The entire weekend was a never-ending journey of ups and downs. The fuck-ups from Day 1 were the talk of every Punk Rock message board, and some people gave up on the fest entirely. Day 2 was going smoothly until security proved they couldn’t hang with the crowd and let the barricade crash during Rancid. The heat was a killer, but luckily, so were most of the sets.
This was the last day of Punk Rock Bowling 2023, but we couldn’t help but think that this may be the end of the festival completely if things don’t shape up. Luckily, Day 3 was the smoothest of them all and showed us what a true Punk Rock Bowling is all about.
Desert Island Boys
If you’ve been around the Vegas Punk scene for a while, it’s been hard to miss Desert Island Boys playing backyards or living room shows all around the valley. Their surfy style that punches you in the face with screams have been in constant rotation with Asteroid M Records videos, and they showcased their videography with their jams “Allergic to Humans” and “Don’t Shit Where You Eat”.
They even went back to their early days with their mystical tale “I’m A Wizard” and then mixed it up to the newly released “Stevie’s Stingray and the Smashing Thornberries”, but my favorite thing that was said all day was before their song “Plants” where they let us know, “This song’s about being a plant, and how they probably hate humans”, which can make anyone sit and ponder for a second before jumping into an inventible groove from their waves of sound.
With not much media spread around the internet, we were going in blind to Rat Fuck’s sound, but they left an impression that makes you think this may be the start of something sinister for their singer’s future. Their callout to cell phone scrollers in “Human Hard Drive” was one thing, but every other song seemed to revolve around killing someone.
It was understandable for tracks like “I Killed a Perv”, but the next song that lines up with that theme in “I Fucking Killed Her” left you thinking… am I going to see this chick on an episode of Forensic Files one day? If she does end up there, I’m sure they’ll blow up in popularity from the exposure, and maybe we can get a Spotify artist profile set up for them after that.
The Punk ‘n Roll sound of Infamous Stiffs brought the first grown men on stage to play a sound that the day was craving. They’ve been all around SoCal and even played a PRB club show in 2021, but they’ve hopped on the fest to show their chops to the masses. Going through tracks like ‘It Ain’t Me” and even a cover of “Top Secret” from Kaos, they fit right in to a fest set and hope they keep going for more in the future.
We expected to see Doki Doki perform their debut self-titled album, but unfortunately they had to pull out at the last minute. In there place was TV Party to show off their tracks from Psychic Driving that dropped a week after Doki Doki’s release, so we were in for some fresh jams either way.
Tracks like “Pocket Full of Harold” really show why their sound is soft spoken, but the singer almost pulls of a less energetic Joey Ramone-esk style and their instrumentals match that same theme from the classic boppers if they were high on heroin. Overall, they were an underwhelming set, but we give it up to them stepping in last minute to fill the spot.
Set of the day, if not the entire fest. Svetlanas are as heavy hitting as their appearance gives off, and lead singer Olga can command a stage better than anyone in the game. If our photos don’t show you the intensity that she brings with Ricky, Steve and Diste, go take a listen to “All I See Is Red” and “Spit on Your Mother’s Face” off their album Disco Sucks to catch up.
The entire set brought everyone to the Monster Energy Stage and not a soul stepped away after being mesmerized by their sound. We saw the newly released tracks “The Alien’s Blues” and the classic that made us fall in love with them at PRB 2018 “Pyromaniac”.
If you have a chance to see Svetlanas, don’t you dare skip it. They’re touring all over the world and will give you the set of a lifetime with every step they take on stage.
The surprise of the day was from a Punk super group that everyone can get behind. Featuring bassist Greg Norton from the legendary Husker Dü, Finny McConnell from Canada’s The Mahones, and UK Subs Drummer Jamie Oliver combining their powers to create the city-leveling destruction of Ultrabomb. The tenure this band brings to them table shows, and they are far more superior of a lineup than the normal collaborations that happen in the scene.
