* this post is extremely late due to server issues/moves…you don’t want my life – Johnny
On Friday morning, the first official day of Fest, I awoke on the floor of a child’s room. Joe Dave (Too Many Daves) was kind enough to let a handful of us drunken idiots crash at his Tampa home. We packed up his truck, made a stop at the legendary Taco Bus and were on our way north. Two hours and way too many Pink Panzer tracks later, we were in Gainesville. In mere moments, I was walking down the street in my Halloween costume, headed to The Atlantic.
Outside the venue, I was swarmed by familiar faces. After exchanging pleasantries, I went inside to catch Madison Bloodbath, The Slow Death and Too Many Daves back to back. The rest of the night was spent pinballing through the streets of Gainesville. I ran down the street to catch Direct Hit! and then back to the Atlantic for Tiltwheel and Dead Bars. A friend then guided a somewhat intoxicated me over to Loosey’s for Hard Girls. They were the first band of the night which I had not previously seen and they put on one hell of a live show. I stumbled into the Wooly for the last two sets of my night. There I saw Benny the Jet Rodriguez and Screaming Females, two amazingly solid female fronted bands.
My long Friday was drawing to a close, but it wasn’t over yet. If you are part of any of the Fest groups on social media, you are aware of the food related threads. Apparently, Gainesville isn’t just a musical mecca. It is also a haven for delicious grub at places which keep late night hours just for the Fest. Tonight’s meal was a burrito from Flaco’s. I was told only wonderful things about this place and they lived up to the rave reviews. There is a Cuban bistro at the front half of the store and a counter in the back serving the most heavenly burritos. After scarfing down, we made the seemingly endless trek back to the hotel to pass out.
Saturday morning kicked off with a chance run-in with Steve from The Murderburgers. He was coming to the hotel to sleep (for the first time all night) and we were heading to brunch. He turned around to join us and forgo sleep for another day, an act that won him the “Hardest Partier of Fest 2014” award in my eyes. My second day’s schedule was filled with an hefty number of amazing bands. These included Rational Anthem, The Arrivals, Dear Landlord, Arms Aloft, The Jetty Boys, Boys, Chumped, Wringer, Beach Slang, Dan Padilla and The Dopamines.
Somewhere in there, we stumbled upon the most wonderful of parties at Loosey’s. Jason Thompson AKA Jason Guy Smiley, Gainesville musician and all around great dude, spends hours coring pineapples for his Pineapple Party every year. Hundreds of them are hollowed out to hold delicious tropical rum concoctions. Interestingly enough when I got to Florida, I had posted on Facebook that my only true wish of the trip was to drink out of a fruit. Needless to say, I stayed at the Pineapple Party and refilled my fruit until they ran out of drink refills.
At the end of the night, we staggered back to the hotel with the intent to sleep. Everyone else seemed to have other plans. We were roused from our beds and filed into a nearby room. Suddenly, the two full beds and all space around them were flooded with people. It was a Midwest party as members of Arms Aloft, Drones and Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band all took turns singing and playing an acoustic guitar which seemed to appear out of nowhere. Someone got Smirnoff Iced. There was an Ice Bucket Challenge performed in the bathtub. We took to the hall to piss of the neighbors. Someone ate part of a grilled cheese they found in the hallway… off of their chest. Then we went down to the lobby and collided with other like-minded, drunken individuals for the ultimate acoustic party mess. The night blurred; I think I fell into bed around 5:30AM.
Sunday hit me like an 18-wheeler. I dragged my exhausted body to see Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band at 3PM and Laura Palmer at 4PM. I was struggling. After grabbing a coffee and running into a Chicago friend who proudly showed off her newest tattoo – CUNT on the inside of her lip- I decided that I was all banded out for the time being. Instead, there were neighborhoods and the college campus to explore, the No Idea Records house to photograph and a quick nap to take. All were accomplished before catching Hard Girls again (they’re just too good) at High Dive. The next few hours were spent at a hard to find little spot called Tall Paul’s. There, I got to see Little Dave Merriman, Davey Tiltwheel and Laura Stevenson all perform amazing acoustic sets. It was nice to be in a more relaxed atmosphere where you could hear yourself drink. My energy level was decreasing with every passing second. I needed Flaco’s STAT. But the burrito failed me; I suddenly became too tired to stay up to watch the last set of Fest, The Murderburgers at Loosey’s. I trudged back to the hotel worn out. Fest was over.
As I stated in my Pre-Fest article, I was given the following advice before embarking on my very first Fest: drink water, don’t get too drunk if you want to stick to your schedule, get sleep and have fun despite the fact you’re working. Well, the first three were thrown out the window rather quickly. I think the most significant thing I learned about Fest is that, as much as it is about the music, it is also very much about your time in Gainesville. Your biggest struggle of the weekend will be picking which one of the five amazing things going on at the same time you want to attend. Well, that or fighting off exhaustion in my case. You can walk into a venue, knowing no one there and walk out high fiving everyone. You can walk into another venue and suddenly be surrounded by hundreds of friends. Everyone’s experience is different and unique, like some whiskey soaked punk rock snowflake. But, I guess the best advice I can give about Fest would be: just go!
Day 1 –
Day 2 –
Day 3 –