Live (Halloween Weekend 2012)
For those in our little community, No Idea’s annual punk rock party known simply as The Fest has become a must-see staple. Everyone knows about it, eagerly awaits and tries to find a way to make sure they have enough money to make the trek down to the sleepy University town of Gainesville, Florida every year.
Outside of the punk realm, it doesn’t carry the same respect or admiration of say Reading and Leeds or Coachella – but let’s be honest, none of those so-called big named festivals could hold a candle up to this celebration of beer-soaked, bearded sing-alongs. No, The Fest is our punk rock Christmas and this year’s eleventh edition didn’t disappoint in any way, shape or form.
Arriving too late for any pre-Fest shows, the weekend’s music began with Bomb The Music Industry! playing on the Holiday Inn pool party. A sloppy set and horrendous sound didn’t stop the already inebriated fans from jumping around as people were excited just to see the weekend begin.
By the end, the rest of the weekend turned into a blur – so as with many recaps, this will be missing some elements. However, a groggy memory is a memory none the less; and The Fest 11 implanted more than it’s fair share.
Latterman were a huge draw having only done a few shows since breaking up back in 2007. So while Anti-Flag were sticking to songs from only their first four albums down the street at the Florida Theatre, there were equal amounts of nostalgia taking over 8 Seconds for the final sets of day one. TheLatterman love continued over the weekend as Iron Chic had the longest line-up of the festival, wrapping its way past even The High Dive a few blocks down. Those who got in were treated to the perfect Fest set of gruff punk with I Always Never Said That and Black Friday being some of the highlights.
Other-post Latterman projects in attendance were Rvivr who followed Iron Chic to an equally energetic crowd but it was Erica Freas’ acoustic set on Sunday morning at the Civic Media Centre that really took the cake. Starting late because of technical problems including an out-of-tune guitar with no-pickup,Freas’ set was full of humble excitement and genuine surprise at the reception. With people spilling out the door, I’ve never seen the Civic Media Centre that full before and everyone laughed along with her light hearted banter. A slight change of pace from the gruff punk of the weekend, Freas served as a warm-up for those nursing a hangover from the first two nights of partying before jumping into something more energetic – for most it was a choice between The Wild and Joyce Manor.
Opting to catch Atlanta’s folk-punk five-some The Wild was not regrettable despite hearing that Joyce Manor nailed it. Dressed up as characters from Moonrise Kingdom, The Wild got into the full Halloween spirit of the weekend and went through Together Underground, Let Me Sing You A Song, The Saddest Thing I Ever Saw and Set Ourselves Free among others. Realizing they had more time, they were the only band of the weekend to do an encore despite being the first band on the bill. That’s not to say some bands didn’t go over, Titus Andronicus went ten minutes longer than they were supposed to but nobody seemed to mind.
Minneapolis’ Off With Their Heads were one of several bands who played two sets – one at 8 Seconds and then a late addition at Durty Nelly’s (a venue that will hopefully become a Fest regular as it was always packed and played host to numerous “secret” sets). Their first set featured your regular selection of songs from their full catalogue but at Durty Nelly’s they stepped on, said “This is From The Bottom” and proceeded to play the album front to back with no banter between. You could barely move, but fists were pumping in the air all night long.
Of course, like any Fest year, there was plenty of variety – both in styles and sizes of bands. Philadelphia’s Ma Jolie absolutely killed it inside a sparsely attended Loosey’s show up against Anti-Flag and Latterman where those in attendance were going ape-shit crazy despite the difficult time slot.
The UK’s Great Cynics closed the entire festival at Loosey’s where everyone seemed to end up at the end of the night which finalized with a speech from the venue owner who crowd surfed as Hot Water Music’s Trusty Chords played over the speaker.
Pop-punkers Direct Hit! delivered what will surely become a Fest legend with all those who couldn’t fit into the 130-capacity 1982 opting to watch through the window and crowd surf in middle of West University Avenue. Members of Mixtapes fought an ever growing cold and jumped all over the The New Top Spot playing songs from Even On The Worst Nights to a steadily growing crowd. Maura Weaver and Ryan Rockwell were in top form, bouncing off each other and showing why they’re a band who will only go up. Hell, even getting a used condom thrown at the stage didn’t stop Rockwell who just picked it up and threw it right back.
There were acoustic sets galore, bearded troubadour Paul Baribeau gave a chill inducing performance at 8 Seconds while Tim Browne from Elway did an all-request show at Civic Media Centre and opted to forgo the microphone and just get everyone to sing along instead – and sing along they did.
