Punk Rock Bowling
Downtown Las Vegas
May 25-27, 2013
The Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival started in 1999, and since then the mayhem has moved from the lanes to a giant parking lot just off of Fremont street in downtown Las Vegas. Tournaments and cash prizes are still part of the event, but today, the offerings on stage are the main draw, attracting thousands of hardcore music fans from around the country.
If EDC is the definitive dance music hap in Sin City, Punk Rock Bowling is a formidable match when it comes to a different kind of loud music. The term "banger" comes from punk after all! Here are the bands who bowled us over this year:
The Pool Boys
Free pool parties were a big part of the fest this year and this shindig from Swinghouse Studios kicked things off with an all-star extravaganza on the roof of the Plaza Hotel. James Williamson (The Stooges), Capt. Sensible & Pinch (The Damned), Tony Adolescent (The Adolescents), DH Peligro (Dead Kennedys), Kevin Seconds (Seven Seconds), Zander Schloss (Circle Jerks), and Charlie Paulson (Goldfinger/Black President) took the stage together to play music from each of their respective bands. They were audacious and pretty clean, but we can't say the same for the swimming pool. Hotel pools are questionable anyway, but at a beer-drenched punk party? Um, you don't want to know.
This was one of the best performances on the festival grounds, The Damned performed a mix of hits and lesser known numbers for a rabid crowd on Saturday night. They have always incorporated style and flair into their dark persona, and are a rare band who seem to get cockier with age.
Devo, meanwhile, are no longer quirky young dudes touting a new world devolution. Are they not men? Well, they are no longer young men. But their music sounds better than ever. Sure, they're not necessarily the first band who come to mind when you think of punk music, but their rebellious spirit and dancey new wave hits evoke anarchy, and even the kids in spikes and combat boots got off on their set Saturday. Their "energy domes" are still more original than mohawks.
Punk Rock Bowling's afterparties were a hot ticket this weekend. The biggest and best occurred at Backstage Bar & Billiards and an adjacent venue, Fremont Country Club, both owned by L.A.'s own Big Daddy Carlos from Velvet Margarita Cantina in Hollywood. East Coast punk icons Agnostic Front christened the new club with their ranty rhythms and didn't let up til 3:30 a.m. They put everyone down by the end of their ferocious set.
Back Stage offered a sizzling ska party with these cool cats next door, and dancing to this happy music was the best way to "free yourself" after the chaos and dirt clouds of the festival.
Perhaps no heavy band can claim more dedicated fans than Turbonegro. Voracious packs of sailor capped, denim vested fiends descended on the fest grounds Sunday to catch these flamboyant Norwegian lads, and they all left with smiles. Punk doesn't have to be pissed - just pissy- to have balls.
One of the tightest punk outfits still doing it, Sunday headliners Bad Religion provided their melodic anti-establishment rock for a crowd that was hung-over but not burnt out. These guys are still winning on stage.
The most punk chick at PRB wasn't the purple-haired dame in fishnets, it was 70-something country rock legend Wanda Jackson, who, just after midnight on Sunday, tirelessly sang all her hits and shared some fun anecdotes about her recent collaborator Jack White.
Me First and The Gimme Gimmes
This all-star group featuring members of NOFX, Foo Fighters and more went on really late for the official after-party Sunday night. The crowd was almost about to start a riot! But all it took was one song -- by Barry Manilow, no less -- to change the mood. Yes, the Gimme Gimme's play the dorkiest songs in existence, amped up and re-arranged to kick ass. Backstreet Boys, Gloria Gaynor, showtunes, and classic mellow gold faves get the punk treatment by these Hawaiian-shirted hams, and there's no shame in their game
The festival offered another full day of sounds on Monday, but like most grown-up punks with jobs and responsibilities and stuff the next day, we had to miss it. Look for a Punk Rock Bowling slideshow featuring a multitude of mohawks, spikey garb, inappropriate t-shirts and rockin' Sin City debauchery on this site later today.
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