The Fest 21
Publié le 15 Nov 2023 par melo_pirate
The musical marathon (part 2)
First of all, those who have read the article on my The Fest experience from last year could quickly guess that I was going back this year. As if it was an epidemic, the urge to participate to this crazy experience caught a lot of people’s attention. My colleague David Pelletier was one of them. He has decided to share this musical adventure with us.
It’s obvious, dear readers, that this article is written in collaboration. This allows us to tell you all about our experience at The Fest while being as specific as possible, in a 360 degrees angle this year. As we all say, three sets of eyes is better than one!
For all latecomers, I won’t get into the details of the experience itself again. I’d rather point out other aspects of the festival that are as important, and that did not catch my attention for my first edition, given that it was all new to me. I could go on and on about my love for the American label Bad Time Records, which was also present this year, but I’ll keep this for some other time.
That being said, this article, and probably all of the future ones, will be part of the The Fest saga. If you want the full picture of the festival, you should read the « part 1 » article which can be found here :
French version : Le Bad Crew – Webzine de Punk
English version : Le Bad Crew – Webzine de Punk
Now that we are all on the same page, here’s part 2 of the crazy music festival marathon of The Fest, which took place in Gainesville, Florida, in a « relay » version.
What’s new at the 21st edition of The Fest ?
From changes that were brought up by the organizers, to brainfreeze misses from last year, or simple discoveries, here are some logistics improvments that I noticed for the 21st edition.
This year, Éric and I have decided to go to both pre-show evenings at the very last minute to add a little extra challenge. Why not warm up our running shoes right at the start?
There was a third pre-show venue but two was more than enough for us.
Obviously we had purchased our tickets during DESCENDENTS presale, headlining the outside main stage. As a matter of fact, I strongly suggest that you purchase your tickets in advance, as it will allow you to save 50% on the price you would normally pay at the door.
The second ticket price was 25$ USD. I will definitely buy my tickets in advance next year to save money.
The Holiday INN hotel
Unlike last year, we have decided to go with the official festival hotel. This allowed us to save time and energy as it was walking distance from everything. Despite a few adventures (if you know you know) and a an unfortunate elevator failure, it was still a fair choice in the end. Also, several artists stay at this hotel, making it easier to meet with interesting people. And more importantly, the hotel is next to my favorite breakfast place : HASS kitchen, well-known for its avocado based menu.
Official hotels will get booked pretty fast, so if you’re planning on booking a room at the next edition, I suggest you monitor closely the presale. Also, rumor says the prices will go up.
The Fest mobile app
I know I mentioned earlier that I would not bring anything up from last year’s experience, but this app is an essential tool, making it hard for me not to talk about it again this year. I also believe that an update has been made this year, allowing us to receive communications by notification push. You can set an alarm in the app according to the bands you want to see, which is great for time management. Furthermore, the app keeps information from previous years.
Éric and I had heard about La Purge a little bit too late last year. And besides, we were exhausted, so we didn’t really look it up. We thought we’d skip it again this year once we got back to our hotel room, after seeing 61 (62 for him) bands during the weekend.
However, my friend Guilhem (Lost Love) was very convincing, leaving « yes » as the only possible option. That’s how Éric, David and myself ended up going to the La Purge afterparty afterall. We ended up losing David who had poisely decided to return to the hotel, ninja style.
La Purge starts at midnight on the very last day of the festival. The meet-and-greet takes place inside the Hyatt hotel lobby. This ritual is intended to all festivalers who wishes to drink their remaining alcohol beverages (Malort included) before heading back home. You can also buy alcohol on site.
A lot of musicians will attend. Artists perform unplugged acoustic sets one after the other. I dropped by, but I was already tired before even going, so I ended up staying for half an hour at the most. I’ll try again next year. (Sorry Guilhem).
While we were in the waiting line, the was handing plastic cases to protect our alcohol pass. In Florida, you can drink alcohol in public places without any problem.
If you were wondering, the bracelet collection is still a thing and security is as happy, festive and pleasant as they were last time.
