Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
May 25th - 28th, 2018
I was able to be better prepared for this year's Punk Rock Bowling. I had vacation hours saved up, so I put in a request to have the entire festival off as well as the day before and after around two months ago! Only for one of my managers to ask that I cancel for Memorial Day morning to help out for a few hours. Needless to say I am owed so many favors.
I saw last year’s Punk Rock Bowling as an incredible festival that I thought other similar events would benefit from learning from. That said there were some problems, and a lot of them I thought were so nitpicky that it wasn’t worth even mentioning. Most, if not all, of my minor complaints were addressed as well as nearly all of the biggies.
The various food options were centralized into one location rather than spread out as they were last time. There was additional seating for those who couldn’t snag a spot in the ‘food court’, and the various merch booths were laid out in such a way that it was easy to get around even during times when that area was filled with bodies.
Plenty of places to get a drink, event workers even had these mobile ice filled - carts I guess they were that allowed them to be right up there with festival goers that were in need of water or of course beer. And though it might explain why I was so itchy, the astro turf provided some much needed cushion for my feet and yes even my aching ass.
My last remaining squabble is that for most bands they would stop showing the bands performing on those big screens after the first three songs. Instead they change over to either the PRB banner or various pre-recorded footage that I saw enough repeats of that they could have instead been relegated to the time in between bands.
As for the bands, this may resemble a complete mess if you’re at home trying to follow along chronology. Since none of these bands were bad you’ll not go wrong to simply pick one from the line-up at random and do a simple Google search to find out if your thing. You can even do that here.
I say all this because writing out bios and play-by play of each and every band will be as boring for me to write as it will be for you to read. So, I’ll mostly be focusing on the bands that suited my tastes and who I would recommend you check out.
Day One had plenty of big names that on paper made it the ‘No shit, I’ll be there’ portion of the festival. From legends such as GBH. and D.O.A to L7, who reunited in 2014 with the titular line-up(and before you ask that wasn’t meant as a pun). Rise Against was the one band I’ve seen before at two different Lollapaloozas. They were Rise Against. If you like ‘em you got what you wanted. You got Rise Against.
It’s the day’s opener that I suggest you take a chance on and give a listen to. The Father Figures at their roots sounds like fairly straight forward punk rock band, but with some laid back guitar work from Michael Cornelius that’s just fucking cool.
The only disappointment I felt was that Suicidal Tendencies’ guitars just up and disappeared when mixed with the other instruments. Something was wrong here, but it didn’t end up taking away from the performance as a whole. These things can happen I just hope that it doesn’t become a trend if I end up seeing them again.
Seeing as I had to go into work Monday morning photographer Courtney Ware and I were wondering if it made any sense if we slept in later on Day Two so I’d be less tired when I woke up 2AM. the next morning.
We ended up not sleeping in, but Courtney made it a point that she wanted to be there to photograph Larry & His Flask regardless of when we woke up that day. Apparently the varied instrumentation of the punk/bluegrass hybrid was as interesting to photograph as they are to listen to. They’ve played in a lot of interesting places from Vans’ Warped Tour ending up on an Associated Press list of must-see bands to a local street corner near you for gas money. Both make perfect sense if you ask me.
ZRockR did two interviews with PRB bands, one of them being the more traditional sounding Swingin’ Utters, which you can find here.
I’m just right age that my first introduction to Turbonegro was possibly an episode of Viva La Bam. Though honestly you might have heard tracks such as “All My Friends Are Dead” just as easily from anywhere else. Black Metal may be Norway’s biggest cultural export, but Turbonegro may as well be it’s second - or is it handcrafted furniture? I don’t fucking know. In any case, Turbonegro has to be my highest recommendation from PRB to ZRockR readers that are looking for a rock n’ roll band they may not already be listening to.
Turbonegro vocalist Tony Sylvester A.K.A. The Duke Of Nothing (neither of which are very Nordic sounding names, I’m almost disappointed I can pronounce both) mentioned that Trump wanted more Norwegian immigrants and that they were what he’d get. Maybe some of the aforementioned black metal bands will follow so I might see Emperor without getting on a plane. Thanks for getting my fucking hopes up Tony.
While the Mighty Mighty Bosstones aren’t my thing personally, I see it as a good sign when I see people dancing as they were for this band. Worth checking out if you want music to make you feel good and happy tonight.
I can’t end a summation of Day Two without mentioning the NOFX set. Starting things off by dancing onto the stage to “Time Warp”, the band’s banter was as entertaining as their songs. It wasn’t until they made joking references to the Oct 1st, 2017 Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival that those grumbles couldn’t mistaken for anything else. Something along the lines of "at least the victims were Country fans and not Punks". Most of the jokes from the band that night were funny, but that one fucking bombed guys. I do have to say that it took balls to make that joke in front of a Vegas crowd. ( and what a fucking way to shoot your longtime career down in flames... it was an asshole move. Not punk, not funny, just complete asshole move. - ed.)
All jokes aside, Day Three started with a bang up job done by the exiled Russians of Svetlanas. ZRockR has an email interview for you to read at your leisure here. Now based in Milan, Italy (the lucky bastards) their Enemy of the Russian State status has given them the moniker of the most dangerous band in the world allegedly according to the likes of Putin. I have to say that their music at least lives up to that hype. Even if I hadn’t known their backstory ahead of time I’d still be recommending this band to you the reader. Their sound as well as their stage presence is as textbook definition of hardcore as it gets.
The Birth Defects is what you get when you put a bit of just about every extreme sub genre of rock music, get all your shit together - all of your shit, put it into a bag and then into a blender. All of your shit. (Note to Sylvia or Stephy: My obligatory Rick and Morty reference)
Slaves from the U.K. has to be my pick for the band who gets the most out of not a lot. Comprising of just two members frontman/drummer Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent who in addition to providing additional vocals is playing either a guitar or a bass. Sometimes there’s no drums as Holman is doing a spoken word bit leaving Vincent to carry the rhythm by himself but then they hit all cylinders to bring forth a punishing sound.
I recently heard they got their start as street performers and got picked up to go on tour at one of their performances. I don’t know if that story is true. I’ll tell you now I just don’t give a shit. Their sound certainly fits that narrative, and I’d love to watch them in that setting possibly with Larry & His Flask.
I’m fine with ending things here. Any of these bands as well as the other performers deserve your attention - these just happen to he the bands I felt the need to talk about. Have a drink to celebrate twenty years of Punk Rock Bowling. Or don’t if that’s not your thing.
Here’s something you can either do instead or as you have that drink I mentioned, look at more pictures!
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos by Brian Lucey and Courtney Ware for ZRockR Magazine - ©ZRockR Entertainment, LLC - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED