Punk isn’t for kids anymore. Sure, they may have been teens when they heard their first punk records but we all grow up and adulthood claims us all.
When the Punk In Drublic festival came to Philadelphia’s Festival Pier on Mother’s Day, it brought out the 21 and way up crowd to let loose and enjoy a festival of alcohol and music.
What could possibly go right?
Rain the previous night and that morning did nothing to deter any of the action and provided sloppy, soggy grounds for all to wade through.
First up was The Last Gang, a new addition to the Fat Wreck Chords family. The three-piece played an energetic brand of punk rock and largely drew from their debut full-length ‘Keep Them Counting’. More about them later.
Next was The Mad Caddies. Last we heard from them, they put out ‘Dirty Rice’, a collection that showed a lot of maturity and refinement from them while also having some of their catchiest tunes. The horns and ska/reggae was in full-force. They have something new in the pipeline with a covers album called ‘Punk Rocksteady’ due out June 15th. From that, they played a reggae-fied version of Green Day’s “She” slowing things way down while still making it work.
Continuing the ska-theme was the hardest-working band in America, The Interrupters. Seriously, does anyone know when they sleep? Along with a healthy selection of songs from their two full-lengths (and of course their rendition of Operation Ivy’s “Soundsystem”), they played new single “She’s Kerosine.” This was a great choice for a single as it fits right in with the rest of the set’s energy. Look for their new album ‘Fight The Good Fight‘ June 29th.
After this, we came to the truly heavy-hitters as Bad Religion came out, starting with “Recipe For Hate.” It was odd seeing a band that should be headlining everything playing while the sun was still out but at this time of year and for an early-starting festival, it is what it is.
This was my first time seeing the band in a number of years and they have undergone a number of changes. You know Greg Graffin, Jay Bently and Brian Baker are solid, so no worries there. First of all, long-running rhythm guitarist Greg Hetson is out and Mike Dimkich is in. Superstar drummer Brooks Wackerman (who was so instrumental in revitalizing the band) jumped ship for Avenged Sevenfold and Jamie Miller from …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead is in. Regarding these changes…wow. Dimkich’s playing was super tight and precise and Miller, while a different player, was just as impressive as Wackerman. Ultimately, I have never heard the band sound so good. Along with classics like “Atomic Garden” “American Jesus” “Infected” and other expected/hoped for songs, the band gave us a treat. They played ‘Suffer’ in its entirety, straight through for the middle of their set. Actually, they seemed to focus a lot on older material for this event, perhaps a product of not being there to support a new release.
Since Fat Mike was the one whose name was tagged as presenting this whole festival, NOFX brought it all home. It went as you would expect/hope a NOFX show would go. Some appropriate alcohol-themed songs made it in “Seeing Double At The Triple Rock” “The Brews” along with some newer numbers early on “Six Years On Dope” “72 Hookers” “I Don’t Like Me Anymore”. The latter portion of the set largely skewed toward older classics (or crassics) Some noteworthy details include a new, slimmed down version of El Hefe and Karina Denike from the Dancehall Crashers helping out on keys. After threatening for much of the day, some rain arrived late in the set but didn’t have much of an effect on anything.
Before the night concluded (specifically, between the latter half of the Mad Caddies and the very start of The Interrupters, so actually, rather early in the event) I was happy to be able to sit down with all 3 members of the Last Gang: Brenna Red (Guitar and vocals), Sean Viele (Bass) and Robert Wantland. We talked about Keep Them Counting, their first visit to Philly, working with Cameron Webb and all of the other cool things that arose from that and…..well, just listen. Special thanks to Sean for joining us for the interview despite being on a flight-related time crunch.
Words/ Intervierw: JJ Ellis
Photos: Henry Chung