INsite Magazine

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Into the Fest: Day 2

7:17 The Venue
Altercation Punk Comedy Tour (Austin, TX.)
In the side hatch, all the beer and smokes make the room smell like my grandfather's breath. There's a comedian spitting rapid-fire punk references. He's wearing a golfer's cap and rimmed glasses. He says stuff like "I'll beat you down with my Misfits box set." Also, "over 30, you get pissed off over the stupidest shit." He's J.T. Habersaat, and he's a vociferously angry dude.

7:30 The Venue
Less Than Jake (Gainesville, Fl.)

If you didn't know, Less Than Jake is a ska-punk band from Gainesville. They've been around for more than 10 years. It's Halloween, so costumes abound. This is the most insane crowd I've seen so far at the Fest. Among the chaos, it's a viscerally friendly environment. They play a song that "came out about 13 years ago, before any of you had any pubic hair." I get the sense that this is more than just a show to these folks—its a movement, a lifestyle. There's real emotion in this room. You can feel it. The smoke burns my eyes but the mood warms my stomach.

8:20 Durty Nelly's
Dan Padilla (San Diego, Ca.)
I wanted to see how the Fest affects bars like Durty's. This is a drinking crowd. Boisterous and sloppy. Fest-goers high five a lot in this bar. There's a black light over the stage and it gives a haunted house vibe, punk style. The band has a thick, crunchy chugging bass sound—like a sped-up semi engine. The snare drum hits feel like a hammer on a turtle shell—destructive.

8:50 Market Street
Joe McMahon (Smoke or Fire)
Joe McMahon plays intensely and honestly. He's a short, stocky guy with a fade. I feel the same kind of community energy that has been the theme of the whole Fest. Music brings it all together. A toga-wearing Fest-goer tells me that McMahon is in an awesome band called Smoke or Fire. There is a room full of heartfelt sing-alongs. It's nice. His music makes me want to put my arm around toga guy and sway. This experience continues to surprise me and squash my prejudices about punk rock music being aggressive and divisional.

9:45 The Kickstand
Vena Cava (San Diego, Ca.)
The stifling Fest heat has turned into a pleasant Halloween night. At Vena Cava, a short, dark-haired tattooed girl plays guitar. She's sexy in a punk girl kinda way. Conversely, playing bass is a beanpole mustached man. They play machine gun punk rock. The male singer sounds kinda like Bad Religion. They've been coming to Gainesville since the first Fest.

10:27 The Atlantic
Averkiou (Gainesville, Fl.)
Walking into The Atlantic, I'm greeted by some breezy guitar-driven indie rock. Averkiou sound spacey, like falling through the air and landing on fluffy white pillows. The Atlantic looks like a 1930s movie set—complete with architecture and art deco light fixtures. This is more of an indie crowd. There is distinct lack of hugging in here. Maybe everyone's too cool to really show some emotion. Maybe that's where punk rock really thrives and indie rock dies. Punk rock is "we're in this together" and indie rock is "we're standing here together."
10:50 The Atlantic
Hawks and Doves (Peoria, Il.)
The lead singer from the band stumbles and sways onto the stage. He's the drunkest guy in here I think. I expect this to be crappy; it's not. For some reason, with his raspy, tortured voice ... it works for him. His electric guitar streams out warm, soft tones. Out of nowhere, the band sneaks up and blows the stage up. They play the best set of the night. Little did I know, things were about to get even crazier. Instead of ending his set, new band members walk on stage.

He says, "That was Hawks and Doves; this is Planes Mistaken for Stars." The place goes insane. Men start screaming and rushing the stage. The energy is intense and I back up. A circle pit cracks open in the middle of the floor. The band kills it. I've never seen a room so full of blissful fury. After the set, everyone is hugging each other after having their minds blown. I did some research, and apparently Planes Mistaken For Stars broke up years ago but just played a secret reunion show. I'm honored to have witnessed something truly spectacular. Peace.

Jon Silman; Photos by Sean Kelly

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