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 and Day 2 dual coverage now!
In theory, by Sunday one would likely have their shit together. But the best laid plans often derail, right? We thoughtfully filled our hot tub and turned it on, and our planning gave us a wonderful sunrise tubbing experience. We cracked open a few PBRs and were ready for all that Sunday had for us.
We started off with two more FEST traditions – first of which was donning our Power Rangers suits. Technically this year’s FEST wasn’t on Halloween, but we’ve never really let silly things like technicalities stop us. Five us of were rangers, but since Zaak didn’t want to spring for a green ranger suit, he just wore a green man suit. So we told everyone he was our pet frog and set out for the day.
Our second tradition was heading for actual food at Boca Fiesta for gator-itos, which is not what they call gator burritos on their menu, but we like our name better. After filling ourselves with agave liquor drinks and swamp chicken we headed out to our first venue: Big Lou’s for Garrett Dale‘s solo acoustic set.
If you’ve ever seen the Red City Radio frontman perform his acoustic show, you know it’s full of his characteristic growling laughter, dad-level jokes, and a heavy dose of drug references. If his tales are to be believed, our Garrett Dale sighting deep in The Flatliners pit the day before was an unsober sighting – which explains why he looked so lost.
Garrett’s goofy, sort of country act is the perfect Sunday starter set. From his cover of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” to his own solo tunes like “2016 Was,” everyone was in prime sing along mode. It’s always fun to watch a patio full of punks sing Garth Brooks. On top of a few full songs, the crowd was treated to a few renditions of a catchy tune about a gravity bong.
Next, we headed to a first for us: FEST Wrestling at 8 Seconds. I didn’t understand any of it, but it was a blast to watch. I wasn’t allowed to watch WWE growing up (Mom said it made my Dad and me “too violent”), so I didn’t have a ton of expectation beyond the greasy kids in high school who used to wear the same John Cena T-shirts to school every day. It was honestly some of the most fun I had all weekend. We watched through the Intergender PBR Wildman Cup and some sort of wild four-way tag team fight that brought the wrastling to the balcony, which was truly wild. I feel like a true dummy for not taking the time to check this out sooner!
Post wrestling we made our way to Bo Diddley for Red City Radio, which is the scene of the crime for our day’s downward spiral. RCR was, as usual, just grand. I’ve got a real soft spot for their sophomore album, Titles, and it’s a record that’s stayed in our collective rotation pretty heavily. I can’t keep my shit together while watching “Show Me On The Doll Where the Music Touched You” or “I’ll Take a Mile” live.
You’ll likely notice how short Zack’s gallery is, and that’s because shortly after his three-song maximum in the photo pit, he joined us in the pretty tame crowd to watch the rest of the set. Soon after, a crowd surfer was launched off the back of a guy who couldn’t be bothered to put his two drinks down, dropped the guy right on top of us. One swift leg kick and Zack’s camera smacked to the ground. The jury is still out if we can fix it, and we’re severely regretted passing on business insurance.
Despite this loss, we were determined to live our best lives for the rest of the day. We headed to heal our wounds with Sean, the hot dog guy, loading up on the best pepperoni-topped dogs money can buy. Feeling a little bit better, Zane showed up with a full pizza and Zack managed to find a southern rarity – jazz cabbage. We headed to our condo with a little more pep in our step.
Ditching Zack’s now useless gear, we fueled up on the last of our PBRs and whisky while bumping “Bassline Junkie” (a genuine masterpiece, by the way). We were turning this day right around, and headed back out into the streets of Gainesville to suck a few more sets out of FEST.
Still dressed as Power Rangers, we headed back to Bo Diddley catch Masked Intruder. As we made our way down the ramp, dancing merrily to “Heart Shaped Guitar,” Zack fell to the ground. Assuming he twisted his knee – he’d just ran a full marathon the week before and has had trouble with his knees in the past – I sat down next to him on a patch of grass to find him pale. He looked over and said, “This is bad.”
Unfortunately the first aid tent was completely unprepared for anything more than a bandaid and an ice pack. We grabbed an ice pack and strapped it to his knee using my fanny pack and carried him out. Dressed as Power Rangers, there are usually a lot of people staring or yelling out catch phrases. We carried poor Zack out to a lot of jeers about the puttys getting him. Objectively speaking, very hilarious.
