Festival Preview: Punk Rock Bowling (Las Vegas)

by Oliver Brink on April 10, 2017

Punk’s Not Dead Yet!

If you grew up in local punk rock scenes, it is impossible to not have heard about Punk Rock Bowling. The three-day festival has been bringing together a menagerie of fantastic punk bands in downtown Las Vegas for 19 years strong – that’s over half my lifetime – and this year’s line-up may be one of the best to date.

That said, it’s hard to believe that having been involved in local scenes –as a music fan and occasional band leader – that I have never made the pilgrimage to this mecca of punk rock, but it would appear that 2017 is my year. Sure, I may not be a scrappy 19 year-old with bright green hair – though I still have my ratty patch ridden sweater and shit-kicker Doc Martens – but I could not be more thrilled, and here’s why:


Iggy Pop: Though he is probably one of the few of the older generation that still tours on a semi-consistent level, it is impossible to deny the sheer awesome power that the godfather of punk still brings to the table. At 69 years old, he is still a snarly shirtless demon who has just as much fun on stage as everyone is having in the pit. I can’t wait to catch him again after the phenomenal release of Post Pop Depression.

Bad Religion: I haven’t seen Bad Religion live since I was 19 years old. A lot has happened since and though there have been a number of occasions where they have been touring, I have missed each one. Being an ardent fan of the majority of their work (some of those Capitol Records albums are a real drag) they’re a band that has managed to maintain their vigor over a 32 year career and of the 3 times I’ve seen them, I have never been disappointed.

Choking Victim:  I first found Choking Victim, and Leftover Crack for that matter, when I was 16 or 17 years old. I instantly fell for their melodic mixture of hardcore punk rock plus ska, and over the years I’ve seen a number of bands that seemed to have grown from the Choking Victim seed. You never quite know what kind of performance you’re going to get from guitarist/frontman STZA which makes it all the more interesting to see how this reunion of the Choking Victim EP line-up will turn out.

The Adicts:  Long have I been regaled of the antics of The Adicts. Bright lights, confetti, a giant party of sorts that you don’t usually expect from punk rockers, but never have I once heard a single person speak ill of their performances. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are known for putting on a hell of a show and it’s high time I witnessed it myself.

The Dickies:  I used to stare at the Dawn of the Dickies album cover every time I’d flip through the D stack in the record store. This was long before I saw Dawn Of The Dead [1978] but there was something so attractive about a bunch of punks battling blue zombies with their instruments. Another can’t-wait, and first-time-seeing, moment to notch onto my belt!

Cock Sparrer:  If you grew up in a small music scene in the late 90s and early 00s you couldn’t escape what became known as The Oi Revival and because you couldn’t escape it you inevitably heard the song “Argy Bargy” at some point. I never got into the whole skinhead scene, working class or otherwise, but I’ll admit there were a couple of Oi bands that I enjoyed and Cock Sparrer was one of them. Catching them is difficult as they don’t tour regularly so it’s a grand opportunity to finally see one of the originals headlining day three of this fest.

The Interrupters:  I’m not going to lie; the first time I gave a listen to The Interrupters’ debut album, I was pretty nonplussed about it. It wasn’t that the songs weren’t any good, they were – I just felt particularly jaded by most of the political lyrics. At the time, I felt like it was a bunch of slogans that didn’t really offer up much, but by the time I got to their second album, I noticed a much more intelligent shift in the lyricism and found myself hooked. My best friend took me to a show when I was in San Francisco at Thee Parkside, a wonderful little venue which I’ve had the pleasure of playing at myself – back when I was in a band – and though I didn’t last for long inside that sweat box, I came out of it thoroughly convinced that The Interrupters are the best “new” ska-punk outfit around!

Other honorable mentions include Keith Morris (Circle Jerks/Black Flag) lead OFF!; LA surf punks FIDLAR; 90s punk super group ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES; and the unstoppable forty year reign of DISCHARGE.

See you in the pit, assuming my knees don’t give out first!

Oliver Brink

Oliver is a lover of film, music, theatre, and art. He writes and works out of Los Angeles.

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