By Greg Price
Another visit to the Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival is in the books and with it many good memories. Having gone to the 2014 version in Las Vegas as well, this may become a tradition with all the little slices of life, both bad and good that have occurred. Here is a recap of some of the highlights (and low-lights) of Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival 2015:
MY KINGDOM FOR A (SMOOTH) SHUTTLE SERVICE: I do not know what it is with me and shuttle services, but if you are traveling with me, expect problems. Coming off the heels of a shuttle service in Mexico that I pre-paid for year and waited an hour for in the blistering sun, there was the debacle in Las Vegas.
Apparently, the confirmation our traveling group printed off from Allegiant was not good enough for the shuttle company in Las Vegas, and I had to circle back to Allegiant’s offices in Las Vegas and beg for a letter of confirmation. Couple that with the shuttle service booking the wrong day for our trip back to the airport and let’s just say, it was an effort to keep my language G-rated. Apparently when you tell them on the phone your flight leaves on Thursday at 7:40 a.m, that means booking the shuttle for you at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday. They must have thought I wanted to spend my last day of vacation playing the slots at the Vegas airport where I’d be staying overnight.
DRINK AND BE MERRY: Things have changed in Las Vegas 2015 compared to Las Vegas 2014. Apparently, it used to be “no rules” at all for the Strip, however in September 2014, the Clark County board of commissioners (which the Vegas strip and Fremont Street fall under) passed a new law prohibiting people from carrying drinks in glass containers on the Strip. This applies to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
You can still carry your beer in an aluminum can around, and plastic cups, including those football shaped beers, or daiquiris in the a plastic mug shaped like a guitar, or the Stratosphere, are fine. They just cannot be in a glass.
At first I thought it was to lessen broken glass in the area for safety reasons by encouraging drinks in plastic cups, but like many things, it had to do with business.
This was designed to encourage people to get their drinks at casinos, and casino bars, rather than purchasing bottles and 12 packs at the numerous gift shops and convenience stores. In fact, alcohol purchases at such stores on Fremont Street now have to be put in a bag and stapled. It did not deter me from my two tall cans for $4 at convenience stores, ripping open the bags and pouring the cans into area-approved plastic cups. Fight the power!!!! and draining my wallet too quickly while on vacation.
MUSIC TO MY EARS: I like my punk rock music, but will not pretend to be total hardcore where I know every single band out there. That’s what’s so great about the Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival. I went to the festival to watch Rancid, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Anti-Flag and Dropkick Murphys, but was also exposed to other bands I enjoyed, like Success!, Turbonegro (which actually has clubs from around the world including Lethbridge following them), Refused, and The Mahones.
FAN BOY: I did an interview with Anti-Flag (look for story a future issue of the Taber Times) and I must admit I acted like a fan boy, but don’t really care. It’s not like Rolling Stone anytime soon, but I was encouraged when they said I didn’t ask just your regular ‘new record release questions.’ I posed for a selfie with drummer Pat Thetic, was one of the first at their merchandise booth, and got some autographs. But this is the thing: Thetic didn’t act like a prima donna prick during the interview, they manned their own merchandise booth in which they easily could have charged double what they were selling their T-shirts for, they hugged and posed with their fans for free. One incident I found nice was lead singer Justin Sane hugging a fan after hearing about one of their songs spoke to them. No, the song wasn’t about girls they got at the club, breaking up with their girlfriend or some other gibberish bastardization of the English language just to get a sentence to rhyme. It was about having a sister murdered and an overtaxed legal system of the poor letting them down… you know… just unimportant stuff to true musical artistry like Hanson’s ‘MMMBop.’. If you can’t be a fan of punk at least on that level, I say good day to you sir.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Yes, the music festival was filled with the stereotype many associate with punk music with your lime-green mohawk hair, multiple piercings, and tattoos as far as the eye could see. And so what? There were many people from many different walks of life, right from your six-year-old to your grandfather, rocking out at the concert. I saw a whole handful of families at the concert posing for group pictures. I can’t see exposing your kids to songs involving the plight of the working man, the carnage of fighter drones, and crooked politicians being a bad thing to expose youth to.
VIETNAM FLASHBACKS: Unfortunately, I missed a whole day of performances at Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival 2014 because of either some weird 24-hour flu or a bad case of food poisoning. Flash forward to 2015 and Day 2 of the music festival and I was feeling a little under the weather. I thought ‘oh man, here we go again.’ Fortunately for me it was just the cocktail flu of too many beers and shots walking the Fremont Experience and (free plug going to one of the best bars in Las Vegas )Hogs N’ Heifers Saloon, the night before.
ROGER DODGER: Did an overnight stay in Los Angeles and scratched visiting Dodger Stadium off my bucket list. I have been a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers ever since I was five years old and Lethbridge had one of their farm teams. There I got to relive memories of Kirk Gibson and Fernando Valenzuela in the gift shop, pose for a picture with Tim Leary off the 1988 World Series winning Dodgers and watch Clayton Kershaw warm up in the bullpen before ceremoniously striking out 10 Atlanta Braves batters (nine off of absolutely filthy off-speed stuff). Adrian Gonzalez knocked in his career 100th RBI with a home run, and I got the feel of one of the most historic franchises in Major League Baseball.
The memories were worth every penny.