Friday, June 3, 2011

Punk Rock Bowling: The Good, The Bad, And the...

Gang Control
This is the only appropriate crowd response to Leftover Crack's "Gang Control."

In lighter news than the Weiner ridiculousness, I went to Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas last weekend.

Overall, I had a great time, though there were some issues. I'll recap.

The Good:
  • The line-up was excellent. It felt like there was a good mix between newer bands and "legends." I discovered acts I'd never heard before, like Larry and His Flask and Old Man Markley, but I also got so see old favorites like Dropkick Murphys, Leftover Crack, The Bouncing Souls and Agnostic Front. Over all I think I watched about 20 different groups play. Bonus: a lot of members of the bands were milling around in the crowd when they weren't playing and were gracious and friendly if you stopped them to say "hey, good set" or something.
  • Location. The lot where the festival was held was right across the street from my hotel and within a couple of blocks of several others. It was two or three blocks down to the covered part of Fremont Street, and there were a bunch of restaurants and bars nearby. If you were staying right around there, you rarely had to walk more than a few blocks to do anything.
  • People. I went by myself, knowing I would see at least two or three people I know (or online know without having met). Through them I met even more cool people. Friends of friends of friends starting piling up and it was a ton of fun. I swear I kind of felt like I was at summer camp.

The Bad:
  • Rules. I don't mind that festivals have rules. Sure, I don't agree with all of them (I see no logical reason why it should matter that my camera is an SLR and not a point-and-shoot), but it's a private event and they have the right to make certain rules. However, it's really no OK to change them midway through and not tell anyone. They made some changes from the first to second day, and didn't alert attendees to all of them until they were at the gate. I got text alerts from the festival, and they sent out a message that mentioned one of the changes but not all of them. Plus, the security guards didn't know what they were doing. I got sent back to my room because of my camera (which was fine the first day) but the person who sent me away didn't tell me my bag was too big, so I was sent back again. It was a disorganized mess and no one knew what they were doing. If I hadn't been staying right across the street, I would have caused a serious scene.
  • Sausage fest. It bothers me that there were virtually no female artists playing. On the main stage, I believe the one and only woman I saw was the saxophonist from Citizen Fish. And then at the club shows there would have been the singer for the Muffs, the members of Cunt Sparrer and the two women that are in Old Man Markley. I realize there is a deeper problem of sexism within the entire music industry to address, but I reject the notion that they couldn't have found more female-inclusive acts if they had really tried.


  • Food. While the food and drinks were priced reasonably (it was about $4-$7 for alcoholic drinks, which is cheaper than most NYC bars), the options were severely limited. For two days I thought the only vegetarian options were either fries or corn on the cob. And because this was a port-a-potty situation, corn seemed like a big risk, so essentially I thought my only choice was the two kinds of fries. On the last day I made an off-hand comment to the food guy and he said they had a few veggie burgers but didn't advertise them, so I did end up having that. So why not have enough of them and put them on the menu? Punks are often socially conscious people, which means there were probably many vegetarians there who would have appreciated one more option. Also there was a Qdoba tent that ONLY offered chicken. They easily could have brought along a bean and/or cheese option as well. They need to get it into their heads that accommodating vegetarians is a good thing to do and isn't all that hard. But being a vegetarian doesn't mean you hate food. It just means you don't eat meat. You still want something satisfying that will hold you.

Agnostic Front

So that's it. I haven't made up my mind about whether I will go back next year. It may depend on the line-up, on who is going that I know, on whether or not Dying Scene has a bowling team like we want to. Only time will tell or something.

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