The Five Star Pizza restaurant was still there but had changed location. You can still buy a slice of pizza for 2$ or like my friend Élise would say « 2 slice for 1 buck !!«
David conquers The Fest 21
I’ve been seing the line-ups from The Fest in Gainesville for years and I was very tempted by the festival. I finally decided to treat myself this year! When I first purchased my ticket, I thought I’d only go to the 3 days festival but the very next day, I was dragged into buying a ticket for the concert on Thursday: the Milo Kicks Off Fest. When the day came, I decided to go with my friends to the non-official concert at the High Dive. Thursday evening can be summarized by doing back and forth between the Bo Diddley (outside scene) and the High Dive (bar/venue). Odd thing, I ended up seeing more bands that night compared to any other day of the Fest !
I’ll start by sharing the best shows I’ve seen without a specific timeline or order. No Trigger gave such a great performance on the Friday night that I have decided to go back the next day. Confession : I attempted to stage dive during my favorite song Neon National Park, which ended up being a fail from the top of my 6 feet height and 225 pounds.
No Trigger was performing on the Saturday night as the mystery band and their set from the Cayoneer album really satisfied me. As a bonus, the singer Tom Rheault was staying at the same hotel as ours!
The band I was the most eager to see at the Fest was without any doubt Strike Anywhere. I absolutely do not regret attending their two sets, one being outside at the Bo Diddley and the other at The Wool venue. I was also luck enough to meet with Thomas Barnett and talk to him a little. A friendly and humble human, just like I had pictured him through the interviews.
In my top performances, I need to add Sparta, who performed the album Wiretap Scars entirely to my greateast satisfaction. The Fest had not even advertised it and it was a pleasant surprise. Sparta is made up with members from At The Drive-In so I highly recommend them if you are fan of this former band. Three musicians sounding like there were five of them !
This band doesn’t need to be introduced, Descendents is one of my favorite bands. Milo Aukerman still rocks the stage at 60 years old. With Bill Stevenson at the drums, it’s awesome! I know a lot of their songs by heart and as my friend Gabriel would say, I really danced like a youngster.
Laura Jane Grace
One concert worth mentioning is Laura Jane Grace‘s, probably one of the best way to close the fest in my opinion. This acoustic solo set brought a full-house to the Vivid. Laura Jane Grace has made a great entrance to the stage. Not only was she desguised as a cop with the hat and sunglasses, but she also sang the song I’m Not A Cop. The whole set had many of Against Me!‘s songs, which generated awesome sing alongs in the crowd.
David’s favorite « discoveries »
I’ll make it short, here are my crushes in a nutshell :
- Hunger Anthem at the High Dive on Thursday, great discovery !
- Flying Raccoon Suit at the High Dive on Sunday, a huge crush that I’ve seen at the Pouzza Fest absolutely wanted to see again.
- Thursday who played the legendary War All The Time album at the Bo Diddley
- Signals Midwest at the Bo Diddley, wow just wow !
- MakeWar at the Bo Diddley and the Vivid
- Direct Hit ! at the High Dive with their famous »F*CK YOU, GET F*CKED!’‘
FOLLY revisits the ska/punk classics.
I still don’t have enough words to describe this crazy evening at the High Dive on Sunday October 29, 2023. Not only was the venue sold out but Folly has set the whole Florida state on fire by revisiting ska and punk classics in their own way. As usual, several members from Bad Time Records and the ska community had to share the stage with Folly.
Folly is band from Sussex, New Jersey. This band goes from hardcore punk, metalcore, ska punk and melodic hardcore. I’m never disappointed by Folly, even when they consider their performance wasn’t that good. This band has great potential and incredible caliber, whether listening to their music or seeing them performing live. If you’re a skacore fan, I recommend this band, 100%.
Devon Kay & the Solutions: the karaoke machine
Devon Kay & the Solutions also lit the crowd on fire at the High Dive, right before Folly‘s set. However, the band has picked classic ska songs, going from one artist to another on vocals for each song.
