But it also started day two. A few blocks away from the main Fest-ivities a house show complete with barbeque, kegs, and sumo wrestling started at eleven. Like me, most of the attendees were red-eyed and still tired from the night before. The Chinese Telephones sparked everyone?s fuse though, playing a set in a packed living room of people who missed them the night before or those, like myself, who saw them ten hours ago and needed another shot of four-chord fury. I personally thought this was the superior set, but Justin, their guitarist, thought otherwise.
Scene Point Blank: Was this first time Chinese Telephones played The Fest? If so, now that some time?s passed, could you describe the experience of playing? If it wasn't, how did this year's fest differ than previous ones?
Justin: This was the first time we've played. We tried to last year, but didn't get accepted. It was amazing! I wasn't expecting much going into it, because we had to play at the same time as Naked Raygun, but the room was packed and people were really getting into it, so that's pretty cool.
Scene Point Blank: Did you have any expectations going into it? Was there anything that made you say, "We must play that!"
Justin: Having gone to The Fest the last two years, I really wanted to play. It's just such a great time seeing all of your friends from all over the country, or even the world, in one place getting wasted and seeing their favorite bands. It's really cool because the few fans from different cities are all packed into one room. The 250 people that like us were in that room and we all loved it.
Scene Point Blank: How would you compare your set at The Sidebar compared to the house show you played the following morning?
Justin: The Sidebar was definitely more fun because it wasn't at noon. It never feels right playing early, but everyone was so hung-over or running on such little sleep that it kind of felt like the day should be ending. People don't shake their asses so much at noon. It was still really fun, and I'm glad some people that went to Naked Raygun the night before were able to see us, if they woke up early enough.
Scene Point Blank: Which band's performances stuck out? Were there any new bands you hadn't heard before who impressed you?
Justin: Our friend Jeff, who filled in on bass with us for the weekend, played in three other bands that were all amazing: Potential Johns, High Tension Wires, and The Marked Men. We felt bad 'cause he ended up playing six sets that weekend, but I think he enjoyed it. I actually can't think of any bands that I saw but hadn't seen before. Underground Railroad to Candyland put on the best show I've seen them do. They were a lot of fun. Dear Landlord were great as usual, and everyone went nuts when they played. Now we just have to wait for next year.
After some good food, great bands, and shitty beer, it was time to hit the Gainesville strip to watch the band I was most excited to see, Lemuria. When arriving at the venue I was surprised to see a line roughly fifty people long. I?d never heard of Lemuria until six months ago, when a friend asked me to pick up their seven inches for him, so I expected an intimate show of devotees, all rejoicing over the secret they discovered. The devotees were here, but in numbers. And with good cause, Lemuira is a band that reawakens listeners? glee for independent music. Imagine buying a chocolate bar, putting it in your back pocket only to forget about it. Hours later you remember but it?s quasi-melted. You still rip it open and eat it; it almost tastes better that way. That?s what listening to Lemuira is like. Pure joy.
My pink wristband signified my press status and allowed me to cut the line, which I did with some guilt, so I wouldn?t miss a single song. When I arrived at the door I was flattened by an even bigger surprise.
?You have to go around back, where the bands load in, to get your wristbands for drinks.? The girl working the door said.
The patience now absent from her voice, she replied ?Just go around the building, walk in, and they?ll take care of you.?
So I did. Getting said wristband entitled me to all free drinks the free I could handle (more on that later) and nice spot stage right, behind the bassist, Jason. The pub looked like a typical bar, a wood décor with pool tables and darts, but it housed a fairly sized nook for bands to play. I tried to get a sense of how big this area was, but it was hard to tell with every inch covered by bodies crammed in to see the band. Scanning the crowd to find the faces of my new buddies who waited in line, I noticed almost every person in attendance wore a face of jubilation. The feeling brought me back to the time I first saw MXPX, eight years ago, when a less jaded version of me was still in awe of the power of all things punk.
At ten before two Lemuria burst right into the opening notes of ?In a World of Ghosts? with almost the entire crowd accompanying Sheena, the guitarist /vocalist, with that first line: ?I haven?t seen you cry yet?. With little time for idle chat, the band tore threw a handful of songs, talking only when they needed to retune. A few songs in I found that perhaps I?d chosen the most dangerous spot in the venue. As Jason played, he swung his bass back and forth caught up in the excitement, nearly smashing me in face multiple times. He gave me a look of apology, but I signaled that it?d be an injury worth sustaining, a trophy blow of The Fest 6. The band themselves seemed just as awestruck by the turn out, specifically when a number of fans made a human pyramid half way through the set.
