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The Fest

at: Gainesville


November 12th, 2008 · post by jas · Make a comment

Date of the event: 30/10/08 - 02/11/08

First of all, I have to apologise for what a messy review this will be in advance. To me, the Fest was a hazy experience of food, drink, and fun as much as it was about the music. So here’s a quick rundown of what the weekend entailed for me…

For all of those new to Fest, it’s a punk rock festival in Gainesville, Florida, run by the amazing folk at No Idea records. Tons of Brits head out every year, meaning punk rock is probably now the third biggest reason for global warming, and this year I decided to join in.

THURSDAY

The experience began for me with a cold night on the floor of the Holiday Inn. Early Thursday morning we got up and began drinking ready for the weekend of insanity ahead of us. We decided to head to Reggae Shack, a place highly recommended, and ate vegan steak for breakfast. This turned out to be the best idea ever.

We hung out by the pool a while, and eventually decided to head over to Mothers, a bar across the road where there was a big Brits Abroad meetup planned. It turned out it was $1.50 a pint for some uncharacteristically palatable American beer. A few of these behind us, we stumbled en-masse to the No Idea house just off West University Ave. (the place where the whole No Idea mailorder/world takeover operation is based), and took lots of suitably touristy photos outside.

After a while it was time to head to 1982, a club which was hosting a pre-Fest show that night. Bands playing included the UK’s own OK Pilot, O Pioneers, Young Livers, North Lincoln, Bridge and Tunnel, and Landmines. I stuck around for the first two and then headed a few doors down to Wayward Council, a sweet record/zine shop (think 56a crossed with Punker Bunker) which was hosting an acoustic show. This was the last show of the PJ and Gaby/Neil Sutherland American tour which had lasted a month, and was opened by Chris Clavin of Ghost Mice fame. After drinking for a good 14 hours by this point, it was amazing to have a good singalong, before eventually sloping off home to bed in preparation for the first proper day of Fest.

FRIDAY

Friday began with registration followed by a pool party at the Holiday Inn, with a samba band, barbecue and lots of people jumping in the freezing pool. (Despite the weather being amazing and hot, the pool was freezing all weekend.) At 6pm a bunch of us headed to the Kickstand, the furthest venue I ventured to all weekend, which appeared to be an old barn out in the sticks. This was one of the best venues, with people writing all over the walls and a bring your own booze policy. We managed to get there just in time for Iron Chic’s last two songs (damn) but there was some consolation in the fact these were quite good. We stuck around for Good Luck, who were also a lot of fun.

We then headed to The Venue, the biggest of the venues, to see Rehasher. They were dressed as Ghostbusters for Halloween, and played a pretty good set. I had wanted to head to Common Grounds for Grabass Charlestons and This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb after this, but was told the queue to get in was stupidly long so ended up just staying at The Venue all night. This wasn’t all bad, as it meant I got to see Strike Anywhere, and Less Than Jake playing a set of obscure songs with a lot of people going nuts for them. The night was rounded off by Bouncing Souls playing a set of pre-1996 songs, while dressed as zombies. By this point I could hardly keep my eyes open. We then headed to a carpark over the road where Paint It Black had been playing a couple of songs out of their van, but the police were just breaking it up when we got there. So it was time to stumble home and grab some more sleep before the biggest day of bands.

SATURDAY

A big poolside breakfast of scrambled tofu and hash browns was needed. At 3pm we headed to Common Grounds, a venue resembling an overgrown scout hut positioned behind The Venue. Inside, though, it was a good size and had pretty good sound all weekend. The first band we saw was the hilarious New Bruises, followed by North Lincoln and the awesome Armalite. There weren’t many people around at the beginning of the latter’s set, but it really packed out and people got into it. It was at this point we made the daring move to head to The Venue for None More Black, and then get back in time for You Me and the Atom Bomb. Both bands were ace, with Atom Bomb reppin’ the UK for the third time this Fest.

After their set I headed over to the Market Street pub, usefully positioned between Common Grounds and The Venue, to catch the end of Fake Problems and see The Menzingers. The pub was packed for the former, who sounded brilliant from my rubbish vantage point at the back, but then the crowd thinned out. However there were still plenty of people going mental for The Menzingers, my favourite band of the weekend. They began with ‘A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology’ and ended on ‘Sir Yes Sir’, and the crowd kept up with every word. It was at this point I began to reflect on how every crowd of the weekend so far had been off the hook for every band.

It was at this point that I took a break and went to Gator Dawgs for dinner. But I made it back to The Venue in time to catch Antillectual rock the side stage, and squeeze into the main room to see most of Dillinger Four (seeing them play ‘Gainesville’, a song all about Fest, was pretty special). Heading off early to get into Common Grounds for New Mexican Disaster Squad’s last ever show seemed like a good idea, as soon after I arrived it was packed and there was a queue outside. The crowd really did go mental for this band, with person after person leaping onto the stage and flipping right back off. A lot of the energy was still there when Young Livers followed, but couldn’t quite match the previous set.

A few cans of Sparks and Rockstar down us, we were still up for a party and so headed down to the Kickstand. We were met by hordes of people coming out of the Star Fucking Hipsters set, so luckily there was a little more room to move for O Pioneers and Bomb The Music Industry! who finished off the day. Bomb played with a full band of eight members, and the crowd once more went insane. They ended on ‘Sweet Home Cananada’ which was pretty special, and left us buzzing as we headed off.

We didn’t fancy paying the cab fare to the warehouse show across town, the Young Livers/You Me and the Atom Bomb house show had just been busted, and the squat that Andrew Jackson Jihad were playing sounded haggard, so we headed back to the hotel to see what was happening. We luckily happened upon an acoustic show with Austin Lucas, imadethismistake and others, on the third floor. After playing sardines in there for a bit, and having a few drinks, security told us all to go to bed which we dutifully did.

SUNDAY

The clocks had gone back for daylight savings which had confused the hell out of everyone on this morning. A few of us headed down to Wayward Council for the $5 vegan brunch, a filling mix of biscuits, gravy, grits, black beans, pancakes, and just about every other vegan friendly breakfast goods. After this, we made another trip to Mothers in an attempt to get boozey, and ended up chatting with Jake of Rehasher/The Coffee Project, who attempted to explain to us the rules of American football, get us interested in American booze, and told us there was karaoke with The Ergs at the Holiday Inn that night (this unfortunately got cancelled later).

We sat outside Common Grounds for a while, the dulcet tones of Austin Lucas drifting out and reminding us of the night before from time to time, before heading to see Off With Their Heads in The Venue. It was mad to see how a band who has just recently toured venues like Brixton Windmill packed out such a massive place, and people seemed really into it. There was then a big enough gap to head back to 1982 for the first time since Thursday, to see a band called One Win Choice (the drummer of whom had convinced me to come and see them with funny stories from their tour with Astpai). I stuck around long enough for Shot Baker, who were really bloody good.

Due to the next band on the bill (Dead To Me) at The Venue dropping out, and this being The Ergs last ever show, they decided to play two sets. Perfectly sandwiched between these was Chillerton on the side stage, and this resulted in probably the rockin’est hour and a half of Fest. Also the most blurred hour and a half for me, possibly because of the suspicious drink I was bought. We stuck around long enough to watch a bit of Leatherface, but got bored and headed off to see Drag The River at Common Grounds towards the end. However this seemed a bit boring too and we all headed to Gator Dawgs for dinner to contemplate the anticlimax of the end of the weekend.

However, upon arriving back at the hotel we heard of an Andrew Jackson Jihad room show on the third floor. We missed them, but managed to catch acoustic Bridge and Tunnel and Jeff from Bomb The Music Industry. The guy from O Pioneers was meant to play next, but as Jeff had ended on ‘I’m a Panic Bomb, Baby!’, I feared my head might split in half if I grinned any more, so we headed upstairs to keep the party alive in the hallway until dawn.

I fully recommend heading out for Fest at least once. I know this one cleaned out my pockets pretty savagely but I’d do it all again, especially if the weather is half as good as it was this time. The bands and people in the crowd were some of the most genuine, enthusiastic people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and the mood was nothing short of awesome all weekend.

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