Here’s the list of artists that performed at this outstanding Devon Kay & the Solutions karaoke session:
- 1-Maura Weaver: Sugar We’re going Down
- 2-Emmett O’Reilly from Pkew Pkew Pkew: Hate to Say I told you so
- 3- M.C. from The Dreaded Laramie: A Thousand Miles
- 4- Kurt from Hans Gruber and the Diehards: Dr Whorm
- 5- Jessica from Flying Racoon Suit: LIT
- 6- Kailynn from Tiny Stills: Dammit
- 7- David frome Braceface: Teenagers
- 8- JER ( Skatune Network ): Sell out
- 9- Sam from Kali Masi: Welcome to paradise
- 10-The Eradicator: Sweet Caroline
Likewise, Devon Kay & the Solutions is a ska band from Chicago, Illinois. The orchestra has 7 members on its own. This band has the mission to be »the world best band putting on the world ». If you don’t know Devon Kay & the Solutions yet, I strongly encourage you take a look at them. They are solid and very entertaining. Hopefully they’ll come to Canada one day!
Russ Rankin Accoustic Set
You can catch several acoustic sets at The Fest. I was lucky enough to see Russ Rankin twice. It’s the solo project of Good Riddance and Only Crime‘s singer. Rankin started the project, thanks to his friend Tony Sly (No use for a name) who is a big fan of his. Needless to say that Russ Rankin brilliantly achieved his goal with the solo project, which is extraordinary in my opinion. If you have never heard of it, you should listen to the album « Come Together Fall Apart« , released in 2022.
Rankin performed the unic version of Via Munich, a tribute to his good friend Tony.
The GEL aftershow
My heart stopped when the Fest announced No Trigger‘s secret set, playing the entire Cayoneer album. This part of the fest is one of my highlights but since my colleague David already covered this, I have decided to skip the subject.
But still, I saw Cayoneer and you didn’t!!
Back to our main program. I did a short survey on my personal Facebook page to know which band we should catch. The majority of them pointed at No Trigger.
GEL‘s secret show kind of saved my life, since the decision-making was easier on this one. I had seen this great band in Montreal last June.
Click here to take a peak : Le Bad Crew – Webzine de Punk
That’s when my Québec folks and myself ended up at a place that’s similar to the Traxide, but outdoors version. I had the chance to see a small, intimate concert. The musicians were surrounded by the crowd, and I was front row for this one. Their performance was hands down amazing. To this day, I can’t find the right words to describe the unreal experience that night.
THE FEST 21 family
Once again this year, I really felt like I belonged. Here’s a few pictures of the great people I met at the 21st edition.
Our top Lucky Seven:
- 1 JER
- 2 STRIKE ANYWHERE
- 3 WAYS AWAY
- 4 PKEW PKEW PKEW
- 5 JOYSTICK / Hans Gruber and the Die Hards
- 6 STILL ALIVE
- 7 FLATFOOT 56
The « Qweebs » top 5 in 2023:
I missed Gillian Carter, but it’s a great discovery!
- Signal Midwest(I’m cheating, I was really stoked to catch that set, it was a beautiful moment)
- Paint in Black
- Moving Target
I’d add Thursday, the 15 years old Marie-Lau would have cried.
- Pkew Pkew Pkew (best singalong to relate to, and best new band member)
- Laura Jane Grace (Best bond with the crowd, a full-house Vivid singing with her)
- Lone Wolf (Best performance overall)
- JER (Best energy)
- Lost Love (I like them ok! best wo-oh-oh, dammit!)
Guillaume Petrelli Chevrier ( Punk Rock Avenue ) :
- Ways Away
- Burnt Tapes
- Strike Anywhere
- I Am the Avalanche
- Honorable mention for Thursday: Don’t Panic (acoustic)
For more information on Guillaume‘s pick, click here
On a finale extra positive note:
The Fest managed to remain one of my top festivals to catch. Like the Pouzza Fest, this festival drags me into the « post festival » situation but it’s totally worth playing the game. If you ever want to live the experience, please reach out to me!
After experiencing this crazy 4 day adventure, I almost feel like saying that The Fest climbed to the first place of my top best festivals. I really liked Gainesville and its overall vibe, the great people I have met, and last but not least, how kind people were, wherever we went. Despite losing my prescription sunglasses, or the accidental « getting the rental car towed » episod, most of my memories are good ones. Special mention to our friend Jean-Philippe for his thoughtful gesture, by making friendship wrist bands for the whole gang.
Collaborator : Mélodie Martel & David Pelletier
Layout: Mélodie Martel
Photo credit: Jonathan Botkin
Translation: Jessica Peach