FEST 12 Preview

author PP date 20/10/13

There is no argument over THE FEST having the best and most versatile punk rock lineup out of all festivals this year. With more than 400 bands booked to play across 6 days in two different cities in Florida, Tampa and Gainesville respectively, the festivities offer a little bit of everything that fits underneath the punk rock umbrella. So whether it is indie-flavored, hardcore based, revivalist emo, or Midwestern styled punk rock you're into, FEST will have booked most if not all of the best bands that these genres have to offer, and will be serving them on a delicious small club setting packed with people just like you looking to sing along.

With 400 bands on the bill, it can be a daunting task to choose which ones to see given the plethora of great bands on offer. Yours truly and Tim 'TL' Larsen will be covering the event on-site starting from next week, but before that we've traversed through the lineup and picked the bands that we consider as must see at this year's event. So consider the following as your starting guide when exploring your options from the stacked schedule. PP

The complete lineup can be found at this location

'MUST SEE' at FEST

ALL

This one goes without saying, though a history lesson may be in order for some, given ALL's most recent output is from 13 years ago and they rarely play live these days. The group is composed of Descendents members, and reigned the punk rock scene from late 80s to the end of 2000, and so this becomes basically a question of "do you want to see Descendents in a small club under a different moniker who will likely play cuts from Descendents live as well?" This may be your only chance to see ALL live. PP

See if you like: Descendents


A Wilhelm Scream

A Wilhelm Scream

When it comes to technical prowess within punk rock, few bands are of match to A Wilhelm Scream. They combine a fiery hardcore expression with awe-inspiring guitar/bass lines, and thick, melodic roars from Nuno Pereira. "Career Suicide" was one of the best punk rock albums in the decade it was released in, and the band are known to be a bombshell of energy in a live setting. PP

Recommended album: "Career Suicide"

See if you like: After The Fall, No Trigger, Propagandhi


Andrew Jackson Jihad

I could never quite figure out how much I really liked Andrew Jackson Jihad, when I was reviewing an album of theirs that was sent to me, but they struck me as one of those bands where the lyrics actually mattered - Like they want to say something for more reasons than just having something to sing. Combined with a pretty peculiar vocal style and a characteristic mix of folk and punk, I think they will be one of the more unique bands to see this year. TL

Recommended album: "Knife Man"

See if you like: old Conor Oberst material, Titus Andronicus


Annabel

"Young American", the first single off Annabel's 2012 album "Youth In Youth" was pretty much the soundtrack to my life for the first 6 months after I had moved to Copenhagen and was trying to establish myself after getting my masters. The lyrics that open with "So much for adulthood.." should be almost instantly relatable for anyone in a similar situation, and the rest of the album's highly personal take on the midwest emo revival is extremely catchy and encouraging as well. Plus the band had issues with the mix when I saw them in Copenhagen, so I really want to see them get an opportunity with better sound. TL

Recommended album: "Youth In Youth"

See if you like: Sunny Day Real Estate, Everyone Everywhere, Joie De Vivre, By Surprise, Brave Bird


Banner Pilot

Banner Pilot

No frills punk rock doesn't come much better than Banner Pilot. Their songs are fast, ridiculously catchy, and contain absolutely no bullshit. Most of them even sound the same, as the band demonstrates how to really kill it with just a few chord progression in the most classic punk rock manner. Their shows are best experienced in basement style venues where sweat and crowd passion runs high, so an ideal fit for FEST. PP

Recommended album: "Collapser"

See if you like: Dillinger Four, Off With Their Heads, The Lawrence Arms, The Flatliners


Best Practices

Best Practices are one of the least known bands booked at fest, yet their recently released "The EP LP" is basically a wonderful mixture of the raw post-punk of Fucked Up and the fuzzy joy of The Thermals and Superchunk records, all blended together into a hyper-energetic, melodically screamed freak show of a sound that works brilliantly against all odds. One of the hidden gems in this year's lineup. PP

Recommended album: "The EP LP"

See if you like: Superchunk, The Thermals, Fucked Up!


