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. Check out our Day 1 dual coverage now!
We woke up Saturday morning and promptly headed to our Day Two breakfast of choice: Bagels & Noodles. What better way to wash away the mistakes of yesterday than through savory pho and cream cheese slathered bagels? After downing a healthy sum of coffee, we headed out for the day.
Bellies full and morale high, our first stop of the day was High Dive to catch Spanish Love Songs and Worlds Scariest Police Chases. We were (surprise) late for Spanish Love Songs, but Zack managed to weasel in for the last few songs of the set using his photo pass and I got in just in time to catch my personal favorite: “Buffalo, Buffalo.” I had no idea that this band had blown up, and the crowd that had come out for them was just as explosive. As I walked into the back of High Dive, bodies were being tossed everywhere and I watched their final track from the bathrooms.
We grabbed a few beers and waited for Worlds Scariest Police Chases – a FEST staple for us. Fresh off their latest full-length release, ABLUM 3, their set was a high-energy sprint through their discography. Their crowd seems to steadily grow every year. With the more serious (or as serious as a group of guys dressed as cops singing about Robitussin can get) tone in their new album it was great seeing folks show up to sing along to both their signature tongue-in-cheek “Gay Jesus for President” and more call out tracks like “Mind Trap.” Hopefully the release of their latest album will mean we get to see them tour a bit more in 2019!
After Police Chases, we split up. Zack stayed at High Dive for Guerilla Poubelle while John, Mariah and I headed to meet Zaak and Zane for Banner Pilot at Bo Diddley. As we count mistakes for the day, I’m chalking not stayed at High Dive up as my first for Saturday. We grabbed our first round of hot dogs and headed to what was really a lackluster set. Maybe it was a result of their late night mystery band set at Loosey’s the night before, or maybe it was the lack of club venue energy but their was a distinct lack of oomph in their set. Fingers crossed they tour Detroit soon and we can see them again in all of their glory.
We’d seen Banner Pilot during my first FEST and we’d talked them up a ton, especially because their 2011 album Heart Beats Pacific is in our crew’s constant rotation. Our collective disappoint was sharpened as Zack met up with us post-set, raving about Guerilla Poubelle. However, we were soon soothed by a back-to-back-to-back lineup in the plaza. We knew we were facing into a few hours at Bo Diddley, so we grabbed a fresh strip of drink tickets and settled in.
Up next was RVIVR, a first for all of us. Another band that’s pretty constant in our collective rotation, they were simply phenomenal. I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Erica Freas’ vocals, but seeing her in action blew that into a full-on love affair. She has one of the best and most powerful ranges of any singer I can think of.
Up next was Dead to Me, which I think took the cake for my favorite set of the weekend. I have been waiting what feels like all of my life to finally catch Dead to Me. Marooned over in Detroit means West Coast bands don’t often travel the Midwest beyond Chicago, and with Dead to Me’s five-year hiatus after 2011’s Moscow Penny Ante I’d all but given up on seeing them live. Despite Chicken’s inability to properly wear his shirt, they were simply phenomenal. The signature texture in their recorded music was ever-present as they bounced all around their discography. As if it was my birthday, they managed to play just about every one of my favorites – “Arrythmic Palpatations,” “Leibe Leise,” and “Splendid Isolation.”
I don’t know what I need to do to get Dead to Me to play Detroit in the next year, but someone hit me up and let me know.
I could easily make a logical argument for skipping The Flatliners‘ set. All Canadian punk bands are honorary Michiganders and cut their teeth bouncing between Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Lansing, and the Flatties were no exception. They’re one of the few bands who nearly never skip the state on a major tour, and we saw both of their sets at last year’s FEST (including their Great Awake in full mystery band set – my favorite from FEST 16). But like a moth to a(n inviting) light, I can’t skip them.
I’m – as always – glad we didn’t skip them, their set was as solid as ever and because they didn’t play a mystery band set it was the only chance to catch them all weekend. Plus, we spotted a wandering Garrett Dale from Red City Radio shuffling around the pit, later we’d find out he was high as heck.
Photos by Zack Jacob:
Another Fest morning is another morning not making it to the continental breakfast. We did, however, properly timed catching the shuttle headed downtown. The ride was amazing. The van was of course full of festers, but we cracked bad knock-knock jokes all the way there. We brunched at Boca Fiesta (less breakfast and heavy on the lunch since it was already afternoon). It was during Skyler’s salt bae imitation over a bowl of guacamole that I realized that I had left an essential part of my camera back at the hotel. Fuck. After food, I hopped into a Lyft with a dude who claimed that he’s best friends with Willie Nelson and some deceased serial killer who I had never heard of, grabbed what I needed, and made it back just in time for Guerilla Poubelle at High Dive.
Unlike at Pre-Fest, when a 2PM set time resulted in short lines and empty venues, today was a different story. With a hole in our schedules, Skyler and I headed to Boca’s patio to catch Adult Magic, a band which we knew nothing about and chose specifically for their name. As it turns out, the three piece actually includes Mike Bruno (of Iron Chic fame). As we sat at he bar sipping our drinks, we ran into Chicago’s Mike and Chel Boren (Two Houses, Third Twin Sister). We discussed the game that we, along with a handful of other Midwestern festers, had been playing via Facebook Messenger. It’s somewhat like Fest Bingo; there’s a list of typical “Fest” items and sayings that if you overhear or see, grants you points. You never realize how many people are wearing beanies until you’re fighting to get points for each one you see.
