The third and final day of The Fest 9 was by far the best for me. After another long night, I woke up late and missed the No Idea Records BBQ and record sale, something that I vow to attend in full force next year. I need me some more punk vinyl.
Fake Problems was the first band to play The Venue on Sunday. I'm extremely excited that I finally got to catch their live show after missing them once while they were on tour with The Gaslight Anthem. They played a few songs off of their latest record, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, and also mixed in a cover of blink-182's "Dammit". Kids went nuts for this and crowd surfed more than any set I had seen so far.
Go Rydell Instead of waiting half an hour for The Copyrights, I decided to head to Rum Runners for Go Rydell. I figure this was a good idea because Go Rydell had a through-the-roof set that was almost too much for the limited space in Rum Runners. While the crowd wasn't large by any means, it was very lively and had just as many circle pits as the bigger acts commanded. It was good to see the Orlando group have a solid crowd at their set.
Lemuria I was pretty excited to see this band at The Venue, as I really enjoyed their live show when I saw them with The Wonder Years and New Found Glory. I saw three songs before checking my Twitter and seeing that 1982 Bar was at capacity. I panicked because I really wanted to see Make Do and Mend there, so I reluctantly ditched the Lemuria set and trekked over to 1982 Bar. But from what I did see, Lemuria has a stage presence that is greater than the sum of its parts. With only a female vocalist/guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer, Lemuria sure got loud and had the crowd going crazy. I wasn't expecting to see such a big crowd, but kids were crowd surfing and having a great time throughout the beginning of the set.
Pianos Become the Teeth/Make Do and Mend Seeing these bands back to back was one of my Fest highlights. Both groups were extremely passionate and played with a fervor that was impressive to behold. They managed to stick out at a festival where every single band brought every ounce of what they had to the table, and that is impressive. Of the two, I enjoyed Make Do and Mend more. Their brand of post-hardcore is the kind of music that is meant to be played live, loud and reckless. While Pianos Become the Teeth had a larger crowd, it could be argued that Make Do and Mend's crowd was rowdier. They played the closing track on their latest record, End Measured Mile, which was a cool treat. I got to meet vocalist/bassist James Carroll and he was a very humble and interesting guy. I back this band as hard as any other band right now, and everyone should go out and pick up their latest album.
The Menzingers/Broadway Calls I raced back to The Venue to catch The Menzingers and found them halfway through "Who's Your Partner", the opener of their most recent record. They put on an impressive live performance and Chamberlain Waits will most certainly see an increase in my iTunes plays. Broadway Calls was after them, and they probably put on the most fun set all weekend. There was high amounts of crowd surfing, bro hug-laced gang vocals, and awesome costumes. The group was dressed as Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger and bassist Adam Willis had his costume petted on multiple occasions. Broadway Calls basically lead a 40-minute long party, and their set will go down as one of the more enjoyable memories I'll have from The Fest.
Moe's/Aficionado I was super hungry so I ate a burrito at Moe's. This was an essential thing to include because I was again plagued by major tiredness, at one point micro-sleeping while standing waiting for Broadway Calls to start. After my delicious burrito, I saw the end Aficionado's set and for the first time experienced their unique indie punk. Their female backup vocalist also played a flute, which added an interesting aspect to their sound. Definitely a band that could be on the rise on No Sleep Records' roster.
Frank Turner Frank Turner ended The Fest 9. He was the last act to play at 8 Seconds and his was the set I anticipated most throughout the entire weekend. The Englishman lived up to my expectations and then some, giving the crowd all it could handle. 8 Seconds was packed, and Turner might have commanded the biggest crowd of the entire weekend. With just an acoustic guitar and a huge punk attitude, Turner weaved through a set of songs from Love Ire & Song and Poetry of the Deed. The crowd sang along more unanimously than any other act that I saw at The Fest, and Turner proved to be the perfect person to close things out. He even debuted two new songs, one of which he had never played before, an anti-God ballad called "Glory, Hallelujah". The crowd especially enjoyed that number. His other new song was called "I Still Believe" and was a song about how he believes in rock and roll more than anything else. After exceeding his stage time, Turner decided to continue the party and he played some more songs in the parking lot. In his third song, a cover of - you guessed it - blink-182's "Dammit", the police came and broke everything up. Turner received a lot of pats on the back and handshakes and left the crowd happy.