Smoke Or Fire’s Joe McMahon crawled into Loosey’s during their highly anticipated Saturday morning brunch and played a handful of tunes including a Jawbreaker cover which was cut short because no one in attendance could remember the first line to the third verse. Punk rock fail for sure, at least no one had a problem singing What Separates Us and Neon Lights.
Red Scare Industries was well represented throughout the weekend, especially on Friday when Elway, The Holy Mess, Dopamines, Cobra Skulls where my first four bands of the evening only to be followed by The Copyrights a few hours later. Yes, that was all just one night.
Nothington, another Red Scare alumni, gave one the highlight performances the following night in a set that was squished between the ska-double punch of Mustard Plug and Streetlight Manifesto (to make all three bands involved some spastic running around from venue to venue – but it was most definitely worth it). Streetlight were, of course, at the top of their game with Here’s To Life, A Moment of Silence, Moment of Violence and Down Down Down To Mephisto’s Café being a select few in their far too short a set. Mustard Plug pulled out some classic gems like Mr. Smiley, Brain on Ska andSkank My Numbers and even treated the crowd to their rendition Fugazi’s Waiting Room for good measure.
People may love to hear Waiting Room, but as Frank Turner so eloquently put it “Everyone here tries to pretend, including me, that you just woke up and already loved Black Flag but that’s not true, you got into this shit through bands like Offspring and Green Day and shit like that.”
And with that, he launched into Blink 182’s Dammit as his opening song and every last person there sang along.
I’d be quite confident in saying that Frank Turner gave the best performance of the weekend (of course, people who saw Propaghandi may disagree). In may have been the accumulation of PBR within me, but there was something simply magical in the air as he had the crowd eating out of his hand. By the end, I was surrounded by a dozen people – both friends and strangers alike – singing arm in arm to songs like Peggy Sang The Blues, Glory Hallelujah, Dan’s Song, The Road, Long Live The Queen, The Ballad Of Me and My Friends, I Still Believe, Photosynthesis, Try This At Home and a cover ofAmerican Girl. It was something magical and glorious and the definition of the The Fest.
The same could be said for The Menzingers set a few hours prior at Florida Theatre. Touring in support of On The Impossible Past, an album that will surely be on everyone’s year end lists this year, The Menzingers could do no wrong. Opening with The Obituaries, the crowd went wild. People jumped over one another, screamed in each other’s faces, jumped and moshed and danced the night away to songs like Ava’s House, Casey, Nice Things, Good Things, Gates, I Was Born and Sunday Morning. Their choice to end with A Lesson In The Abuse of Information Technology was perfect and only cemented why The Menzingers are one of the biggest bands around right now.
Somehow, in a seemingly impossible fashion, I could still go on as I managed to watch a total of 43 bands over the weekend (yes, there were a few half sets thrown in due to time conflicts). There was still The Flatliners and Tim Barry, The Front Bottoms (who blew me away) and Broadway Calls, Dear Landlord, Dead To Me and Andrew Jackson Jihad, The Gateway District, Make Do and Mend and The Soviettes and many more. The list goes on and simply feels like icing on the cake alongside numerous inmmensly memorable non-official moments of The Fest of which there are many.
A warehouse show came together on Saturday night with Into It. Over It and Slingshot Dakota playing before the cops came to break it up just as Braid began. I missed that show but was across town at the Holiday Inn watching Protagonist, Divided Heaven, We Are The Union and Binary Hearts play a hotel room show before running upstairs where Lauren Measure just finished playing and someone else was there doing a few tunes. Pulling Joe McMahon in, we did loud sing-alongs till well past four in the morning. In almost every hotel, if you kept your ears open you’d find something to keep you busy into the wee hours of the morning.
The Fest themselves threw an after party in the Holiday Inn the next night with an all cover set of Green Day, Weezer, Foo Fighters, and Nirvana performed by Astpai, Broadway Calls, Static Radio NJ and someone else who escapes me at the moment. Bomb The Music Industry! were meant to doFugazi but said fuck it and did Sugar Ray covers instead – and somehow, no one really cared.
Then again, that’s The Fest. Shit happens and you go with it. You make new friends, some for the whole weekend and some for only one random set crammed in the middle of the afternoon. You somehow end up watching The Evil Dead at Boca Fiesta with Andrew Cream and his friends from the UK. You sing with new pals from New Jersey and drunken Irish guys until the sun comes up at eight in the morning and catch up with people you only see once a year.
That’s The Fest – my most important holiday of the year. A weekend full of friends, bad hygiene, loss of hearing and two dollar tall boys; and I wouldn’t have it any other way.