• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Welcome back to beautiful Downtown Las Vegas on Memorial Day Weekend! The Punk Rock pilgrimage to Mecca is back with the 24th year of Punk Rock Bowling in the greatest city on earth, and after a year of healing our feet from the blistering streets of 7th and Stewart at the 23rd annual shindig, we’re back in the cozy digs of The Downtown Event Center to enjoy this year’s pit on soft turf and relax under misted tents with cool water. Thank you, Stern Brothers.

This year’s pre game was like no other. Thursday night saw a movie screening of Josh Rouse’s Wrong Way, with a Q&A by the legendary Kevin Smith, followed up by a surprising set from locals Franks and Deans, and the almighty Aggrolites.

If you made it past Thursday without needing a rest, Friday night saw the inevitable set from ALL with Fat Wreck heavyweights Bad Cop/Bad Cop, and The Iron Roses, who blew the weekend away there and at the fest.

Agnostic Front had their set for the weekend at FCC, then took over the Notoriety Theaters the afternoons of the fest to play their new NYHXC doc, alongside Vegas legends Indicline showing off their latest flick(and no, it wasn’t a new Bling Bling singalong, unfortunately. Despite many unanswered IG messages). It was refreshing to see the free festivities outside the grounds stepped up in a huge way this year.

Now it’s time. Whether you were guzzling down bottomless Bloody Mary’s at Freedom Beat in Downtown Grand(personal attack), or you were well-rested and hydrated with sunscreen on when you got to the gate, now’s the moment we’ve been waiting a long year for.

The Banana’s-Pit Scale

A new addition to ZrockR’s reviews this year will be a pit rating system inspired by The Punk Rock Banana. Jeyy from Denver is friends with the Punk Rock Saves Lives crew and rocked the banana suit marked with Bad Religion’s “Suffer” lyrics for the entire fest last year.

This year, you could not see a pit without him absolutely crushing it with the bright yellow suit and sunglasses on. We’ll be leaving a 1-5 banana rating on each band’s pit, based on how hard Jeyy went in it.

Kate Overbey & The Backlash

If I heard correctly, this is Kate’s first ever show with The Backlash, and what a stage to step onto if that’s the case. With only a Tiny Desk submission floating around YouTube to base things off of, we were going into them blind, but she took the stage like she’s been doing it for ages.

A solid LA sound with songwriting that seems like its been rocking around her head for years, Kate did a great job having fun and filling those massive speakers in front of her. It seems like The Backlash have been doing this a little longer but Kate is right there with them, smiling and having a great time while laying down her chords and taking charge with the mic.

🍌—-
1/5 Bananas for effort, but it wasn’t very pity

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Twist Off!

Vegas locals starting off the fest is one of ZRockR’s favorite things to see. Twist Off! (formally White Noise) have a sound that fits right in with the Punk Rock Bowling.

A hard hitting three-piece that can jam breakdowns like Rage Against the Machine in songs like “Scam Machine”, then fit right into the more chanty, punky mold in “I Wanna Life”. Plus, if you throw in a “Last Caress” cover into the first main stage set of the day, you’re going to win over some hearts.

Great job showing the tourist what Vegas Punk is doing.

🍌🍌—

2/5 Bananas for the breakdowns. We weren’t ready though

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The Iron Roses

This weekend was filled with new sounds that haven’t left their mark on the punk scene, and we knew there would be surprises, but The Iron Roses were by far the most eye opening set of the fest. They have the kind of impact that will have you screaming their anthem choruses before the song is over, and the substance of their lyrics hit you just as hard as their Rocksteady sound.

Nathan Gray’s flamboyant delivery is comforting to see in this kind of style. We can have Fat Mike give us dick flashes every time he wears a dress, and it’s just gross, but Nathan gives it class and works moves harder than a Ru Paul’s Drag finalist. Becky Fontaine harmonizes with them perfectly to make something these types of songs have never reached, a and the entire band lends a vocal nod to every song.

These are some serious protest anthems that would make Billy Bragg rock his head back and forth. “Soldier of Fortune” had me staring at the stage in awe of the words they were able to put together, and “Screaming for a Change” is one of those fist-pumping choruses that you’ve needed in your life since COVID fucked up your existence.

I can’t wait to see what The Iron Roses becomes after getting their sound on the Punk Rock Bowling stage, They gained immediate fans in the ZRockR crew with this set, and no dauntedly got others the same way.

🍌🍌🍌🍌-

4/5 Bananas. Pit of the day so far

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Bad Cop / Bad Cop

A little sad to see them so early in the day, but boy did we need some familiarity to get us moving on the main stage. Bad Cop/Bad Cop have graced us withe their modern politics over a few PRB fest, and years like this are when we need them most.

Starting off with their patented hello in “Nightmare”, it was a comforting feeling to hear Stacy Dee and the group kick out their raw sound like they’ve done time and time again. “Pursuit of Liberty” has become a mainstay in their sets since its release, and it gives that same fist-raising feeling it did when they played at PRB a few years ago as “the song off their new record”.

🍌🍌🍌🍌🍌

5/5 Bananas – No explanation needed

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Teen Mortgage

This is one we went into with a little recon. D.C. is known for a musical sound, so when a duo that has been putting out the tracks that Teen Mortgage has been, we knew this was going to be a set to behold.

I feel like without their back tracks this would be a whole different monster, but the fact that these two can give us the feedback and distortion live that these songs have on recording is impressive.

“S.W.A.S” and “Tuning In” were two impressive tracks to hear live. They fit right in with the fest but I have a feeling these guys are going to have a breakout that reaches far past PRB and into some international reach like Turnstile took.

