Punk Rock Bowling is back, baby! Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone but the Stern Brothers were not going to let us finish 2021 without seeing our brothers and sisters in the pit, and we couldn’t be happier to take you through this journey that brought us back to Downtown Las Vegas to drink, sweat, and scream at the top of our lungs!
Kicking off the fest on the Monster Energy Stage was none other than Vegas locals boppers Jerk!. Cruising up to the show in an ‘84 Lincoln with a trunk full of guitars for their first PRB sets them apart from every veteran band there, but Jerk’s constant speed and catchy woh-oh-oh’s will have you singing along and dancing like they’ve been in your record rotation for years.
Most of the set showed off their 2019 release <i> Panic Attack <i> with a few favorites “I Killed The Prom Queen” and “Susie Is a Bonehead'' that ooze of old school Screeching Weasels and The Queers. If you can’t catch them around the Vegas bars chances are Jerk! will end up in your city sooner or later so don’t skip out on their fun time.
Alright, I’ve got a good one. Have you ever heard the one about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer themed punk band? NO? Neither had we, but The Sunnydales stabbed us straight through the heart with a wooden stake of joy so quick, we couldn’t wait to start dancing with them through each episode.
Singing in almost the exact key as The Ramones, and staying pretty damn close to them in song structure, The Sunnydales keep a great pace through catchy tunes like “Reptile Boy” and “I Robot, You Jane” where it’s easy to sing and chant along no matter who you are. These songs are all actually Buffy episodes too! I had to be reminded through a quick search, but “I Robot, You Jane” is the one where Willow meets that guy in a chat room and he…. you know what, you get the point.
Hopefully PRB puts some eyes one The Sunnydales because they deserve to be getting some major recordings and tours to show off their set.
Phoenix Punk Rock has made its way back to PRB with one of the hardest hitting 3-piece bands you’ll find. The Linecutters have been tearing up the desert and beyond and brought the first pit to PRB when they cranked that rock-steady sound on the Monster Energy Stage.
With a voice like Jesse Michaels from Operation Ivy went completely off the rails and a range of instrumentals that can be as crusty as possible one moment and kicking your feet up to skank the next, it’s no wonder you can find The Linecutters tearing up stages around the nation with acts like Conflict, Choking Victim and Black Flag. Be sure to check out their range in “Jett Fuel” and their familiarity to the subgenres in “Never Doubt”
Alternative Tentacles' synthesized powerhouse is back, and if it seems like we were just talking about The Darts here at ZRockR recently, it’s because they brought their same haunting yet tantalizing tone to PRB and Evil Pie back in 2019 where we were hanging on every note from singer Nicolle Laurenne’s keyboard, and this time was no different.
Chrisina Nunez crawling up and down her bass that can let out the dirtiest distortion that somehow sounds like the only natural option for the lower tones that creep in The Darts’ background. New drummer Velvet Hammer proves to be an amazing fit, and how can you not with that name?
You can find yourself really easily getting lost in The Darts sound when Meliza Jackson’s guitar goes to a psychedelic rock break and Nicole will throw her keyboard around; just grazing the keys while her rig is barely hanging on the edge of her fingertips in one hand, and the microphone stretched across her arm and singing into the other, when all of the sudden she’ll slam the keys back to her and let out the last note of the song, then say “If you're worried about my keyboard, don’t… it likes it.”
Bad Cop/Bad Cop
The almighty Bad Cop/Bad Cop are here to give everyone exactly what they need, a lot of self love and hate for the government! The Queens of Fat Wreck have been making a huge splash in the scene and it showed with a crowd that took over all of 3rd and Bridger that went absolutely nuts with fists in the air and chanting screams.
Songs like “Pursuit of Liberty” just hit a bit differently when you scream them with a few hundred people. “Can this be America, the home of the free. When for for the first time I feel like a refugee. When we sought asylum we were welcomed in, these days it’s perceived as a sin!”
Besides one bad ass set, the key thing everyone should have taken away was Stacey Dee letting everyone know the dangers of fentanyl and the amazing work The Sidewalk Project was doing at the festival for overdose prevention with free NARCAN and testing kits.
Five Year Plan are at Punk Rock Bowling for the first time, and rightfully so since they’ve been jammin’ out before the fest was even thought of. It’s surprising because the band looks like they’re all in their early 20’s and play this teenage-angst style insult punk that I’d expect from an early MXPX worship band, but I bet Mike Herrara was listening to FYP when he wrote “Think Twice” and “Teenage Politics”.
They just couldn’t stop! “Dum Cos I Said So” stood out as one of the songs you could catch from them, but unfamiliarity and shock just left me there staring and smiling as these guys just went punch after punch in the face with non stop energy.
Speaking of energy, PEARS are on a whole other level than anyone in existence. There’s AC current. DC current, and whatever the fuck singer Zach Quinn runs on because it’s not of this earth.
