If you enjoy music of the punk rock persuasion, plaid flannel, beards, dive bars and an amazing sense of community with several thousand strangers, The Fest is the place for you. It’s a three day festival spread across 11 or so venues (everything from pubs to cafes and bookstores) that takes control of the college town of Gainesville, Florida for the Halloween weekend.
Having been a part of it the year prior, Mel and I couldn’t resist the temptation of the 10th anniversary show in 2011, boasting an insane lineup including the likes of Hot Water Music, Samiam, Small Brown Bike, Kid Dynamite, Captain We’re Sinking, A Wilhelm Scream, Ted Leo, Iron Chic, Lemuria and way too many more to remember.
As opposed to a tight-knit group of about 6 or 7 Aussies in 2010, this year saw at least 50 or 60 punters make the pilgrimage from down under, a testament to the strong international reputation this festival has been garnering.
The weekend provided a lot of moments to remember, and uhhh… probably a lot that I don’t. The two bruised and incredibly tender elbows I nursed for a good few weeks after made sure I didn’t forget that stage dive to Ted Leo, and the burned-raw roof of my mouth was a reminder of how much I love 5 Star Pizza’s slices of cheese pizza. The pain was a little worse this time around, the bastards increased the price from $1-3 per slice in the 12 months since I last had it. Oh well, still amazing. Another memory that just came back to me was when we were walking back to the hotel and witnessed a hit and run. Pretty crazy and happened all too fast.
A Wilhelm Scream played Mute Print in full, and I will never forgive myself for missing all but 1 song of Iron Chic’s set (that one song blew the entire AWS set out of the water). Bouncing Souls provided the anthemic sing-alongs, Against Me brought huge energy to the Florida Theatre, Small Brown Bike and Look Mexico were crossed off my list, Captain, We’re Sinking were my highlight discovery, and too many more bands to mention just straight up slayed.
If the lineup itself wasn’t already a fantastic celebration of 10 years of The Fest, the organisers put on an after party exclusively for Festers staying in the official Fest hotel, Holiday Inn. It wasn’t clear who was actually playing these sets, but I’m pretty sure The Flatliners were one of them, and Bomb The Music Industry might have been another. Anyways, it was such a good night with amazing company.
We finished the weekend off with the awesome combination of Mexican food and good company. Mel’s mate Chris picked us (Mel, Nat, Kelly, me) up and took us to a rad little restaurant with his wife and band mates from Ship Thieves. I will remember this as the night Mel discovered Boston (you know, that ‘More Than A Feeling’ band) while in the van. She’s all over ’em now.
All in all, an incredible weekend once again. It’s a shame I won’t be making it a hat trick in 2012.