Punk Rock Bowling 2018 - Live In Las Vegas (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Punk Rock Bowling 2018

Live In Las Vegas (2018)

Live Show

The twentieth Punk Rock Bowling was my third time at the festival and it was one hell of a weekend to say the least. It was non stop live punk rock from three in the afternoon until two the next morning for three days straight. The line ups for all the club shows and the main festival were fantastic and I got to witness some pretty legendary performances at all them despite the fact that I couldn’t stay to see the majority of the headliners’ sets. I could only stay for a few songs for those acts because most of the clubs shows that I had tickets to were about a twenty minute walk away. But overall I can’t say enough about how much a great time Punk Rock Bowling was this year just like the last two I attended.

Club Show #1 (The Bronx/The Dwarves/Fireburn/Sciatic Nerve/One Square Mile):

Friday started off with quite a bang. I made my way to The Bunkhouse for the first show of the weekend. The first act was a band called One Square Mile, who had a bit of a Cro-Mags vibe. Next, was Sciatic Nerve, who I had been dying to see since their first full-length came out last year. Even though they are a California band, they never made it down to Los Angeles for some reason so I really made sure not to miss them. And they were every bit a good and intense as I hoped they would be, especially when they played rippers like “Buy A Horse” and “Sciatic Nerve.” Then I headed to the bigger stage outside to catch The Shrine who played songs like “Motorhead” and “Destroyers.” And then those rock legends, The Dwarves took the stage and they were on fire form start to finish. Their set was totally unrelenting with older stuff like “Everybody’s Girl” and “Drug Store” to newer tunes like “Forget Me Not” and “Sluts Of The USA.” Once they were done, The Bronx took the stage. Every time I see them they put on and amazing show as well — this time included. They performed songs like “White Guilt” and “Shitty Future.” Later on lead vocalist Matt Caughthran jumped into the pit and at one point for whatever reason the circle pit sort of “exploded,” pushing people outwards in all directions. It was totally nuts and a great way to start the weekend.

Unfortunately, I missed Fireburn at this club show. But I did get to see them about a week before when they opened for PEARS in Long Beach, CA and they were incredible. If you have the chance to catch them live, you should definitely go check them out.

Main Festival Day 1:

Day one of the main festival started out with Father Figures, a melodic hardcore band and then Resistance ’77, a British punk band with some Oi! influence mixed in. Things really got moving when Seattle’s Noi!se took the stage and played songs like “Pawn In The Game.” I obviously wasn’t the only one who thought their live show was quite good because they were the first band to get people to sing along and get the mosh pits started. Then Canadian punk legends DOA got on stage. They were celebrating forty years as a band, but they put on one of the most spirited sets of day one with tunes like “World War Three” and their new track “You Need An Ass Kicking Right Now.” Several times Joey Shithead would be play his guitar with his teeth and kick and jump around. After DOA finished,The Marked Men played a very catchy set that included tracks such as “Fix My Brain.”

Then GBH took the stage and put on a very aggressive performance. They played some new songs like “Momentum” and older ones like “Fifty What?” But what was so cool about their set was when some guy from the audience some how got over the barricade, passed security and on to the stage to share the mic with the band’s lead singer and then promptly dove back into the pit without getting caught. Because of that, GBH dedicated the song “Sick Boy” to him.

You could tell that just from tension in the crowd that a lot of people were looking forward to L7. The band put on a very powerful show and what was really cool was that they performed “Everglade,” but they also played a few new songs from their upcoming album like “I Came Here To Bitch.” The same audience member who managed to join GBH on stage tried to get on stage during L7’s set, but he was promptly tackled by a group of security guard and escorted off the stage. One for two ain’t bad though.

Despite the fact that I go to shows in the Los Angeles area all the time, this was my first time seeing Suicidal Tendencies live. This was the number one band that i was looking forward to at day one of the main fest and I was thoroughly impressed. The band members were running and jumping while playing really intricate music and they sounded great. Unfortunately, they didn’t play “Institutionalized,” but they did play “Cyco Vision.” Later on during their set, they brought up a bunch of female audience members to the stage during “I Saw Your Mommy” and at one point a mosh pit broke out on stage during that tune. To finish out day one was Rise Against. I did manage to catch a bit of their set. They played “Black Masks & Gasoline” and “The Violence.” Apparently, they did a cover of Minor Threat’s “In My Eyes” as well. From what I saw it was a very lively performance that had a pretty intense light show to go along with it.

Club Show #2 (Fat Wreck Chords showcase):

I made the mile or so walk to The Bunkhouse once again to make it to the second and my most anticipated club show of the weekend, which was the Fat Wreck Chords showcase. Up first was The Last Gang who only seem to get better each time I see them. The tracks “Lets Get Up And Go” and “Sing For Your Supper” sound amazing live — this time included. The Bombpops absolutely killed it with songs like “FOMO” and “Turn Up The Thermostat.”

