Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival 2016
Music Festival Coverage
Day 2 – 05.29
It’s a wonder that anyone is able to sleep at all in Las Vegas with so much going on. Then again, looking at this city’s permanent residents, I’m not entirely convinced that these are not the well-trained and absurdly entertaining living dead. That said, waking from my crypt to catch the legendary Angelic Upstarts at the Plaza Hotel’s pool party is just the beginning of an exciting day. After a solid set that continued the theme of anti-fascism, I hurried to the festival grounds to catch Night Birds. This band is not one that you merely observe—it’s an experience unlike others in their field. Their presence onstage is commanding, and their performance is nothing short of stunning. It’s a total and unequivocal onslaught of East Coast hardcore punk defined by a devastating sound characterized by razor sharp riffs. I find it a wonder that anyone can stand still and not throw themselves into some sort of fray. They concluded with a number off their new album, Mutiny at Muscle Beach: “Left in the Middle.”
Sweden’s Milliencolin have a sound that reminds me of ’90s heavy-hitter pop-punk, kind of like Offsping, but not a carbon copy. Before lashing out with their pop-infused set, they are introduced to the audience with the chilling noise of an air raid siren. It’s an introduction that warns observers that a sound invoking dire consequences is about to take place. Obviously, nothing drastic takes place, but I was left with a new outlook on Milliencolin. They are a superb, thoroughly engaging act. To not check these cats out would deprive one of the necessities of fast and furious electric riffs.
The Buzzcocks pretty much defined how power pop and pop punk would be inherited through the succeeding generations of punky youth. For their 40th anniversary tour, The Buzzcocks graced Punk Rock Bowling with their legendary presence. The anticipation in the air might as well have been thick enough to cut with a knife. When the lights turned on, The Buzzcocks opened with “Boredom” and then launched into “Fast Cars.” By this time, it became clear that the audience was captivated, and why not? This is one of those groups that have a mystique about them. One can hear their songs like “I Don’t Mind,” What Do I Get” or “Orgasm Addict” and instantly be transported to the warm and cozy place where one first heard the song. The only element that distracted my devotion to Buzzcocks was the security, with one guard in front of each banner to the left and right of the stage. One of them had a skull-like mask on, and with the lights, they looked rather oppressive. Other than that, it was a show that totally blew me away. The end of their set had Steve Diggle jumping up and down, strumming his guitar while the lights dimmed on and off again. It was like he was trying to rev the motor of the generator to keep the lights on. Alas, Buzzcocks concluded their set.
The Decendents closed out the second night to a devoted audience. Theirs is a music that puts a spring your step. Songs like “I’m Not a Loser” are a fun, familiar note to leave the festival on. The night was still young, however, and (being on Fremont) mischief was to be had. At the Fremont Country Club, I managed to catch Chron Gen—who played the instantly recognizable rendition of “Jet Boy, Jet Girl”—and another set of Angelic Upstarts. This last set is a much needed second dose of songs like “Solidarity,” “Another Night Another Soldier” and the angsty anthem “I’m an Upstart.” They were a great way to end the night on a high.
Punk Rock Bowling: Day 3
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