The Brews and The Punks

Around twenty three years ago, NOFX released their fifth album, “Punk in Drublic.” Flash forward to now and it has become a full-fledged beer sampling, punk rock show. Phoenix was lucky enough to be added to the list of cities hosting the festival. The line ups vary from city to city with NOFX across the board joined by multiple amazing punk bands such as Bad Religion, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Less than Jake, Goldfinger, and more. The Phoenix stop had the line-up of NOFX, Bad Religion, Goldfinger, Authority Zero, and Guttermouth plus our locals Skull Drug and First or Last opening.

Not only was this an amazing line up to catch, but I was surprised when I arrived for my photo pass to be given an all access pass for shooting pictures for our local radio punk show, Go Punk Yourself. Greeting my ears upon entering was Go Punk Yourself’s host and longtime punk DJ, Craven Moorehead, blasting music from the main stage. This accompanied the few hours the festival lined up to partake of beer samples before music started. Upon entering the Punk in Drublic Festival, I was handed twenty five redemption tickets and a “Punk in Drublic” branded mini wine glass to drink the samples from. One of the impressive parts was the breadth of the breweries out there for the sampling. They brought out some of my favorite local breweries like Uncle Bears and Sun Up. In addition, they surprised me with the breadth of national favorites such as Bell’s and Founders too. The festival made the first impressions great before there was a live band on the stage.

Then came the rocking and the moshing, starting with our local guys in First or Last. The size of the stage didn’t seem to hinder, nor did it appear nerves. Dave was great at engaging with the audience out there. There was a circle pit capitalizing on the energy of their songs. In addition, they gained some fans out there. I am sure friends started the “FOL” chants, but from my perch on the side of the stage there were new people chanting for more at the end.

Though when it comes to a local band with practice engaging crowds, Skull Drug had it shine. I’m sure it goes hand in hand with their little bit of touring experience. These dudes know their way around entertaining a crowd. Their on stage presence attracted new onlookers and fans alike. With that energy Justin managed to unplug his wireless receiver twice. It was among his frantic moving, sliding, and playing guitar on his back on the stage. I’m sure this is where it was nice to have a tech on hand to quickly remedy it. Like FOL, Skull Drug had people shouting for an encore at the end.

Then we moved into the national bands portion of the festival, with the always entertaining Guttermouth. When I attend a Guttermouth show, I feel I have a general idea of what I’m going to see. However, there is this random quality to one of their sets. It makes each set seem unique every time. This time around, the uniqueness began when Mark starting taking off his shoes and socks. In his bare feet, he was not stifled in moving down to the crowd and crowd surfing neither.

Part of the entertaining thing of getting to watch part of it side stage was when they made themselves projectile targets. The things people throw onto a stage gets nuts, down to an inhaler. Makes you wonder about some fan’s life survival instincts. Guttermouth were a killer set to watch and, shocking enough, were only our third act of the day.

It wouldn’t be a Phoenix punk festival without the guys of Authority Zero. Although, I was kind of envious I couldn’t be in the pit this time. They were shooting footage for their music video for “First One in the Pit” this night. If you were lucky enough to be out there moshing, chances are your face is going to make the cut.

That aside, they brought one of the most electrifying sets of the night. Jason, Dan, and Mike are exhilarating in their performances. All three are jumping up, leaning out, and, in the case of Mike, sticking their tongue out as they play. I’m sure if Chris Dalley could move his drum kit and play, he would be doing the exact same stuff. This is a band having a bunch of fun on stage. Authority Zero did what Authority Zero does best, marking the highest energy performers of the night.

After that we hit the Goldfinger portion of our night. Here is a band that has changed a bit since I first started following them in my adolescents. The regular members outside of John Feldmann have left the band over the past couple years. In their place, John has created a super band. The latest album version of Goldfinger includes Mike Herrera, of MXPX, Philip Sneed, of Story of the Year, and Travis Barker, of Blink 182.

The tour version brings two of the three new members, with Mike and Philip. I found myself a little star struck watching Mike Herrera through the set. On drums there was this seventeen year old kid that Feldmann touted learned the songs in only a couple practices. More impressive was the on stage performance, that included the kid carrying the cymbal center stage and doing a back flip. The set was mostly the older songs people were familiar with, “Superman” and “99 Red Balloons.” They brought out the Save Ferris horn section for the songs that needed it. Although this band has changed, Goldfinger puts on a hell of a performance.

Then NOFX took the stage of the festival baring the name of their album. Last time they visited, Melvin was missing as his wife was preparing to give birth. Melvin was back this time, with his wife and recently born twin daughters looking on from the side stage. The guys came out to the “Time Warp” blaring over the speakers, Mike showing off a little apathy and dance moves in his dress. Their setlist was a good mix of old and new songs, with the entertaining attempt to make “Eat the Meek” into a song about Arizona.

One of the coolest parts of having the full access this night was watching their facial interactions through the performance. You could see friends performing, watching the grins and smiles to each other that sometimes aren’t seen to the crowd. It made their side glances when egging on the audience funnier. Melvin was occasionally coming over to visit his girls between songs. I was smiles the entire set as I watched my favorite band play from the stage for once. I loved every minute of NOFX this night.

Last up was, Bad Religion. You may be asking yourself, “But wait, isn’t this a festival named after a NOFX album? Why didn’t they headline?” In one of the coolest feats of the night, the organizers managed to get Jay Bentley from his set at 7PM at Ye Scallywag, in San Diego, to Punk in Drublic, in Phoenix, to play with Bad Religion at 10PM. Jay didn’t even change out of his Me First and the Gimme Gimmes outfit for the set. His on stage performance didn’t look like it was missing any energy from this either.

The entire performance from Bad Religion was as fantastic as any time I’ve seen them before. This is a band that as I have got older, I’ve come to respect more and more. I love their song writing. I think highly of multiple members of that band from the above mentioned Jay Bently to Brian Baker and Greg Gaffin. I enjoyed the sense of humor they bring to the set. At one point, Greg asking the audience to stop slam dancing because the dust is affecting his voice while smirking back at Jamie on drums. They didn’t end up playing an encore, although there were softer chants for “One more song.” The best thing I overheard was Fat Mike telling Greg “They are fucking up. They should be chanting for two or three more songs.” I completely agree, and Bad Religion wrapped up one of my most memorable concert experiences with Punk in Drublic.

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