Date: June 12th 2016
Bands: Cock Sparrer, Flag, Agnostic Front, The Slackers, Anti-Nowhere League, Off With Their Heads, The Scandals, Drug Church, Brutal Youth
One could argue that Day 2 of Punk Rock Bowling was the better day overall. I liked more bands on Day 2 than Day 1 but both days were excellent. Day 2 would have been amazing for me if I didn’t succumb to a stomach bug at the end of the night. Talk about a miserable way to end the 2-day festival at the Stone Pony Summerstage!
The day started out a little earlier for me and I arrived in time to see The Scandals play. I had no idea who they were but they were decent enough. They hail from Bayonne and played straight up punk rock. Apologies to Brutal Youth for missing your set. Drug Church was exciting to watch, particularly the singer. It seemed like each song started off slow, build up and then the band would explode. It certainly made for some cool photos. I’ll have to check out their stuff and see how it sounds on their albums.
Off With Their Heads were up next and people were starting to show up more. I’ve known about the band but just never heard their music or seen them live. They’ve been around for 14 years? It’s been that long? Any case, they were entertaining and fun to see. Can’t really offer a lot since I don’t know what they played. During their set, I grabbed some black bean tacos thinking that would be a good idea since I had a cheesesteak the day before. Didn’t want to have the same thing twice. I thought it was decent but messy.
Anti-Nowhere League were up next. I’ve been waiting to see ANL play since the early 90s when I first heard them. My older brother’s friend made me a punk mix tape which had “Woman” on it. I listened to that song so many times in the 90s. I just never got a chance to see them perform before so was really happy they were on the bill. They opened up with “We Are The League” and played a lot of songs I wanted to hear like “I Hate People,” “Streets of London,” “So What,” and of course “For You.” I believe they might have played 1or 2 new songs as well. The crowd was really into them it seemed, and I thought they were one of the better bands of the entire Punk Rock Bowling.
And now for something completely different…The Slackers. The one ska band on the entire 2 day festival (there were some ska PRB night shows) but they were the only band on the main stage in the 2 days. They played some older stuff (“Watch This”, played some newer stuff (“By the Time I Get to Sleep”) and even did a cover of The Misfits’ “Attitude!” I think only a portion of the crowd were into them, like the front part of the crowd. But like always, The Slackers won most of the crowd over by the end. Dave sang “The Fool,” which I’m not sure I’ve heard in a long time. At least the Slackers shows I’ve seen. Despite the name being called Punk Rock Bowling, I still would have like to have seen more ska bands in the lineup.
At this point in the day, I was started to feel nauseous. It dawned on me that I had those tacos and that was probably a bad idea. I started to drink some ginger ale to see if that will help. I was beginning to breathe heavy to try to feel better, nothing was working. But it was time for Agnostic Front so getting nauseous would be put on hold. Certainly for the first three songs, I forgot I was starting to feel sick. Vinnie Stigma was quite the character, showing off his guitar and hamming it up for the cameras. AF was pure adrenaline, as a fan and as a photographer. They were all over the place and in terms of Spinal Tap, turned it up to a 11. Songs blew by so fast, no one knew how many songs we (the photographers) were in the photo pit for. It’s been such a long time since seeing Agnostic Front. I think the last time I saw them was at The Chance in Poughkeepsie with Dropkick Murphys and U.S. Bombs in 1998? Yeah, it’s been a awhile! Roger, Vinnie and the other members never missed a beat and were fucking awesome. Vinnie kept cursing during the break in-between songs, and they were saying to shut up because they were going to get fined. That was a pretty funny moment.
Before Flag came on stage, I was starting to feel the effects of me getting sick. I felt like was going to either shit my pants (sorry) or puke all over the place. I realized that I must have food poisoning from the tacos. I tried to fight through it and go into the photo pit a few minutes before the band came on. I was resting my head on the stage and wasn’t feeling good…at all. I just couldn’t handle it anymore and went on the side of the stage to puke into the trash. Security was looking to see if I was okay and a nice photographer gave me some hand wipes to use. I felt a lot better after that so figured it was over with. I found out that my 9 month old son also threw up that night and my wife wasn’t feeling so hot herself. Uh oh, it wasn’t food poisoning, more like a stomach bug. Ah the pleasures of having a kid in daycare. I decided, at least, try to get to Cock Sparrer and see some of their set.
I took pictures of Flag as they blew by 3 songs so fast. At that point, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and I was so fucking cold. I ended up putting on a ANL t-shirt I bought to see if that would help. Flag’s set felt like 3 hours to me because I just wanted to see Cock Sparrer and then get the hell home. I wanted to see Flag’s set too which sucked because I just wasn’t feeling right! I enjoyed them playing all the Black Flag stuff particularly “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie,” “Wasted,” “Fix Me,” “Nervous Breakdown,” and other songs from their earlier years. Dez Cadena was there, which is remarkable in the fact that he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015. He was playing guitar for most of the set and towards the end, sang on a few songs. Just wow!
I really wanted to go home because it was an hour or so drive up the Parkway and Turnpike, and who knows how I would be. The nauseous feeling was coming on again but I said, fuck it, 3 songs of Cock Sparrer and I’m sadly outta there. I’ve been waiting to see Cock Sparrer live since the 90s and I freakin’ had to leave. That was a total bummer. I shot photos for 3 songs and they sounded amazing.
My body had other plans for me. I had to leave before I puked all over the band or crowd, shit all over the porta potties or freeze to death because it felt like I was stuck North Beyond The Wall with shorts on. I had security let me leave by the side gate so I didn’t have to walk around in the packed crowd. I headed home bummed and sick, I had to stop on the side of The Parkway and threw up a lot. Safe to say I won’t be having black beans or tacos for awhile. I thought the police were going to stop by and see if I was a drunk driver. I managed to get home in decent time, and walked into the apartment with my wife throwing up and my kid looking miserable. PUNK ROCK! I would be doing that again later on in the evening as well. What a shitty way to end a great weekend. I was happy I was able to see both days, and it was a Father’s Day gift for me. It just ended on a poor night for me.
I really hope PRB returns to Asbury Park next year, minus the stomach bug I had. It was great to see wide variety of bands playing, although I would have picked some others and added another ska band to the main lineup. It was cool to see punk kids hearing all these bands playing for the first time, punk parents bringing their little ones, and I think for the most part, everyone got along with each other. So let’s hope this returns next year (unlike Riot Fest Brooklyn).
See all the photos from the festival over at Punk Rock Bowling at SkaPunkPhotos.com.
Off With Their Heads