For many, the year 2016 was not the best one that could have been. Many less likely and less positive events occurred over the past year that some are wishing to put behind them in a traditional way as the clock ticks past midnight. For me, the year has been about change. It has been changes for the positive in many topics. It has been a stepping block to further ambitions and passions. For people in either the positive or negative view of 2016, New Year’s Eve brought some of the best music choices to go into 2017. One of the best examples was the Punk Rock Eve at Rusty Ranch in Gilbert. For one, this is certainly the first of its kind that I’ve attended in the town of Gilbert. It was a combination of some of the great local music in the valley with two of the best touring musicians in the punk business. Weather only put a dampen on intentions to stay dry, and while microphone and monitor issues, the bands played through them to put on the show everyone came out to see.
The show opened up showcasing some of the great younger talent coming through the School of Rock. These kids played covers, and occasionally rotated a couple in and out each song. They not only opened, but would play between the main stage acts instead of any house music. This is an excellent idea to get them more experience playing in front of people.
They alternated a couple times with the younger band, Good Boy Daisy. At first, I thought it was another rotation of the School of Rock kids until I noticed their drum kit and walked over to listen more. They have a punk rock type of sound to them, and cooler is they are a female fronted band with Hallie their vocalist. I actually would have thought it more appropriate they had some time on the main stage given how good a sound. Hopefully I will get to catch them more this new year.
Hall 13 would be the first to hit the main stage with energy and a punk sound. These guys know how to write great music and perform it up there. In addition, it was hard not to notice how excited Tom’s daughter was watching him play the entire set. These guys are excellent and I can’t wait to see them more in the new year.
Following them was a band that I haven’t seen them perform in over a decade, Fourbanger. I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s Girl Repellent show at Yucca prior to this, but that just created more excitement for this show. Fourbanger has only got better since last I listened to them. Their sound is more refined, and they still have fun up there. The only unusual thing was the sound guys trying to keep the bass drum from moving for the latter half of the set. I hope they are back for good, because I want to see them more.
No Gimmick playing next only made it feel more like a local show in 2001. There have been a member change or two since then, but these are songs I used to hear played in the same locations that I would hear Fourbanger. Per the course, Johnny brought the most entertaining conversation to the crowd of the day thus far. Like with Tom’s daughter, this had a similar cool time with both Johnny’s kids watching him in his band for the first time live. No Gimmick played a great all around set, and I presume Judy was just not allowed for this all ages event.
Next, we had the more sentimental set of the day with LightSpeedGo. This was Paul’s last show playing in the band. Due to other circumstances, Marty wasn’t able to play drums for it. That brought another special thing for today’s set, Chris Dalley of Authority Zero and Pulley. They looked like they were having fun up there despite knowing Paul playing was bass for the last time with them. Paul moved to California and will shift his full attention onto his new band Fare Game. It certainly will be different to see LightSpeedGo with someone else playing bass for them in 2017. Despite that, I would have been more disappointed had this been the end of such a great band so I look forward to more music from them.
After that, we moved onto probably the most standout band of the lineup, the Phunk Junkeez. I say this, despite the Toy Dolls patch on K-Tel Disco’s shirt. They have punk influences and leanings in their music, but I’d say they lean more in the alternative hip-hop sound similar to that of an older Limp Bizkit from the 1990’s. Regardless of that, they are awesome to see play. The Phunk Junkeez great stage presence certainly played into getting this crowd going. I enjoyed their joke after playing “Buckeye” with Soulman saying that is because there is no song about going down to Gilbert. I have seen them twice in the past month, and thought this was their best performance of the two.
If there was a genre that complimented punk in addition to Ska, then it would certainly be Rockabilly with Creepsville 666 filling that hole. These guys play high energy, fun sets every time. This night was no different, just that it was my first time seeing them on a bigger stage. Creepsville knows how to play to a crowd with an excellent stage presence. The crowd fed off the energy as we had our first mosh pit of the night. They got a prime spot in the night’s lineup, and did a hell of a job in it.
Following that up was the first of the out of state bands, Strung Out. These guys are awesome, Jason Cruz walking out with rum and wine bottles. He would offer it to some of the people in front too, handing it into the crowd. Security wouldn’t let that fly, so it within a couple minutes ended up back on stage with the band. Watching this set helped me realize that they influenced Paul’s jumping skills when performing with LightSpeedGo. There was a little bit of frustrations later in the set when it seemed that Jason’s in ear monitor had no audio through. Didn’t appear to get fixed, but they just went with playing through it without. You couldn’t tell if it had affected the last couple songs, and ended up a good set from them.
Then another group of guys from Phoenix, Authority Zero, were next to the stage. Jason Devore said in jest that it was like a high school reunion performing with some of the bands on this bill. This set was another that had obvious technical difficulties as the microphones kept going in and out, and being swapped around. Despite that, Jason and the rest of the band put on another awesome show for us. Not surprising when the band includes some of the nicest guys I’ve met. I think Jason’s jumping skills might be inspired from Strung Out after watching their sets back to back. Authority Zero closed out an excellent set with Jason playing two songs on the acoustic guitar.
At this point, it was nine thirty and Face to Face finally was taking the stage. The time is important, because Gilbert’s noise ordinance has a ten o’clock curfew. This created a worry that many of us in the crowd thought we would be shorted on the set. However, it was quite the opposite that we got when they ended up playing with their encore until eleven. The Face to Face set marks the second time I’ve seen them this year, and since I delved further into their back catalog. I’ve taken my lashings for this, but they have quickly risen through the ranks in 2016 to become one of my favorite punk bands. This made watching them this latest time even more exciting, as I knew more of the words to their songs.
Right off the bat, I was more enamored just watching them play and their fingers on the guitars and bass. I would eventually be distracted by watching Trever Keith’s face when he sings. He is one of the most expressive faces I’ve seen he sings. He made light of monitor issues in their set, and just said they would keep playing. One of the coolest parts of my night was him leaning out over the crowd with his guitar, letting me pluck a few strings above my head. At one point, Dennis decided to just smoke a cigarette while playing guitar for another of many cool moments during their set.
The stage divers may have been the other entertaining part of this set, for more of the awkward moments caused by them. This included a woman who three to four times didn’t get the clue that on the count of four to jump back into the crowd. No matter, Face to Face played through it all for an amazing set that ended with many from the crowd and me up on stage for the last song. I loved every moment of this set.
Alas, the show still ended before midnight and I wanted to go watch a band to celebrate the New Year. My solution was driving over to The Compound in Tempe to catch my favorite local band to watch, Playboy Manbaby. They brought their usual high energy that this crowd fed upon. Their mosh pit was one of the craziest of my night, with a couple people carrying their lit cigarettes with them into it. I suppose that’s just extra challenge to not get burned. By the end, I knew this was the right choice of bands to celebrate the brand new year with. This was one of the best New Year’s Eves for me and it won’t be easy to top it next year.