I was incredibly excited to see Western Addiction live again after over a year of waiting. Interestingly, guitarist Ken Yaazaki was still on tour with Dead To Me (who would play the club show the next day), so the band performed with just Tony Teixeira on guitar and it was still the best performance out fall the band’s I had seen that day. I think it is fair to say that Jason Hall is one of the best front men in the current scene. He had no fear in walking on top of the bar and speakers with the whole mic stand in hand and even joining the rest of us on the floor for a bit. The audience was going nuts to newer songs like “Taedium” and “Family Of Boys” and older songs like “Incendiary Minds” and “It’s Funny, I Don’t Feel Like A Winner.” Even Fat Mike made his way to the front of the stage to scream along at one point.

That all took place on the inside stage. On the outside stage Good Riddance put on a very intense show with songs like “More Depalma, Less Fellini.” Dillinger Four started out their set hilariously by mentioning they weren’t able to do a sound check before their set, but they were absolutely fantastic regardless, especially when they played classic like “Doublewhiskeycokenoice” and “Gainesville.” And to end the night was Lagwagon. Their set was pretty special not just because they played “Island Of Shame” and “May 16,” but they also played “E Dagger" and Erin Burkett actually got on stage to sing a bit of it, which was a very cool surprise.

Main Festival Day 2:

Day two of the main festival started out with a band that I had been wanting to catch live for quite a while, and that was Crazy And The Brains. They absolutely blew me away with their stage presence and overall confidence in their performance and set list, which included “Brain Freeze” and ”Let Me Go.” The way their lead singer would run, jump and even lie down on stage made the performance all the more entertaining. What was also really cool was seeing Punknews’ own Okra Windfree get on stage and help sing backing vocals for one of the songs. Up next as Larry And His Flask who played songs like “Hobo’s Lament.” What was really interesting about their performance was that their drummer was the front man, which made their set pretty unique. Swingin’ Utters killed it at usual. They played a pretty wide variety of songs during set. Songs like “Windspitting Punk” and “Five Lessons Learned” really stuck out to me. After the Utters came the mighty Briefs who played tracks such as “Destroy The USA” and “We Americans.” The band did mention that were working on new material during their set. I would later see them again at pool party at the Golden Spike and both performances were incredibly fun to watch. Up next was The Partisans and they also put on a very cool show with stand out tracks like “Only 21” and “Hysteria.”

The next band to take the stage was Turbonegro. I was looking forward to their set more out of curiosity than anything. Their denim jacket-wearing fans flooded Punk Rock Bowling every year that I had gone, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Though I don’t think their music has really been my cup of tea, their show was pretty tremendous. The light show, the costumes and outrageous movements of the band members made for a very entertaining set which included tracks like “Rocknroll Machine,” “All My Friends Are Dead” and “Wasted Again.” Following Turbonegro was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones who always put on a really fun and positive show. Dressed up in their fancy, bright white suits they played their new song “Wonderful Day For The Race” and other tunes such as “Graffiti Worth Reading” and “Let’s Face It.” And then finally NOFX took the stage while “Time Warp” from The Rock Horror Picture Show blasted through the speakers. Like Rise Against, I was only able to catch so much of their set which included their usual starting song “60%” as well as “Six Years On Dope,” their cover of “Radio,” “72 Hookers” and “Dinosaurs Will Die” (I was not there to witness the whole "joke incident").

Club Show #3 (Hot Water Music/Strike Anywhere/Dead To Me/Cobra Skulls/Nothington/Ground Zero):

Once again I walked the mile or so to The Bunkhouse to make it before the next club show began. This one started off with a hardcore band called “Ground Zero” who were followed by Nothington. I made sure catch Nothington because it was one of their last shows and it had been several years since I was able to see them live. It was really awesome to hear them play “Cobblestones” and “The Escapist” especially.

The inside part of the venue was filled to the doors quite early after Nothington because Cobra Skull were playing their first show in about four years. I made sure to just get my spot up close to the stage as early as possible because this was my first time seeng them and they were truly great. The energy and excitement in the room was palpable. The crowd flipped out once they took the stage played songs like “Cobra Skullifornia,” “Back To The Youth,” “Hasta Los Cobra Skulls Siempre,” “Never Be A Machine” and “Streets Of Cairo.” If I haven’t made it clear yet, Cobra Skulls were phenomenal.

Dead To Me took the outside stage first and of course they were amazing. They blasted out tunes such as “Little Brother,” “Don’t Lie,” “Visiting Day” and “Something New.” But what made their set so special was Jack Dalrymple dedicated their cover of One Man Army’s song “All The Way” (from their BYO Records split with Alkaline Trio) to the Stern Brothers. That alone was worth the trip to Vegas. It was definitely my top highlight of the whole festival. It was totally unexpected and an incredible site to witness. Then Strike Anywhere got on stage and this too was my first time seeing them live. They put on a very aggressive and energetic set most notably when it came to songs like “We Amplify/Blaze,” “Sedition” and “The Crossing.” And then finally Hot Water Music finished out the night with about an hour-long set that included “Wayfarer,” “Remedy,” “Drag My Body,” “Never Going Back,” “State Of Grace” and “Jack Of All Trades.” What was really cool about their set as well was they still had Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners filling in for Chris Wollard, and Cresswell was quite amazing when he took lead vocals for several songs, most notably for “Trusty Chords.”

Main Festival Day 3:

I made it to day three of the main festival a bit late, which in hindsight I regret a little bit because I was only able to see the last third or so of Slaves’ (billed as Slaves UK) set. They were the talk of the festival. A lot people I knew and met at PRB were really looking forward to their performance, and rightly so. From what I saw, especially when they played “The Hunter” the two-piece was an incredibly angry and aggressive and I really wish I was able to see the whole thing. Then the Angelic Upstarts took the stage and they were also quite good. Some of the stand out tracks they played were “Never Had Nothing” and “Solidarity.” The lead vocalist told a very impressive story about how their bassist was denied entry into the US and that their current replacement learned all of the songs in about a day and since then has been on tour with them for the last week.

Seeing as how a Crass reunion is highly unlikely, I made sure to pay extra close attention to Steve Ignorant And Paranoid Visions’ set. With three different vocalists along with rest of the band, the group performed Crass songs that were from the 1979-1984 era that included “Owe Us A Living,” “Banned From The Roxy,” “So What,” Rock N Roll Revolution” and “Mother Earth. This performance was nothing short of legendary and you could see it in the audience members’ faces that they grateful for what they were witnessing the closest thing to a contemporary Crass performance.

Against Me! took the stage just as it was beginning to get dark outside. Interestingly, the band started their set with “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” and for the most part stuck to their post-2010 catalogue. They played “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” “Up The Cuts,” “New Wave,” “Provison L3-NU,” “Black Me Out” and one of my personal favorites “White People For Peace.” The band did throw in songs like “Walking Is Still Honest,” “TSR” and “Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong” as well. Overall, their set was fantastic as always. Once Against Me! was done, it was X’s turn to perform. Despite the fact that I live in the city where they are from and play in the most, this would be my first time seeing them live. The band was celebrating its fortieth anniversary and I am happy to report that they still got it. They played classics like “Your Phone Is Off The Hook, But You’re Not” and “Johnny Hit And Run Paulene.” At one point, one of their songs drifted off into this long glockenspiel interlude played by drummer DJ Bonebrake, which of course made their set very unique compared to the rest of the bands at the festival. And to close out the entire event was At The Drive-In, who like the other two headlines, I was not able to see a whole lot of because I had to make it over to the last club show. But from what I saw they put on a pretty cool show that included performances of “Arcarsenal” and “Patter Against User.”

Club Show #4 (Laura Jane Grace/Lenny Lashley/Darius Koski/Devin Peralta):

The last club show of the weekend was an acoustic show with a pretty unbelievable line up. Up first was Cobra Skulls’ own Devin Peralta who played some solo tunes like “New Felt Hat” as well as a cover of a song by a band called Aztec Camera. And yes, he did play some Cobra Skulls songs like “Streets Of Cairo” and “Thicker Than Water,” which were incredibly cool to hear. Then Swingin’ Utters’ Darius Koski got up on stage to play songs most notably from his new solo album What Was OnceIs By And Gone. He even played the Utters’ song “My Glass House” as well. Then Lenny Lashley of the Street Dogs got on stage, and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to think in the beginning of his set. He played tunes like “Hooligans” and “Two Robbers,” but his rendition of The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs” was absolutely incredible. He changed up the tempo and added a bunch of finger picking to the point where it almost sounded like a different song. And the last performance of Punk Rock Bowling 2018 for me was definitely one for the books. Laura Jane Grace came out and played a very powerful and nearly hour-long set. Laura played what I believe to be new solo tunes called “I Hate Chicago” and “The Hotel Song” as well as five covers, three of which were Mountain Goats tunes (“The Best Ever death metal band out of Denton,” “Original Air-Blue Gown” and “Going To Georgia), “Shiver” by Rowland S. Howard and “Androgynous” by The Replacements. She also played deep Against Me! cuts such a “Baby I’m An Anarchist,” “Those Anarchy Punks Are Mysterious,” and (at which point my mind was sufficiently blown) “We Did It All For Don.” Laura then came back out for an encore that consisted of “Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong” and “Black Me Out.” Seeing such a magnificent performance from all of these artists at this particular club show was the best way to end the festival.

As I’m sure you can tell by now, my third trip to Punk Rock Bowling was a massive success. I saw ton of amazing performances that I don’t I could have seen in a typical venue. The weekend is always a blast and I really couldn’t ask for much more. Here’s to another twenty years of Punk Rock Bowing!

You can see some pictures from the festival over on the Punknews Instagram.