I scampered off to catch Dead To Me’s first three songs and was happily out of dodge before the “if you do cocaine, you’re a racist” rant began. I made it to 8 Seconds to catch Tijuana’s DFMK just a few songs in. I’ve said it once and it bears repeating – DFMK puts on THE best live show i have seen. They’re loud, they’re fast, they’re fun, and they’re full of energy.
I re-entered Bo Diddley for the second time today to catch The Flatliners’ playing “Hang My Head.” As I headed back from the photo pit through the crowd, I suddenly ran into the guys in Problem Daughter. I tried to sway singer/bassist Regan Ashton into grabbing a few drinks with me but was reminded that they were playing in just a few hours. I was, however, promised some party time after their set.
I joined back up with my people at Palamino for Squarecrow. The room was full of La Escalera Records friends and familiar faces. The San Diego-based trio played a handful of songs off their latest release, Before the Sun Catches Us All, along with bangers from their previous album like “Sarasota” which I rallied a few crowd members to help me emulate Kevin Rettie’s sick dance moves from the video.
I then trekked over to 8 Seconds with Skyler for Comeback Kid. As soon as we hit the inside of the venue, he was gone, disappearing somewhere into the massive crowd. I ended up upstairs, looking for anywhere I could snap a few decent photos but finding nothing in return.
I sprinted back over to Bo Diddley in time to catch the start of The Lawrence Arms’ set. They were playing Oh! Calcutta! in full which, personally, I believe is the only way to play that amazing album anyway so… It was somewhere in here when I received a text from Skyler telling me that his Fest wristband had been ripped off in the pit at Comeback Kid. He had made it in to see TLA, but the rest of the night would be a struggle.
We left Bo to regroup, plan, and eat Flaco’s. While we waited for our order, I checked with the staff at 8 Seconds to see if they found anything. Apparently (and shockingly), after each band that plays there all weekend long they clean up, sweep up, and take out the trash. All three of those things had already been done but I searched around the floor anyway. No luck. Fuck.
We inhaled our bag full of tacos as we troubleshot the rest of the night. I sent out some texts and emails to some of the wonderful Fest staffers that I know in hopes that we would have a solution sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we headed over to Palomino for Problem Daughter’s set. There was a little issue getting Skyler in the door without the main Fest band, but luckily he had about 40 other wristbands that he acquired throughout yesterday to show off as proof.
Problem Daughter’s first ever Fest set was just perfect. Regan kept repeating “That’s showbiz, baybeh!” between songs to Skyler and my delight, as it’s SUPER close to another inside joke we share. Sneaky Snake also made an appearance as the band tore through songs off Fits of Disorganized Boredom along with a new song from their upcoming release (Date and label TBA). The band actually made a joke asking if there was anyone in the crowd who worked for Epitaph, saying they would love to have Brett Gurewtiz’s people call their people. And oddly enough, after their set, I overheard three people near me talking about how they DO know someone who works at Epitaph. I was just about to speak up, but they started sharing WAY more info about this lady’s personal life than I ever needed to know. So I awkwardly backed away.
Without a wristband, we had two choices. We could try to risk it and leave Palomino/Boca and see if other venues would let Skyler in. Or we could just stay put and watch Nothington at Boca in just under an hour. We chose the safe and latter bet, hanging outside with friends. It was then that Todd from Squarecrow blew in out of seemingly nowhere, drunk as I’ve ever seen him, asking if we wanted to do Captain Ron shots with him. Thinking that he was jokingly making up a drink, we agreed. But as it turned out, Captain Ron shots were very real and very full of rum. Three Rons in each, the night started to spin by. One of Nothington’s very last sets came and went and Skyler and I found ourselves at a nearby bar that Kevin and I lovingly previously dubbed “Secret Bar” due to it’s close location to Fest venues but continual lack of Fest patronage.
While there were a few more bands we could try to see, we were ready to throw in the towel for the night. We were down one wristband. We had been in Florida partying for five days. The TV at the hotel had so many channels to watch… But before we retired for the night, we decided to stop off and grab hot dogs at the cart near Loosey’s.
As we were waiting in line, Todd (for the second time in a few hours) appeared out of nowhere. He informed us that he was hungry but didn’t have any more money… since he had spent it all on Captain Ron Shots. Skyler bought him a hot dog and dressed it the same as his own at Todd’s request – with two types of mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, and cream cheese. When asking for the second kind of mustard, the Hot Dog Guy called him a piggie, which I have heard is a step up from some of the comments made over the years.
We sat on the ground nearby and scarfed our food while Todd continually talked shit on the free hot dog he was scarfing down and its condiment choices. We snagged the Problem Daughter guys as they were walking by and made plans for a boozy brunch sometime tomorrow. With plans in place, we headed back to the hotel to regroup and prep for the very last and longest day of Fest.
Photos by Kendra Sheetz: