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

Whenever you plan to go to a big festival with lots of bands, you look over the schedule and optimistically pick out each one you want to see. It always makes you feel like you’re getting a good bang for your buck. By the end of day one your best laid plans are usually shot to hell. Such was the case with Punk Rock Bowling. If I didn't write about a certain band, it’s probably because I was shooting the shit with someone, or just needed a break. We also decided to skip the club shows so that we could catch up with our wives later in the evening.

We hit up the pool party on Saturday morning to see Guttermouth and Babe Patrol. We didn’t show up very early, and were prepared to be turned away. We got in, but this was definitely the best attended of the pool parties. I pretty much spent Babe Patrol’s entire set waiting in the ridiculously long line for the bar. For what it’s worth, I thought they were pretty cool. Guttermouth was Guttermouth. Fun, retardo-punk with absolutely no redeeming social value. Most folks really seemed to enjoy them. I must admit, I enjoyed them too. I also saw my first ever swimming pool mosh pit, so that was something.

After a nice break at the non punk pool, we headed over to the festival grounds in time to see Youth Brigade on the main stage. They are another one of those West Coast bands that I’d never managed to see. Youth Brigade, of course, is made up of the Stern brothers who also founded BYO Records as well as Punk Rock Bowling itself. Unfortunately, They weren’t very well rehearsed. Maybe due to the fact that drummer Mark Stern was at home with a new baby. I mostly enjoyed their set, but I never had any of those sublime moments that you always hope for with a bucket list band. The setlist was very hit or miss too. I sang my ass off to “Where Are All the Old Man Bars”, “Sink With California” and “I Hate My Life”, but where were “Let Them Know” and the ever timely “Boys In Blue”?

I’ve never gotten into Leftover Crack, but thought I should give them a chance in a live setting. I’m still not into them, but I gained a little bit of appreciation for what they do. What they do is make sweeping, theatrical, sometimes pretentious punk rock that can’t easily be categorized. Hardcore, goth, ska, metal and who knows what else get thrown into the mix. They commanded the main stage. I give them points for originality, but ultimately the singing kills it for me. It’s worth noting that Punknews’ own John Gentile got a shoutout from the stage from LOC’s Brad Logan for co-authoring the guitarist’s biography.

Streetlight Manifesto were next on the big stage, and are another band that aren’t really in my wheelhouse. I gave them a chance, but ultimately there were too many horns for my liking. The biggest surprise of the night was Youth of Today on the second stage. I was initially disappointed when I learned that Gorilla Biscuits had dropped off the bill, but YoT turned out to be an excellent replacement. Their amazing energy made me consider giving up drinking and going vegan…….for about five minutes. Instead, I grabbed another beer and headed back to the big stage.

There was no doubt about who the stars of day two were. Circle Jerks spent about an hour ripping the crowd a new one. The first five minutes or so alone was worth the price of admission. It was almost dizzying. The vast majority in attendance had to be blown away by the juggernaut that is Keith Morris, Greg Hetson, Zander Schloss and Joey Castillo. Honestly, Castillo has to get a lot of the credit for the band’s revitalization. His tireless drumming is definitely the engine that drives the machine.

Circle Jerks focused mainly on their early material, more specifically, the first three records. There were a few curveballs among the 33 songs, and the quartet at least touched on all six of their studio albums. Morris didn’t talk a ton, but when he did he was his normal, awkward, charming and self-deprecating self. The band is planning some major touring next year. They’re going out with fellow recently reformed punk luminaries 7 Seconds and Detroit's mighty Negative Approach. You should figure out a way to get to one of those shows.

Circle Jerks setlist: Deny Everything, Letterbomb, In Your Eyes, Stars and Stripes, Back Against the Wall, Behind the Door, I Just Want Some Skank, Beverly Hills, When the Shit Hits the Fan, Under the Gun, Trapped, Coup d’etat, Wild in the Streets, Moral Majority, Don’t Care, Live Fast Die Young, Paid Vacation, Junk Mail, Parade of the Horribles, Casualty Vampire, I I&I, Leave Me Alone, I Don’t, The Crowd, Beat Me Senseless, World Up My Ass, Operation, Wasted, High Price On Our Heads, Red Tape, I Wanna Destroy You, What’s Your Problem, Question Authority

When the Jerks were done destroying our eardrums, I along with the rest of the ecstatic crowd, poured back out onto Fremont Street. There, we were greeted by a high end cover band playing rock and roll’s greatest hits. I saw more than one punk belting out the chorus of “Don’t stop Believing”. It was kind of surreal.

Confessions of a merch whore: I grabbed the Trust Records reissue of Circle Jerks Group Sex. It must be at least the third time I’ve bought it. I swear I'm not a paid endorser, but Trust did a really nice job with this. I also got the limited CJ T-shirt made specifically for PRB that pays homage to the Pin Pals episode of the Simpsons. I’m a sucker for that shit.