We got Zack back to the condo, where John, Mariah, and I stayed with him for the rest of the night. After Googling all night we sort of figured he tore his ACL muscle judging on the amount of swelling and the crack he heard as his knee bent backward. A week and a half after we returned to Michigan, an MRI revealed he actually fractured the top of his tibia. When he hyperextended his knee, the meniscus slipped out of the way allowing his tibia and femur to crash against each other, fracturing the tibia.
So! As the mistake meter goes, cracking your tibia is a pretty big one. We’re calling Sunday with four crucial mistakes: Not seeing FEST wrestling before (retroactive mistake), not properly watching for crowd surfers, not getting the very adult business insurance we should have had years ago, getting too hecked up and fracturing tibias.
Despite the sour ending, this year’s FEST was as good a time as any. Twelve mistakes over three days isn’t too shabby! Let’s see if we can grab a lucky thirteen at FEST 18, but maybe without any broken bones.
Photos by Zack Jacob:
My most stacked day of Fest was, of course, the last day. I woke up freezing and covered in sweat. Skyler mixed me up a medical grade electrolyte packet with a bottle of water and sassed me until I downed the whole thing. My over 30 yr old bones may have been aching and my liver throbbing, but I would be damned if I would get Fest Flu before leaving the state of Florida.
We rallied and went to Crane Ramen, my Sunday of Fest saving grace for multiple years now. Skyler ordered extra noodles because apparently most places don’t know the proper noodle to broth ratio. But Crane Ramen doesn’t fuck around. Hr ended up with some broth and a bowl full of what looked like delicious spaghetti.
It was then that I saw my friend Matt Diamant walking by. With a quick text of ‘HEY I SEE YOU I’M IN THE RAMEN PLACE,’ he was inside and helping me finish my leftovers. The three of us then headed over to High Dive to catch Deanna’s (Sincere Engineer) acoustic set. The room was packed as she played songs off her album Rhombithian. Matt and I walked outside to grab some Fest Punch. We grabbed a seat right next to Shane Hendry (Reunions). Without any plan in place, we talked decided to head to the tiki bar that we had visited last year. On the way out, I grabbed Tyler Colton who was sitting nearby and we headed out to tiki. BUT… just as with all amazing things, someone had to ruin it. The tiki bar is now a coffee shop. *HEAVY SIGH*
Some of the group decided to head to Loosey’s for Quitters, another amazing band from France. I snapped a few photos and chugged down a DVP, already knowing that this Sunday had a different vibe than all prior days. That’s when I realized that I had completely forgotten to hit up Problem Daughter for brunch as we had planned last night. Within mere moments of my sending a text, the guys were headed into Loosey’s. We shared some photos of dogs we had on our phones over drinks, took a group photo, and decided to head out together to catch Bobby’s Oar.
We walked over to Big Lou’s and grabbed more drinks before taking a seat on the ground to watch Greg perform acoustic. The afternoon was starting to spin away from me and suddenly we were at Palomino watching Rebuilder. I was handed a Tito’s and soda by Saint Skyler, the patron saint of both enabling and curing my hangovers all weekend. Now, I’m not sure how many of you readers out there are Jersey Shore fans, particularly the newest season. But if you are, then you are familiar with the term “Spiral Squad,” in which (usually) Ronnie and Snooki go out, get wasted, and party their fucking asses off, falling over each other and laughing the whole time. Welp, welcome to Spiral Squad Fest style featuring Regan and Kendra AKA Slurricane Kegan.
We scampered over to High Dive to watch Dollar Signs. I danced and sang along to every song as Regan, who was new to the bad, spent their set screaming in awe. After their set, Regan and I convinced each other to get jello shots (even though he doesn’t eat jello and I’ve been vegan since I was 16. Eh, whatever.) We backed it with some Fest Punch and then walked out to the parking lot where Dollar Signs were playing with a hover board that Luke had used during their set. Drunk us HAD to give it a go. And surprisingly, neither of us ended up with broken bones. As it turned out, Drunk Regan is actually pretty good at hover board balance.
We watched just a bit of Hospital Job before running over to Durty Nelly’s for Matt Caskitt & the Breaks. I had all these preconceived plans of all the bands that I would be seeing today; just a few songs from each, as I would spend my day running around ensuring that I was covering each and every one of my friends’ bands. But… the day dissolved into a mini La Escalera Fest, as I drunkenly put the people and bands that I love the most in first place. That being said, this was my first time seeing Matt’s new band. They played the songs off their recently released EP, All Good Things Come To An End as the crowd – consisting of mostly familiar faces – sang and danced along.