All in all, it's plain for me to say that this weekend was one of the most memorable of my life. Watching bands, hanging out, and partying is basically what The Fest stands for. It's truly the Mecca of the punk universe, as all eyes turn to Gainesville for one glorious three-day weekend. If you, the reader, have the funds and opportunity to make the pilgrimage, I'd say it's worth it beyond any reasonable doubt.
After six hours of hanging out and partying and five hours of sleep, I embarked on day two of The Fest. Day two proved to be the least enjoyable for me, mainly just because of my own personal preferences. I will say that the second day had the most sense of community as I met dozens of people and struck up perfectly enjoyable conversations with perfect strangers.
Touche Amore/La Dispute
This is a sad story. I got to The Atlantic late for this show, about ten minutes after Touche Amore began. La Dispute was playing right after them so I was ready for an insane hour or so. However when I got to the venue, there were about 300 people in a snaking line and the venue was already fairly full. Here's where the sad part kicks in. Not knowing that my cool yellow press band actually allowed me to skip lines at this point, I just left and went to go find another band. So I missed what probably would have been the best part of Saturday mostly because I'm an idiot. Oh well, it happens. I heard that La Dispute basically tore the place down.
Annabel/Algernon Cadwallader The good part of my stupidity is that I got to see Annabel at Common Grounds. I was there waiting for Algernon Cadwallader to go on and Annabel was the band on before them. They had an awesome stage presence and an extremely talented bassist to go along with enjoyable vocals. Almost no one knew the words to any of their songs, but the crowd was into it and gave a good cheer at the end of their set. Common Grounds filled up quickly with people anticipating Algernon, and for good reason. The trio put on the best set that I saw on Saturday, filled with quality jokes, intense crowd participation, and of course, Algernon's signature sound of indie punk. They even played a couple of new songs and I think their guitarist got better, if that's even possible.
Defiance, Ohio is a band that quite a few of my friends are into. I've never really gotten into them so I decided to check them out while I had the chance. They really impressed me with their stage presence and the crowd at 8 Seconds was one of the largest that I saw all Fest. It was cool seeing the stand-up bass and the violin being played aggressively on stage. Defiance was definitely one of the more eclectic bands to grace the Fest this, and one of the most enjoyable.
Banner Pilot/The Flatliners/Teenage Bottlerocket I saw each of these bands at The Venue during the second half of the Florida-Georgia game. Banner Pilot was really cool and the game was still at halftime during their set so they received my undivided attention. I barely listen to these guys but I certainly will listen more after being blown away by their energy and the passion the crowd showed. The Gators struggled on a few drives, let Georgia back in the game, then The Flatliners came on. I discovered that I am dumb for not owning any of their records, so I bought one. As was the norm, the group pulled out all the stops for their Fest set and played with a lot of energy in front of a raucous audience. The Gators let Georgia tie the game, scored to go ahead by a touchdown, then let Georgia tie it again. The game went into overtime and Teenage Bottlerocket started. But by then there was a huge crowd of UF punk kids in front of the TV and I had made awesome friends so I watched Will Hill intercept the Georgia quarterback and our punter-turned-kicker make a game-winning field goal. Then I turned my attention to the last twenty minutes of Teenage Bottlerocket's set. They played a driving set of Green Day-esque pop punk songs. Very enjoyable, especially after a much-needed Gator victory.
By this point, it was only 9 p.m. or so but I was feeling the after-effects of my lack of sleep. I got a gyro to raise my energy level and went to Common Grounds around 9:30 to catch Tim Barry. The line was another long and winding one so I elected to cut my day two of the Fest much shorter than I had normally planned.
The day was more enjoyable than I thought it would be considering that I didn't really know most of the bands. After a bit of relaxation, night two saw a Make Do and Mend/Touche Amore/La Dispute/Paint It Black/awesome house show that was again way too far to walk to. Next year I will buy a bicycle specifically for this event.
The Fest is every bearded punk's favorite holiday. This year, I'm experiencing my first full-scale Fest after only seeing one set at last year's event. By all reasonable accounts, it has so far lived up to every expectation and every bit of hype that preceded it. Tony Weinbender of No Idea Records is the mastermind behind The Fest, and as the event is in its ninth year, it's safe to say that Weinbender has found his niche in the punk universe. Gainesville has always been known for a great punk scene, and The Fest has become the cornerstone of it.