🍌🍌🍌🍌-

4/5 Bananas. They kept the groove going

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The Skatalites

I mean, I’m not sure what to say here. I saw a really cool guy in suspenders. Like, he was REALLY COOL LOOKING.

I want to give respect where it’s due, but interlude music exists, and this is a prime example of it. This was a set that gave you some time to get and some food and relax… AND WE NEED THAT IN THIS VEGAS HEAT.

If you had your dancing shoes already strapped up, and dressed for the ska occasion, I know you were in that pit enjoying yourself, but beyond that, The Skatalites gave us some good swaying to do while we gathered under the shade tent.

You can’t really cast shade on something that shines so brightly on stage though, and when it comes to instrumental Ska, The Skatalites are top tear and give the vibe that every deserves to feel.

🍌🍌🍌–

3/5 Bananas – Top Tier Zion Vibes dance party

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999

Time to pick things back up, and 999 have been putting it down for us to grab for decades. It’s about time we saw their consistant UK sound make it to PRB to show the American’s what they’ve been up to.

Of course. we got our “Homicide” fix that I’m sure a few of us wanted to hear for a long time, ut I’m sure we even had some pond hoppers that followed them from England and represented the king;s land with pride, because 999 Crew was out all weekend long in the crowd of the fest and club shows.

🍌🍌—

2/5 Bananas –

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Lagwagon

Punk Rock Bowling alumni can’t begin to describe the status that Lagwagon has. Shit, just Punk Rock alumni period.

We’ve waiting since May 16th to sing with the boys, and our angst shows much we’ve needed to let our our angst to the anthems of our youth. From “Know It All” and into “Violins”, this was already a pit for the ages and the release the day had been waiting for.

We, of course, ended with Let’s Talk About Feelings’ intro track ” After You My Friend” and had our little dance party interlude to take us into the night. Lagwagon sets are our modern classic, and fit right into the Punk Rock Bowling memory slot alongside the best of them.

🍌🍌🍌🍌🍌

5/5 Bananas. I lost my glasses lenses and a shoe

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Madball

New York Hardcore is alive and well on 4th and Bridger in Downtown Las Vegas. NYC HxC legends Madball brought the family all the way from from the big city to show Punk Rock Bowling how to “Set it Off”.

Whether you grew up listening to them or x just seeing the hardcore spectacle for the first time, Madball shows you the truest version of New York sound. Respect comes all the way from H2o to Wu Tang Clan for these guys, and there is no question why once Freddy drops Legacy‘s “Heavenhell” and induces a head-bang on everyone in hearing distance.

When NYC HxC says “this is family”, they mean it. Both of Freddy’s kids came out to give their vocal support for pops and the crew, and the crowd loved every second of it. Madball and crew are what other scenes aspire to create, and they show it every time they take their unity message out of the Empire State; proving your state of mind isn’t defined by the state you’re in.

🍌🍌🍌🍌🍌

5/5 Bananas –

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Billy Bragg

It’s kind of hard to have a mosh pit during the sweet sounds coming from the stage during Billy Bragg. His first show (ever) in Las Vegas tugged at our heartstrings in ways that we didn’t think would be possible during PRB weekend. So much so that both of our photographers actually shed tears during his set. Hell, Stephy actually bought tickets to the club show immediately following Bragg’s PRB mainstage set, but you’ll have to check out that article to know more.

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Gorilla Biscuits

Let’s keep that New York sound going! You can’t have NYC HxC acts like Madball without the legendary sound of GB. When the 80’s faded away in the great 1990’s, there was feeling that took over NYC and never let go, and Gorilla Biscuits were the soundtrack of that decade’s overlap.

If you grew up in the 90s hoping to see a GB set, you were probably kicking yourself with regret that you weren’t born 10 years earlier with their hiatus, but after we saw GB back at Punk Rock Bowling in 2021, we knew this wasn’t, so it was a treat to see them co-headling Day 1 this year.

You play me anything off of Start Today and its pure “mental masturbation”, but when the band that probably first covered the self-titled track from Minor Threat plays that song live, I can’t contain myself.

🍌🍌🍌🍌🍌

5/5 Bananas for the truest pit of the day

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Descendents

Milo has scared the shit out of us lately. If our future was filled with nothing but ALL tours while he recovered from his health issues that sprung up last year, we’d be okay with that, but that just isn’t the cloth from which the ALL-mighty is cut from.

The greatest thing to happen to Descendents since Cool to be You is their follow-up 12 years later with Hypercaffium Spazzinate, because starting a set off with its intro “Feel This” hits harder than any other intro in existence.

When you hear about a singer having health issues, you think it would slow them down, but it looks like Milo has that same pep in his step he had when we saw him at PRB in 2019. All the way through “Dirty Sheets” and into their encore with ‘Good Good Things About You”, this was just as legendary of a set that Descendants have given us year after year.

🍌🍌🍌🍌-
4/5 Bananas – There were children in the pit, but that isn’t all that bad

Descendents are for the children

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PHOTO CREDIT: All photos by Alex Sanchez & Stephy Muzio for ZRockR Magazine

By Vinnie Corcoran

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Vinnie has been around a variety of music his entire life. Early on he would love listening to show tunes from The Rat Pack with his grandpa and dancing around with his mom to her favorite disco hits from the 70's, but his life would change in 1999 when he borrowed a stack of cd's from his dad that included Led Zeppelin's II, Metallica's Ride the Lightning and Black Album, and Sublime's Greatest Hits. Armed with that music base and a newly revolutionized internet connection, Vinnie ventured in to the vast world of rock and roll and never looked back. In his teenage years he discovered the revolution of punk rock and still has not let it go, annually attending the Punk Rock Bowling festival and taking every chance he can to check out local and national acts at hole–in–the–wall venues during the week. Look for him near the pit or by the bar at your next show.

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