Punk Rock Bowling 2021 - Day 2 - Live in Las Vegas (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Punk Rock Bowling 2021 - Day 2

Live in Las Vegas (2021)

live show

On the second day of Punk Rock Bowling I was up at 10am and blasted out the door- I had to get to the other Zia records before the festival started, of course! As always, Zia Records-Rainbow was stocked to the gills with tons of stuff. I snagged a VHS copy of the Clash’s rude boy, an AC/DC record, and some cool Billy idol CDs, including his new EP.

But, there was little time to waste as I had to get to the PRB main stage just as they were opening because Side Eyes was kicking off the day. I had never seen Side Eyes before and they did not disappoint. The band kicked out a short but sweet set of first wave West Coast punk meets modern style. Frankly, it’s exactly what I want from a modern band and the band was perfectly frantic- loud, noisy, but on track enough to really hit hard. I really hope this band gets a club show next go-around. On the side stage, Decent Criminal cranked out a set of melodic punk that sometimes borrowed the feeling of the 90s big rockers. Despite the fact that it was the side stage, the band played a style befitting the main arena and the way the crowd reacted suggested that this might not be very far away.

I hung around the side stage to catch Field Day the band featuring bassist Doug Carrion and vocalist Peter Cortner of Dag Nasty. Of Course, they played a good chunk of Can I Say along with some new material. The band was hopped up and obviously charged to be at the Fest. It’s always great to see a group of veterans paly with the excitement of newbies and that’s what Field Day did. Back on the main stage, Youth Brigade (which also includes the Sterns who run PRB), played a set of their classics, focusing on their first landmark LP. They were clearly relaxed and had fun joking with each other between playing their hits.

Not too long after, Leftover Crack took the main stage. No doubt, it was an anticipated set… as it’s no secret, the band has been in a state of tumult for some time. A sampling of the crowd seemed to suggest that people were as interested as fans as they were to see if the band would crash and burn. (Perhaps surprisingly, the most common shirt worn by attendees was a LoC/CV shirt, wherein the past it was a Ramones or Misfits tee.) LoC took to the stage and TORE into some new material, revealing the new lineup- Sturgeon, Brad Logan (playing his last LoC set), Donny Morris, Sandra of World/Inferno (!), Eve Minor, and Al of Cop/Out. The set proved that you can NEVER count LoC as down and out because the band came to prove themselves and prove themselves they did. Flipping between newish tunes and the classic hits (and a few CV tracks for good measure), the band was on point, constantly shifting in sonic and emotional texture- sometimes fun, sometimes angry, sometimes sad. Few bands have the artistic rang eof LoC. It can be fun to see Leftover Crack in chaos-state as that unpredictability can lead to some great art. But, it’s even better to see the band on FIRE, nailing their tremendous songs with style and precision. Despite that Sturgeon plays clubs and bars, the dude has developed some big stage moves and dare I say, LoC were rock stars, for at least one night. Meanwhile, Logan mentioned that he had some melancholy feelings as it was his last show, but you couldn’t tell that from the ground. He attacked the guitar with that special crust/hardcore edge he brings to the band with furor. It was also wonderful to see Sandra up on the stage with the band, standing in for the sadly departed Alec Baillie. Sandra was the perfect choice to hold the ship together as she brough style and operatic talent to the position along with her anarcho-punk bonafides. LoC is a resolutely atheist band, but midway during the show, the sun set turning day into night. The song being played? “Ya Can’t Go Home,” with images of Baillie projected on the big screen. It was a sad and magical moment. In fact, the song, the video, and the sun itself working together was so powerful and so weirdly fitting, it may make the band reconsider their religious stance.

Back On the side stage, The Aggrolites kicked out a professional set of reggae-punk. The band was clearly having fun and people were ready to groove. Following them, Youth of Today played, stepping in for Gorilla Biscuits. Yet again, here’s an area where the crowd and I just don’t agree. The band did tear through a set of high energy, posi-numbers. The crowd was into it, but I just felt it was flat and it didn’t move me like, say, LoC or Side Eyes. To each their own.

