The Menzingers sat down at Baltimore Airport last Thursday night after an all-too-familiar hellish day of travel and began to come to terms with a disappointing reality: the group was likely to miss their Friday set at Punk Rock Bowling.
“We were f * cking pissed off,” Menzingers singer / guitarist Greg Barnett said.
Such a disappointment had to be linked to the few thousand fans that Barnett finally shared the sentiment with at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. (Yes, the Menzingers finally did.) Punk Rock Bowling is the place to be for the punk community, and it had been way too long since its last iteration.
Quick songs, studded vests and shiny mohawks hadn’t staged their annual downtown Las Vegas takeover since May 2019 – until last weekend when Punk Rock Bowling made a big comeback. with its 22nd edition.
The festival had been rescheduled and rescheduled twice due to the pandemic, with all the changes and confusion threatening to halt the momentum it had built in its past editions. Punk Rock Bowling has been steadily reaching new heights in popularity and infrastructure since moving from vacant parking lots to the event center in 2017.
In the end, the delays did nothing to slow its success. The last Punk Rock Bowling was the busiest version yet, with a slightly enlarged footprint that wrapped more of the intersection of Third Street and Bridger Avenue for a larger second stage. It sold out months in advance, and judging by Friday night’s attendance, few fans were put off by the requirement for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
The punk rock gods even provided a midnight miracle for the Menzingers, when six tickets opened on the last flight to Las Vegas, just enough for the Scranton, Pa.-Based quartet, and his crew.
“It all came together and we’re so excited,” Barnett said. “We have a lot of friends here, and it’s so great to see everyone.”
Punk Rock Bowling felt like some kind of reunion, especially on Friday. Three of the last acts of the evening – Frank Turner, Anti-Flag and Descendents – had already toured with The Menzingers.
The Menzingers set the standard for the night with a dazzling 45-minute game, the heaviest on the cups of the fan-favorite version of 2017 After the party. The performance wasn’t that different from several other local stops over the past four years, but it wasn’t necessary.
This year’s festival was all about re-establishing his place and showing he was alive and well, which the Descendents epitomized best. SoCal’s pop-punk godfathers have now been headlining a night of Punk Rock Bowling in five of the 10 years since the festival moved downtown, but no one seems to have gotten bored. of their semester residence.
There might not be a better setting in the world to see the band which debuted from 1977 to 1987 before reforming for good in 2010. The vast majority of the Events Center estate members have performed with singer Milo Aukerman from its launch. in “Everything Sucks” after drummer Bill Stevenson grinned and counted to the start of the set.
Everyone in the band is now in their late sixties, but they only took a break after releasing eight consecutive songs, including punk anthems like “Hope” and “Rotting Out”. And, for the most part, neither do the crowds.
It was rare to see so many people united in the love of one band, even at Punk Rock Bowling. The festival has gradually and sensibly increased its sonic diversity beyond the classic 1980s punk sound over the past few years, but an unintended consequence has been a reduction in great community bonding moments like the one provided by the Descendents.
Turner and Anti-Flag both had strong performances on Friday, for example, but little in the pit of the circle for the latter’s classic songs like “F * ck Police Brutality” and “Die for Your Government” claimed the First rate folk singer-songwriter.
The descendants were the glue that held everyone together and offered a large-scale reminder of the power that Punk Rock Bowling possesses.
“You are not a comments section on YouTube,” Turner told the crowd during his set. “We got used to this bullshit, and I missed it more than you can imagine.” This is my church.