Punk Rock Bowling 2021 - Day 3 - Live in Las Vegas (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Punk Rock Bowling 2021 - Day 3

Live in Las Vegas (2021)

live show

By day three we were pretty whipped. The list of bands we had missed, intentionally or not, was starting to mount. They would have made for a pretty impressive festival lineup on their own. We repeatedly found ourselves asking if we were getting too old for this shit. Still, we drug our worn out asses down to see Dr. Know and Field Day at the pool party. I’m glad we did, since Field Day turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the weekend. Field Day is a couple former members of Dag Nasty doing mostly old Dag Nasty songs. I didn’t expect to sing nearly that much. Nardcore legends Dr. Know were great too, but I expected as much. The sing-alongs weren’t quite as intense.

On Sunday it was even harder to leave our wives behind at the quiet pool, but I was determined to see MDC. Once I arrived at the Monster stage, I wasn’t so sure I’d made the right decision. I was a little disturbed watching the band set up. The drummer looked like he was 100 years old. Still, Dave Dictor and crew blazed through a greatest hits set punctuated by a rousing rendition of “John Wayne Was a Nazi”. Their passion was clearly still intact. I unapologetically love that Reagan era punk and hardcore.

ALL was also on my must see list. I’ve been a fan for nearly 30 years, but hadn’t seen them live for 25. I feel like Stephen Egerton and Karl Alvarez are underrated, so I enjoyed watching them do their thing up close on the main stage. (Of course Bill Stevenson and Chad Price were great too.) It wasn’t necessarily the ALL songs I would have chosen, but nobody asked me. I guess I miss the days when they used to play like 50 songs, but it was fun.

ALL setlist: Original Me, Dot, Refrain, Fool, Until I Say So, Life on the Road, Shreen, Silence, Educated Idiot, Miranda, ‘Cause, She’s My Ex, Fairweather Friend, Million Bucks, Paper Tiger, Carry You, Scary Sad

Back on the second stage, I saw Riverboat Gamblers for the first time. The Texans did not disappoint. I really appreciated their cover of the 1991 Motorhead song “No Voices in the Sky”.

Recently reunited Lunachicks played on the big stage after dark, which helped with their colorful visuals. Each of the four women wore a bright colored dress, so it was a treat for the eyes and the ears. I must admit that I’m much more familiar with some of their contemporaries like L7 and Babes In Toyland, but Lunachicks definitely impressed me with their energetic performance.

Modern thrashers Municipal Waste closed out the small stage on Sunday. Even grizzled punks would have to admit that the band had one of the most brutal mosh pits of the weekend. I’m a pretty big fan, but stayed well back. I’ve got tickets to see them in November, so I had no problem bailing a bit early to be sure I didn’t miss a single second of Devo. (There’s supposed to be a five minute gap to get between the stages, but at points, one band started right after another.)

Punk Rock Bowling may have saved the best for last. Devo was an amazing way to wrap up the festivities. I had seen them once before, at Lollapalooza 25years ago. I remember thinking it was amazing then too, though I couldn’t quite remember why. Now I remember. It’s a stunning visual presentation combined with the music to create a totally immersive experience. Their short one hour of stage time had them playing a set that was all killer no filler.

It was part propaganda film, part avant garde theatre, and part new wave concert. I normally don't approve of costume changes at punk shows, but they made it work. Clips of the band from 40 years ago mixed with random, sometimes bizarre imagery kept our eyes busy. Our ears heard a band that was well rehearsed playing upbeat versions of classic songs. The one-two punch of “Gates of Steel” and “Freedom of Choice” to end the night was just perfect.

Devo setlist: Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man), Peek-a-Boo, Going Under, That’s Good, Girl U Want, Whip It, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Secret Agent Man, Uncontrollable Urge, Mongoloid, Jocko Homo, Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA, Gates of Steel, Freedom of Choice

The thing that sets Punk Rock Bowling apart from something like Riot Fest is how immersive it is. For one thing, there are punks everywhere. (And fortunately it doesn’t draw a lot of the festival bros that plague the bigger music festivals.) It’s a refreshing break from the straight world that most of us (posers) live in. I’m pretty sure Keith Morris stayed at the same hotel as we did. I saw him a few times. We also saw Milo walking around in his flip-flops looking peak dad. I even unintentionally saw a pleasant inadvertent meeting on Fremont Street between Stephen Egerton and Laura Jane Grace.

Also, the Stern brothers have kept the musical focus on punk rather than purely chasing the dollar. While there are certainly plenty of corporate elements, it’s still run by punks, for punks. The lineup, even during the time of plague, had something for everyone. Classic punk, ska, hardcore, pop punk and more converged in the desert. Catching up with friends from around the country was the other highlight. It was hot as hell, (I don’t care how fucking dry the heat was) and PBRs were nine bucks a piece, but ultimately it was a great experience.

Confessions of a merch whore: I got an awesome Dr. Know patch and Dave Dictor’s autobiography, Memoir from a Damaged Civilization. I also bought the Beer City Records repress of the Multi-Death Corporations seven inch (green) and the MDC/Elected Officials split seven inch. Total damage - 8 LPs, 3 7”s, 1 T-shirt, 1 book, 1 patch and a bunch of other random free crap.