This is the second review I've written of my weekend at the Fest. I don't know what I was thinking when I submitted the first one. It was a band-by-band account of the entire weekend that went six pages long. Had it been posted, I'd have looked like the dumbest motherfucker to ever write anything for this site. For holding it back, I thank you punknews.org. I do want to write a review of the Fest though, so here I go on attempt number two.
I see the Fest as kind of the antithesis to all the other fests. It's the only major one that hasn't succumbed to the temptation of making some serious cash over hosting some seriously awesome bands. I don't think I need to cite any examples of fests that no longer have anything to do with punk rock. I got to see some of my favorite bands this weekend: Dillinger Four, Paint It Black, Grabass Charlestons, and many others who all played this 3-day blowout, and I've got to say that I don't think it could have been any better. Sure, there were some bands I would have rather missed in lieu of others (the Arrivals are one of those). There were some bands I would have loved to see but couldn't get in because of capacity restrictions (the Urchin, J Church, Radon). But there were also some of the most amazing sets I've ever witnessed.
Although Baronness were the last band to play Friday night, there was no use in me trying to watch them, as no one could have topped Dillinger Four's phenomenal set. They played songs off of all three full-lengths (nothing from 7"s, TSIG, or comps unfortunately). I wish I could express the fun of their set, but I just don't have the words. Just imagine a naked Paddy directing one hundred shirtless kids, flooding the stage, screaming every word, and having the best time of their lives. Dillinger Four played a second set on Sunday, but at that point I was too spoiled by Friday to enjoy it as much as I should have. Dillinger Four are always amazing live, but after the drunken mayhem of Friday, Sunday's set matched Paddy's introductory description perfectly: A hangover show.
The Grabass Charlestons also played on Friday and were the first band I got to watch that I really love. The drummer does all the vocals and it works out great, because it gives the guitarist and bassist the freedom to move around and play however they want. The expressions on their faces were priceless. Their sincerity glowed out of them and made me realize just how much and why I love the Charlestons. If you ever get the chance to see the Grabass Charlestons, go whether or not you know their songs. They have so much fun on stage it's a blast just to watch them.
The highlights of the second day for me were probably Fiya, the Loved Ones, Paint It Black, and Bloodbath and Beyond. Fiya played early in the evening and despite their guitarist who does lead vocals being too sick to sing, they put on a great set. Friends came up on stage and took turns with the microphone singing their favorite Fiya songs along with the other band members who did their best to make up for their handicapped vocalist. Despite a few mistakes and slip-ups, I couldn't have asked for a better set.
Around 8pm, I had to head over to the bigger venue Abbey Road for the Loved Ones and Paint It Black. The line was ridiculous due to all the Bouncing Souls fans who showed up to pay cash to get into just that one show. I was worried that I wouldn't get in on time to see the Loved Ones, but I did and they were really fun to watch. The guitarist/vocalist spent most of the time in between songs making fun of a fashion punk with a bleached mohawk and and an Unseen shirt. After they finished he went to shake his hand, and in true smartass fashion, pulled the old "too slow" move. The Loved Ones played the four songs from their EP you'd expect them to and played a few songs off the upcoming full-length, which showed a lot of promise. They have great stage presence, too. The guitarist wins the weekend's award for best frantic movement and their bassist wins the award for best sneer that refuses to leave face for even a moment. Don't be surprised if they blow up.
As soon as Paint It Black hit their first chord, 19 bodies fell on my head and they didn't stop pummeling me from above until the set was completely over. They played songs off both records and Dave Hause of the Loved Ones came out to sing his back-ups for "Memorial Day." Seeing them live made me love them about ten times as much as I already did. This is another band that oozes sincerity and reminds us that punk rock is alive and well.
When I caught Bloodbath and Beyond later at the Side Bar, they played a short, silly, shirtless set and it was everything you could expect from them. Considering the dudes that make up this band, you know they won't disappoint. I was too tired to stick around for the Timversion.
Day Three brought the aforementioned, second Dillinger Four set and the weekend's biggest disappointment: None More Black. I won't go into details, but expect them to be broken up within a year or two. And despite how much I like their album and EP, I still won't feel any great loss. Their live show was a serous let-down.
I ended the night at the Side Bar with North Lincoln, Tiltwheel, and Billy Reese Peters (all of whom were great). When BRP's full-length comes out, you fuckers would be smart to get it. I know I can't wait. They were the perfect band to end the Fest. Their last song "What's Up Ding Dong?" brought all the kids up on stage (even though half of them were up there ever since Tiltwheel) and brought about a perfect ending to an awesome weekend. To all the kids who didn't make it to Gainesville last weekend…what the fuck is wrong with you???