Bouncing Souls

The Souls are probably the biggest band booked this year, and they're playing two shows for good measure. Their main set at the Florida Theater clashes with lots of awesome bands, so take your chance at seeing the legends at pre-FEST in Tampa instead. Need more motivation? They're playing their 2001 album "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" from start to finish. That's the one with "True Believers" among other Souls classics. PP

Recommended album: "How I Spent My Summer Vacation"

See if you like: The Loved Ones, Face To Face


Braid

In shameful honesty, I have never listened enough to Braid to justify calling myself a fan, but I've worshipped at the altar of emo enough to know that their name comes up whenever one reads anything of the genre pre Jimmy Eat World's lifting it to success around 2001. That's really all I need to know to seize what's probably going to be one of the few chances I'll ever get at seeing a band like theirs. TL

Recommended album: "Closer To Closed"

See if you like: Everyone Everywhere, The Get Up Kids, Tigers Jaw, Mineral


Captain, We're Sinking

So far this year, Captain, We're Sinking's crushingly depressive "The Future Is Cancelled" is one the strongest contenders for my Album Of The Year, so it's a no brainer that they're one of the band's I'm looking forward to seeing the most at this year's Fest. There are a lot of bands on the line-up were we talk about emotional punk rock, but really Captain, We're Sinking takes the cake with their twisting bursts of hopelessness always capable of reminding you, that no matter how shit you think things are by you, this band likely has a song about someone who feels worse. TL

Recommended album: "The Future Is Cancelled"

See if you like: The Menzingers, Off With Their Heads, Tigers Jaw, Titus Andronicus


Citizen

Citizen is a band whose name has popped out at me several friends' various scrobblers, and upon checking out their moody Seahaven-ish punk-rock, they've become one of the bands of 2013 that I haven't fully gotten into, yet I keep trying to remind myself to come back to. They're the kind of brooding, dynamic band that sings like they have something they want out, and their stuff feels to me like they might be on the cusp of something, so The Fest proves a good opportunity to see how they do in real life. TL

Recommended album: "Youth"

See if you like: Balance and Composure, Seahaven, Title Fight, Daylight, Basement


Dikembe

Dikembe

If you're into original emo played with a Midwestern slant, then Dikembe is your number one band this year. They're one of the hottest names within the revivalist emo scene in recent years, and this show is guaranteed to be an outpour of emotion from the band, sure to create a magical connection between the band and the audience. Don't miss under any circumstances. PP

Recommended album: "Chicago Bowls EP"

See if you like: Moneen, Wavelets, Dads, Snowing, Grade, Texas Is The Reason


Dillinger Four

Dillinger Four are one of the key bands in punk rock that defines the genre. Their albums are considered classics within the genre, and it is becoming a more and more rare occurrence to see these guys play live. You shouldn't miss this because they're one of the key bands you can smack on someone's face who says all punk rock sounds the same. Take a listen to the ridiculously good "C I V I L W A R" album to see how much variety and intellectual depth you can pack into a punk rock expression. Should be one of the best shows at this year's FEST. PP

Recommended album: "C I V I L W A R"

See if you like: Latterman, The Lawrence Arms, Lifetime, Alkaline Trio


Forever Came Calling

When I started listening to Forever Came Calling's "Contender" last year, I was skeptically expecting it to be just another typical pop-punk record, yet while that isn't an entirely wrong assumption, the band's high-octane approach and great melodies like the ones sung in a song like "Ides", have eventually made them a band that I don't understand why they're not more popular. I mean they sound highly similar to The Story So Far, and for my money their songs are every bit as good, so why don't they seem to be quite as big? I don't know, but I know I intend to see them to find out. TL

Recommended album: "Contender"

See if you like: Set Your Goals, Man Overboard, Misser, I Call Fives


Have Mercy

Have Mercy

This is probably your last chance to see Have Mercy in a small venue setting. Their debut album "The Earth Pushed Back" is a candidate for album of the year, and they are on the verge of explosive success. They play the sort of introspective, drawn out indie/post-hardcore that focuses on atmospherics, length buildups, and brilliantly constructed songs instead of the cheap choruses. This is the band that everyone is talking about right now, see if you like The Dangerous Summer, Balance & Composure, Seahaven, etc. PP

Recommended album: "The Earth Pushed Back"

See if you like: Balance & Composure, The Dangerous Summer, Strange Vacation, Basement, Seahaven, The Jealous Sound, Make Do And Mend


The Holy Mess

The Holy Mess are a band I saw mentioned a lot in comparison to bands I really like, like Red City Radio and Off With Their Heads, and the artwork of their 2012 album "Cande Ru Las Degas" always struck me as pretty cool. Still I've yet to really get into them, so they're one of the bands I look forward to taking a chance on at The Fest. TL

Recommended album: "The Holy Mess"

See if you like: The Lawrence Arms, The Menzingers, older Against Me!, Latterman


The Hotel Year

The Hotel Year's 2011 album "It Never Goes Out" was one of those records that came out of nowhere, and didn't really get the band noticed in a particularly big way, yet had me feeling all year-long like that was a damn shame. The feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality that flows through tunes like "Weathered", "An Ode To The Nite Ratz Club" or "Our Lives Would Make A Sad, Boring Movie" feels one of a kind, and for me personally, the fact that I get a chance to see those live are one of the foremost reasons that I'm stoked as hell to attend this year's Fest. TL

