Camp Punk In Drublic: Day Three - Live in Thornville (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Camp Punk In Drublic: Day Three

Live in Thornville (2018)

live show

By day three of Camp Punk In Drublic, most of us were getting pretty ripe. It had been a couple of days with no showers or running water, and only porta johns for bathrooms. You sort of get used to being gross. Ironically, it started to rain on Sunday morning. Going into this thing, our biggest concern was the weather. We had been checkinging the ten day forecast compulsively. At one point it looked like it was going to rain most of the weekend. Fortunately, it only lasted for a couple of hours and didn’t do any real damage.

When the rain let up, we once again headed to the craft beer tasting. I had heard that four breweries had dropped out after the controversy. Even taking that into the equation, there were nowhere near the 200 beers I thought I saw advertised. I would put the number between 50 and 70. That being said, there were plenty. At least until late Sunday afternoon, when a few breweries ran out before the 4pm quit time. I’m an IPA guy, and I most enjoyed offerings from 350 and Revolution, both out of Chicago. One of my favorite Michigan breweries was there too. Bells had Oberon, Two Hearted, and Amber Ale, and all three were delicious.

We left the tasting for a bit to watch about half of The Scandals’ 30 minute set. I really like the New Jersey quartet’s gritty Gaslight Anthem/Bruce Springsteen take on punk. We ended up missing both Sammy Kay and The Interrupters. It wasn’t by design, it’s just the way it worked out. A quick rest on the grassy hill turned into an extended nap. On Sunday mixed drinks were marked down from $13 to $10, so we switched over to various cocktails containing 100 proof Maumee Moonshine. (One of the most underrated punk bands of all time, Necros, also hailed from Maumee, OH.)

I’m glad we managed to catch the entire Street Dogs set. It was another highlight of the weekend. I’ve been listening to their new album for a few weeks now, and it’s excellent. They opened with the title track, “Stand For Something Or Die For Nothing”. They threw in “Other Ones” later on too. Mike McColgan and crew managed an inspired set in the middle of the afternoon. He repeatedly went into the crowd and you could see the cloud of dust from the oversized mosh pit. Oldies like “Savin Hill”, “In Defense of Dorchester” and “Tobe’s Got a Drinking Problem” were standouts. There were frisbees and beach balls flying everywhere. It definitely felt like a party.

The Bouncing Souls were up next, and they were also excellent. They played a couple of songs from The Gold Record, but everything else was even older. Time has been kind to The Bouncing Souls, who have been together for nearly 30 years. They were definitely an audience favorite. Their best moment was probably when Street Dogs singer Mike McColgan came out to help them sing “True Believers”. Bouncing Souls’ setlist: Hopeless Romantic, Gold Song, Manthem, That Song, Ballad of Johnny X, Something Special, East Coast Fuck You, Say Anything, Late Bloomer, Kate is Great, Ole, Lean On Sheena, Kid, Sing Along Forever, Kids and Heroes, True Believers, Gone.

Next up was Lagwagon, one of the most anticipated acts of the entire festival. I’ve never been a big fan, and their set didn’t change that. Pretty much everybody else seemed to love them. I acknowledge that Joey Cape might be one of the best songwriters in punk, but Lagwagon just doesn’t do much for me. It’s not them, it’s me. Sick Of It All was next and they do a lot for me. Their endless enthusiasm and aggression is inspiring. They were the heaviest band of the weekend, but I’m afraid a lot of their energy was lost on such a big crowd. The way guitarist Pete Koller runs and jumps never ceases to amaze me. SOIA is best experienced in a club with no barricades, but they still kicked ass.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were the first band on Sunday lucky enough to play in the dark. Once again I’m not a big fan, but they put on an undeniably entertaining show. The sharp dressed horn section stole the show, and the dancers were a close second. Dicky Barrett’s peculiar voice was in fine form too. I sang along to the hits like “The Impression That I Get” and “The Rascal King”, but I didn’t do any fancy dancing. The people watching was good all weekend, but the ska bands really brought out the weirdos.

