Memorial Day Weekend in Downtown Las Vegas means one thing and one thing only, it’s time for Punk Rock Bowling to take over! Like a degenerate squatter that never pays rent, they’ve been tossed around town finding new homes year after year. From the humbled starts at the legendary Sam’s Town, Gold Coast, and even Sunset Station, all the way to that deluxe apartment at The Downtown Event Center over the past few years, we’ve seen it all.
Now they’re back to the scene of the crime at 6th and Stewart where some of PRB’s most legendary lineups from 2011-2016 took place, and while some may still be used to the cozy AstroTurf and shade from the casinos that we had the last few years, it seems like some cost saving measures needed to be taken just like everything else in the good ol’ USA lately (thanks politicians).
Besides the venue change that most festival vets were okay with, there were huge issues with security, power, money, and even the start time. After waiting in the May’s Vegas heat for an hour more than anticipated, and finding out that the fest was being pushed back due to a power issue, it was more surprising to get inside to also find that all ATM’s were down, credit cards could not be accepted at the bars, and there is absolutely no shade around the hot asphalt in front of the stages.
Oh well, so we started on punk time, and you’ll let me go in and out to get cash? That’s good. There’s no way things can get any worse from here, right?
The hype at the front of the line for these Vegas kids was the most I heard all weekend, and after listening to them it all adds up. With lyrical and instrumental styles that hits like early Green Day but modern lyrics that I could see my daughter screaming in her room one day with songs like “The Microphone” and “Parasite”. They were the perfect kick off to the fest and not one fan was left without a smile and impressed. They’ll be playing a show in Phoenix next month and will no doubt be back around the Vegas Valley, so be sure to look out for their next gig and check them out.
The Venomous Pinks
These bad chicks from AZ are leaving a huge impact on the fest this year. Not only are they opening the main stage today but they were called for a club show Friday night with Avengers and The Skulls. Their first full-length, Vita Mors, is a hardcore powerhouse from front to back, and they brought it all to stage with their woah’s and oh’s to give everyone a jolted start to their day.
“Hold On” stood out with a bass line that would give Matt Freeman a stank face, and “Apothecary Ailment” kept up with the PMA message the band was spreading. With TED Talks letting us know we have one life, one chance and a “Fuck Donald Trump” before they left the stage, they fit right in.
Dee Skusting & The Rodents
Self-proclaimed Rat Rockers from Los Angeles don’t make their image hidden and their sound is just as prominent. With some hints of a Crack Rock Steady beat and lyrics to match, it’s like a pure LA Rock and Roll band spent the night at C-Squat in NYC and came out with a new unique style for the rats in the gutter.
With tracks from their new album Scars like “I Am Your God” and “White Collar Crimes” they left the heads bobbing and hips shaking, and not sure if you’re marking your Punk Rock Bowling bingo card, but if a second band saying “Fuck Donald Trump” is on there, go ahead and cross that off.
Turbulent Hearts frontwoman Suzi Moon released her new album Dumb and In Love last year with Pirate Press and brought her classic SoCal style to the Main Stage for what seemed like everyone’s anticipated set of the day. Between the rumbles before her set and the enthusiastic praise after, she gave us more than our money’s worth.
With the new album’s title track and the journey through “99 Miles to Pasadena”, Suzi Moon can command the stage like she’s been doing this all her life, and to no one’s surprise she actually has. Along with her singles for “Special Place in Hell” and “Animal”, this set was a kickstart of energy the rest of the day’s festivities.
“Silly Rabit! Trix are for kids!”
Huntington Beach legends The Crowd are here to take you through a tubular journey through the beach sounds that help SoCal form what we know as Punk Rock now. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing them back in 2017 for a club show the legendary Vandals and Street Dogs but this fest appearance was a real treat.
Taking us back to their skinhead days with their work off I’ve Got A Gun and much more, Channel 3 show how 40-year-old punk anthems can still get appreciation for the new age kids and scene vets alike. No pits gave a calm but exciting performance with a beach ball bouncing around dancing battle vest and mohawks.
Remember, always look out for #1, but be sure to have fun. No matter how old you are.
“Living in the desert, I get by. Party with my demons, one more time.”
Before CH3 was halfway done with their set on the Main Stage, most of the young guns were over at the Monster Stage waiting for Surfbort to break their set open, and when they did it was no shock why. These bangers from Brooklyn may look white trash, and their album title Keep on Truckin’ fits perfect. So, get in line for a “Whiteclaw Enema Bong Hit” and stay around for the “Hippie Vomit Inhaler”, you won’t regret it.
We are honored and saddened to have, what could be, the almighty Lee Ving and FEAR’s last Punk Rock Bowling with us. Due to an unknown medical issue that was revealed the week before the festival, Lee may be taking this leg of shows as his last, and from the bottom of all of our beer filled guts, we thank FEAR for all the memories they’ve given us.
