If I had a personal zeitgeist of October, it would have to be described as “Fest Anticipation.” This year was my first Fest and I spent the entirety of October waiting for it (and my twenty-first birthday…how lucky that for my first Fest I was able to legally down plenty of PBRs.) So many amazing things were experienced that it’s hard for me to even process, but after a week and a half, all I can say is that I just really miss Fest. I wish Fest was every day, but then of course it wouldn’t hold as much meaning as it does every year. I got to see so many amazing bands, almost convinced myself to impulsively get a tattoo of a bomb (???) drank cheap beer for breakfast every day all weekend, made so many new pals, and got to experience the of beauty of human connection that is almost inevitably always fueled by music.
Fest kind of feels like an alternate dimension, a surreal weekend during which a punk microcosm emerges from the undertows of Gainesville and the air feels alive and everyone is free to be themselves without judgment. To me, it kind of feels like the rest of the world stops when Fest is happening, I couldn’t entertain the thought of anything other than Fest, I didn’t even care that I had a project due Monday night. I think my roommates were perhaps a little concerned too, not even seeing my face once all weekend, shocked at the fact that I had been Fest-ing non-stop all day every day, even texting me to ask, “How r u still alive???” To which I only replied with, “It’s Fest weekend.”
It was the best weekend ever. I remember it was so hard to contain my excitement, that even my phone couldn’t contain itself within my pockets as I gallivanted around town with my friends (and I mean a serious gallivant – literally holding hands and skipping around dramatically from venue to venue.) Luckily, my phone was returned to me because punks are really nice. At the Mom Jeans. show, I crowd surfed for my first time amidst a sea of tacos thrown into crowd by the band. My natural reaction while crowd surfing is to just laugh hysterically the entire time? I love the adrenaline that crowd surfing brings, plus its pretty amusing to have all of your friends come up to you after with exclaims of support and pride (your girl is rather twig-like and is the last person to ever be expected to crowd surf.) I really enjoyed crowd-surfing at the Nerdlinger show too, ending my Fest weekend totally just trust falling backwards off the stage into the crowd. Another highlight was being able to watch a bunch of bands play the live LVL sessions in the porch of the most charming, beautiful, and quaint home in the Pleasant Street Historic District. Homes and neighborhoods like this really remind how much I cherish Gainesville and the memories I have been able to experience here. I also loved volunteering during the Zeta show, those boys are the most genuine and down-to-earth people ever and the fact that they made vegan mac and cheese to give away to everybody is just absolutely badass. Also, I swooned the entire time at both of the Lemuria shows and the Adult Mom show, and spontaneously going to the Metz show was an insane ending to my Saturday night. Although I’m pretty mad at myself for staying at The Wooly to see Dikembe instead of going to see Meat Wave, I’m okay with it because I love crying and moshing at the same time.
I will never forget Fest 17 weekend and how it made me feel: cheeky, complete, hopeful, and intoxicated (in both the figurative and literal sense of the term.)
When I was a teenager I used to watch the Fest lineups come out and wish I could go, even if it was only for one showcase and then back home. It seemed like every year, each lineup had so many of my favorite bands; almost like they were choosing the lineup off one of the playlists on my old iPod.
Unfortunately, my parents weren’t interested in taking me and none of my friends knew any of the bands either (I guess they weren’t punk enough), so I was out of luck.
Then, my senior year of high school, I got accepted into the University of Florida. Friends and family would always ask me what classes I was taking or where I would be living in Gainesville. I didn’t know the answers to those questions, but I did know exactly what bands I would be seeing at Fest that year.
Fest 15 was my first Fest and also my first concert. I’ve come back to every Fest since, a tradition I plan on continuing until the day I die.
People always chuckle when I say Fest is “the most wonderful time of the year” but I absolutely mean it; it’s my favorite holiday. It’s the one weekend a year that all my friends from all over the world convene in one place to watch all our favorite bands. No matter who’s on the lineup you can guarantee there will be plenty of hugs, PBR and kick ass music.
This year, I did Fest a little differently than usual. Instead of volunteering and then Festing the rest of the weekend I had a press pass from working as Lvl’s Fest Content Coordinator for the past six months.
So, during the day I would help out with all the sessions and interviews that the team and I set up with a bunch of killer bands, including a few of my all time favorites. Who you might ask? I guess you’ll have to keep an eye on this website for the next couple of months and find out!
Once we wrapped filming, I would go see all my favorite bands with my friends.
My Friday started with Direct Hit, and honestly I couldn’t think of a better way to kick things off. Some other highlights of that night include seeing Bad Cop/Bad Cop for the first time in almost two years, getting to see Night Birds for the first time (Nothing says Fest quite like watching Brian, wearing his signature plaid shirt of course, fling candy out into the audience in between songs while shouting, “Happy Halloween motherfuckers!”), seeing PEARS in 8 Seconds again (two years ago at Fest 15, PEARS were the first band I ever saw live, so seeing them back in the same place again just felt right!), and of course, how could I forget that killer War on Women acoustic set at the CMC?
I only really got to see three bands on Saturday due to a lot of running around during the day and hanging with friends during the night. But, what I lacked in quantity that day, I certainly made up for in quality. The day started by catching Dead to Me at Bo Diddley, then finishing our last two interviews of the day back at the house. After that it was off to see two of my favorite bands for the first time, back-to-back, The Lawrence Arms and Lagwagon. Seeing those two bands one after the other with some of my best friends is probably the closest I’ll ever get to a religious experience.
I spent a lot of Sunday running back and forth, filming interviews and trying to meet up with friends I hadn’t gotten to see during the weekend. But what I can tell you is I ended Fest in the best way possible by watching my wonderful Australian friends Nerdlinger absolutely blow the roof off Loosey’s!
To wrap it up, Fest 17 was a fucking blast and I wouldn’t trade Fest weekend for anything! It was a whirlwind of old friends, new friends, and some of the best damn bands in the world! Even over a week later I’m still bruised up and fighting off the Fest Flu, so that’s how you know I had a good time! Anyway, I can’t wait to see all your beautiful faces next year!