Punk Rock Bowling (Friday)
Las Vegas, May 24-27, 2019
Come a Day Early, Claim Your Spot on the Frontlines of Punk’s Best Festival
Making it a point to show up in Vegas a day early for Punk Rock Bowling to attend the opening night of club shows is highly recommended. The energy and anticipation of that first set of club shows is indescribable. The pools aren’t packed yet, the bars still have room for a large pit, and the shows are always energetic, with a clear sense that the tone for the next three days of great music rests in the hands of the diehards who dared to call in sick on a three day weekend to build the momentum that has made Punk Rock Bowling the mecca for punk enthusiasts and bands – up and coming as well as headliners. Freemont Street quickly becomes your home away from home as the events for the entire festival are centered there, within walking distance of each other. A quick scan of the local bars and restaurants quickly becomes a strategic scouting of the daily schedules for pre- and post-show festivities to come. This year Punk Rock Bowling has added a second stage allowing us to see even more bands than in previous years. I was bummed that I had to leave one fantastic show to make it to the next show at the other stage. But, with two stages I was able to get to the front rather easily (even for the headliners) to secure a good spot. Thank you to the Stern brothers and their fantastic staff for the opportunity to cover PRB 2019. It is always the social and concert highlight of our year.
Stitches Set the Tone for A Weekend of Music, Drinking, and Another Amazing PRB Weekend
The Stitches, Weirdos, and Dills opened the festival at one of my favorite venues, Backstage Bar & Billiards. This venue is small and intimate with an awesome atmosphere and a hometown air that drives a sense of family and closeness. I’ve never left this venue without a new festival friend. The people here are the people you will see all weekend and drink beer with, laugh with, and share stories with. Often, the bands are in the audience supporting one another. Schedules for the weekend are being set; from which bands you must see, to meet-up spots for pool parties and pre-concert lunches.
The Stitches are always incredible. Guitarist Johnny Witmer is not only a truly nice human being, he is so fun to watch play! From his late 70’s punk persona to his classic playing style, the chemistry between Johnny and singer Mike Lohrman draws you to the front of the room, stage-side, and holds your attention there throughout the set. Last night, Mike exuded the kind of energy and enthusiasm that brings us to PRB for that extra day of shows every year. The stage wasn’t big enough to hold Mike’s powerhouse energy and after almost hitting everyone within reach with his mic stand, Mike finally just threw it to the ground and abandoned the confines of the stage to open the entire front of the room up to his follies; throwing himself onto the crowd for a playful “surf” around the room and then joining the pit to finish out the song. The set ended way too soon and left everyone wanting more.
THE STITCHES BAND MEMBERS: Michael Lohrman (Vocals), Johnny Witmer (Guitar/Vocals), Pete “Action Man'” Archer (Bass), Craig “Skibs” Barker (Drums/Vocals)
Sick Of It All
SICK OF IT ALL BAND MEMBERS: Lou Koller (Vocals), Pete Koller(Guitars), Craig Setari (Bass), Armand Majidi (Drums)
Pennywise Determined to “Get The Party Started!”
Pennywise headlined the first set of bands at the new second stage on the Punk Rock Bowling festival grounds. I always enjoy seeing Pennywise live. The enthusiasm that their fans bring to their shows is infectious and their years of experience produce a show that is fun and focused on the audience. Sick of It All did their due diligence to live up to the expectation that their job was to set the tone for the festival, leaving a crowded festival arena ready to party in true Pennywise fashion; all “Bro Hymn” ready and shit. After a strong opening, Pennywise slid from tight and powerful to a loose and spontaneous house-party type of performance. It was as fast and painful as watching your boyfriend slip from playfully drunk to passed out. Pennywise abandoned a stellar set-list and opted for a “top 40” of punk and 90’s alternative music and rock covers – with the band only performing the opening verse and one course from each song… song after song. While punk fans have an inherent tolerance for drunken shenanigans and have come to find it endearing in most instances (case in point our bountiful love for Fat Mike), they seemed to be a little frustrated by this set and subsequently the stage area seemed to thin-out a bit (a phenomenon that I have never seen at a Pennywise show). That said, a shout out to Randy and Byron on their efforts to keep the show on track. To Pennywise, this reviewer knows that this was an anomaly. I can’t wait to give it another shot and I have no doubt that the next show will be as memorable as the previous dozen I’ve seen.
PENNYWISE BAND MEMBERS: Jim Lindberg (Vocals), Fletcher Dragge (Guitars), Randy Bradbury (Bass), Byron McMackin (Drums)
– Sarah Tonin
13 Stitches Magazine