Along-side the other dates on their It’s Got Legs!!! Tour leading up to the fest, they had a warm-up with The Dickies at their Triple B’s club show last night, and while the group may not be as young as the others on the festival line-up, they didn’t show a bit of rust for their second round at the fest today.
Going through songs off their 2022 debut album Time To Burn, we got to hear just what this combo can do, but we even got a taste of some early Husker Dü with “Do You Remember” on the setlist that gave us the familiar tune and reminded the crowd just where this sound came from. While UK Subs and The Mahones are still rocking stages, we hope that Ultrabomb keeps Greg busy and on stage so we can get a little taste of the classic Husker Dü sound that punk rockers have been missing.
This isn’t your average “Girl Band”, and their name may give you some preconceived notions if you translate it to Spanish, but Fea is a beautiful Punk Rock sound that fits right in at the fest. From their start with legends that have made the Femme Punk scene what it is today with their album recordings at Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records, Fea has made a huge impact on women and men alike while continuing that sound that’s inspired women all over the world.
Their latest release Take Cover was dropped a few weeks before the fest, and their lead track from the EP “Isolation” continues to show the path this band is on. Tracks from their self-titled debut album made the setlist with “Feminazi” and “Mujer Moderna”, and if you hadn’t heard this four-piece before, you most likely had them added to your Spotify playlist before they were done.
Fea is going to be at Oxford 24 in The Virgin right before Halloween this year, so if you missed Punk Rock Blowing this year, be sure to check them out with Subhumans when they come back to town in a few months.
“You want to know about Rude Boy?!”
Back to the Dance party we go! After a day filled with a more hardcore sound, it was time to get our hips shaking again with one of the best reggae sounds out there. We’re no stranger to Hepcat sets at Punk Rock Bowling, but we love every second they’re on the fest stage or moving and grooving at the club shows.
We watched the shade finally come over the festival with the smooth sounds of their classic tracks “I Can’t Wait” and “Riding the Region”, and as the sun went down you couldn’t help but walk away with a smile after they set a new mood for the night.
‘We are The Chisel, AND WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK!”
If you’ve been paying attention to the pandemic born music from The Chisel, you know this year saw their first full-length release with “Retaliation”, and we couldn’t wait to hear the UK sound take over Las Vegas for their fest set today and their club show later on at Triple B’s. Although they’re sound is new to the fest, we can see them playing year after year with the Punk Rock Bowling crowd.
From the start with “Unlawful Execution” and into their new albums’ title track, The Chisel are as hardcore as they come and can give you that classic Oi style that you’d expect from a band that came over the pond. They gave us a very impressive set, and even got Dave Rodriguez to the side of the stage to rock that giant red mohawk back and forth for the entire set.
Give their Triple B’s Club Show with The Beltones a listen in Press Record’s video here if you want to see what these guys are all about.
If you grew up getting into Punk in the early 2000’s, you probably never thought you’d ever see an L7 show, but after Punk Rock Bowling 2017 our dreams became reality, and this year we get a festival AND Club Show set from the L.A. legends. Whatever’s up there listening to us, they heard our cries and paid us back in spades!
The opening track from the one and only Bricks Are Heavy, “Wargasm”, started off the set, and of course we saw the later track on the album “Pretend We’re Dead” that fittingly describes how we felt before their return. Ending off the showcase with Smell the Magic‘s “Fast and Frightening” put a cap on set that crawled all over the discography that has been a part of every punk’s life since the late 80’s.
A few days after the fest, resident photographer Stephy was invited to join Jennifer Finch at The Punk Rock Museum for a once in a lifetime chance to chat with the legendary bassist about the band and all things Punk Rock. We thank her and L7 from the bottom of our hearts for all they’ve given us throughout the years and into this weekend, and hopefully much more that can come from them in the future.