Here's my recap of the first day of The Fest 9.
The Swellers I started my day off at The Venue to see The Swellers at 6:40. The doors opened late so the band got a late start, but they came out in Wayne's World costumes and had a lot of energy to kick off The Fest. As more and more people filtered in, the set got more and more energetic, climaxing when the band played "Fire Away" and "2009". The crowd also got a treat from the band when they dug deep into their back catalog and played "Tunnel Vision". Despite some issues with the venue, The Swellers were able to start The Fest in solid fashion.
Right after The Swellers finished, Defeater went on in a side room at The Venue. I meandered my way to the side stage to find a way too small room with way too many beardy people in it. Defeater was loud and basically incited a riot in The Venue's side room. By the end of the night, the ceiling of that room was considerably damaged and I'm sure Defeater played a part in it.
Carpenter I left Defeater's set early to walk a few blocks to Jeff's Deli to watch Carpenter. I've never even seen Jeff's Deli, let alone been inside, but it was basically a restaurant with the tables pushed to the side and a very small stage. Carpenter went out and flat-out put on one of the best live shows I've ever experienced. There was a large sense of community in the room and vocalist Dan Sioui brought a lot of energy to the tiny venue. I kept drawing comparisons between Sioui's stage mannerisms and those of Rise Against vocalist Tim McIlrath, with a passion and fervor that I've barely seen in a live set. Carpenter brought an amount of emotion into their show that reminded me of the emotion you feel when you're seeing your favorite band live. But they made the entire room feel like that, and by the end of the set, Sioui was crowd surfing playing his guitar and the crowd was on the way-too-packed stage leading the gang vocals. Farmcore for life!
The Riverwinds I ended up walking across essentially all of the downtown area to catch The Riverwinds at Rum Runners. They put on a real enjoyable set that I was able to watch while keeping track of the Heat game on TV. The group played a couple new songs that are slated to be on their upcoming album, which they said they were heading in to record in the near future.
Bars of Gold I made the mistake of leaving The Riverwinds' set too late in an effort to see Such Gold at The Venue. The line was ridiculously long so I ended up walking to 1982 Bar to see Bars of Gold. These guys are incredibly passionate live, and despite the fact that 1982 Bar was about 100 degrees they got the crowd moving. That place needs to get central air or open a door or something. You could tell that the crowd was impressed with the performance and the end result was a long line of people at a tiny merch table.
Earlier in the day I saw fliers and heard through random conversations that Hostage Calm and Transit were playing a side show at a place right near The Venue. The place was some pub/laser tag joint that I had never ever noticed before in my almost two years of being at school five minutes away. It was about the size of an average living room, but it was crowded to well over capacity for this Fest side show. A band with an unknown name opened and while they weren't very good, the crowd was at least hyped for the next part of the show. When I saw Hostage Calm's set and the reaction it elicited from the crowd, I simply wondered why I haven't listened to their latest record more. Although the vocals were basically inaudible, the entire crowd of about 50-75 kids crowded the band and sung for them. Transit came on afterwards at 11:30 p.m., a full five hours after the night had begun. They killed it live as they always do and the crowd was even more into their set. Highlights of "Please Head North" and "Stay Home" were immensely enjoyable as the entire pub was packed in tight.
Transit's set ended at midnight, and exhausted as I was, I opted to call it a day instead of waiting a half hour in line to see the Suicide Machines reunion show. However, Anto from The Swellers told me at a later point in the night that the group vowed to not be at the Fest 10, so be sure to catch them on tour if they go near you in the next year.
As I learned Friday, the Fest certainly doesn't end after the shows finish. Algernon Cadwallader played a house show with Aficionado and Grown Ups at a location that was way too far to walk, but I ended up having an enjoyable night hanging out with good friends. It culminated with me overpaying for food at Checkers and wishing everyone a happy Fest.
As I said earlier, this is an event that is worth all of the hype and press that it commands. If you've ever thought about making the trek to Gainesville for this and have been on the fence about it, I urge you to do it next year. It's the sort of thing that a fan of this kind of music cannot go his entire life without experiencing.
I'm off to catch Touche Amore and La Dispute kick off day two in half an hour. A summary of Saturday will be up tomorrow afternoon. Happy Fest, kids!