After a rough start to day one, it looks like most of the hangover’ed spirits decided to spread their alcohol-soaked wings around Downtown Las Vegas and avoid the shit show at the opening gates. If you had any sole left in your shoes after the asphalt wore them away yesterday, you most likely hoofed your way over to The Sand Dollar in The Plaza to check out The Punk Rock Hangover Shows.
Locals BLVD Bullies were there to rock the stage for Day 1, and today was none other than 2021 Punk Rock Bowling openers from Vegas JERK! that gave us the hair of the dog to keep us going from last night. Check out their track “I Killed the Prom Queen” for a Screeching Weasels-esque high school anthem that’ll leave you walking away with it stuck in your head for weeks.
There were still early warriors at the gates for opening, but boy was it smooth sailing getting through there today. It looks like they finally figured everything out and the rest of this festival should go off without a hitch.
**Queues ominous narrator voice**
“But they were not prepared for what the night would bring…”
Punk Rock Bowling starting the day off with the kids is the greatest thing they’ve done for the fest over the past few years. Madam Bombs fit the mold of LA Femme Punk band that could grow from the roots that bands like L7 and X, but sing about the teenage angst that young women deal with in high school.
Song like “Liar Liar’ show their guitar skills with a solo that AFI could steal and fit into any of their albums, and the track about their math teacher gave the crowd the biggest smile when they all the sudden stop everything and ask the question “What’s 0 x anything…” and after a brief pause come to let us know “…ummmm TOO LONG!”
LA’s Rough Kids fit their name well, and it doesn’t have to do with their attitude. They give you an instrumental complexity of a band like At The Drive-In at times, with one of those singers that leave you wondering “Are you from the UK or are you just doing that thing with your voice?”, but is quickly gotten over.
Their track from their S/T Album “Animma City” was one of their notable plays that the crowd responded to, but makes you double take and say to yourself “Are you saying out of my city? Or are you saying animosity? Enema City? Ah, fuck it. It works either way.”
Speed of Light
The kids are back, and this time they are WAY harder than they look! Speed of Light are a three-piece of siblings fronted by the sweetest looking chick that a teenage jock could think of taking home to their mother, but when Riley Christensen lets out a scream like Dennis Lyxzen from Refused and her brothers Cameron and Tyler kick in a breakdown and back up vocs just as hard as the Swedish revolutionaries in tracks like “Kill The Vibe”, you realize your family may have a few questions about your new friend.
Most of this band’s recordings are live, and after hearing them for the first time on stage it makes sense why. This family’s timing and vibe off each other is something only blood can share, and we can see them coming back to kick out more jams for a Punk Rock Bowling crowd for years to come.
The Sunday Club Show at Triple B’s for PRB 2016 was headlined by Teenage Bottlerocket, but was stolen by the opener screaming “I don’t need to listen to the voices in my head, I wanna kill the people on my television set!” with a style that bounces at you like Jello Biafra doing a stand-up routine. Playboy Manbaby’s propulsion from there lead to a side stage festival spot in 2021, and then the self-admitted trick play that got them to the main stage this year where they truly belong.
Going through the paranoid track that gives off Rocky Horror Picture Show vibes in “Personal Privacy” then bringing out Christoph Jesus from their 2021 second stage guests Crazy and the Brains to ‘kill those people on our television sets’ for “Mermaid Pterodactyl” to leave the crowd bumping all the way through their set and into the ride in their “Cadillac Car”. Set of the day belonged to them, but like a championship fighter who can’t defend their belt, that title was quickly overshadowed on the second stage next.
“I had to move my mic stand because I get violent.”
When you see a dude in a blue Fred Perry polo, that eerily resembles security’s uniform, singing Billy Joel’s “My Life” to you accapela, you may have thought someone grabbed the mic and started Punk Rock Karaoke a day early, but when he ends that intro with the iconic words, “go ahead with your own life, leave me alone”, into a cartwheel and breakdown with the scream “END IT!”, we knew this was something special.
If you didn’t know what Baltimore Hardcore stood for before, now you know. These boys thug harder than anything Hazen Street or Deez Nuts have dropped, and give a true hardcore style to the streets that has been missing for decades. If their intro “B.C.H.C” didn’t get you throwing fists, “New Wage Slavery” quickly got you there and kept you going. They were, hands down, the most energetic and entertaining set of the festival.
Seattle’s finest Street Punk on the main stage was a much-needed reminder of the Punk Rock Heavyweights that are on the PRB lineup. We remember these vets from Punk Rock Bowling 2016 and 2018, and they’ve unsurprisingly stepped their live game up over the years.
Get ready to sing it back for the greatest hits off of Pushing On with “Idle Action” and “Brothers in Arms”. They also have another set scheduled in Chicago for November, so mid-west family, be sure to check them out with the Anti-Heroes for a show that’ll deliver some Oi straight to your doorstep.
Junk Rock legends Sloppy Seconds are here to give us ride through the pissed-stained twist on a New York Style that will live on forever from the great boppers The Ramones. You may be able to kill the legends, but their sound lives on through so many bands, and Sloppy Seconds can kick it our harder than anyone.
We got a birthday tribute to the great Joey Ramone after “You Can’t Kill Joey Ramone”, and reminder of the three-titted wonder from Total Recall in “Queen From Outer Space”. Sloppy Seconds give absolutely zero fucks about anything, and in B.A.’s own words, “If you want to party after the set, all you have to do is follow the rancid piss smell down 6th street and you’ll eventually find us.”
