Fest 17 2018: My first Fest!

After many years of obsessing over lineups and getting recommendations from true punk fans, I finally headed to Gainesville, Florida this year for Fest 17. I also got to tag along with the band Hans Gruber and the Die Hards on their journey to make their debut at Fest. After an early flight from Austin to Savannah, I hitched a ride on their This Flat Earth Tour <—Who knew the Earth was flat? (see video link)

My first show was at Mother’s Pub, which was hosting the Happiest Hour Party Time. It truly lived up to the name and I got my first taste of how the rest of the weekend would go. I got to catch up and coming acts such as the Cold Wrecks, The Ridgelands, Goddamnit, and Hans Gruber and the Die Hards.

The room was packed since the Holiday Inn Pool Party/Officer Bradford’s Jammy Jam was canceled. This happy hour turned into the show to get Fest officially started!

This past year I have had the pleasure of meeting Chris Fox and the members of  Boss’ Daughter. We got to catch their set at the Palamino Pool Hall and it was truly a sight to see. People were jumping on stage and dancing around every inch of that pool hall. If you haven’t been to Boss’ Daughter show, are you even partying? See videos below:

 

 

I saved most of my energy for Saturday and Sunday of Fest. Every morning was a surprise to find out which Mystery bands would be revealed. It is a real “Sophie’s Choice” when deciding which band to see and having to miss one of your other favorite bands.  This isn’t my first music festival where I have had to make similar decisions since I am a South By Southwest veteran at this point. CITY LOGISTICS AND TIMING IS KEY! Since I had missed some artists on Friday, seeing my favorite bands get added to the schedule was a godsend.

The two Mystery bands I caught were Night Birds and Pears on Saturday. Night Birds haven’t left my listening rotation for about 3 years now. I think Mutiny at Muscle Beach is an under-rated masterpiece. I finally got to see them for the second time in my life and that will not be often enough times. Fest also got an added bonus this year from the band Pears. They decided to play their album Go to Prison in full. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to this record I would highly recommend it especially if you are not familiar with them previously. I think it is a great representation of their musical range as a band. It is an unbelievable debut album and it only gets better from there.

Pears sounds like no other band out there at the moment. I love that they are clever lyrically and are full of rage but in a satirical way. Another fun fact about Pears at Fest is they were supposedly giving away lyrics sheets if someone got a Pears tattoo from the Fest flash sheet. I am one of those crazy people but I got mine on Sunday after they left. Hopefully, I can connect with them when they come back through Texas. Regardless, I got a cool (permanent) Fest souvenir.

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Fest 17 Flash Sheet with my mods

One of my favorite show experiences was getting to see War on Women finally. I have read about them in many online articles but I wanted to see what the hype was really about. The venue was so packed but the performance was stellar. I had listened to an album a few months ago and I expected it to be intense. When I heard the song “Say it”  live, it was absolutely moving. Having a song blatantly state the obvious and jarring reality about rape was emotional but needs to be screamed from the mountains tops. This is a song that definitely reflects the times of this past year. I also got an informative book written by Shawna Porter about creating safe spaces and I look forward to reading it. She was super loving in person and is an absolute treasure to this scene. I am bummed I didn’t get any footage from this show to share.

Later that night after bouncing around with friends, I headed to Bo Diddley Plaza to check out Rozwell Kid. I really like them and have seen them previously. This time around they really impressed me. I think this band will continue to get better and better as their career develops. I was really looking forward to finally catching The Lawrence Arms set. I have missed this band at many festivals over the years and they rarely tour in southern states. Finally getting to seeing the Lawrence Arms was definitely worth the wait.

 

One of the major appeals of Fest for was getting to see Lagwagon perform “Let’s Talk about Feelings” for the 20th anniversary of the album. This album is fun and has great songs such as “Hurry Up and Wait” and “May 16”. It is said that this is Joey Cape’s favorite Lagwagon album but I feel the band would say that about all their records like they were their children. The first Lagwagon record I ever listened to was Double Plaidinum. That will always be my favorite but Let’s Talk About Feelings is my other go-to album. The cover art and the playfulness of the record itself will make you want to listen to it beginning to end. I am glad I got to celebrate this album at Fest 17.

My late show on Saturday was located at Loosey’s Market to check out pop-punk sensations The Dollyrots. A college friend of mine really sweated this band and turned me on to their style. They are not my usual taste in pop punk but the songs are super fun and catchy. You can tell this is Kelly and Louis’ passion and they always have fun on stage. I am glad I finally got to see them live. I got to catch another Mystery Band, which was The Stereo!

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The Dollyrots at Fest 17

This was a reunion for them, which Fest is known for bringing back fan favorites. When I think of power-pop, the Stereo is possibly my favorite. That might have to do with the members being from the Impossibles and Animal Chin. It is like a perfectly formed Fueled by Ramen super band. I feel this secret show was a test run for the bigger Bo Diddly stage but all the super fans showed up for this particular show. I also had the pleasure of running into my favorite podcaster Jeff from the Rockfuel Podcast at this show. See some footage below:

 

Sunday was a random day for new music and crazy hijinks on the final day of Fest. I headed to the tattoo shop Wunderland to see about getting a Fest tattoo. Since there is always a list of people ready to get inked, we headed down to the see The Stereo for an encore performance. I also had the pleasure of meeting the band after their set and they said they are working on a new album!

I was REALLY looking forward to seeing Dollar Signs at Fest for the first time. This band was a hidden gem in my Spotify. I want to send Spotify a literal thank you letter for introducing me to this band. I am bummed they only had a 30 minute set time at the High Dive. Nevertheless, I was determined to enjoy every second and they did not disappoint.

