Anyone who has attended Fest knows that the experience is different for each and every person. You and your friend could be inseparable for three days straight and still have hugely altered opinions of the weekend. This is why we here at Bad Copy have decided to include two separate write ups for each day of Fest, outlining two very different party packed weekend experiences along with a whole slew of photos. Kendra’s story begins on her fourth day of partying (including her Tampa arrival on Tuesday and two days of Pre-Festing. Krista and Zack’s story begins in Gainesville proper and includes lemon drop shots. Enjoy!
Not one of us was in a rush to get up this morning. When we absolutely had to, we fumbled our way around the room getting ready and packing with a lackadaisical fervor. Nikki departed our group to head North with other friends. And in her place, we picked up one Jake Butterbrodt. We headed to pick up Sonya and Tahoe at their hotel and as we pulled up we saw Piebald. Let the Hey! You’re part of it jokes commence. The ride from Tampa to Gainesville always feels like a trek, but luckily this trek was filled with inside jokes. Shout out to Indiana Jon-… I mean Montana Jim DDS. Why is it occasionally spiders? And of course, no road trip would be complete without a pitstop at Arby’s who apparently has the meats. However, I frequent their establishment for their curly fry and Arby’s sauce combo.
Before I knew it, Skyler and I were being dropped off at the Wyndham. Check-in went as smoothly as possible, although I thought that this couple near us thought we cut them and that started a slow internal panic that would burn for the rest of the weekend. My lens had arrived thanks to my Mom! The MVP of Fest! We walked all the way to our room, a walk that seemed longer than the ride from Tampa. We dropped out stuff, prepped, and headed out to start the second run of our trip.
One of my MUST SEE bands was the band that started my day. There was no way in hell that I would be missing my guys in The Ridgelands. We walked into Mother’s Pub just as they were setting up. For a first time Fest band from the far away lands of Chicago basically opening up the day, their audience filled the whole venue side of the bar. They ripped through a set of what I, as a fan, would call hits as the audience either sang along or kept ear-to-ear smiles plastered on their faces. I’m so proud of these dudes. Last December, they opened for The Lawrence Arms’ War on Xmas and now they’re here at Fest. Long story short, The Ridgelands fucking rule in the Midwest and they slayed in Gainesville.
We had a little time before Four Lights hit the stage at Mothers, so I walked Skyler down University into the main area of Fest proper. It was his first year festing and I wanted to show him the lay of the land (i.e.: make sure he knew where Flaco’s Tacos was so he could find me at 2AM every night). Next up was Pkew Pkew Pkew at Palamino. But we made the mistake of walking in through the Boca Fiesta entrance. We happily ran into the Minneapolis friends and grabbed drinks. Unfortunately, we were told that we had to enter the venue through the other entrance on the opposite side of the building and were told that the line was nearing a block long. Eff that super hard. So we grabbed a seat near the Boca doorway and listened to the band for a few songs.
Back to Mothers for my first DVP (AKA Double Vodka Pineapple, duh) of the day and one of the best Four Lights sets I’ve even seen. The Seattle four piece played songs off both of their LPs. But I got super excited when they played “Three Strikes is a Turkey” off their split EP with Squarecrow. I grabbed Western Settings’ Adam Kissell and started to waltz through the crowd. The wonderfully skilled and famous Marc Gartner shaped some photos. Make sure to check out his coverage of Fest!
Next on the docket was another Midwestern favorite of mine, The Eradicator, over at High Dive. Last year, the masked squash aficionado filled the outside Boca venue. This year, the much larger High Dive seemed to be brimming with even more fans who knew every word to the anti-tennis filled tunes. Dollar Signs’ Luke Gunn even graced the stage for a trumpet solo before The Eradicator himself hopped off the stage and headed for the exit, no doubt running to the cab that he had waiting.
We then headed over to Palomino for Boss’ Daughter. I’m never sure what to classify this band as, and that’s just fine with me. They’re part punk, part horn, part crust, but none of these titles really touch on where they are as a whole. Either way, the pool hall filled to the point that people had to corral themselves in between tables to catch a glimpse of the band’s amazing set.