Roy Ellis & Aggrolites
So you lost your shoes and became a drunk mess during Sloppy Seconds? Well, you better find those shoes and lace ’em up tight for a Rocksteady history lesson from the great Mr. Symarip, Roy Ellis and almighty Aggrolites! After having this super group set up to play the long-lost Punk Rock Bowling 2020 card, it was an honor to have them this year to teach us how the Ska sound has evolved from its Jamaican roots and over generations to the show we have today.
Taking us through Aggrolites classics “Countryman Fiddle” and “Free Time” fit Roy right into the mix like he was there all along. Then the cover of The Beatles “Don’t Let Me Down” set the two-tone spirit like no one else at PRB.
One, two, FUCK YOU!
Oi legends Anti-Heroes are back to give Punk Rock Bowling a sharp lesson that everyone could sit and appreciate, whether you’re a fan or not. They make it clear that freedom is paramount in our country and racism has no place anywhere, whether it’s calling out the piece of shit that had their logo tattooed on his arm in American History X before “Fuck Hollywood”, or the dedication to the CCP members killed at Tiananmen Square before “Dignity”, Anti-Heroes are a powerful force that can’t be stopped.
Face to Face
What an honor it is to get a Face to Face show, at what seems like, every Punk Rock Bowling that ever existed. The classic SoCal sound that has been a shining example of a consistency since their debut in 1992’s Don’t Turn Away has cemented itself and our hearts and given us endless words to scream into the sky as if god himself was the only one hearing it.
Starting the set off with “A-Ok” from Big Choice gave us an immediate look back to the 90s when most of these classics filled our tape-deck recorded skating or school-walk anthems, and there’s something about the trio of jams “Walk the Walk”, “Blind”, and “Ordinary” from their 1996 self-titled album being played front to back that can almost bring tears to your eyes when you think how much Face To Face has impacted our lives.
All we could think through the weekend was, “how is Dave going to top his stage dive of all stage dives from PRB 2019?”, and we were quickly shown that it isn’t the heights that he can jump from that matters, but how many people in the crowd can he put this microphone in front of while literally commanding the Causalty Army to whirl him away with the largest circle pit of the weekend.
Security had such a hard time keeping things together that the photo pit was cleared before their opener “Chaos Sounds” was over, but that can’t stop the ZrockR Crew. When the chats of “1312” start you know it’s about to get rowdy, but that didn’t stop all the way through “On the Front Line”, “Unkown Soldier”, and the crowrd pleasing closer “We are All We Have” the leaves everyone mumbling a woe until the end of the night.
Arguably the starters of the English Punk revolution, Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible took the darkened stage to deliver one of the best main stage events for the whole weekend.
Playing classics “New Rose” and “Neat, Neat, Neat” along with many others, The Damned had the entire crowd dancing and singing along with them. These guys are legends, and their vampiric influence on the punk scene still leads the way for bands across the world.
Our first taste of UK82 for the weekend is none other than the legendary GBH. They graced us with their- street sounds in 2018 on the main stage, and now its time for them to close out the second stage and prep us for a band that most likely wouldn’t be here without them.
It was inventible that we’d get the usual “Sick Boy” and duo of “City Baby Attacked by Rats / City Baby’s Revenge”, but topping off the set with Motorhead’s “Bomber” was new send-off the Punk Rock Bowling crowd couldn’t get enough of. They ‘aimed to please’ and hit the mark.
The wait is over, and the night is almost done, but this crowd is nowhere near ready to go home. If you thought everyone would calmy dance the night away to the sweet voices of Lars Fredrickson, Matt Freeman, and Tim Armstrong, boy were you wrong.
The release of Rancid’s new album Tomorrow Never Comes really lived up to it’s name if you were waiting for new material from the East Bay powerhouse, but it was quickly forgotten when the live debut of the album’s title track was the first jam kicked out by Tim and the boys. With Matt Freeman letting out the raspy chorus and Tim jumping around like a mad-man, it was the perfect start to an otherwise classic Rancid set.
After “Roots Radical”, the timeless call-back anthem “Radio”, and the most insane bass solo in “Maxwell Murder” it felt like nothing could go wrong, but we were quickly humbled by our own power during “11th Hour” when the barricade couldn’t take another push and collapsed. This goes back on the amateur hour security that seemed like they’ve never seen a Punk show in their lives, but there was no way the show would stop from here.
Just like these bad-ass legends did when a drink was spilled on the soundboard at their last House of Blues Las Vegas show, it took no time for the acoustics to come out and Lars to bring us back with “The Wars End”. Followed with Tim joining for “Ruby Soho”, it was like they planned this all along to show their stripped-down chops off.
After a good wait but a satisfying filler, “Journey to the End of the East Bay” brought us right back to the sound we’re used to at a Rancid show, and nothing can stop them now! Barricade or not!
Like any other Rancid show, you name it, they played it. After we were brought back to the original “Ruby Soho”, we were gifted with another live debut from Tomorrow Never Comes with the closer “Don’t Make Me Do It”. With yet another release in this band’s timeless discography, we’ll never get rid of them, and we want to see another Rancid PRB set as soon as we can.
All photos by Stephy Muzio & Alex Sanchez for ZrockR Magazine 2023, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.