Festival Review: Punk Rock Bowling – Day 2 (Las Vegas, NV)

by Oliver Brink on June 8, 2017

“Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!”

Choking Victim-8

Despite, or maybe in spite, of the heat I woke up for day two feeling refreshed and ready to go. The usual first day kinks had been worked out and entrance into the venue was faster, although I heard some rumor about ISIS threatening to bomb Las Vegas was flying around, which may have accounted for the somewhat increased security at the venue. Punks don’t take too well to the authoritarian attitude of aggressive security guards, so you can probably imagine a lot of grumbling and arguments were to be heard from the lines. Regardless I made it inside with plenty of time to grab a water bottle and head to the stage for the opening act of the day.

Venomous Pinks-4

Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, The Venomous Pinks brought a fiercely delivered riot grrl attack with them. Though they were a bit rough to start, they found their stride a few songs in and delivered a highly energetic performance with all the spit and fury that punk should be. So far, the curation of the bands had been top notch and it appeared to be continuing in that trend.

Ten Can Riot-4

Dallas, Texas’ Ten Can Riot were next and while their songs and instrumentation were quite good, their performance fell a bit flat in the energy department. Still, the songs were good, so despite the lackluster stage presence they played a decent sounding 25 minute set as the sun began its agonizingly slow descent westward.

Lost In Society

Enter Lost In Society from New Jersey with their melodic grunge-inspired take on punk. Catchy melodies played to an enthusiastic crowd kept everyone going. Though not explicitly listed as an inspiration on the band’s facebook page, there is the faint glimmer of Kurt Cobain in Zach Moyle’s voice, but not enough that it feels like it’s a blatant choice.

The Real McKenzies-4

Nothing quite prepared me for The Real McKenzies. First of all, being a fan of genre-blending music and other celtic rock groups like The Pogues and Flogging Molly, I was completely flabbergasted by the fact that I had never heard them before. On top of that they were celebrating their twenty-fifth year as a band! Clad in punk rock denim vests and authentic kilts—no courtesy flaps here—they proceeded to blast through a set of uplifting drinking songs with irreverent Scottish/Canadian humor. Dropkick Murphys can get stuffed–this is how you put bagpipes into punk rock.

The Dickies-6

The crowd at this point had increased drastically in size and with good reason, The Dickies were about to go on! They are a fantastic example of the resilience of the older generation of punk rockers—they’ve been consistently active since 1977. Where a number of the older bands have lost that youthful energy to the sands of time, The Dickies clearly couldn’t be bothered to accept their age as a halting factor. They delivered an energetic performance that rivaled a number of the younger newcomers and with great humor and ability—ranging from wild dance moves and impromptu penis puppet sing alongs—they proved that they still had what it takes!

The Bouncing Souls-3

While I’ve never really been a great fan of The Bouncing Souls I have to hand it to them for always maintaining their style and sound because of their sheer love for it. They had one agenda, as vocalist Greg Attonito put it, and that was to have fun. They definitely made good on that agenda creating an atmosphere of pure fun for both themselves and their fans. No one can fault them for that.

Setlist (Courtesy of Setlist.fm)

1. That Song
2. Say Anything
3. Sing Along Forever
4. The Gold Song
5. Driving All Night
6. Kate Is Great
7. Kids and Heroes
8. East Coast! Fuck You!
9. I Wanna Be Bored
10. Punx in Vegas
11. Lean on Sheena (Avoid One Thing cover)
12. The Ballad of Johnny X
13. Gone
14. Hopeless Romantic
15. True Believers
16. Manthem

Choking Victim-4

When I was in high school, George W. Bush and his administration seemed to be doing their best to utterly destroy our economy, as well as increase the endless conflicts between ourselves and the Arabic region of the world. Is it any surprise, being an angry young kid, that I got into Leftöver Crack and Choking Victim? I’ve seen Leftover Crack a number of times, so I was aware that STZA is a wild card in his vocal duties, but what proceeded was one of the sharpest performances I’ve ever seen from the musicians. Their high energy and connection to the crowd was fantastic, making their performance—fast, loud, full of anti-cop advocation—one for the books. All the classics came out, including a number of often neglected songs like “Apple Pie and Police State” and “In Hell.”  They concluded the set by bringing out members of The Slackers and The Bouncing Souls (and some other friends) to sing a sloppy but heartfelt “Crack Rock City.” Despite the thrown together nature of the collaboration, the atmosphere of joy was heartfelt throughout the crowd.

FIDLAR-2

With the sun down and the light up full, Los Angeles’ FIDLAR, proceeded to deliver a high octane set of explosive energy. Their blend of punk and surf is a welcome update to what Agent Orange started back in the 80s. They talk the talk and walk the walk, simultaneously jeering at—“Start moving faster you old fuckers!”— and keeping the crowd moving—at one point advocating for a women only circle pit—with a furious sonic intensity.

Bad Religion-5

To say the crowd was rev’d up may be an understatement, because their anticipation was palpable. Thunderous cheering met the raising of the Bad Religion banner and when the band took to the stage they delivered with all the energy of the twentysomethings that held it before them. I have been a fan since the first time I heard the Sublime cover of “We’re Only Gonna Die” and it wasn’t long before I became addicted to their prophetic songs of the American future. Greg Graffin remarked on the absurdity of watching all of their songs coming true in the last decade as they played through a blistering set of classics from Suffer, Generator, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, No Control, and Against the Grain. Having not seen them since the release of The Empire Strikes First it was a comfort to know that they still had that same energy and are still an absolute pleasure to watch even after a few changes in the line-up.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, NOFX’s Fat Mike rushed the stage in a dress at the beginning of “We’re Only Gonna Die” and stole Jay Bently’s bass to play the rest of the song and sing the final verse with Graffin. It was a sight to behold and I was so mesmerized by it that I almost didn’t get my camera out in time to snap a few shots from the middle of the crowd.

First 17 of a 28 song set

Set List (via Setlist.fm)

  1. American Jesus
  2. Supersonic
  3. Prove It
  4. Can’t Stop It
  5. Stranger Than Fiction
  6. Against the Grain
  7. Los Angeles Is Burning
  8. Fuck You
  9. The Streets of America
  10. Dharma and the Bomb
  11. 52 Seconds
  12. 12. New Dark Ages
  13. Modern Man
  14. Come Join Us
  15. We’re Only Gonna Die (with Fat Mike)
  16. Anesthesia
  17. Wrong Way Kids
  18. I want to Conquer the World
  19. 21st Century (Digital Boy)
  20. Suffer
  21. Do What You Want
  22. No Control
  23. You
  24. Atomic Garden
  25. Generator
  26. Sorrow
  27. Infected
  28. Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell

Bad Religion-13

After a 28 song set, the night came to a close and feeling the afterglow of a wholly-satisfying experience I made my way back to my lodging to sleep it off and prepare myself for day three’s festival finale.

Oliver Brink

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

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