Afterwards I managed to chat with Alex, the drummer, for a few moments, but didn?t get to ask any interview questions because I was in mad dash to catch all the other bands playing. Still we touched based through the Internet and he had this to say about The Fest 6:
Scene Point Blank: Was this the first time Lemuria had played The Fest? If so, now that about a week and a half has passed could you describe the experience of playing? If it wasn?t, how did this year?s fest differ than previous ones?
Alex: This was our second time playing The Fest. We also played last year. Both years were incredibly fun, and also overwhelming. Because when you play The Fest, you also get a free pass for the weekend to attend all of the other shows. So many bands that I want to see play The Fest, it's impossible for me to catch every performance. The Fest is something I would plan on attending every year, even if we weren't playing. Both years that we played were similar. Although, the venue we played this year was much closer to the central area of The Fest, where as last year we played a venue that was off the beaten path, a venue they didn't use this year.
Scene Point Blank: Did you have any expectations going into it? Was there anything that made you say, ?We must play that!?
Alex: We knew the whole weekend was going to be an insane party. We were actually invited to play The Fest 6 at The Fest 5 last year. So we've known all year that we were definitely going to be attending. Both years The Fest has exceeded my expectations. This year it was sold out!
Scene Point Blank: How would you compare your set at the Fest against a typical Lemuria set?
Alex: Well, usually there aren't that many people at the show, unless it's a show in our hometown of Buffalo, NY. We played at around 2pm on Saturday at The Fest, so it was a very sober audience as well.
Scene Point Blank: Which bands? performances stuck out? Were there any new bands you hadn?t heard before who impressed you?
Alex: My favorite performances were by The Marked Men and The Ergs! I love both of those bands and I made sure I didn't miss them. I did my first stage dive during The Ergs! Set; I was pretty proud of myself. I really didn't catch any new bands at The Fest, because there were so many bands that I knew I liked that my schedule was packed all weekend hopping around to each venue to see who I needed to see.
Scene Point Blank: What was your favorite part of the weekend that wasn't music related?
Alex: There wasn't many non-music related moments that weekend. It was great to see so many familiar faces from all over the world congested into one town. We had toured Europe the month before The Fest, and it was great to see a bunch of our friends we met on that tour who flew to Florida for the weekend.
After Lemuria?s last song, I downed another Pabst with my buddies, compliments of the pub and made my way to No Idea headquarters to catch their sale. I was not the only one who had this same plan. There was a line just to look at the merch for sale. Turned off by this, I headed back to Market Street Pub, grabbed another Pabst and arrived early to Common Grounds, to make sure I had a good spot for The Copyrights.
When they took the stage, the club wasn?t filled to capacity but it seemed fuller than when I entered. Their set was tight and a bulk of the set came from their latest album, Make Sound. Given only twenty minutes to play, this was another band had gave little banter and blasted through as many songs as time would allow. While almost every band of this nature gets compared to Screeching Weasel, I?d say The Copyrights are one of the few who deserve it, with good melodies and lyrics that may talk a lot of about girls and growing up, but from a unique perspective that Ben Weasel would surely commend. The only downside to the set was that it lacked my two favorite songs from Make Sound, ?Pentagrams? and ?The Company.?
More drinks, great conversations and a few tame bands later, I was back at Market Street Pub in the same spot I caught Lemuria, ready to watch Look Mexico, a band whose name I heard thrown around, but never sat down and listened to. Shame on me. Little did I know but this would be, no contest, the most playful set of The Fest. A straight up party! In addition to being damn fine musicians with a solid set, they knew how to work a crowd. Proof? Somewhere in the middle of the set, during a more tranquil part of a song, the entire band, sans drummer, sat down on the edge of the stage, encouraging the entire crowd to take a moment and collect their thoughts amidst the chaos that is The Fest. Looking out into the crowd from the side of the stage it was beautiful, a truly serene moment. Around the same time, Matt Agrella, the singer, was handed a cup of water from an audience member and passed it around to everyone in the group. Tyler the bassist, easily one of the raddest dudes I?ve ever had the chance to hang out with, even poured a little bit into my mouth. While I thought they were simply refreshing themselves, this was done for theatrics. At a break in song the whole band spit their water in the air, showering the crowd in mist of their water-saliva concoction. Gross? Maybe. An awesome spectacle that lays testament to how much they rule? Absolutely. Towards the end of the set, the bassist and drummer took control of the mics to do a spot on cover of Beastie Boy?s ?No Sleep Til? Brooklyn.? A great close to a stunning performance. Being the gentleman they are, drummer Josh and vocalist Matt talked to me about all things The Fest.