They wore their party shirts, had hoverboards, and the crowd sang every word. I have to say that was one of the best shows at Fest. I look forward to what they will release next. In an ideal world, I would love to see them tour with Jeff Rosenstock. That would be a match made in heaven.

I eventually got my tattoo (see above) and headed back to Bo Diddley Plaza for the last time. I had to see Masked Intruder for the tenth time in my life. This band literally steals my heart since they steal everything else. I sat on the lawn and watched all the crowd surfers fly by. It was a nice way to spend my last evening at Fest. After getting some dinner and my Masked Intruder fix, I headed back to the High Dive. I had been watching The Shell Corporation on Bridge City Sessions on YouTube for the past month.   “Kumbaya” is my official anthem of the year 2018. I had to see it live. Here is some of the song below (buy their albums!) :

This band should get more credit and be a bigger name, which I feel that will come in time. They have a vision and a style that always leaves me wanting more. I ended up staying at the High Dive with my friends to check out The Fad. I hadn’t listened to or thought of this band since the early 2000s. We had a great time dancing to some throwback ska and having some drinks to close our first Fest. It was definitely one for the books.

I know there was a ton I missed out on. If I didn’t have a full day of traveling then I would have been at “the purge”. There is always an awesome band that shows up and there are new friends to be made. I am sad I missed Iron Chic while getting my tattoo. It would have also been cool to experience Pre-Fest or see the wrestling. I just don’t believe you can do everything at Fest. I am sure many of you have tried. I think that might be the beauty of Fest, it is a unique experience every time with new and old friends.

Even though I have been to many shows in Texas and around the country, I have to admit Fest has the best fanbase hands down. Fans come year after year and are a real punk community. I made a lot of new friends and got to see some old good ones while I was there. I hope to make it back to Gainesville for more great memories and to party with my Fest friends.

For more photos and videos from Fest 17 check out my Instagram.

NEVER STOP FESTING FRIENDS!

Punk Rock Festivals 2016: Lineups, Reunions, and Hang Overs

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Photo by Tyson Heder

This time of year, in my opinion, is the beginning of the punk festival season. I think between Punk Rock Bowling and Fest is the prime picking for festivals in the United States. With these amazing lineups and the Misfits reunion, we can all see the money flying out of our bank accounts. Just remember there is no price on memories even if we might black out and forget….

Here is the break down for every major punk lineup in the U.S. and a few international mentions:

Punk Rock Bowling: Las Vegas, NV( May 26-30), Denver, CO (June 2-4), and Ashbury, NJ (June 10-12)

I am VERY biased when I say this is my favorite festival. I have been several times now and it is the quintessential punk rock festival. All the punk kids having fun against the glitzy Las Vegas lights is a sight to be seen. This festival also brings cool and unique club after shows. Did I mention there is a bowling tournament too? With the gambling, pool parties, and karaoke, the fun never stops in this 24-hour festival. This year they are attempting to branch out by having dates in Ashbury and Denver. Here are the lineups for each date:

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Riot Fest: Chicago, IL (Sept. 16-18) and Denver, CO (Sept. 2-4)

Riot Fest REALLY brought the surprise of the year by only announcing the Misfits reunion in their initial band. They didn’t mention any of their other stellar artists and let us just freak out for a moment because hell froze over for a second. Of course, in our heart of hearts, we could see this happening but no one was holding their breath. But it’s happening! I will be there this September to give all the details of this reunion for you guys. This might be my favorite lineup of all the festivals this year. It has such punk gems as Bad Religion, Lagwagon, NOFX, The Aquabats, Against Me!, and Leftover Crack to name just a few. Both lineups are very similar but it depends on how much you want to see certain headliners and old school favorites. They are still announcing more to each lineup so stay tuned:

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Fest 15: Gainesville, FL (Oct. 28-30)

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Fest is on my bucket list of punk festivals to go to before I die. I think it should be on yours as well. Anyone that I have discussed Fest with says that it is a place where new punk bands are made and found. This year is very special since it is an anniversary of the festival. They have a heavy lineup of alumni playing, which makes it harder to decide who you want to see. This is a great problem to have. So cancel all your Halloween plans now and make it out to Fest 15 this year, check out the official lineup below:Image-14-05-2016-at-01.02.jpg

Remember the Punks Fest: San Antonio, TX (October 1, 2016)

A super surprise for the state of Texas. As a punker growing up in Texas, we tend to miss out on bands from the other coasts that can’t afford to tour here often. So when this festival popped up, the internet lit up! I feel the lineup is equal parts street punk, pop punk, and ska. It will be amazing to see Bigwig, Slapshot, The Exploited again since it has been a hot minute. I think this festival will do well since the venues will cater to every kind of punk. I will also be covering this festival since it is in my backyard, which in Texas means a 2-hour drive.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest: Austin, TX (Nov 6-8)

This has been my favorite local festival for many years now. This 10-year festival is uniquely Austin. These festival people love bands such as the Descendents, GWAR, and Fat Wreck bands, and reunions. And don’t forget tacos. I hope this is not the end of the road for this festival since the company has changed owners this past month. It is a great festival that is equal parts electronic, hip-hop, comedy, punk, metal, hardcore, and indie rock. Every year they do a recap video and I think it gives a good depiction of what good times to expect. Fingers crossed for another great year and lineup to come!

Other Honorable Mentions:

Since some of these festivals are overseas or have already happened, here is a quick list of festivals to hit up outside the U.S. Get those passports ready!

Get FESTING in 2016 and feel free to share local festivals within the comments. See you out there!