Sunday would eventually make up for my foolish behavior. But not without a long walk to the Second Street Bakery, fifteen blocks away from the central strip where most of the other bands were playing. This is where all the folk tinged groups would be playing: outside next to a bakery with dogs roaming around, a Plan-It-X fanboy?s dream. Surprising me were the first two performers of the day: Matty Pop Chart and Paul Baribeau. Each wore the title singer/songwriter proudly and played sincere songs that sounded like John Denver songs for Crimethinc enthusiasts. Without being alienating both Matty and Paul touched on things like personal freedom, love, and ambition in a seemingly capitalist world. Each proved to be enlightening, lighthearted and, sincere making for a beautiful beginning to the last day of the best show I?ve seen all year.
Soon came Sundowner, the band I wanted to see most that day. I was interested to see how the songs would translate live seeing that Chris McCaughan recorded most of it alone. Lawrence Arms drummer Neil Hennessey provided the other end of the rhythm section, playing electric bass while former Smoking Popes member Eli Caterer followed on electric guitar. McCaughan handled all the melodies while singing. Even he himself was surprised at the turnout, which was close to three hundred people. He played a good slab of his album?s songs leaving out only one or two songs. The songs translated surprisingly well to a live performance despite it being the morning after a hard night of drinking for everyone.
Fooling no one, Less Than Jake was scheduled to perform under the pseudonym Lopan Takes Japan. The venue was crowded with people just like me, all of us in the spirit of nostalgia, hoping to relive our baby steps of punk rock. I was a little hesitant, unsure how this would go over seeing that their output for the last few albums was lackluster. Gainesville?s finest must have understood this fully alongside the fact that everyone in the crowd was at least eighteen so instead of a varying set, they played Losing Streak from start to finish and ?Gainesville Rock City? as a closer. I couldn?t find one jaded punk that was too cool to skank. Instead a dance party that brought back memories of the first time I saw the band seven years and a half ago occurred.
The set was so much fun I lost my temptation to cut out early to catch all of The Ergs set. But when I arrived the band was going full steam, blasting their rather extensive catalogue of songs. Not an original but still my favorite was the cover Gin Blossoms? ?Hey Jealousy.? While it?s clearly not a punk song, it?s still better when sung with nasally vocals. The Ergs themselves were having just as much fun as the audience, stage diving in the middle of songs and being generally silly.
While there were still a few more bands playing on the last night, I decided this was the perfect end to The Fest and decided to start heading to the Greyhound station to make my way back home. The Fest in Gainesville Florida, perhaps the only reason the state doesn?t completely suck.
Photos: Scott Heisel (http://www.myspace.com/colorsofinsomnia)