“The Flu” was fitting to hear and ending out the set with the manic screams of “Comfortably Dumb” is always a barn burner that leaves everyone wanting more. Your favorite punk rock bands favorite punk rock band never disappoints and this surely won’t be the last PRB we see PEARS own the stage on.
Fresh off their club show from the night before with Teenage Bottlerocket is Dillinger Four to save the day from The Lawrence Arms’ absence, so give me a “Doublewhiskeycokenoice” and get out of my way!
“We never could have imagined how hard it would be to play a show after this long, so we did two!” Those efforts were met with fists and drinks in the air through “Suckers, Int. Has Gone Public” and “The Great American Going Out of Business Sale” to put this one in the books for Dillinger Four.
The greatest rock and roll band to ever play on this planet is here to fuck em’, suck em’ and bust a nut, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Seeing Blag Dahlia command this fucked up symphony of droogs with a pair of fingerless gloves and a ripped tank top has become a PRB favorite of most and we would be okay with having them every year to keep us good and wet.
“Dominator” kicks things into a frenzy and showing how Young and Good Looking these Dwarves are through “ I Will Deny You” and “Everbodies Girl” always throw the pit into the EF measurement scale from the tornado it creates.
“America I love you, but you’re freaking me out!” Need we say more?
The Menzingers make their way back to PRB to give us a reason to grab each other and scream into the sky with anthem after anthem that seems to have a place in every punk's heart, no matter how hard you are. Yelling“ I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” is like a lion's roar for the lost when you need it, and even if you’re not an asshole you’re going to let that out and smile.
Can “After the Party” be any better of a closer? To many this could have been the headline of the night and curtains could close with joy, but we’re just getting started. “To the nights we lose our self-control! From the sex, from the drugs, from the rock and roll!”
Taking us on a trip through <i> Love Songs For The Retarded<i> and beyond is the unstoppable Queers.It doesn’t seem like PRB unless Joey Queer and the boys are here, and they’re gonna crawl all over you “Like a Parasite” until you can’t stop singing.
So many covers of “KKK Took My Baby Away” have been played but they keep it true and simple just like it should be. The obvious closer with “Punk Rock Girls” caps night for one of the hardest working bands in the game.
If you could bottle up the feeling you get when Frank Turner strums his guitar for the first time and sings literally anything into a microphone, you could sell that to the masses for a higher price than heroin. England’s own will never disappoint with the Folk sounds that are more Hardcore than you will ever be.
“... and we’re definitely going to hell, but we’ll have the best stories to tell!” being screamed a the top of the crowds lungs while Frank’s soft acoustic plays in the background will make you rethink how chills are supposed to feel, and that’s just through the opening solo song! From “The Gathering” and through the call to all in England Keep My Bones’ “I Still Believe”, it was as if we all went through our Punk Rock sermon and were cleansed to move forth into the rest of the weekend.
A blown amp at this time can only mean one thing according Chris #2, “The Folk God Ghost of Woody Guthrie says thou shall play no music after Frank Turner!”, but if the man who changed the world with one voice could allow any other act to follow, that exception would be made for Anti Flag.
It's been a long time since Las Vegas has been able to throw a middle finger up for Anti Flag's anthems, and it was an immediate earthquake with "Die For Your Government" sending the crowd into a frenzy, and through to "The Press Corps" that never keeps you still.
When the songs stop and instruments slow, it's time for the good word. When all is said and done, and Anti Flag show is a meeting of minds. Just going to them shows you have an open outlook and when Chris #2 stops and to talk about the injustice we see every day, you can't help but sit back and savior the moment that you shared with your brothers and sisters.
Closing out with American Fall's "Brandenburg Gate" was a nice sendoff from a set that showed off their entire catalog from beginning to end. Anti Flag is nowhere near done spreading the good word across the nation so be sure to check out the tour schedule for a date near you
"We all got our shots, but Everything Still Sucks!"
The Descendents are here to hold us tight and tell us it will be okay. So get your MugMugMug from the Grouchy John's truck and get to the pit, because we're going on a ride!
Descendents never disappoint with a look over their entire catalog in their set. From Milo Goes to College all the way to their, uh, most recent release(?) in 9th & Walnut. I say that because these songs have been laying dormant since 2002 in the great Weinerschnitzel lair until Milo got his hands on them to track vocals over lockdown, so this is our first time singing along to "Nightage" and "Sailor's Choice", but it's as if they've been apart of the set for years with how familiar they sound.
Classic after classic singalong. "'Merican" for the Political Punks, smoochy love songs with "Silly Girl" and "Nothing With You", to the college days in "Hope", "Suburban Home", and "I Wanna Be A Bear". Is that all?
Some things just never change and we can't imagine Descendents at Punk Rock Bowling ever going out of style. Another Day 1 in the history books you dirty bastards. Check out more in Day 2!
All live photos by Courtney Ware for ZrockR Magazine, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.