FEST: Schedule Conflicts and Non Band Stuff To Do

By Nicole Carter

Fest always has so many bands, with the number increasing every year. It makes it almost next to impossible to not have at least a few bands you love having sets overlap. It then leaves you with an almost frustrating at times, punk version of Sophie’s Choice. Making your Fest schedule is also especially difficult if your tastes are more diverse as well. It is an unfortunate aspect of Fest that everyone dreads and this year is no different. There are so many to choose so I picked my hardest one for each day of Fest.

Friday: PUP and Paint It Black

The very first night of Fest poses one of the most difficult decisions out the gate. On one hand, there are hardcore champions, Paint It Black. PIB always put on extremely intense, hard hitting, and breathtaking sets every Fest they play, and just in general. And as the years go on, the amount of shows they play every year has been decreasing. They are a band that rarely tours, if ever, and hardly plays outside of the Northeastern US. Fest is a rare opportunity to get to catch PIB and what makes them so special live. Then, you have PUP, playing their first Fest with a near perfect debut record in tow. They are also no strangers to putting on performances that are super fun and chock full of energy. It will be exciting to see what they will contribute to the Fest family, and a great chance for a lot of people to see them for the first time. It also doesn’t help that bands like Lemuria, Direct Hit!, and the Menzingers also have sets that overlap around this time. Day one of Fest is going to be a brutal for indecisive punks indeed.

Saturday: Beach Slang and Descendents

Day two also offers a legendary band that rarely plays and a band that has made such a strong debut this year. A lot of people have dreamed of finally getting to see Milo and Co. and with the reunion shows being a rarity, Fest may be their only chance. On the flipside, Beach Slang is one of the best new bands to pop up on the scene this year, and so many people are excited to finally get to check them out in person, but after the most recent schedule update, it has created a lot of complications for a lot of Festers. There is at least some solace in the fact that the Descendents are rumored to be working on new music which means more shows could be on the horizon. And for Festers getting into Gainesville on Thursday night before Fest starts can catch Beach Slang play a Pre-Fest shindig at Bar 1982.

Sunday: Red City Radio and Restorations

While Red City Radio and Restorations are vastly different bands, it still stinks that their sets will be overlapping at Fest this year. Both bands are worth watching and put on spectacular shows. Each year they’ve played, they’ve put on my favorite sets of Fest, and both bands bring something special to the table. RCR sets are chock full of arm-in-arm sing-alongs and “woooaaahhhhh-ooooohhhhhhs” which makes them so fun and a staple at Fest. Restorations offer their stunning, unique spin on punk, with such a demanding presence that makes them unforgettable. Each band pulls out all the stops at Fest, and it’s going to be a choice that I don’t look forward to making this year.

Where there is Fest, there will always be moments where we will be forced to choose between bands we love. And while it can be a bummer to miss out on a band you were really excited to see, the consolation, is you’re still seeing a band that you love. It’s nice that making such tough calls can be a win-win situation. Everyone handles the Fest schedule conflicts differently. Some stress out, some go with the flow and make a snap decision, and sometimes people don’t choose to see either band they are conflicted about and check out a new band instead. Whatever it may be, one thing is for certain: Fest has no shortage of great bands this year and you really can’t go wrong.

The Best Things to Do At Fest That Don’t Involve Seeing Bands

So, Fest is great! It’s stacked to the brim with bands and loads and loads of different kinds of venues and crowds. BUT! Another thing that makes Fest so special is the city of Gainesville itself and all the other cool things you can do while you’re there that make it a super well rounded punk rock vacation. If you’re new to Fest, this guide will definitely help you make the most out of your trip to Gainesville, and even if you’re a Fest veteran, maybe there’s something you’ve never really tried before, or maybe this year is the year you’ll come home with a tattoo.

The Registration Flea Market

The Fest Flea Market is a dangerous place for your wallet and you may find yourself blowing your entire Fest budget before it’s even began! There’s lots of record labels and independent vendors to choose from, and lots of these vendors will offer sweet Fest deals and discounts on their wares. And for the more frugal Festers, there’s plenty of freebies like koozies, stickers, pins, download codes, even condoms and other cool swag. Even without spending a penny, you can make out like a bandit at the Flea Market.

The Pool Party

After having your fill of the flea market and waiting around for registration, throw on some swimmies and catch some rays before the bands start and take advantage of the lovely Florida weather before returning home to a dreary winter. The past few years there’s been bands, more freebies, and giant inflatable Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. This year Fest is actually hosting two pool parties, one at the Paramount Hotel, and one at the usual spot, the Holiday Inn. The pool party is a great place to reunite with friends just getting into town and unwind, highlight your paper schedule and plan out your next couple of days in sunny Florida.

Get a Stressface Tattoo

Lots of local Gainesville tattoo shops offer specials at Fest every year, the best deal being Anthem Tattoo. Every year they make a really cool flash sheet for Fest featuring many different incarnations of No Idea’s Stressface. Getting the Stressface has definitely become a Fest goal for many Festers. It’s one of the more permanent souvenirs you can take home with you from Fest. Just remember to tip your tattoo artist and follow your aftercare instructions. Infections aren’t a good thing to take home with you.

Eat, Drink, Eat, Drink, Eat, Drink, Eat, Drink

One of the best things about Gainesville are the local businesses and eateries When you spend three solid days seeing bands and dancing and bouncing around from venue to venue, you got to keep up your stamina. Whether you’re slamming down a slice from Five-Star or Leonardo’s or some Flaco’s burritos and Cuban sandwiches, you really can’t go wrong in Gainesville. There’s a little something for everyone of all palates and dietary choices (Gainesville is super vegan friendly).


Yesterday's Karma Cream

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Sweet tooths can be satiated by some of Karma Cream’s homemade ice cream (and there’s vegan options too!) or a fancy soda at Pop-A-Top. You can brunch at Boca Fiesta (which is convenient since the restaurant is also hosting sets for Fest) or try your hand at some ultra spicy Jerk chicken or tofu at Reggae Shack. There are also food trucks galore. The only real downside is you may find yourself jonesing from Gainesville cuisine year round and also pack on a few pounds from all the delicious food packed into such a small radius.


Reggae Shack!

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Quality Hangs With Old Friends and New

For lots of Fest veterans, the bands become a secondary aspect of Festing. What makes Fest so special is that it feels like a family reunion of sorts. Sometimes it’s the only time friends who are separated by state lines, oceans, and time zones get to come together and get some real face time with each other. Fest is a great place to make new friends and create lots of lasting memories, so taking advantage of the community aspect of Fest will make it that much more worthwhile. There are lots of post show shenanigans to be had at the hotels and elsewhere and ever Fester has at least one ridiculous story from Fest that has nothing to do with seeing bands. A lot of Festers can attest to forming lifelong bonds at Fest, and it’s what keeps people ultimately coming back every year.

Overall, there’s really no wrong way to do Fest. But truly taking in what Gainesville and the Fest community has to offer will make your Fest experience so much more memorable and special. And when in doubt, ask a Gainesville local! Gainesville is full of lots of friendly and helpful folks who are awesome enough to welcome Festers with open arms every year. Fest 13 will be no different, and it will be exciting to see what new memories will be made and all the new friendships that will be formed and how much pizza one can consume in a single day.

See you soon, Gainesville!