Punk Rock Bowling – Always an Adventure!
May 27-29, 2023
Punk Rock Bowling – Friday
The Time We Visited the Punk Rock Museum
Punk Rock Bowling is always an adventure. I mean, holding an event in downtown Las Vegas for the punk rock community is obviously an invitation for people to get their freak on. But, this year, weird doesn’t even begin to describe it. We arrived on Friday afternoon and checked into the Gold Tower at the Golden Nugget (our annual home away from home). The lady who checked us in gave us the option, “10th floor, or 5th floor.”? Without hesitation I said, “5th please”, loud enough to drown out my husband who thought he had a say in the decision (this information is critical later in this story, so hold onto this). Maybe I’m a bit traumatized, but last year our upper floor was evacuated at 2:30am by a fire alarm; a 14-floor trek down the fire escape stairs is the kind of thing that stays with you (someone had smoked in the hallway, no fire). And, normally, this wouldn’t have been such a problem, but we had been at Punk Rock Bowling all day for the second day in a row, and then straight to the club shows and our legs were like noodles on the long climb down (not to mention the obvious copious amounts of alcohol we had consumed over the course of the 15-hour day).
With our bags in the room and a cocktail in hand we headed out to see The Punk Rock Museum. We were immediately greeted by a group of friends and found ourselves pushing past the guided tour to claim our spot deep inside the holy grail of punk rock memorabilia. This museum is well worth a visit! It is way larger than I thought it would be with memorabilia in every nook and cranny of the spacious rooms. Each room honors a different piece of punk rock history and adorns the visitors with music from that room’s themed movement. Upstairs you find Halloween Tattoo and a wedding chapel (I asked the hubby to remarry me, but he quickly scooted away like men do in the face of marriage talk. I’ve got news for you dude, we are already married, relax!). The Punk Rock Museum also hosts a fun bar with a huge patio for socializing and hanging out. Like all museums, once you decide to find the door you are shuffled through the gift shop, which had some killer merchandise to help commemorate the visit. By the time we were finished making several new friends and had seen the entire museum we realized that we had a club show to get to at Backstage Bar & Billiards, so we made our way back to Freemont Street, grabbing a bite at Evil Pizza where the line is long, but the slices are large and hot and so good. The weekend kicked off for us with Unit F, Some Kind of Nightmare, The Venomous Pinks, The Skulls, and Avengers. Friday night often sets the tone for me for the entire weekend, so I take it seriously and the scene at Backstage Bar & Billiards did not disappoint. Connecting two clubs, the patio was packed and the opportunity to touch base with friends set us up for the next three days.
Back to Top
Punk Rock Bowling – Saturday
The Time I Almost Got Kidnapped (on the way to Punk Rock Bowling)
This is where things got really weird! I decided to stay back at the room and join my husband and my group at the festival later. Recovering from foot surgery I knew I had to pace myself if I planned to see the headliners over the next two days. If you weren’t there this year you might not know this, but the Punk Rock Bowling festival venue changed this year. What had been an easy walk across the street to the Downtown Concert Venue was now a walk that consisted of several blocks through questionable neighborhoods. So, armed with my Google Maps on the shortest walking path I headed over to the show only to look up from my phone long enough to see that I had turned a corner and left the main street. I was now in an area with no hotels, no restaurants, no open businesses, and NO PEOPLE. Realizing my error, I turned around to walk back where I had come from. Then, a large man in a car drove up to me, slowed down, and forcefully ordered me into his car. WAIT! STOP RIGHT THERE! I am 54 years old. Who, in their right mind, would try to kidnap me, right?! It’s stupid! I’m in menopause, all I do is sweat and complain and I’m hardly hot anymore… He’s just trying to mess with me. So, I kept walking, ignoring him. Then, he pulled up next to me again and started following really close behind yelling, “get in the car!” This is when I had the brilliant idea of taking a picture of his license plate, you know, show him that I am not enthused. His reply was a haunting, “no one is going to find that phone”. Oh shit! I was in trouble! I started running (yes, I am recovering from foot surgery, so I’m hardly agile at the moment) and he sped up, drove to the corner, and made a U-turn. Now he was on my side of the street. I crossed the street and continued to run when I saw two men about a half a block up, both in punk t-shirts… my people! As he U-turned again to get back on my side of the street, I started yelling at them and waiving my arms, ran through a red light to cross the street with my creeper close on my heels, and when I got to the two men, they surrounded me. The asshat drove off. These guys were so nice. They made sure I was okay, got me on the right path to the show, and sent me off with a nice couple who was walking my direction. I’ve said it often, punk rock saved my life when I was a kid, but here the community was again, picking me up when I fell down in true punk family fashion.
Saturday was amazing! Bad Religion headlined, they had the whole venue dancing and singing along, moshing and picking each other up when someone fell. The Interrupters had a great set and set the tone for Bad Religion. Easily one of the funnest bands of the show, The Interrupters kick-started the dancing for a group that had been too hot all day to really partake in pit activities. I was also honored to see Fear in their “FEARwell” tour. One of my favorites for years, Fear has been a staple in the.
The Time I Abandoned My Husband in a (REAL) Hotel Fire
Okay, I promised you weird and this is where the proverbial shit hit the actual fan. So, I go back to the room after Bad Religion and my husband went to shoot club shows. At about 2:30am the fire alarm went off in our tower (again). I jumped up and grabbed my shoes and purse and went for the door when I noticed that my husband was not making a move. I prompted him to get going and he said, “I’m not doing this again. I can’t get down the stairs”. In my head that meant he was blowing it off because we had a fire alarm the year before that was nothing and he was tired from photographing the shows for hours. He told me to go if I wanted to. So, I made a comment under my breath about Darwinism, and I left. The minute I stepped out of the stair well I knew this was not a false alarm. There were five fire trucks with their hoses pulled and dozens of fire fighters entering the building. The sidewalk was filled with people who had evacuated. I tried to go back through the stairwell, and it was locked. I’m not proud of this, but this is the moment I lost it. My husband was on the 5th floor, and he thought this was fake. I must have been a total spaz because a firefighter stopped what he was doing and told me, calmly, that the fire was out, and they were just checking for damage and moving the smoke out. The fire was on the 10th floor (smoke rises), so my husband was safe. But there I was, again, on the sidewalk in my pajamas and flip flops, almost dead cell phone, waiting to re-enter my tower and go back to bed. Turns out, the hotel personnel had no idea how to get the elevators to run again, so there we stood for over two hours and as I stood there, waiting patiently, my edibles (that I take to help me sleep) kicked in. I was peaking hard, the entire tower of guests hustled around me complaining and fighting for a way to get back to bed, some red neck yelling at an 85-year-old man who “cut the line” to the elevators (in reality he wanted to sit on the chair that was there). Again, two men from Punk Rock Bowling saved me, grounded me, entertained me and made me feel safe… so much laughter… until the stairwell was finally opened up and we were asked to climb the fire escape stairs back to our rooms. Five floors, not ten. And it was the 10th floor that was on fire and had its sprinklers go off flooding the entire floor and everyone’s property in their rooms. I am a genius! Once back in my room the adventure was not over. The alarm continued to sound on my floor every 30 seconds until 8:30am. Good thing we don’t plan to get a lot of sleep at Punk Rock Bowling! The next morning I was fired up, ready to lay into my husband for risking his life by not evacuating. I had the speech all worked out in my head. I opened with, “I need to know why you did not evacuate last night”. His response… he pulled the blankets back to expose a horribly swollen ankle that was purple and black and looked extremely painful and that’s when he repeated, “I can’t get down the stairs”. He got hurt in the pit at Anti-Heroes and quietly climbed into bed moments before the fire alarm went off. In that instant I went from the justifiably upset wife to the wife who abandoned her injured husband in a fire. Which, if I’m being honest, pissed me off even more because damn it, he wins again!
Back to Top
Punk Rock Bowling – Sunday
The Time the Photo Pit Barrier Broke (at Punk Rock Bowling)
Once I finished apologizing for abandoning my injured husband during the hotel fire, I went to Walgreens and got him an ankle wrap and a cane. I mean really, we are not going to miss any of Punk Rock Bowling for an injured ankle, right?! Sunday was looking up. Nothing weird had happened since the early morning hours and everything felt calmer and more enjoyable. The high I was riding knowing that Rancid was the headliner for the day kept things pushing forward at a steady and motivated pace. Honestly, it felt like the entire festival had sunk in and found their grove by Sunday.
The Casualties were hands down the very best pit of the entire festival (again)! People were motivated and once they acclimated to the heat at the new festival site on day 2, they were ready for an eruption of energy and group antics and The Casualties fed upon that energy like they always do, with drive and determination to out-play and out-pit every other band. GBH was another highlight. An OG punk band who could have ridden off into the sunset years ago, GBH continues to kill it on stage. They are full of energy and sound the same as they did in the 1980’s. Face to Face played a solid set and showed us that punk can be professional and well-rehearsed. But it was Rancid who stole the day. With a packed-in crowd, tons of hype, and enthusiastic anticipation filling the air. Rancid took the stage amidst droves of adoring fans who proceeded to push so hard on the photo pit barricade that a few songs in, the band stopped playing. Lars asked the crowd to, “scooch 5 steps back so we can fix the barricade” and everyone did, even the people in VIP who were nowhere near the barricade. He proceeded to entertain us for the 25 minutes it took to fix the safety barricade with a few acoustic songs, some jokes, and a lot of encouragement to be patient. Once the barricade was fixed Rancid proceeded with their entire set, which they nailed. Adorned by singalongs and multiple healthy pits, Rancid felt the love from the festival goers and it showed in their performance which was easily my favorite of the festival.
All in all, Punk Rock Bowling was killer this year and very memorable with several amazing stories that will surely become favorites among my concert recants. We are thankful for the access we are provided when we attend Punk Rock Bowling, and we can’t thank the staff and promoters enough for allowing us to photograph and cover this annual happening. To our punk rock family, thank you for having my back multiple times over the course of the weekend. It is a wonderful thing to know that you will be picked up when you fall down.