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10:28 AM on 10/18/13
Thomas Nassiff
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FilmageOkay, so Filmage is a movie and not a band. But from what I’ve heard, it’s more or less something you have to watch – I’ve heard people who don’t particularly care for the Descendents or ALL raving about this thing. There are three screenings of the documentary throughout the weekend, and they’re each at noon...when you’re not gonna be doing shit else besides drinking Bloody Marys at Loosey’s. Sunday’s screening even includes a cool Q&A right after. There will obviously be a terrific atmosphere to watch this thing, so carve out some time for it if you can.

ALLPretty much: Duh. ALL has never played Fest before, and really they just don’t play shows very often in general. In fact, this will be ALL’s second gig in 2013 – that’s kind of on the high end of the spectrum for them. Accordingly, excitement on Fest Internet reached a peak when ALL was announced – so me telling you to go watch them probably doesn’t mean anything. You were probably going to watch them anyway. They close out the festivities at the Florida Theater on Sunday night, and we can’t imagine a better exclamation mark to put on the best weekend of the year.

KnapsackTony Weinbender, the guy who organizes this thing every year, has a knack for getting bands who you never think will play a show again to play at Fest. Every year, there’s a notable reunion or two, and Fest 12 reunions are headlined by Knapsack. Original members Blair Shehan (vocals/guitars) and Colby Mancasola (drums) will play with guitarist Sergie Loobkoff (Samiam) and bassist Ed Breckenridge (Thrice) in what will most likely be an actual once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for, like, 95% of the people at Fest. The band’s reunion tour is comprised of only 5 dates – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Chicago are the chosen cities that aren’t Gainesville that will be graced with a Knapsack show this year. They’ll close out 8 Seconds on Sunday night, and Have Mercy plays right before them….so go watch both of those things.

J. Robbins (acoustic)Plenty of jaded punk veterans abound in Gainesville during Fest weekend every year – but nobody is so jaded that an acoustic best-of set from J. Robbins doesn’t sound appealing. If you’re not familiar with the man’s work (he is probably best known around these parts for Jawbox, but there is much more to his catalog), it is both bountiful and influential – look at his Wikipedia or something. And watch him close The Wooly on Saturday.

Everybody Playing at 8 Seconds on FridayI scoured the set-by-set, venue-by-venue schedule to find the one place which would probably appeal most to AbsolutePunk’s general tastes. And that place is most likely 8 Seconds on Saturday. Sidekicks, Mixtapes, Broadway Calls, The Swellers, No Trigger, The Stereo State, A Wilhelm Scream, Real Friends, Sainthood Reps and I Am The Avalanche will take the stage in that order starting at 4:20pm and ending at 1:30am. If that sounds pretty dope and you just want to make a day trip to Gainesville for this one thing (which would be silly, kinda), you can get in at the door for only $20 if you’re one of the first 100 walk-ups.

The other best single venues (based on AP.net’s general tastes), on the days that aren’t Friday, and the price for a walk-up ticket: Rockey’s on Thursday (Diamond Youth, The Moms, Dads, TWIABP, Laura Stevenson, Tim Kasher – $15); The Wooly on Saturday (Dikembe, Timeshares, Modern Baseball, Sundials, You Blew It!, Glocca Morra, Look Mexico, Restorations, J. Robbins – $15); 8 Seconds on Sunday (Candy Hearts, Slingshot Dakota, Hop Along, Fake Problems, Titus Andronicus, Have Mercy, Knapsack – $20)

Flea MarketThis, also, is not a band. Duh! Fest Flea Market is, however, one of the absolute best parts of Fest weekend – and something that completely captures the culture of this punk-rock mecca. Beginning at noon on Thursday, people start filing into the conference room of the Holiday Inn on 13th Street – the official Fest HQ – to receive their weekend passes. In the ensuing hours, countless record labels, distros, charities, magazines, etc., will have tables set up...selling shit, giving shit away, taking pictures of shit, drinking shit, blah blah blah. Everybody sees everybody and hugs everybody. Then you maybe go in the pool, maybe get garlic rolls from Leonardo’s across the street or tacos from El Indio a few blocks north, then you go start watching bands! It’s great.

FrameworksThis is one of Gainesville’s most promising young bands. I am including them on this list specifically because 1. They are awesome and 2. They are playing at what is probably Fest’s smallest venue this year – Mars Pub, at 1am on Thursday night. Seeing them would require leaving Bouncing Souls a little early – but luckily Mars Pub is right next door to the Florida Theater – and I can guarantee a few things. The first is that you’ll hear “Old Chokes,” which is the best song from their EP Small Victories, and the second is that Mars Pub will be extremely packed and since it will be 1am, it will get pretty gnarly.

I Am The AvalancheHere’s another group that has been around for a long-ass time, but is only now getting around to playing at Fest. Despite – or maybe because of – the 6-year wait time between their self-titled LP and 2011’s Avalanche United, their most recent release was somehow overlooked. But Avalanche United is anchored by heavy-hitting standouts like “Brooklyn Dodgers,” and Vinnie Caruana is a magician on stage. Their set this year is a big deal, wrapping up the night at 8 Seconds on Friday/

FoodGainesville is known for the University of Florida, but Fest-goers also know it for great food. There are obvious places – everyone loves Boca Fiesta in downtown – but there are tons of awesome local spots that you should consider checking out while you’re in town. La Tienda is my personal favorite Mexican spot, The Jones is great for brunch, The Top and Loosey’s offer the best burgers in town, Flaco’s is must-eat Cuban, Leonardo’s 706 is a terrific date-night, sit-down-ish type place if for whatever reason you feel like the city (including Satchel’s), and finally, make sure you eat breakfast at Bagels & Noodles one day.

Titus AndronicusI am not sure that I understand what this band tweets, but I do know that The Monitor is a masterpiece of a record and I also know that Local Business is an underrated follow-up. I also know, having lived in Gainesville for four years, that Titus Andronicus does not go to Florida very often. They play before Have Mercy and Knapsack at 8 Seconds on Sunday night.

Staying AliveNo, seriously, drink a glass of water per every five or six PBRs / Bloody Marys / whatever and avoid your yearly case of Fest Aids. There is a Kangaroo convenience store across the street from the Holiday Inn and the sell Emergen-C, too.

Mystery SetsMystery sets were introduced during Fest 10 as a way to keep some extremely high-profile, special performances under wraps until the day they happened. Sometimes a big band will play in a tiny place (i.e. The Dopamines at Durty Nelly’s) and sometimes a group will perform something unique – like a full album in its entirety (A Wilhelm Scream did Mute Print in 2011) or a covers set. They are announced each day on Twitter, and it’s pretty likely that at least one of them will be a can’t-miss type of party.

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