Rancid closed out Camp Punk In Drublic with an impressive set of mostly older jams. I don’t know why I had such low expectations for them, but they were actually the most pleasant surprise of the weekend. Tim Armstrong looks and sounds like an insane homeless person when he addresses the crowd, but that all disappears once he starts to play. He maniacally spins around and pounds on his big, left handed, hollow body guitar. Lars Frederiksen is a stoic skinhead by comparison, but also delivers the goods. A few years ago, it was easy to think that Rancid was washed up. Now it appears that they’ve gotten their second wind. They were the perfect act to wrap up the festivities.

There were no after hours activities on Sunday night, so we once again shuffled back to our borrowed tent. A lot of our neighbors had already left by then, but we had a drink or two with the ones who were left. We crashed about 3am and were back up not long after 8am. Sleep never did come easy on this trip. All that was left was to pack up our stuff and say our goodbyes. On the way out of town we stopped at the closest McDonald's for coffee, and I was a little shocked to see myself in the mirror. (Mirrors were one of the many things banned from the event.) My face was dark from the sun, a little older and a little wearier. On the drive home, we had six hours to contemplate the Camp Punk In Drublic experience.

The bad...

The cost: Everything at Camp Punk In Drublic was expensive. It continued the trend of punk festivals that appeal to an older, more affluent crowd. This was not some DIY gathering. It was a huge event put on by a professional management company with a punk name slapped on it. Food, drinks, and even T-shirts were well above punk prices. How is the next generation going to get into this music if they can’t afford to get in?

Accessibility: I’ve gotten pretty used to smaller punk shows where there’s plenty of interaction between the bands and fans. There was none of that here. I didn’t see a single band member walking through the crowd. It wasn’t a personal experience, the type that hooks you for life. It felt like ‘80s arena rock all over again.

The rules: People were calling this anarchy camp, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The list of things you couldn’t bring into CPID was astounding. I understand that we live in a dangerous age, but the rules seemed to be more about profit than safety.

The conditions: There were a lot of great bands, but most played during daylight hours. The crowds were much bigger than typical punk shows too. I heard people talking about seeing multiple bucket list bands at once, but the circumstances weren’t ideal. There wasn’t much immediacy. Punk is supposed to be an intimate experience. Plus, camping sort of sucks.

The good…

The music: We got to see great sets by Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, The Vandals, Face to Face, Descendents, Street Dogs, The Bouncing Souls, Sick of it All, Rancid and more. (Descendents were my favorite.) As I just mentioned, a lot of people were able to knock a bunch of bands off their bucket list.

The beer: I was able to try a bunch of wonderful brews.

The collaborations: The ‘Campfire Stories’ were basically a handful of old punk guys sitting around and shooting the shit. What’s not to like about that? I also got to see Keith Morris join Pennywise for a supercharged version of Circle Jerks’ “Wild in the Street”. Jello Biafra joining Descendents for Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck” was even better. These are the things that punk geeks like me have wet dreams about.

The organization: Despite the big crowds, things ran very smoothly. Other than getting into the campground on Friday, the lines were very reasonable. They also kept the porta johns clean, which was really nice.

The people: The people were the single best thing about CPID. It’s easy to forget how how small the punk world is and how connected we all are. There’s usually only two or three degrees of separation between those of us heavily involved in the scene. I met a couple of Punknews readers/podcast listeners, which is always cool. I made some new friends, and got to spend the weekend with an old one.

Overall, Camp Punk In Drublic was positive experience. Who knows? Maybe this will grow to rival Riot Fest. Maybe it will fill the void of the soon to end Van’s Warped tour. I liked it, but people ten years younger than me loved it. This seems to be the future of the live music business, camping festivals, concert cruises etc… (Let’s face it, it’s better than a bunch of drunk bastards driving home.) Bigger money events for an aging fan base. I guess I better get with the program or get the hell out of the way. Give Camp Punk In Drublic a try next year. At the very least, it will give you a new found appreciation for your own toilet, bed and shower.