When you attend a festival where some of your favourite bands are playing, the excitement leading up to the festival is palpable, along with that added edge of anxiety about how the day is going to go. When you attend a festival in another country, that excitement and anxiety is increased tenfold. After all, you are thousands of miles from home and in an unfamiliar environment surrounded by unfamiliar people.
Any fears that one may have are usually baseless – especially at a music festival where the bands are all of a similar genre. As an Australian in Texas for the Punk in Drublic tour kickoff, I did not need to worry. There is something about music that brings people together in ways that no other hobby or passion does. It unites people of all races, ages, and genders, and turns that anxiety into pure joy.
As we worked our way through the line for entry into the venue, Piñata Protest was already on stage and they gave a shout out to those still in line.
Piñata Protest are from San Antonio and have taken Tejano music (aka Tex-Mex) and added a healthy dose of punk. To get an idea of how that sounds; think mariachi, polka and punk all mixed into one. Even better – give them a listen. Piñata Protest was the perfect opener for the festival and set the tone early on for the fun times ahead.
PEARS were up next and if you weren’t awake already, their hardcore punk certainly made you sit up and listen. Their high-energy set was infectious and you certainly couldn’t stand still while watching them. Fun Fact – PEARS have an “honorary member” in Australia (specifically Western Australia) – Pat Decline from The Decline.
From hardcore punk to self-subscribed H-Town Thrashgrass, Days N’ Daze turned the vibe around of the festival again once more with their own version of folk-punk. Those of us who hadn’t seen Days N’ Daze before knew that we were in for some fun when a washboard was brought on stage along with a ukulele, double bass, and trumpet.
It was the next band that was probably the most anticipated band of the whole festival – Fat Mike’s new project, Codefendants. Led by Sam King from Get Dead, and hip-hop artist Ceschi Ramos, Codefendants owned that stage from the second they stepped onto it, and well before The DOC joined them for “Fast Ones,” the crowd was eating out of their hands.
There is something so (un)holy about the combination of hip-hop and punk and with the deep lyrics like Codefendants have penned… just… WOW.
Austin locals Riverboat Gamblers took the stage and while it could seem like an impossible task after the Codefendants set, they took command of the stage almost immediately. These guys were so much fun to watch and there are at the very least, two Aussies that are hoping they get over to Australia for a tour.
Subhumans from the UK were probably the heaviest band on Saturday’s lineup. From the minute they were on stage, lead singer Dick Lucas was all over the place and barely stopped moving.
Subhumans first started way back in 1980 and while they broke up in 1985, they had a couple of reunion tours in the ‘90s before reforming again in 2004, and most recently released an album in 2019.
Circle Jerks are another band of the Punk Rock Royalty that was on Saturday’s lineup. It was a band that this reviewer never considered that she would ever get to see, so to be able to see them in the US on an already epic lineup was such an honour and they did not disappoint.
The only “disappointing” part of their set was that they had to stop the show briefly to stop punkers from fighting in the pit.
After coming out late and a few false starts, NOFX’s Eric Melvin asked the crowd if we really expected things to go smoothly. Fat Mike declared that he was getting over a cold and sober so this was going to be really awesome, and stated, “We have to play 40 songs so fuck y’all, we have to get started.” They opened their set with “Riff Raff,” “Dinosaurs Will Die,” and “And Now for Something Completely Similar.”
Fat Mike told the crowd, “Now we are going to play songs that we have never, ever fucking played live before!” El Hefe added, “This is going to be hard so please be supportive people.”
Their encore consisted of “The Separation of Church and Skate,” “Linoleum,” “Bottles to the Ground,” and “Stickin’ in My Eye.” During “Stickin’ in My Eye,” Fletcher (Pennywise) ran out on stage with a bottle of vodka and tried to give some to El Hefe, shoved it into Fat Mike’s mouth, and tackled Eric Melvin to the ground. Fat Mike told the crowd, “That bottle is broken – it cut my lip.”
Fat Mike tried to tell Fletch he didn’t want the vodka, but Fletcher poured it into his mouth and announced to the crowd, “His illness is cured!” As Fat Mike said, “You gotta listen to the big man. You gotta do what the Wookie says.”
With this particular format, it wasn’t about the big hits. It wasn’t about the new albums. It was a celebration of the 40 years of NOFX, and what a celebration! Almost two hours of music from NOFX from the albums “Pump Up the Valuum” and “So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes.”
By the time we left the festival, we were burnt, exhausted, and extremely happy and grateful for the day that had been. And of course… ready to do the same thing over on the Sunday.
Punk in Drublic continues this weekend in San Diego at Waterfront Park with NOFX (doing “So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes” and “The Decline”), Decendents, The Vandals, Mad Caddies, Codefendants, The Bombpops, Western Addiction, and Urethane. In addition to the music, attendees 21 and older can experience the amazing beer festival and its selection of “local and regional breweries” from noon until 3 p.m.