LIVE: Fest 13 Day One: Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges (But You Do Need A Wristband…They’re Very Strict About That)

By Nicole Carter

Fest 13 Day 1: The Prologue:

I have been going to Fest every year since Fest 9. It’s always my most favorite time of year and some of the best, most memorable moments of my life transpire at Fest, this year being no different. My goal for next year is to give Pre-Fest in Ybor a spin, but unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards this year. However, my pre-Fest journey was still a taste of what was to come for the entire weekend.

Every year, my cohorts and I drive down the east coast from Philadelphia all the way to Florida, touching down in time for at least some pre-Fest shows that go down in Gainesville. After a couple long days of driving with Waffle House feasts, truck stops filled with the most ridiculous trinkets money can buy, and the temptation to load up on cheap fireworks, we finally made it to Gainesville. It’s nice getting to settle in the day before after long stints of being on the road and getting to take in some bands. We ended up strolling into the smoky, yet charming Durty Nelly’s just in time to catch Arliss Nancy, and Sad and French. It was nice considering their proper Fest sets conflicted with a few bands I wanted to check out and after spending a considerable amount of time in the deep South the past couple days, the country tinged punk and inaugural Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy was just the thing I needed to start out my weekend. Arliss Nancy never disappoints and Sad and French get better every single time I see them.

Just touched down into Gainesville for #fest13 and immediately ran to Durty Nelly's to see @Arlissnancy #ptfest

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Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges (But You Do Need A Wristband…They’re Very Strict About That)

The night before Fest begins is laden with temptation to party pretty hard, but unfortunately you gotta remind yourself that what awaits you is a very early start on Friday to wait in line at registration. Registration starts promptly at noon but early bird Festers will sometimes lineup as early as 9 AM. I had the pleasure of sleeping in thanks to the shortened press line, but being the kind soul that I am, I ran and got coffee and breakfast for some of the early risers still stuck in line. It gave me a chance to scope out the crowd this year and since it was Halloween and a lot of people were in costume. My efforts were rewarded with a hearty swig from a bottle of Malort that was being shared in line.

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To wash the terrible taste out of my mouth, I high tailed it back up to the Registration Flea Market to sample some of Sweetwater Organic Coffee Co.’s Descendents brew (which is pretty darn delicious) and spend all of my money at SideOneDummy and Silver Sprocket’s booths and run away with an arm full of koozies and free magazines.

I decided to skip most of the pool party this year to get a hearty meal at Reggae Shack before the bands started for the day. The food at Reggae Shack is out of this world, but the wait can be pretty long so I’m glad I decided to take advantage of the fact that lots of people were still in line or hanging out at the Holiday Inn to cram my mouth full of delicious Jamaican fare. With a full belly, I was ready to begin a full day of watching bands.

Elway kicking off #fest13 at the Wooly #ptfest

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Elway was a great way to start out Fest. Everyone at the Wooly was full of energy, excited for what the next three days had in store and ready to party. They played a little bit of old stuff, and tried out a new song or two, and completely spoiled a major plot point of Final Fantasy VII. The lineup at the Wooly for Friday was super stacked. I was most excited for PUP and I knew how crazy packed this place was going to get fast. Since I had the Fest equivalent of a Six Flags Flash Pass and could skip the lines, I decided to venue hop for a little bit until PUP was set to come on.

Protected Left at Durty Nelly's set covering Propagandhi's "How to Clean Everything" #fest13 #ptfest

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The great thing about Durty Nelly’s is that Flaco’s (an ultra delicious Cuban joint) is connected to the venue, so every time I found myself near Durty Nelly’s, I would generally find a tempeh taco in my hand as well. I needed something to soak up the first round of Fest beers, and stumbled upon Protected Left doing a cover set of one of my favorite records, Propagandhi’s “How To Clean Everything.” I had never heard of the band prior to this, and they did the record justice. It encouraged me to check out their own material after I got home from Fest (It’s super awesome, and it makes sense why they would cover Propagandhi). While I don’t usually go out of my way to check out the cover sets at Fest, I’m really glad I made an exception for this one.

The other reason I love to venue hop is because I love snacking and it gives me an excuse to stop and grab a snack en route to see bands. This time it was a fancy soda at Pop-A-Top, the coolest bodega I’ve ever been to in my life. I noticed the lines to the Atlantic and the Wooly were starting to round the streets on their respective blocks, and decided to head on over to Rocky’s and check out Banquets, who always bring the jams. After dancing up a storm, I figured it was time to make my way back to the Wooly.

A super unfortunate aspect of Fest is the lines to the venues. It can sometimes cost you to miss bands you had your heart set on seeing. I was grateful I didn’t have to endure that pain this year and got into the venue just as Philly band, the Holy Mess was about to start playing. On the flipside, it’s really cool to see people from all over the country, and even the world, go nuts for bands from your local scene and I had just as much fun watching the crowd react as I did getting to watch the Mess do their thing Fest style.

@puptheband absolutely destroyed their first ever set at #fest13 decked out in food costumes #ptfest

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I was a little pouty that I was missing one of my favorite bands in the universe, Paint It Black, who were tearing up 8 Seconds as I was getting ready to see one of my most anticipated bands of Fest, rookies of the year, PUP. It was a hard decision, but I knew that seeing PUP play their first ever Fest was going to be something special. I’m super glad they didn’t make me regret my choice. What followed was one of the most intense and fun sets I’ve ever been to at any Fest and they made me go from an already super, ultra, mega fan of their band to completely obsessed. What I didn’t expect was for them to close out their set with a spot on rendition “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys that had the entire crowd erupt into a sea of bodies and pure mayhem.

After that, I needed to cool off and think about what I had just witnessed and I needed to process that I had already blown out my voice on the first day. I also needed to find my friends who went to see Paint It Black and grill them about their set. It was flawless, in case you were wondering. I was also getting quite hungry again.

It was convenient that my next “must see” band, Junior Battles, was playing at everyone’s favorite Mexican restaurant owned by a former Against Me! member, Boca Fiesta. I inhaled some guacamole and got really stoked to see my Canadian buddies, since the last time I got to see them was Fest 12 last year. It was also the first time getting to hear stuff off of their latest record, “Rally” live. In addition to recording a new record, they also ended up playing someone’s wedding this past year and had a load of cover songs up their sleeves from that gig and decided to lay down some Toto and Kelly Clarkson to close out the night.

At that point, it was getting oddly chilly for a usually, very warm Florida and I had a long walk back to the hotel. I popped my head back in at Rockey’s for the tail end of Signals Midwest’s set. I got my first slice of Five Star Pizza and then ran into some friends who were catching Touche Amore at 8 Seconds so I had buddies to walk back to the hotel. There were already a million rumors swarming around about hotel room shows and while my curiosity was piqued a little, once I plopped myself down on the cushy, comfortable hotel bed and flung my smelly, already beer covered shoes off, I knew I wouldn’t be leaving that spot until the next morning. There were still two more full days of Festing ahead of me.

We could hear some of the shenanigans going on in the lobby from our 2nd floor room. There were kazoos (courtesy of Baltimore’s band bed and breakfast, Feed the Scene) and lots of excited yelling and singing. It was the perfect Fest lullaby, I guess, because I slept like a baby. A very, very drunk baby.