Meanwhile, back on the main stage was the long awaited Circle Jerks who are back after 13 years. While Keith Morris has been killing it with OFF! And FLAG, there was some apprehension- would CJs have power they once had…?

Well, they did, and then some. “Deny Everyhting” as the opener? *chef’s kiss* In fact, it was stunning at how on point and powerful the band was. Keith ragged voice cracked and hissed and was as wonderfully acerbic as ever. Greg Hetson’s banging guitar lines (which probably don’t get enough credit) were as sharp as ever. Zander Schloss brought his solid low swinging bass. And, newest Jerk, Joey Castillo, who has a metal background, did indeed bring the metal power, but he modified it for punk speed and rawness. That’s all to say, CJs were phenomenal. If you have Circle Jerks: Live at the House of Blues, which I think is the best live CJ release, you’ll be pleased to know that they sounded even better than that.

Of course, the band focused on their first three classic albums, woith special care being given to the recently re-released Group Sex. Later day jams were also given a spin and as the band went from one song to the next, it really was astounding at how perfect they were. That is, they were raw, ragged, vitriolic. And still had the same sort of simmering rage, nihilism, and self-aware humor they had in 1980. The band rampaged through 33, count ‘em, 33 songs and the set was over just like that. Astounding. See this band on tour.

As soon as CJs were done, I sprinted down to “Fremont Country Club” (not actually a country club) to see DFL. This was DFL’s first PRB show and they haven’t been outside of California in a while, plus they just released a new (excellent) EP, so no one knew what to expect. I don’t know, but I guess that even the band may have been a little nervous. Even the crowd seem interested, but not exactly sure of what was going to happen. Well, FCC has a cool stage where a curtain pulls back and the band starts. Here, the curtain pulled back and singer Crazy Tom had his back to the crowd proudly bearing his DFL hoody. Guitarist Monty Messex stood off to the side, like a sprinter at the blocks. And then… the guitar crack and the place went CRAZY. The band only had twenty minutes and they didn’t waste a second. It was wall to wall howling, riffage, and noise and the floor was a fast moving circle pit. It was almost as if that first intro note said “We’re DFL and we’re here to destroy” and they did. The crowd was into it, shouting back “pizza man! Pizza man!” just after Tom spat “every night we get a pizza!” And before you knew it, the curtains pulled back close. I heard one fellow say “THAT was the set of Punk rock bowling.” It really was an astounding moment.

After that, I sprinted back up to the citrus pool deck at the Downtown Grand to see Crazy and the Brains. It was doubtlessly an emotional time for the band. It was the start of their tour with Days n Daze, but, singer Chris’ dad had just passed away and their van broke down three times on their trip from East Coast to Vegas. Well, all of that energy came out on stage. The band blasted out a wide ranging set pulling from their entire discography, oldest and newest, and the crowd was INTO it. In fact, I was surprised at how many people knew all the words! There really are few things like a rampaging, roof top pool party with 500 people rocking out. (Though, considering the hygiene of punks, I would not necessarily recommend getting into the pool, no matter the level of chlorine). And rock out Catb did. They did an extended version of their cover of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” that had no less than six, count them, six, false endings. In fact, during one false ending, LoC’s Brad Logan jumped on stage to take a verse and security bum rushed him off the stage, unaware of what was going on. Ha ha! Meanwhile, the band is fiercer then ever, hitting the mark with precision while keeping the mania and weirdness bubbling at the top. This was yet another landmark PRB moment in a weekend of landmark moments. Yowza!

After that, I sprinted down to Nerd Bar (a bowling alley located next to the place where Elvis marries you) to see the icons MDC. MDC were in high spirits, having also recently being promoted to the main festival as well. Dave Dictor was in fine form and the band raced through a massive set, touching on their entire history. Despite being involved in us punk from the start, Dave had the enthusiasm of a kid and the set’s hard hitting and bombastic set displayed this mindset.

By then, it was around 2 or 3am and /I retreated to my hotel. Blag Dahlia had an early morning 3 hour set for the “brunch show”… how would he ever be able to hold a hungry audience’s attention for a set that was about 5-6 times as long as the usual Dwarves set… especially since it was an acoustic show…?