Then back to High Dive for Western Settings. This is where the afternoon starts to get a little hazy. I remember more Fest Punch. I remember shouting “I’M NOT FUCKING DEAD” at the top of my lungs along with the band and everyone in my surrounding area of the crowd. Then back to Durty Nelly’s for Bastards of Young… who, I will admit, I have NO memory at all of seeing and actually was super sad about missing for days after Fest ended, until I reviewed the photos I took. Whoops.
Back to High Dive for The Shell Corporation. I have been chomping at the bit to see these guys since they released what – I believe – is one of the best albums of the year, Fucked. And I can tell you they did not disappoint. Do I remember most of their set? No. Do I remember fucking with Jan onstage while he sang and eventually throwing sneaky snake at him? Yes.
Back to Durty Nelly’s for Burn Burn Burn. This is when my soul reentered my body and I decided it was time to start remembering the evening. Durty Nelly’s has always been one of my favorite Fest venues, from the bands that end up playing there, to the bartender who was kind enough to keep making me weird shots because I was demanding “something that tastes good. Like a girlie bullshit shot… but not gross… but not cherry…” The Burn boys ruled the night as one of the most fun and crowd inclusive sets.
Never one to stay anywhere too long (at least not today), Regan and I ran off to Rocky’s to see Matt Diamant play guitar in Brutal Youth. We got into the venue without having to wait and rushed the stage. I knew that I had been drunk for hours at this point, but I couldn’t see Matt. I used the famous one eye technique to hone in on each member’s face… and still no Matt. It was then that I received a text from Skyler which was just a photo of him and Matt back at Durty Nelly’s shooting tequila. Because no one is allowed to have fun without Hurrican Kegan, we cycloned back Durty Nelly’s for the last set of the night, The Dodges. As the San Diego band played, everyone in the La Escalera family seemed to be showing up at the venue. It was time for fernet shots. And more non-cherry girlie shots. And literally anything else that anyone bought.
The night was over, but Fest sure as fuck wasn’t. After a quick trip to the corner store Jodi, Regan, Matt, Skyler, and I grabbed a Lyft and headed back to the hotel for The Great Canadian Beer Purge.
This year, it was in a nice ballroom area of the hotel where I had never been before. I watched Jason Guy Smiley, Dylan Slocum (Spanish Love Songs), and later Jared Stinson (Sic Waiting) perform acoustic sets. I drank cider through a pool noodle and snorted powdered Pedialyte telling people that I was half party/half prepared. I threw rubber ducks at strangers. I watched a few people mount each other’s shoulders and play chicken. Garrett Dale made an appearance to spit out some cider offered up by Regan. Somewhere in the early morning hours, Skyler, Regan, and I headed back to the hotel room. Regan curled up on our chair like a cat and I passed out in the bed, clothes on, and apparently snored as loud as could be.
Epilogue: We woke up still very drunk from the night before and yet somehow hungover. Dan picked us up in the van and we headed to Zaxby’s for some snaxbys. At the airport, we said our goodbyes to Skyler, as he was on a different flight in a different part of the airport. Dan, Sonja, Tahoe, and I snacked on Chik-Fil-A before heading to our gate where Tahoe and I grabbed a shot and drink before I had to say goodbye to my friend family.
The next few hours were a blur. I ran into Tim Andrews in the Charlotte airport during my layover. My amazing mother picked me up from O’Hare with a bag full of tacos from my favorite restaurant in Chicago. The 15 Flaco’s tacos I ate during the last three days were just a prelude to those from Quesadilla La Reina del Sur. A little sleep then work. This was the first year I didn’t get Fest Flu, probably thanks to Skyler, his magic electrolytes, and his consistent demands that I drink water. But in its place, I did get some of the worst Fest depression I’ve ever had. It took my ten days to leave the house in a social non-work, non-gym manner. Thank god for social media so I was able to keep up with my friends while also lamenting about how much I miss them.
Each Fest is different, just like each person’s singular experience. This year, I may not have had my normal go-to Fest crew with me and things may have not been exactly what I was used to from Fests prior. But it was still another amazing, unforgettable year. To quote the other half of my Spiral Squad… “That’s showbiz, baybeh!”
Photos by Kendra Sheetz: