Site not look beautiful? Click here

Music

Punk Rock Bowling report: Cock Sparrer, Anti-Nowhere League and Judge on Saturday

Image
Cock Sparrer closed out the outdoor stage on Punk Rock Bowling’s first full day Saturday.
Photo: Oliver Padilla
Chris Bitonti

Doors for Punk Rock Bowling’s first full day of activities opened at 3 p.m. on Saturday, and while the festival is in roughly the same space as in 2012 and ’13 (Seventh and Stewart) the setup has been reshuffled, orienting toward the Gold Spike, rather than the El Cortez.

Fans were still piling into the grounds when Devil’s Brigade took the stage at 5:25 to perform its messy outlaw punk. The band is the psychobilly side project of Rancid members Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman, though only Freeman performed live. In its first show in Vegas, the power-trio burned through Americana-inspired jams as the pit filled with diehards eager to begin the moshing and a light mist cooled the crowd.

This year’s lineup is being billed as a veritable British invasion by festival organizers. The first of many UK bands I saw was Peter and the Test Tube Babies. Among that group’s hilariously vulgar drink-along songs are “Up Yer Bum,” “Rotting in the Fart Sack” and “Never Made It to the Bog on Time”— a “bog,” we were told (and Google confirmed) being British slang for toilet. It’s offensive if you let it be, but the guys were a ton of fun; vocalist Peter Bywaters couldn’t hide his giant smile throughout the performance.

2014 Punk Rock Bowling: May 24

That set was followed by another UK outfit, The Angelic Upstarts, skinhead punks playing working-class anthems of unity and empowerment. I explored the festival grounds as I listened, wandering through the vendor area, scoring some cheap merch and visiting local imprint Squidhat Records’ booth. With NYC ska-reggae rockers The Slackers now jamming onstage, I headed into the expanded food truck alley for a bite. Their soul-based rocksteady grooves set the perfect background for my buttery lobster roll, even as I swore one of these days I’d try that raw food vendor.

Next up: yet another British import, The Anti-Nowhere League. With the growl that’s inspired a hundred imitators, frontman Animal and the rest of the League kicked off an hour-long set with three favorites, “We’re the League,” “I Hate People” and “Let’s Break the Law”—street-fighting jams that got the overflowing pit frothing. The iconic biker punks set the stage for headliner Cock Sparrer as rain began to fall on the festival crowd.

Four years before The Clash got together, three year before the Sex Pistols were formed and two years before the Ramones stepped foot on CBGB’s stage, Cock Sparrer was born. Celebrating 42 years, they are truly the Oi! Originals, and their lasting power comes with good reason. Less “Let’s destroy everything!” than “Let’s get pissed and see what gets destroyed!”, Cock Sparrer plays anthemic, even danceable punk jams like “Riot Squad,” “We’re Coming Back,” “I Got Your Number” and my personal favorite, “Because You’re Young”—tunes that capture the essence of youthful punk rock, even with band members nearing 70 years old.

2014 Punk Rock Bowling: Judge

Singer Colin McFaull guaranteed the crowd, “We will go on as long as you guys keep showing up,” and I consider this statement a metaphor for the punk movement in general. Conceived almost fundamentally as a temporary agitation to mainstream culture, punk has continually evolved as a genre and lifestyle, and every year Punk Rock Bowling reminds me that this music continues to connect with young people.

Cock Sparrer was definitely Saturday’s highlight, performing for an exuberant crowd eager to dance, sing and sway arm-in-arm to the music. The bar has been set high for Sunday and Monday.

With the main festivities closed for the night, I strolled down to Fremont East to attend my club shows of choice. I popped my head into Beauty Bar to chill out to some of the ska and reggae tunes and recover a little. I caught Xavier & Jackie backed by Thee Hurricane—funky beats, great voices and a groove-worthy change of pace. Replenished, I arrived at LVCS as H2O was taking the stage. H2O wins the award for Best Pit so far. Fans flipped from the stage, grabbed the mic and bumped into musicians—a definite throwback to the late-’90s Warped Tours that turned me on to punk in the first place.

High expectations surrounded Judge’s headlining performance. Having recently reunited for their first shows since breaking up in 1991, the extremely influential NYC hardcore band, known for its militant straight-edge conduct and intense pits, was formed by two members of Youth of Today.

Sadly, Judge didn’t live up to the hype. Lead singer Mike “Judge” Ferraro was completely drowned out by insanely loud and sloppy guitar noise and muddled basslines. Effort was present, but I couldn’t help but think, “Did these guys take 23 years off or something?” It was a disappointing end to a great night, thought that couldn’t dampen my spirits for days two and three.

Share

Commenting Policy

  • Seven years after its frontman performed naked at Art Bar, the glam-pop band delivered an eye feast of extraordinary visuals and a (sometimes) hypersexual catalog.

  • The Vegas quartet reconnects with reality on its new, sociopolitical EP.

  • This was SBTRKT's first Vegas show. We can't wait for the next one.

  • Get More Music Stories
Top of Story