Scene Point Blank: First time playing the fest correct?
Look Mexico: Yes
Scene Point Blank: What were you expectations coming into this? What gave you the desire to play?
Look Mexico: About ten days ago we played CMJ, it too was a festival and we played this show at noon and there were maybe thirty people there, all with their arms folded. Coming down here was such a relief because everyone is hanging out, drinking beer, and having a good time. It?s a big family kind of thing with bands we like and people coming out from all over to see us. All the people we?ve met while on the road are showing up here. So it?s a nice thing to be playing this very unified show where there is little label attention. We?re just here to have fun. It?s less about getting signed and performing at your best because important people are watching, but just about hanging out. The people here like you, and you like them; you want to hear them and see them play.
Scene Point Blank: So this is the second day you?ve been here?
Look Mexico: No, we just got in today, at like 2:20 this afternoon.
Scene Point Blank: Okay, so of the bands you?ve seen today, what have been the high points?
Look Mexico : Meeting up with Fake Problems is great. It?s crazy because we?ve kind of grown up with them. They used play this bar where Tyson, our bassist, worked at and he would book them. They would kind of nag him saying, ?Hey we need to play a show in Tallahassee.? They weren?t that tight and they toured their asses off and got on an Against Me! tour, doing so well, and to see them here where people know their songs and are jamming out, it?s pretty enlightening. They?ve worked so hard; it?s a simple success story.
Scene Point Blank: I talked to Chris from Fake Problems before The Fest and he said they?re a veteran band after playing The Fest. For the first time they felt like they matured to some degree as a band. They felt some form of success and that people care about them. How did your performance tonight compare to any other Look Mexico show?
Look Mexico : Matt remarked earlier that he wished we could play The Fest everyday because it?s such a good, healthy feeling show. People are just excited to see bands, even if it wasn?t the particular band they wanted to see. There were people who knew our lyrics who we never met before. It?s such an awesome feeling when it?s not just your friends at show that you guilt tripped into going. It felt so good tonight playing to a sizeable room. It seemed like everyone had fun.
I wish I had more time to chat but it was time to see a band that embodies everything The Fest it about, The Lawrence Arms. Once Brendan Kelly said something to the effect that The Lawrence Arms may not have a hug fan base but their fans tend to really love them. With that said I think that to enjoy a Larry Arms show you have to be a fan. Their performances aren?t lackluster but nor are they explosive. It?s the fact that you get to hear your favorite songs live that makes this so spectacular for me. The highlight was ?Brick Wall Views,? a song I don?t think I?ve heard live in two years or so. Not the best performance I?ve seen them play but still a highlight of The Fest. I could only imagine what The Falcon and Sundowner would be like.
Again I rushed back to Market Street Pub, this time to catch Fake Problems. They are easily one of the most underrated bands and their set proved this. Wedging myself behind the amps and next to Tyler of Look Mexico I had a prime spot. Some people forget that music is supposed to be fun, even if the message is serious. Not Fake Problems, who played a solid thirty-minute set of dancing and smiles. All the songs from How Far Our Bodies Go sounded even better live, with an energy almost impossible to catch on record. One of their guitarists, a small man, looked like Angus Young, hopping around the stage playing frantically as everyone clapped along. While the style of music was different, Fake Problems were the perfect warm up for The Fest all-stars, Dillinger Four.
Ah yes, the almighty Dillinger Four. To witness their live show is a feat in itself and this evening would be no exception. The set started with many a hitch as one of the tubes in the amps kept blowing before they could play any songs. Paddy, a true master of ceremonies, kept the show going by riffing on various topics that had no common thread. With the amps in check and the stand up comedy over for the evening, D4 brought the rock, playing a handful of songs from all their releases. Having not released an album in almost six years, everyone here was an old fan, many of them being older human beings, creeping up on thirty, but still loud, proud, and punk.
Here?s where I?d explain how awesome the hardcore evening of The Fest was. Standard fare: Stage dives, circle pitting, and so on. However, I missed Shook Ones? set because the club was filled to capacity. Waiting in line I heard that Modern Life is War had to cancel due to a family emergency. Shitty! No worries though, I was in the club and would soon be ripping it up to Municipal Waste and the Paint It Black. Or so I thought. A long day of free drinks got to me and while I remember one of Municipal Waste?s members coming out in a devil costume, the rest of the evening was lost. Around three in the morning I woke up in an alley a few blocks from the venue; biggest bummer of The Fest.