I ran over to 8 Seconds to catch PEARS. In years past, the venue has always been lax with their rules about letting me onstage or in semi-restricted areas. This time, however, they flat out refused. Therefore, I was left on my own to attempt to push my way though the rambunctious crowd as they thrashed and shouted along to the NOLA four piece. I tried to make my way towards the front but was met with a heavy HELL NO by the crowd. I walked to the complete opposite side of the venue to try to catch a glimpse of my friends, only to be met with another wall of people. That’s when Pete from The Bollweevils seemingly floated up out of nowhere and asked/demanded that I jump on his shoulders. The next thing I knew, I was practically soaring in the air, snapping photos left and right. I don’t know how I ended up with some of the best friends ever, but I am damn glad I have them in my life. Thanks Pete! I owe you a beer or six.
I stayed at 8 Seconds for Timeshares, per Skyler’s request. The Philly and NYC based four piece ran through their upbeat songs. From what I could hear between Skyler losing his shit and singing along, they had a Latterman-esque qualities. They also mentioned that they had played Fest something like ten years in a row which is no easy feat. As I headed out of the venue, I ran into the infamous Sneaky Snake from Las Vegas before I headed over to Arms Aloft’s Jimmy Eat World cover set. It wouldn’t be the last time that I saw the giant green snake hand puppet this weekend.
HO-LY-SHIT. I had no idea what I was walking into when I walked into Loosey’s. I will be the first to admit that I am not the biggest Jimmy Eat World fan. But I am a big Arms Aloft supporter. And I can say that the Wisconsin four piece fucking slayed. The crowd was piling on top of each other as they fist pumped and shouted along to each and every song. And that was just the start of the awe inspiring cover sets. Ramona was up next with their Beastie Boys cover set. Again, at best, I am a casual Beastie Boys listener at best. But fuck me if the newest addition to Red Scare Industries didn’t kill it. From the matching outfits to the accessories to the mesh shirt dancer who took the stage during “Girls,” it was – hands down – the best cover set of the weekend.
I snuck out just before it ended to catch whatever I could of Riverboat Gamblers‘ set. This band has been going strong for what seems like forever and their live set has never wavered. Of course, tonight was no different. Stage drives, jumps, thrashing, and shredding abound. All of it was made just that much better as my amazing friend and danceaholic Aaron Wimmer was standing right next to me, having the time of his life throughout the whole set.
Before I called it quits. I headed back to Loosey’s to catch the mystery band, Banner Pilot. The line snaked around the block and, although I had stood in line and waited with my friends for most of the day, I blessed my ‘cut the line’ photo pass at that moment. Banner Pilot played phenomenally. Everyone in the crowd was singing along, arm over shoulder; it was the best way to close out the first official day of Fest.
I dragged Skyler over to Flaco’s for my favorite late night (or really any time of the day or night) drunken Fest indulgence. We crammed tacos and burritos into our faces as we waited for the Lyft to come get us and take us back to the hotel. Day 1 of Fest was in the books. Two more to go.
Photos by Kendra Sheetz:
The first day of FEST is always the nuttiest. We never learn to fly in a day early and end up squeezing into Gainesville Friday mid-afternoon, making us rush into the weekend. There’s just so much to do between setting my out-of-office notice and cracking open my first PBR.
Four years in, and we should be FEST veterans. But alas my husband and photographer-in-crime, Zack, and I continue on a path of destruction each and every time we head to Gainesville. This year, with a full crew totaling six in tow, turned out to be our most mistake-filled adventure to date.
We managed to have just enough time to slam a few icy PBRs and whisky shots in our condo before heading off to Bo Diddley for our first can’t miss set of the weekend – Direct Hit! As a favorite of our whole gang, their energy-fueled set was the perfect way to kick everything off. The band had just released their latest full-length album, Crown of Nothing, which we had promptly been jamming the entire drive from Orlando to Gainesville.
