Image Added 12.2.07
I shot down to Orlando, Florida a few Fridays back to get in a car and drive up to Gainesville for The Fest 6. The Fest is a 3-day punk and post-hardcore extended, gassy and creddy drunk-on. The kids were there in force and in full uniform, mocking my earlier vintage constitution with their stamina. These guys were hanging out for the three straight days on sidewalks between show or in bars. I was only there on Saturday, and I had a late start, and I was still eventually laid low by the debilitating effects of alcohol in spite of all the invigorating earnestness and emo pheromones floating in the air. Seriously, that should be part of Chinese medicine. Put a dude with a bad case of recalcitrant attitudes in a closed room filled with collegiate emo vapor, and something about his worldview will have to change. For the better.
We got a late start on Saturday, so we only really saw a handful of bands straight through their set, but the ones we did see were great. We were lucky to have tucked right in catching Gaslight Anthem. These were a group of guys from New Brunswick, New Jersey dropping Tom Waits and Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros references and screamed singalong vocals a la Gainesville sons Hot Water Music to the effect that the mainly dude audience was worked into a hugging froth, a kind of bathtub-gin and sweat mochachino of aggressive sincerity. There was so much earnest dude-embrace afoot that the band almost couldn’t play. Did I forget to mention that people were onstage hugging the band and stealing the mic? Through it all, the singer kept a smile on his face and the band didn’t miss a note. When the show was finished I was emptied of my usual vitriol and cynicism. Watching a group of people allow each other to have such an unabashedly good time was really, really fucking refreshing. It was a good change from the usual black hoodies and blank faces behind ridiculous oversized sunglasses, hangovers, and paranoid drug experiences that you get on the street in NYC. These punks were so, so… well adjusted. And good. Seriously. Very good.
My favorite venue of the night, The Side Bar, and the one to which I kept returning, was featuring mainly English bands playing stripped hardcore. We caught the last half of Chillerton‘s set and wished we had caught the first, so my compatriots and I threw $1.50 at cans of Pabst and 12 oz. at our thirst.
We got a good spot at the main venue to see the night’s headliner, Dillinger Four and, once the show got underway after various amp problems were resolved and a long, rambling, alcohol and Adderall-assisted audience conversation between bassist and vocalist Paddy Costello and the nearby pit drunks was completed, we were treated to what Paddy described as folk music. I’m paraphrasing, but the reasoning is something like this: “We’re not making punk music, we’re just folks and you’re folks and this is music so let’s listen to some fucking folk music.”
A few words about one of my favorite bands, the Dillinger Four. This is the real thing. They come from the punkest city on earth, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and their “Midwestern Songs Of The Americas” is one of those albums that defines what punk rock should be. All metaphysics as to what is punk and what negates punk aside, it’s the ice-nine of punk rock. I don’t know what punk was before the Dillinger Four, but since they started making music the whole configuration has changed, and there is no reason whatsoever to think you’re making punk rock if you haven’t considered the birds of the air that are Dillinger Four. Guitarist and vocalist Erik Funk and his wife own and operate the Triple Rock Social Club, great venue and great bar. Guitarist and vocalist Bill Morrissette runs Extreme Noise Records in Minneapolis, the all-volunteer run record store cooperative where I may have bought a Planes Mistaken for Stars EP and definitely bought the first Antarctica EP. Drummer Lane Pederson is a doctor of clinical psychology. Paddy Costello is a verbal weapon and anthropomorphic social affront. Together, these guys are one great fucking band.
The show was incredibly tight, sufficiently long, setlisted mainly by songs from their first album and, despite the fact that this place seemed to be a former 1930’s-era theater with multiple tiers going up one story and down another, incredibly packed. Though that meant one was constantly being nudged aside or involuntarily brushed up against, the fact that 95% of the people there said things like, “excuse me” (in the way that means excuse me, not in the kabbala-derived open-sesame sense mistakenly used by many) and “Sorry, can I get through here?” meant that the crowd density led to a good experience of solidarity and not one of mounting annoyance. Punks are great.
To be honest, most of the rest is fuzzy, but you can be assured it was all creddy- and sufficient to put me back in the mind that I should be excited about making music again.
*Creddy: Adj. Having or pertaining to cred. Genuine. Imbuing those associated with a thing with an objectively admirable and witheringly intimidating sense of the genuine. See also, F’real.