From their SNL showcase that makes kids to this day sit in awe of its impact, all the way to the steps Lee and the boys took on stage at Punk Rock Bowling, every breath of this band has been a piece of Punk Rock history that we’ll never forget. So have a beer with FEAR and give the legendary Lee Ving your last drop of blood in FEAR pit while you still can.
Kids of the Black Hole unite once again for an Adolescent’s Punk Rock Bowling adventure. These guys just don’t stop, releasing album after album of some of the rawest West Coast punk that exists, even into their latest cover album Russian Spider Dump that they played Subhuman’s cover of “Fuck You” from.
Out of the countless times I’ve seen Adolescents, I never thought that anyone in their right mind would fuck with Tony Reflex at a show and come out on top, so when someone in the front row started giving Tony grief for wearing a mask while singing, there was no wasted time to tell him to shut the fuck up and know his place. Know your role before you talk crazy things to the man who sings “Lockdown America” and “Amoeba” nightly to crowds of people who would love nothing but take you into the pit for a good ol’ fashion thrashing.
Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
The iconic covers from Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies that, to this day, continue to impress original recording artist and fans alike, are a Punk Rock Bowling tradition that will never die. This time around Spike has the legends CJ Ramone on bass and Pinch from English Dogs and The Damned on drums (who both took their time giving tours at the Punk Rock Museum this week).
Spike came out and commanded our participation before they got going, asking us to snap our way into Steely Dan’s “Ricky Don’t Lose That Number” which starts the biggest shit eating grin that comes with every Me First set. A dedication to the great John Denver for “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and eventually “Take Me Home, Country Rodes” can satisfy any soul, but if that wasn’t enough you’ve got Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” to make you scream to the heavens.
Suprise, suprise! The weekend’s Suprise Guest show, while meaning to be The Damned, was changed after a member had medical issues, and was picked up with no hesitation by the gold suited, streamer laden Me First for the fans to enjoy once again.
“You guys ready for some Rock Steady?!”
The Slackers sound is ready for you to dance into the night with the purest Ska to come out of Hellcat Records. Wasting no time getting it started with the title track from Wasted Days and through to The Question’s “Have the Time”, dancing shoes were being put to work for the classic sound of New York’s finest.
Aimee Allen and the Interrupters have shown how a band can grow with Punk Rock Bowling and blast off into the stratosphere where they are now. From a Club Show in 2015 around their album debut, to a Billboard charted 4th album In the Wild and 3rd main stage performance this year after they stole the show in 2019, we cannot get enough of Aimee and the Bivona brothers. They’ve been touring the world with Bad Religion this year and we could not wait to see them play their latest released tracks live.
A warmup of The Special’s “Ghost Town” over the house speakers fittingly prepped us to get moving, and then once we saw Aimee and the boys it was immediately into the fist raising “Take Back the Power” to get us into the action. The latest release’s tracks “Raised by Wolves” and “In the Mirror” are a perfect addition to an otherwise already jam-packed set, making this their most notable performances in Punk Rock Bowling history.
Another double duty band that has a Club Show tomorrow night is here to keep us moving and grooving. The last time we saw the punk/ska/funk fusion sounds Fishbone at Punk Rock Bowling was their club show with Aggrolites in 2018, but the fest spot they had this year is right where they belong.
“Alcoholic… Real good liquor… Make you throw up… Make you clumsy”. What could describe the PRB Fest crowd more?
All the respect goes to frontman Angelo Moore and his energy. Besides kicking out the boss lyrics he does, he can command a microphone like Little Richard in a sweaty haze; busting out ‘Hey!”s and kicking a little groove through “Bonin’ in the Boneyard”, “Subliminal Fascism”, and sending us off with “Party at Ground Zero”. Fishbone Army showed up and left a crater in the dance pit that will run all the way to Citrus Pool at The Downtown Grand tomorrow night.
It may not be Sunday, but it’s time for church! If Bad Religion headlining Punk Rock Bowling was a mass, it could only be compared to an Easter Sunday in Vatican City, and our Pope is the almighty Greg Gaffin.
After playing a show IN OSAKA FUCKING JAPAN YESTERDAY!!!, Bad Religion flew all the way to us in Las Vegas to close out the first night of Punk Rock Bowling with their tourmates The Interrupters and show us a legendary set that we won’t forget.
From the start with “Too Much to Ask” and “American Jesus”, the Punk Rock spirit was like a holy ghost that took over the crowd and reminded us of the main reason we’re here. Classics “Do What You Want” and “Come Join Us” weren’t a surprise, but the moment Aimee Interrupter came out and sang “Sorrow” with Greg and the boys is going to go down in Punk Rock history.
Additional crowd photos:
All photos by Alex Sanchez, Courtney Ware and Stephy Muzio for ZrockR Magazine 2023. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.