Punk In Drublic at PNE Amphitheater in Vancouver
by Claudia Wyler
It’s been just over a year since my last music festival, and I was literally counting down the days in anticipation for PUNK IN DRUBLIC. The two headliners Bad Religion and NOFX were bands that I not only grew up listening to, but that still make regular appearances on my playlists. Anti-Flag has been another favourite of mine for a few years, and a band that I have seen before and love to photograph. The Real Mckenzies are a Vancouver favourite and always put on a great show, as does Chixdiggit, but my most anticipated show of the day was the opening act- The Last Gang.
While everyone was standing in the epically long beer lines attempting to sample one of the 40 different types of locally crafted beer on the other side of the PNE Amphitheatre, I gathered up as many friends as I could find to drag them over to the stage. I did not want to miss catching this amazing female-led Punk band out of Los Angelas. This trio has a ton of catchy songs that many in the crowd were singing along to. My favourites and ones to definitely check out if you haven’t heard this band before are ‘Identity,’ ‘Secret Sounds’ and ‘Believe in the Poet.’ Despite having only discovered this band a few weeks back when looking to see who the opening acts were for Punk in Drublic, The Last Gang has solidified a place in my go-to car playlist. They definitely deserved to have a way larger turn out for their set, but it was HOT and well … craft beer.
So, let’s talk Craft Beer… and lines. The festival sold tickets with tokens that you could then redeem in your sample size Punk in Drublic cup. However, the Craft Beer Festival was only open for 3 hours for general admission and for 4 hours with a VIP pass. It seems like plenty of time to, but I do not believe the organizers expected the turn out they got. I stood in line for 40 minutes before giving up, and I ended up not using any of my tickets.
I did end up missing the beginning Chixdiggit’s performance due to beer chaos but managed to capture the last part of their set. I had never heard of this Calgary based band, and I was pleasantly surprised. They seem to have a large local following as the crowds doubled from what they were for the opening act.
Anti-Flag has always been known for their politically charged lyrics and activism. What has always struck a chord for me is that they don’t just talk about it, they are actually involved in making a difference. With their ever-growing fan base, maybe they are making a difference. If anything, they are bringing issues to light, which is vital in our current political climate. Anti-Flag shows are always high energy and full speed from start to finish. The mosh pit is not always the safest place to be, especially loaded with camera gear, but a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do to get the shot- especially when Chris closes out the show by singing from within the middle of the Mosh Pit!
As the sun continued to beat down on the crowds, I noticed a few things, one being the vibe. It’s not often Vancouver sees a festival dedicated to Punk and everyone there was so happy to be there with their ‘tribes.’ Large friend groups could be seen throughout the day enjoying music, beer, and friendships- new and old. Conversations were had in the long beer lines with total strangers, and the sense of comradery amongst everyone was seen all day long. It was hot. There were no water fountains, and the lines to get drinks were ridiculous the whole day, but no one seemed frustrated or really seemed to care. It was a day filled with strangers throwing out compliments, high fives, and hugs when needed. It was an all-hands-on-deck day with no one going down if a Punk Rocker could help it. The mantra of Punk never dies was loud and true.
The Real McKenzies are a Vancouver based Celtic punk band that belts out traditional Scottish songs with a punk-influenced sound. The crowd was intense, the circle pit even more intense, yet everyone always had a smile on their face. With magnificent bagpipes and high kicks in a kilt, nothing was left on stage by The Real Mckenzies during their latest Vancouver performance.
As the sun began to set, the gorgeous mountain backdrop lit up behind the stage as Bad Religion prepared to get the beer-fueled crowd into a frenzy. Forty years and this band is still a powerhouse on stage with frontman Greg’s vocals not missing a single beat.
Highly anticipated crowd favourites NOFX took the stage shortly after 7pm. Frontman Fat Mike pranced onto the stage wearing a short burgundy dress while Richard O’brien’s ‘Time Warp’ played and proceeded to dance around with his bandmates while making witty banter back and forth. It’s been 16 years since I’ve seen NOFX live and nothing has changed. Ongoing pranks, witty alcohol-fueled banter and some confusion as the night progressed as to what song they were actually playing, none of it mattered, it’s a NOFX show and precisely what all their fans have come to love and expect from their shows.