The last few punk fans staggered out of downtown Las Vegas Tuesday, marking the end of Punk Rock Bowling. It was a fun experience marked by four days of music (including the club shows), pool parties, and a bowling tournament. The weekend went by way too fast, though I'm sure I speak on behalf of most festival goers by saying it's nice to be able to sleep in my own bed tonight.
Coming home was bittersweet. I'm still browsing Instagram and YouTube to relieve my favorite moments from the festival. With that, here are the 10 things I learned by going to Punk Rock Bowling this year.
See Also: Punk Rock Bowling 2013 in Las Vegas: Day 3, 5/27/13 Punk Rock Bowling 2013 in Las Vegas: Day 2, 5/26/13 Punk Rock Bowling Tournament in Las Vegas, 5/26/13 Punk Rock Bowling 2013 in Las Vegas: Day 1, 5/25/13
Just go with it. Staying out past sunrise when you have a deadline is normally not a good idea, but it's Vegas, baby. My first night in town, I checked the time and saw it was 4 in the morning. I was exhausted, but I was in the middle of a conversation with some awesome people. Don't stand at the bar by yourself; strike up conversation with whoever is standing next to you -- bonus points if they're attractive. With that . . .
Punks are amazing people. I went to the festival by myself but made a bunch of new friends by chatting up random folks. If you're singing along at The Lawrence Arms or 7 Seconds after-show, you're my kind of person. If you pull up a seat next to me and start talking about The Knife, we'll probably hit it off. Tattoo talk is also fun.
I had only one bad encounter to speak of, and it was pretty funny. A crowd surfer ran out of the pit and ran square into me. The photographer next to me pointed out that if the angle had been a little different, I probably would have been knocked backwards into a trash can. Then we laughed it off and said it was probably because he hates nerds.
Want to party? Just look for a Turbonegro fan.
Of everyone I encountered, the Turbojugend were the biggest party animals at the festival. Imagine a sex-obsessed Andrew W.K. who likes to drink. Turbonegro had one of the craziest crowds at the festival, and I can only imagined where those folks ended up after the show.
Hot Water Music can and will get old. HWM is one of my all-time favorite bands. At first, I was excited to hear their music as other bands set up to play, but after hearing Hot Water Music for three days in a row, it got old fast.
You can get beer to go. As I closed out my tab at Country Saloon Friday night, the bartender asked if I'd like a drink to go.* It took a second for this to register, just like how seeing people smoking inside was weird at first. If I didn't say yes, I probably wouldn't have ended up chatting with some bands Friday night.
*The only kicker is that Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys are four times cheaper at the grocery store.
You want to dance around without getting hurt? Good luck. Fans of The Casualties were pretty banged up, and I'm sure this continued throughout Monday's lineup. I made my way to the front during The Lawrence Arms because I was stoked to see them for the first time in four years or so. I was prepared for the crowd to get pretty wild, but it wasn't too bad. I felt fine until I gathered my camera gear the next day and found a string of large bruises on both arms. Most photogs got bumped into by a crowd surfer or two, but it wasn't too bad, though I'm sure most fans watching from the front row disagree.
Black Flag songs always sound great, regardless of who sings them. Quite a few of the festival bands asked the audience if they were excited to see FLAG. Angry Samoans took this a step further by covering "Wasted" and "Nervous Breakdown," prompting the crowd to go insane. Although some purists balked at the lack of "TV Party," it was still a blast to hear four original members of Black Flag perform so many songs from Damaged and Everything Went Black.
Caffeine is not a food group. Being a strict vegetarian who didn't get back to the hotel until 4 or 6 a.m. every night put me in a difficult position. I got three or four hours of sleep each day, and rushed to the festival right after I woke up most days. If I was awake at a normal time I didn't have time to eat, so Del Taco provided four of my meals. The others were an auspicious falafel wrap on Saturday, and the miscellaneous junk food that accompanied my many rounds of Red Bull. I spent most of my waking hours hungry, but couldn't find a quick food solution. Energy drinks and the occasional latte almost made up for it, but I am pretty excited to cook something healthy.
The Strip is totally lame. I had a blast in Vegas the first couple of times I went, but both trips were within a few months of my turning 21. Subsequent trips were just okay, and the last one was pretty boring. I bought a ticket to see Afrojack at the Wynn on Saturday night and considered selling my ticket as soon as I drove down the Strip. It's full of obnoxious party people who think they're in The Hangover.
Don't get me wrong: it's something everyone should do once, but the older you get, the more of a pain in the ass it was to deal with.
Fremont Street, on the other hand, is a blast. The drinks are considerably cheaper and you don't have to walk for blocks next to (too many) drunk bros. Case in point -- a filling post-show dinner at Denny's on Fremont Street was $12, while a salad and a smoothie that left my stomach growling at Caesar's cost $21.
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All great things happen at the Golden Nugget. I'm not sure if all bands booked rooms here, but there were plenty of musicians hanging out at what was lovingly nicknamed "The Nug." Wandering through a casino where a bunch of people who love the same music you do and want to party is a great feeling. The Nug also featured a couple of pool parties, and from what I heard, they were pretty fun. They also have a waterslide that goes through a shark tank.
Sunday night, I met up with some friends and we weren't sure where to go, so we wandered into Golden Nugget. Our group kept growing as old friends and passerbys joined in, and we eventually filled about half of the bar. One of the guys had a big win and bought everyone a round of drinks. Apparently that really does happen.
It was only my first year going, but Punk Rock Bowling could very well be my new favorite festival. The music was fantastic, the people were friendly, and I now am proud to say that most of the bands at the festival were extremely down to earth and willing to hang out with fans. Yes, even Fat Mike.