Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fest Day 1

Friday – 10/26
Friday morning Heather and I got a ride to the airport and arrived about 40 minutes before we had told Kev to meet us. I had to check in at the desk, and while I was doing that, Kev came in yelling “Fest!” This became a rallying cry for the weekend. After getting through security, and having the old bait-and-switch pulled on us for breakfast, we headed to the terminal.

At the terminal, we saw a wide variety of Philly punk rock types on the same plane (thecubandan, various members of Paint it Black, AAJ, Amateur Party, some dude that Kev accidentally insulted from Hostages and others). We also met the original drummer from Yellowcard, who unfortunately left due to creative differences with the singer. Luckily for us, he provided us with tons of stories on his near-celebrity, his frustration with having to check his guns with baggage claim, and his obviously intimate knowledge of the Gainesville area. Did you know the hot Fest afterparty was at TGIFridays? We did, thanks to him.

The plane ride ended up being rather tame, other than a few highlights. These included middle age boob (which turned out to be sheathed in a bra – bummer), Kev hitting on any and all flight attendants, and aerial shots of the hellhole that is northern Florida.

Upon landing we ran into Dr. Dan, who flagged us down at Starbucks, and Kev’s friend Aly. We took a cab to the rental car place (our first of many price gouges this weekend), and got the “reserved” car. Except the reservation wasn’t there. It felt vaguely like that Seinfeld episode. We finally got our car, which cost roughly twice the quoted price online, and proceeded to Gainesville. Despite some traffic and a top notch stop at Sonic, we made it there in about two hours. If you’ve never been fortunate enough to travel through northern Florida, do yourself a favor. Rent an underpowered four cylinder car, put on 100.7 (with all your favorite hits by Shaggy, Coolio, Beyonce, et al), and drive the scenic paradise that is 301 South from Jacksonville. You’ll thank me later. At least we can stop at Sonic!

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We get to Gainesville and find out way to the hotel. A bit on the lay out of Gainesville, if I may. Sure, we all know the grid system is an efficient way to lay out a city, but these people found a way to fuck it up. Instead of starting at 1st street and working the numbers up, they have four quadrants, so there are four different sets of rising and falling streets, labeled with NW, NE, SW, SE. It was relatively easy to navigate eventually, but difficult at the beginning, and I can only assume (hope?) that drunk kids get lost there easily.

We checked into the hotel, and dropped off our bags before picking up FEST passes. The whole town was already crawling with punk rock kids, and we wandered around, taking it all in and snagging free zines, beer koozies, fliers, etc. Bands weren’t starting until about six that night, so we met up with Bill, bought a few 12 packs (beer and Coke), and some whiskey, then headed to the rooftop pool. It was a bit chilly and overcast, but people were still swimming and having a blast.

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When Barlights got into town, we met up with those guys and headed to Gator Dawgs, a spot we heard about in our FEST brochure. Between the eight of us, a safe estimate would be 20 hot dogs, of the meat and vegan varieties. We also got to see the owner’s large sword, which he seemed pretty proud of. A large majority of the time around Gainesville was spent screaming “FEST!” at the tops of our lungs, not wearing sleeves, and throwing high fives out to everyone. Kev and Bill spent a large amount of energy giving out “Schwings” to the ladies of the FEST, and we all felt the FEST spirit.

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After mapping out our schedule, we finally headed over to Common Grounds to see our first band of the FEST – Planes Mistaken For Stars. I don’t think any of us were really huuuge fans of this band, but they’re a good time, and it was one of their last shows, so it was definitely something to check out. We stayed for a little more than half the set before quickly jetting over to The Venue to catch Gainesville legends, Radon. Despite being up there in years, they turned in a great set, and the hometown crowd really ate it up.

After Radon, a few of us went our separate ways, eventually reconvening at the Sidebar. We watched Party Garbage, a snotty punk band, and then decided what we were doing next. Heather headed back to the hotel for some rest, Kev and Bill hit up Checkers for even more transfats, and Mike and I went to 1982, where we hung out with some people and talked about the legacy of RVA punk rock. Later, I went back to the hotel for some much needed caffeine, while Kev went to see Chinese Telephones (I regret not going). We then started planning out how to get to the real FEST kick off show: Shook Ones and Paint it Black at the Thurnderdome. Thankfully Jimmy Walsh (Shook Ones) and Josh Agran (PIB) kept us posted via text message and we got details on arguably the coolest show of the FEST.

At 1:30 we piled into the rental car and drove about two miles south of Gainesville and into a small apartment complex. We saw a crowd of people and knew that we were in the spot. We went up to find gear all set up and the Shook Ones about to start. After they ripped into the first song, it became apparent that the floor was not prepared to hold 100 kids (?) flipping the hell out. The only person that would admit to living there, Ryan, grabbed a mic to tell everyone this, and that the ceiling below was starting to buckle from the pressure. So, everyone in the middle of the room sat down, leaving everyone against the wall standing, and the Shooks started again. They played four or five songs, including a Descendents cover, and kept the energy up, complete with stage dives onto a seated crowd.

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After they wrapped up, people saw cops in the parking lot, so Paint it Black ripped into their set immediately. The place went absolutely insane and the sitting rule went right out the window. After a few songs, a cop came in and watched two songs (claiming “this is awesome”) and then asked Josh to stop playing. He took Ryan outside, and was gracious enough to give ten more minutes. Paint it Black blazed through more songs, taking requests from the kids crammed into every corner of the tiny apartment. In an effort to keep Josh from being killed by a falling PA, Mike struggled to keep people back while Heather and I continually fixed the speaker stand. Kev just slingerpointed. After the show, Bill picked up some roommates, and we headed back to the room. Mike, Jon and Barlights stayed with us, while Kev went up to Aly’s room to stay in her spare bad. Around 4, we called it a night.

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