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 are again including two separate write ups for each day of Fest, outlining two very different party packed weekend experiences along with a whole slew of photos. Just consider it a little extra something to peruse while you get over Fest Flu.
Check out our Day 1 coverage here!
Written by Krista Gjestland
After a rough year, I’ve decided to approach my FEST experience with an eye toward gratitude. Last FEST Zack broke his leg and my mental health took a hard tumble in 2019. Instead of talking about all of the ways the weekend could have been better, I’m allowing myself to embrace the things that made me feel thankful for being here. So without further ado, here are all of the things I’m grateful to have experienced on day 2 of FEST18.
- Not being (not that) hungover. We drank the blue slushy at Downtown Fat’s the night before, and whatever sugar-alcohol combination is in that devilry was definitely not necessary. Sugary alcohol usually gives me the worst hangovers, so I’m thankful somewhere in the night on day 1 drunk Krista drank a decent amount of water to counter balance. Good onya, mate.
- Eating gator at Boca Fiesta. OK, so you can actually get alligator pretty easily in Michigan and technically I didn’t even order gator, but it’s become a longstanding tradition to head to Boca for gator tacos. We sat with our first drinks of the day, filling up on as Cold Wrecks played on the Boca stage. Ten out of 10, recommend starting one of your FEST days on the Boca patio.
MichiganPenske File with a ton of Michiganders. Michigan is just Canada’s southern-most state. The line between Canadian and Michigan bands blurs, and at FEST you might have assumed that The Penske File was a Mitten state trio based on the crowd. Sing-screaming along to “Damned,” “Kamikaze Kids” and “Come What May” with a ton of familiar faces was the little bit of home I aways crave when I head to FEST. Not a lot of Michigan bands gain an elusive spot on the FEST lineup, so we’re counting Penske and coming in screaming.
- Max Stern’s voice. Honestly, I’d pay good money to have the Signals Midwest frontman sing me to sleep every night. While our squad split up and half headed over to Loosey’s to try to catch the Lippies, I stayed at 8 Seconds by myself to finish listening to “West Side Summer” and “Your New Old Apartment.”
- Blackin’ in with Worlds Scariest Police Chases. For a band that hardly ever tours, I’ve seen WSPC a lot. I’ve got a sort of soft spot for the band – it was one of the first “small” bands I started writing about when I transitioned from being a full-time news journalist to a hobby music “journalist.” Don’t tell anyone I told you, but they’re also some of the nicest people we’ve met through writing and photographing music. Our annual sing along to “Mindtrap,” “Blackin’ In,” “Gay Jesus for President” and this year’s deep cut “Citizen’s Arrest” is a huge highlight of every FEST for me. I’m grateful that writing about music has given me the chance to have friendships with people I would have never met if I just stayed in Detroit all of the time.
- Girls all night at the Wooly. We headed to the Wooly for the end of The Bombpops, and ended up staying through until the final set of the night, Bad Cop / Bad Cop. Between the two, every single band had women on stage. That’s a total of four straight bands – Bombpops, Go Betty Go, Tsunami Bomb and Bad Cop / Bad Cop. In a giant, overwhelming sea of men it is incredibly empowering and motivating to see so many women take the stage all night. These are the lineups I want to see, not just at FEST but at home and everywhere else, all the time. Thank you, more please!
- Finally catching Tsunami Bomb. Speaking of empowering experiences, I’m so grateful to have finally caught Tsunami Bomb live. I first encountered the band where I learned to be a punk – the Rock Against Bush volumes. But for a 15 year-old living in an industrialized cornfield, there was no way I’d get a chance to see them. Then, they took a hiatus. So I’d given up ever catching them. Zack and I talked all weekend about how they were such a sleeper set; any cobwebs we’d thought might be there were shaken off long before they hit the stage. Tight and full of energy, it was so obvious that they were doing what they wanted to be doing: played music together.
- Lasting until Bad Cop / Bad Cop’s late night set. I rarely make it to the late shows at FEST. I just hit a wall around 12am that there’s no climbing over. I’m a little baby without my eight hours, and by this point in the night both Zack and I were exhausted. He still struggles with some pain in his no longer broken leg, and I’d worn my Vans which were busy tearing up my hips after about 12 hours on my feet. For an hour before their set started I knew that if I mentioned it, Zack would probably have called it a night. Our reward was a ripping Bad Cop / Bad Cop set complete with guest appearances from War on Women‘s Jenarchy and Pity Party’s singer, Sarah. The room was packed, and we couldn’t leave the corner we’d claimed even if we wanted to. They might not have played five sets this year, but they packed all of the energy and enthusiasm of five sets into that one. Ending with a giant conga line to “Day-O,” it was the high-energy end to the night my old bones needed. So this bit of gratitude goes out to Zack, for always being my ride-or-die for every set for all of time.
Photos by Zack Jacob
Writing and photos by Kendra Sheetz
One of the perks of sleeping on a hotel floor is that there’s no need for an alarm clock. Someone will eventually HAVE to go to the bathroom and, if you’re near the door, that’s your cue to get up. This happened to me around 10:30AM on Saturday. It was only then that I realized that I had missed Yoga for Punks for the millionth year in a row. One day, Miggy. One day!
With bands to see and photos to take, I left the group who was getting ready and I headed over to Loosey’s and met up with Tim (Timmesota) and Kristen for morning banana ciders. I had completely forgotten it was the Pineapple Party until I got there and saw everyone drinking from fruit. We sat around and talked and laughed and cider-ed and watched Coffee Project. While today’s schedule was jam-packed, there were sets where I wanted to take in every single second. In previous years, my goal was always to cover as many bands as possible – showing up, shooting, and leaving all within two to three songs. But this year, I wanted to enjoy myself. Not that I wouldn’t be running around like crazy, but maybe a little less crazy that in years prior.
First on my list was Tim Barry at Bo Diddley. The crowd was a little sparse; if they were anything like me, they were battling a nasty Mango White Claw induced hangover. I had actually thought that I had done a pretty commendable job of keeping it together last night… until I found a photo on my phone of Regan and I chugging two tall boy sized White Claws each at the same time. After Tim, I wandered over to High Dive to catch Guerilla Poubelle. Since I was early, I was able to snag some talk time with Shane from Heck Yes and photographer extraordinaire Katie Claire (she’s also one of Bad Copy’s newest contributors and her photography will rock your socks off, guaranteed).
There were a few ‘don’t you dare miss a second of this’ sets on my schedule today and The Lippies was one of them. I was inside Loosey’s and at the front of the stage before any band members were even on it. Of course, the Grand Rapids, MI four-piece was amazing. Ever since they reunited a year or so ago, they have spared no time remaking a name for themselves in this scene. While Tonia takes the majority of the spotlight when it comes to onstage performance, the personalities of each member of the band comes through more so now than during their first run, making their stage presence even more commanding… and just so goddamn great.
I then headed over to CMC to catch my pals in Devon Kay & the Solutions. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the back-patio area and found it packed. While I watched my friends shout and dance and play all over the stage, I started to think how Fest is such a bizarre and unique experience. Sure, there are petty fights between people who don’t get along (myself included). There are the highs and lows of an alcohol and junk food filled weekend. Makeups and breakups and opinions and facts. But, in the end, when you zoom all the way out, what you have is thousands of people coming together to celebrate music and the people who make it. I am so lucky that I get to spend my days helping bands promote their art. And remind me that I wrote this on those days where I bitch, moan, whine, and complain about how much Bad Copy work I must fit in around my 40+ hour a week job. Normal people like Devon Kay and his band (or like in the story about Regan and Bill from Day 1) are rocketed to semi-superstar status because the words and music they create resonates with so many people on levels that nothing else in our day-to-day lives does or can do. Again, Fest magic brought me very much into the moment and left me with a feeling of awe.
It was around here somewhere where Regan found me. At least, I think it was Regan… he no longer had any hair. He had completely shaved his head for the Rancid cover set that Problem Daughter would be playing later that night. Man, do I love someone who fully commits to a joke or costume! After chatting with Devon and Joram post-set, the Problem Daughter guys and I moseyed over to Bo to catch The Bronx. I’ve been listening to this band for years and every time I see them live, they still blow me away. There is just so much power packed into each song. And, while lead singer Matt Caughthran’s stage hype is always about the same, it always does the job and gets people fucking stoked. Great set. Knowing that I would be seeing Mariachi El Bronx tomorrow made it even better.
Over to The Wooly for Dead Bars and the room was packed. It reminded me when my friend Kevin used to come to Fest and, one year, we saw Dead Bars five times over Pre-Fest and Fest. Ever since then, it had become a running joke to catch them as many times as humanly possible whenever they played. Over the last few years, they’ve blown up and rightfully so. It was a fucking trip to see so many people singing along to songs like “Earplug Girl” and “No Tattoos.”
Full of some sort of strange White Claw boozy seltzer equivalent that they had at the Wooly which tasted like Froot Loops or vape pen juice, Reg and I headed over to Palomino to catch Pity Party. I may have missed their Distillers cover set but I refused to miss anything else. We met up with Couple of the Decade – Jehiah and Jessica – and sang our hearts out as the Bay area band took over the small corner stage.
I separated from the group and went rogue, heading over to Downtown Fats (which was lovingly abbreviated DTF over the door) to catch the #1 cannot miss band of the weekend, Little Teeth. The four-piece hails from Munich but consists of two Americans I know – Jason Thompson (The Sky We Scrape) and Cory Call (Arliss Nancy). I’d been talking with Jason about their debut album for months and then bent his ear about what it’s like to move out of the US (am I hoping for literally anyone but Trump in 2020? Yes. Am I planning to flee America just in case? You’re damn right I am). In all of that, I only actually listened to the album in full a few weeks before Fest and I was HOOKED. It was all I could do to contain myself as I shouted along and danced to their set. And then it found me…
I feel like I’ve been sprinting away from death for the last 18 months. Earlier this year, I lost more friends than I could count on two hands in under three months. I can confront and tackle pretty much anything that most people are scared of. But, when it comes to dealing with death, I freeze. I shut down. I’ve actually been trying to write a review of Miggy Chen’s latest book about death for the past SIX months, but every time I start to write even the basest of sentences, I feel a lump of panic rising up in my throat and cease.
Last year, my world was ripped apart when Johnny Wilson (creator of the site For the Love of Punk) took his life. I don’t know why I didn’t put it together before but when Cory introduced the last song of the set, “Bender” (the last name Johnny bequeathed to himself before his death, as he was careening out of control), I lost it. Tears streamed down my face as I sang along to “I’ve been losing all my life /I can’t seem to get it right.” A memory of Johnny from years prior floated up to the surface. He had told me that he and a friend were starting a new project which he was recording in his basement. And that project was Little Teeth, at least the first formation of. Fuck.
I pulled myself together and balled my feelings about Johnny up and tucked them away (much like I have been doing for over a year now) and caught what I could of Dollar Signs. 8 Seconds was filled to the brim and I made it just in time to see Eric Button launch himself off the stage and into the crowd. Everyone was screaming along and pumping their fists. It’s always so amazing to see a band who works as hard as Dollar Signs has finally getting what they deserve. But I was still on the move.
I ran over to The Atlantic to catch Problem Daughter’s Rancid cover set. The room was at capacity and I was stuck outside, peering in through the window, until someone from inside left. I watched the Utah four-piece kick off their first song and my friends in the audience waved at me, motioning me to come in. If it was only that easy. Luckily, some saintly soul left, and I sprinted past the doors of the Atlantic and into the crowd. If I could pinpoint a moment where I subconsciously told my vocal chords to fuck off for the rest of the weekend (and most of the following week), this was it. The guys absolutely killed it. And while Regan was the only one in costume, the vocal and musical stylings were spot fucking on. 10 out of 10, would Tim spin around and around and around for again.
After, I ran over to The Wooly and caught what I could of The Eradicator’s set. This is another one of those bands I’m just so fucking happy to see thriving. What started as a campy shtick about squash based on a Kids in the Hall sketch has turned into a great and powerful band who is not just enjoyable to watch, but also has songs that are relatable to every day life. I too wake, hydrate, and take baby aspirin.
The night was winding down and so was my energy. But not before catching the first of two nights of The Dopamines. The crowd was absolutely wild, and I was at the front of it all, being squished to death. The band has always thrived off the energy of the audience and tonight was no exception. It was fucking insane. Afterwards, we met up with David and Tyler of The Lippies somewhere outside 5 Star. They guys had flipped their shirts into fashionable crop tops, and we sauntered our way over to 8 Seconds for Worriers, the last band of my evening.
I snapped only a few photos before heading to the back of the room where a huge group of friends was congregating. I hugged and praised and laughed and drunkenly became obsessed with this broken spot in the wooden floor of the venue which looked just like the state of Illinois. I ran into Barry and Mat of Joyce Manor, who I had not seen since we used to hang out back in California when I was 19. We briefly reminisced about the old days before they faded back into the crowd. Eventually the music stopped, the lights went up, and we were ushered out of the venue and into the night.
As the conversation train rolled ever onwards, Reg and I found ourselves at 4 in the morning sitting near the vending machine in a Wyndham hallway. Midway into discussing some heavy shit, some random dude walked up to us, introduced himself, popped a squat, and started talking to us about his pet turtle. The conversation lasted for what felt like seventy hours, but probably was no more than twenty minutes. Either way, it was enough to take the wind out of both of our conversational sails. We waited for the opportune moment to excuse ourselves and went back to the room and passed out in preparation for the very last day.