This year, we got to celebrate Punk Rock Bowling’s 20thanniversary. Punk Rock Bowling is more than a festival, like many of the best music festivals in the world, PRB has a community that goes along with it. The festival takes up 3 days of the Memorial Day weekend and is jam packed with things to do.
Unlike other festivals, PRB is only one stage and doesn’t open its doors until 2:30 pm, which gives people plenty of time to nurse their hang overs.
As stated before, PRB is a community that keeps in touch year round. There is a Facebook group page with nearly thousands of members that discuss their plans for the festival and stay in touch year round. In this group page, you can also find tips on cheap drinks around Fremont, as well as shows that aren’t affiliated with the festival. Punk Rock Bowling fosters a level of inclusion few other festivals can replicate, and you often find best friends without even trying.
Beyond an incredible network of fans, Punk Rock Bowling really knocked their lineup out of the park this year. This year’s lineup was made up of many returning bands that have previously played PRB as well as a diverse section of bands who excited old school fans of the fest, as well as brought in many new first time goers. The well rounded festival lineup for 2018 served the 20thanniversary edition of PRB well, as it showed the direction the event would be heading in the future.
The first night was headlined by artists such as Suicidal Tendencies, L7, and Rise Against. Out of those 3 names, only one really rings a punk bell, yet all 3 of those bands had die hard fans in the crowd that night. L7 played hits such as “Shit List” and “Pretend We’re Dead”, as well as a new single “I Came Back To Bitch”. Suicidal Tendencies came out with a furious energy that could not be matched. At one point, Mike Muir invited all the youth of the festival to join him on stage for a good 3 songs. It was a touching moment during the festival.
Day 2 has been talked about by many media outlets, so we can jump to day 3, which was by far the best of the 3 day festival.
Our favorite act of the entire festival, The Birth Defects, opened up the festival right after Svetlanas. Looking around the festival, I could see that there were definitely many people who came early just for The Birth Defects. On top of that, we had the pleasure of seeing Against Me!, X, and At The Drive In. Laura Jane Grace and Exene both came out sounding better than ever before, and it was all we hoped for. Back to At The Drive In though.
At the Drive In closed out the festival, and boy did they close it out. Although the crowd had thinned out due to people racing back to LA, or moving on to their last club show, the festival was still packed. Cedric Bixel came out like the Tasmanian Devil on meth. He was running all over the place, climbing everything and throwing his mic across the stage. 2 songs in and his mic was toast, so he decided to drop it in a beer at the edge of the stage. At the Drive In was beautiful chaos. There was really no other way to end the 20thanniversary of Punk Rock Bowling.
We hope PRB continues to book such transformative bands like they did this year, embrace diverse and current acts, and continue to prosper into their next 20 years of anniversaries and fantastic fests.
Words and photos by Taylor Wong