise that Punk Rock Bowling included a folk act in this year’s lineup. They couldn’t have made a better choice than the lovely Louise Distras from the UK. She plays sincere folk punk with a bit of a pop twang, but it’s got a little more edge to it than other, similar acts. I had just missed her performance at the Redwood in LA a few days prior, so I was pretty stoked to see her on the card. She started off in proper British fashion by thanking the medium sized crowd for braving the sweltering heat to come see her, seeming genuinely grateful to see them. After a few more pleasantries she begin her set which was comprised of songs mostly from her 2013 debut album Dreams from the Factory Floor. Her gravelly vocals exuded passion and protest as she slayed her acoustic with violent downstrokes in this extremely intimate set.
Every year, PRB is known to invite a lesser known band from abroad to fill an early slot. This yer’s entry was Giuda a five piece rock/funk act from Rome, Italy. Their bio classifies them as ‘Glam Rock’ but I’m not entirely certain what this is. While they were a bit of an odd fit, they were incredibly entertaining and their sound served as a bit of palate cleanser from the constant barrage of more orthodox punk acts throughout the weekend. With heavy, loose stringed bass riffs, excellent metal guitar solos and chanting choruses, these rowdy Romans would fit right in on a Monster Ballads comp. They have a 70’s-80’s rock sound to them, akin to AC/DC. During their set, a giant cloud rolled over the parking lot providing a little relief for the filling audience who had started to gather around the stage, intrigued by the performance. It was by far one of the most technically sound performances of the entire holiday weekend.
Minneapolis natives, Off With Their Heads kicked off their set promptly at 5:10pm. Over the 15 minutes or so that it took the stage crew to reset, the crowd size doubled. I guess I wasn’t the only one excited to see these misfits from the Midwest. As the clouds continued to roll in, a cooling breeze accompanied it which appeared to energize the crowd a little more. One swift breeze blew lead singer, Ryan Young’s set list off of the stage, to which he replied “Since the good lord saw fit to blow my set list away, I guess we’ll just play it by ear.” The ‘improvised’ set was made up of mainly favorites from their two most popular albums, Home and In Desolation. I don’t remember too many deep cuts although they did play “Die Today” from their 2006 EP, Hospitals. Dave Tejas from Krum Bums came out a couple time to tell jokes while the boys tuned their guitars between songs. I was more partial to Ryan’s joke, comparing Fireball whiskey to clergy rape but it was awesome to see the the crustcore legend again, even if it was just as a jester. I talked to a lot of people who considered this performance the highlight of the entire event. I think I may concur with them.
Simi superstars, Strung Out started their set with front man Jason Cruz advising the horde that they would be playing through their seminal sophomore album Teenage Suburban Wasteland Blues which was met with enormous applause and cheers. I may have been screaming the loudest as that LP was probably one of the most played albums of my youth. It lived in my tape deck for literally months, until the tape wore through from repeated use. These guys were on my must see list for decades and my first glimpse of them performing live was everything I thought it would be. The performance wasn’t perfect, the harmonies were a little off and it lacked some of the technicality that you would expect from a veteran act but despite all of that, it was fun as hell and had to be one of the top moments of the weekend (probably the year) for me personally. What the boys lacked in precision, they made up for in energy and swagger, playing through the album at a blazing clip, as if they were still int heir 20’s. I was in awe watching a live performance of an album I’ve heard a thousand times and love a thousand times over.
Time for a little DC Hardcore royalty! After years laying dormant, Dag Nasty has arisen once again! To be honest, I’ve never really gotten into them, although I did pick up Four on The Floor back in the 90’s when it came out. Shawn Brown was captivating on lead vocals, constantly moving around the stage like a caged animal looking for an weakness in his confinement. The lead man wasn’t the only member with an overabundance of vitality though. Even with age creeping up on him, I can see why guitarist Brian Baker needs to stay busy when Bad Religion isn’t touring, as he bounced around stage with the vigor of a 20 year old. I love that every decade or so, these guys just say “fuck it” and get back to their roots for awhile. The aggressive, three chord riffs screamed through the audience who had started the biggest circle pit I saw all weekend long. Mr. Brown took very few breaks between songs during this straight forward, old school hardcore set, but when he did engage the crowd, they went nuts. I can’t say I know enough about them to rattle off a set list, but there were a few songs that I recognized, so I’m assuming they were from Four on the Floor. Overall, it was phenomenal throwback performance, like a portal in time, giving a younger generation a look into the past at one of the building blocks of many modern day punk genres.
The theme of the fest, if there was one seemed to be taking a look back at genre defining acts or classic, beloved albums. face to face followed suit performing their self titled 1996 debut LP. Lead man Trever Keith said he wasn’t sure why they were playing that album, although he may have accidentally agreed to play it while small talking with Mark Stern at the 25th Anniversary Show at The Palladium a few months back. Before starting in on the “Ordinary”, he apologized saying “This one is 90’s as fuck. It sounds like a Gin Blossoms song.” The engrossing front man was mechanical on lead guitar as well as vocals, making transitions look effortless. While it wasn’t ever one of my favorite albums of theirs, it was great to see them steer away from the easy route by only playing new stuff and celebrate the loose theme of the weekend. These legendary SoCal punks did, however manage to squeeze in “Double Crossed” from their most recent album Protection to round their set out. During one of the early songs, a fuchsia shirt had been tossed towards the stage and got caught on the Trever’s mic stand, I was amused, thinking it looked Steven Tyler-esque. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, other than it was really, really funny….probably just to me though. Excellent set. I cannot wait to see them again.
The weekend’s long, exhausting hours and endless festivities were catching up to me and I had started to slump a little. I also still had to drive thirty minutes back to my buddy’s house for the night so I decided to skip out before Celtic punk act Flogging Molly to beat the traffic and try to get some rest before my journey back to the SouthLand. I’m sure The Marvelous Milhouse got some good pictures for us though!
Have a look at all the photos from Day Three of Punk Rock Bowling Vegas below.