Love ’em or hate ’em, the true New York Hardcore sound is here! I feel like we throw the word “legendary” around a lot in these PRB reviews, but without Agnostic Front we wouldn’t have the styles of H2O, Madball, and countless other NYHC bands that came out of the 80’s and 90’s, making Agnostic Front true Hardcore legends.
We saw them all the way back at PRB 2011 on these same grounds, and they haven’t missed a riff or scream since. Starting off with the title track from Victim In Pain and eventually getting to their iconic cover of Iron Cross’s “Crucified”, this was a classic Agnostic Front set for the truest of NYHC fans.
Earlier this year we saw a re-release of their 1983 LP United Blood and we got the title track and the ending of the album’s “Crucial Changes” played before the night was over. We’ve been jammin’ with Agnostic Front at PRB for 12 years, and we hope it lasts another 12 more.
1983’s self-titled debut release from ST is one of the forefronts of Punk Rock and will continue to be an album that gets people into the scene for generation after generation to come, and tonight we’re going across the entire album with Mike and the boys!
Like their sound’s reach, the members of ST are now multi-generational with former bassist Rob Trejio’s son Tye taking over his spot that has changed hands over and over again, and the incredibly talented Greyson Nekrutman being announced on drums recently. I can’t recall a live show with either of these young guns on the stage, but they fit right into the psycho-fest that undoubtedly shaped who they are today.
We didn’t get the album’s tracks in order, but we got every bit of it. Classics “I Saw Your Mommy” and “Institutionalized” had everyone singing from the front of the stage to the back of the bar line, and Mike’s psycho rants are just as good as ever. ST will live on forever in our heads, and these sets we get at Punk Rock Bowling from them are the best of the best.
Whether you’ve seen them on your favorite battle vest or you’ve been listening to them since their gritty inception with 1980’s Army Life, there is no escaping The Exploited and their iconic sound. The Stern Brothers have been spoiling us with sets from them at PRB 2016 and 2019, and this set four years later proves their UK82 sound will live on through many more.
The way Wattie slams the mic against his head over and over again before songs is so cringy to hear, but it’s so fucking Punk Rock. We got the classics “I Believe in Anarchy” and “Fuck the USA”, but the send-off with “Sex and Violence” where the entire crowd made it up on stage was a moment of a lifetime for whoever took the plunge. Passing around the mic to every person who could grab it to scream the chorus’s words to the crowd is surreal thought and it looked like over 100 grimy hands got their chance to do it.
Everyone knows their sound, but if you’re just hearing “Shipping Up to Boston” at literally every sports game ever, you probably don’t go deep into their catalog to see what Dropkick has done for the working class. Last time they played PRB, they did a free show at The Carpenter’s Union Hall around the 2016 Presidential Election that was driving people to register to vote, and their songs are a constant reminder that the people are the rulers in this country, even if we are alcohol soaked and screaming degenerate anthems at the top of our lungs.
Their last performance at PRB 2015 saw Al Barr taking the lead vocal spot, but after his hiatus in 2022, bassist Ken Casey has taken full vocal duty for the shows and absolutely kills it through every song. Fan favorites “Do or Die” and “Barroom Hero” were just the beginning of a jam packed set. We got the fan favorites “Worker’s Song”, “Rose Tattoo”, “Boys on the Docks”, and “Skinheads on the MBTA” all before the hit about going back to their home town we mentiond in the beginning of this piece.
As you looked over the crowd that had been out in this baking sun for three days and nights of, god knows what kind of debauchery, you could see the relief of getting to the end, and it finally felt like a normal day of Punk Rock Bowling. This can’t be the end of this festival, and we’ll be happy no mattwr where it is. Thank you again to The Stern Brothers for this family reunion that we get every year. We cant wait for PEB 2024, even if its in a dirt lot off of Boulder Highway.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos by Alex Sanchez, Courtney Ware, and Stephy Muzio for ZRockR Magazine – All Rights Reserved.