This was the first time I’ve seen Direct Hit! at Bo Diddley during FEST – which I’m lowkey grateful for. I’ve either barely squeezed in (Boca Fiesta FEST 14 and 8 Seconds FEST 15) or been given the dreaded “at capacity” (every damn set FEST 16). I know lots of folks will avoid sets at Bo Diddley since it’s the least intimate stage but, I saw a woman’s knee bend straight backward during their Boca Fiesta set at FEST 14 and I never want to see anything like that again. While seeing Direct Hit! at the plaza didn’t have the same sort of raucous club energy some of the smaller venues provide, it’s great seeing a band grow in fandom from FEST to FEST until the smaller spots just can’t handle their crowds anymore. Playing to that crowd, Direct Hit! played across their discography, including both new and old as well as two of my personal favorites, “Werewolf Shame” and “They Came For Me.”
From Direct Hit! we split up so four of the six of us could head to Bad Cop / Bad Cop at 8 Seconds while the other two made their way to another venue. It was around this time someone had the bright idea to start downing lemon drop shots, which was probably one of our first mistakes of the night. Unfortunately, that bright person was me!
We could rename this website Bad Copy / Bad Copy with how much everyone here loves this California four-piece, and I’m certainly no exception. I’ll never be over how powerful these women are on (and off) stage. Certainly not helped by the lemon drops and steady flow of PBR, I found myself cry-singing through their entire set. Songs like “Cheers,” “Wild Me,” and “Victoria” have the kind of songwriting we all aspire to hear and make: Music that resonates with just about everyone because it’s so damn easy to relate to. They have a gift for tapping into the common human experience, and then throw it on top of raging harmonies, a heavy rhythm section and melodic guitar.
And here, kids, is where the night damn-near fell apart. We caught a glimpse of Night Birds as we downed another set of shots and headed off for some much needed food. However, we instead found a bar with $2 PBR tallboys and drank our dinner instead. It was unnecessary, and fueled by meeting two more Michiganders. Suddenly we realized we’d missed Tsunami Bomb entirely and were cutting it close to making The Menzingers‘ set. We rushed off to Bo Diddley once again, bellies full of PBR instead of life-giving food.
What could only be described as drunk panic ensued as we all split up almost immediately upon entering the plaza. One semi-sane person, John, made an attempt to feed us only to find we did not stay put. Zack headed to the photo pit while I barreled into the center of the crowd, ready to sing-cry some more. There I found the lost two from our group – Zaak and Zane – and dove into the full Menzies experience. That experience, for the record, was a whirlwind of stranger hugs, me losing my glasses almost as much as I lost my footing and Zane’s near-loss of his beloved bear hat. It was sweaty and awkward and it was definitely a dude-heavy crowd from where I was, but it was exactly The Menzingers set I wanted. For me the four-piece is cathartic music at its absolute best. From “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” to “The Obituaries” to “Charlie’s Army,” who needs therapy when I have these moments, right?
After The Menzingers it became very apparent that we needed to head back to our condo for a regrouping. Turns out the lack of dinner took a toll on our squad, knocking two out for the night. We responsibly drank some water and tucked our dearly departed into bed before setting our sights on getting to Red City Radio’s mystery band set.
So the remaining four stumbled off into the night, in search of actual food and Red City Radio’s set at Boca Fiesta. After grabbing a slab of 5 Star and promptly burning the roof of our mouths off we set a course for Boca only to be given the dreaded “at capacity.” Boca! How you tease me year after year with your low capacity and my poor timing!
Dejected, Zane suggested we try to catch French Canadians Lost Love at Rockey’s Piano Bar promising he thinks he remembers that they’re pretty good. It was lightly packed, but we steered ourselves right. Despite his less-than-stellar sales pitch, he was right on. Their grooving brand of pop-punk was exactly what we needed to cap off our night. Fun and upbeat, we left desperately trying to find ways to make sure our sober selves remembered to look them up when we got home. Fortunately Zack bought a pot leaf band tee from them, that he promptly wore to vote for recreational marijuana back home in Michigan a week later. Take that, The Man!
So for those counting, our mistake-meter is up to a whopping four at the end of day one. Lessons to learn here? Eat your dang dinner, don’t take lemon drop shots, don’t let $2 PBR tempt you, and leave with enough time to catch those mystery band sets!
Photos from Zack Jacob: