Punk Rock Bowling 2012 Music Festival – Las Vegas, NV

May 27, 2012

Once the gate was finally opened, I rushed to the stage to catch American Werewolves. The vocals are gritty but polished and the overall sound of the band and songs reminded me of old school American punk bands (a little bit of Misfits with some Black Flag-ness thrown in for good measure).

I would really like to catch these guys play when it's not an early afternoon show and I'm suffering from lack of coffee.

American Heist, led by the gravely-voiced Tim Blackout, these Houston natives brought some much needed energy to the first part of the festival. Though the crowd was still very sparse (I think most were nursing hangovers at the various hotels), the fans that came out to see these guys were not let down. Evocative of Social D and Hotwater Music, American Heist got the small crowd going.

We tried to find some shade for the Beltones set, but the only patch to be found was against the fence. By this time the crowd was slowly but surely filtering into the festival and there was a bigger audience. While The Beltones put on a great show, the heat was a drag, I am definitely looking forward to catching this band in a venue with air-conditioning.

Next up was Old Man Markley. What can I say? They kick ass! After getting past my awe of the musicianship and the instruments themselves, I was able to connect with songs like "For Better, For Worse", "Guts & Teeth", and "Song Songs" which threw me through emotions of hope, grief, and joy. Then songs like "In A Circle Going Round" and "Party Shack" made me wanna square dance in my steel toes!

During The Street Dogs set, Mike McColgan’s vocals made me so happy I would have let him slam dance on my face whilst he sang his Boston punk heart out. His energy and interaction with the crowd was incredible. He seemed to get more energized as the set went on, almost feeding off the crowd. The song “Free” was a great change of pace to slow things down and give the crowd a chance to raise their beers up and sing along. They also did a couple Dropkick songs, “Do Or Die” and “Never Alone”, which charged the crowd right back up and got bodies crashing into each other again. It also helped that Mike would jump onto the barrier and sing to and with the crowd, along with some judicious doses of crowd-surfing.

It's Hepcat! Undeniably one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend.  I've loved this band for years and was super excited to finally see them live--they did not disappoint! The crowd seemed to appreciate and relish the slowdown and actually took the time during Hepcat’s set to dance with the guy or girl they came with. “I Can’t Wait” and “Dance Wid’ Me” seemed to be particular favorites as people paired up and danced. Some skanked. Some twisted. And others were cheek to cheek. Not something one would expect to see at a ‘Punk Rock’ festival. But then again … it's Hepcat. They’re just fucking awesome.

Cockney Rejects, I think were the most respected crew of the night as just about every other band that played before them made a point to mention the ‘Rejects to rile up the crowd. Well, it worked. And when they finally took the stage you could see the energy in the crowd build back up (having been replenished a bit by the cool down skank-a-thon just pior). “Where The Hell Is Babylon”, “Greatest Cockney Ripoff”, and “Oi Oi Oi” got the pit spinning enough to create the biggest dirt tornado Las Vegas has ever seen. Their stage presence as well as the reactions they got from the crowd were clear indications that these dudes are true Punk Rock veterans who still know how to kick the eardrums right out yer asshole.

   Video overview of RANCID set

Two huge spotlights on lifts sat high above the crowd and lit up the stage for Tim “My guitar is too big for me” Armstrong, Lars and Co. The open air venue quickly shrank to sardine can proportions as Rancid took the stage and from the opening riff of Timmy’s left handed Gretsch guitar the crowd didn’t stop moving and singing along until the band stopped playing.


Note the special appearance by Skinhead Rob (Transplants) to sing with the band on “Red Hot Moon”. These guys really know their audience and although they’ve been a huge commercial success, you could tell they’re still deeply rooted in the heart of punk rock and they don’t forget it.

More photos of the show can be seen HERE


-Christopher D.-
Big Wheel Contributor


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