Recommended album: "It Never Goes Out"

See if you like: Carpenter, Piebald, Scream Hello, The Get Up Kids


I Can See Mountains

I don't feel like I've managed to accurately put it into words yet, what it is that made me love I Can See Mountains' EP "Hope You Never Get It", it just always struck me as an extremely potent combination of something that's both catchy and somehow off-kilter. I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it again: The song "Hey Man" is irresistible, and I can wait to sing along to that one in the live setting. TL

Recommended album: "Hope You Never Get It"

See if you like: Carpenter, Spraynard, Man Overboard


Junior Battles

Junior Battles released one of the best pop punk albums in 2011 in the form of "Idle Ages". Much like The Wonder Years and others like them, their brand of pop punk leans on the intellectual side rather than the cheap pop choruses, although "Idle Ages" is also one of the catchiest albums you'll hear in the genre. Emotionally charged, passionate pop punk doesn't come much better than this. PP

Recommended album: "Idle Ages"

See if you like: Punchline, The Wonder Years


The Lawrence Arms

Much like Dillinger Four, The Lawrence Arms are almost an institution within punk rock. They rarely play shows these days, but have a plethora of amazing albums underneath their belt. They almost single-handedly defined the Midwestern punk sound in the early to mid 2000s. The dual vocal assault of Chris McCaughan and Brendan Kelly is one of the best within punk rock, and they have written more chilling melodies on each album than most bands do in their entire career. If you miss this, you might as well surrender your FEST ticket in advance to someone else. PP

Recommended album: "Apathy And Exhaustion"

See if you like: Banner Pilot, Alkaline Trio, Dillinger Four


The Menzingers

The Menzingers

Look, it's really simple. The Menzingers' third album "On The Impossible Past" is among the 10 best albums I've heard in my life. And I've heard far over a thousand albums. Plus they killed it when they were in Copenhagen recently. Plus their second album "Chamberlain Waits" is good too. So obviously, they're a must-see. TL

Recommended album: "On The Impossible Past"

See if you like: The Gaslight Anthem, Red City Radio, Titus Andronicus, Social Distortion, Off With Their Heads


No Trigger

Much like A Wilhelm Scream, No Trigger rely on a melodic hardcore expression that's impossibly catchy. They've only released two albums, "Canyoneer" in 2006 and "Tycoon" last year, but both were among the very best albums in punk rock in their years of release. Expect to be drenched in sweat after this show, and have a sore throat for singing along to their awesome chorus melodies. PP

Recommended album: "Tycoon"

See if you like: None More Black, old Rise Against, Strike Anywhere, A Wilhelm Scream, Kid Dynamite, Red City Radio


Off With Their Heads

There's a special unhinged drive that characterises some good punk bands - a tempo that feels like the band members are constantly urging to race to the next chord. Off With Their Heads combine this quality with a self-indulgent, wallowing misery that makes for one energetic, cathartic outlet whether you're listening to them or watching them live. Watching them live however, has yet to disappoint me, so I'm definitely going to do just that again. TL

Recommended album: "In Desolation"

See if you like: The Flatliners, Banner Pilot, Dillinger Four


Paint It Black

Paint It Black ist a must have in your vocabulary of hardcore bands. They've only released three albums yet the hype surrounding them is borderline ridiculous. But that can be attributed to a fierce, tearing sound that occasionally skips over to melodic hardcore. And the inclusion of Dan Yemen (ex-Kid Dynamite) on vocals. This should be one of the craziest shows this year with people flying off every climbable object in the venue. PP

Recommended album: "Paradise"

See if you like: Kid Dynamite, Lifetime, Capital, Have Heart


Pentimento

Few bands can pack as much emotion into their expression as Pentimento. Their self-titled album is full of shouted-out melodies that are best classified as emotional outpours, that give bands like Red City Radio, Make Do And Mend a run for their money in terms of how catchy emotionally charged punk rock can be. They're snowballing fast, soon they'll be playing bigger venues. PP

Recommended album: "Pentimento"

See if you like: Basement, Make Do And Mend, Hot Water Music, Title Fight, Polar Bear Club


Pity Sex

If you've read my review of Pity Sex's debut LP "Feast Of Love" you'll know that I wasn't as taken in by it as I had hoped, but still there's something about the band's name and aesthetic that strongly appeals to me anyway, and besides, during a week that's going to be full of raw and energetic punk rock bands that sound relatively similar, I think it's going to be a nice change of pace to get in on the Pity Sex show for a more laid back dose of fuzzy shoe-gaze. TL

Recommended album: "Dark World EP"

See if you like: Tigers Jaw, Chalk Talk, Lemuria, Joie De Vivre


Polar Bear Club

Polar Bear Club

Back in 2008 Polar Bear Club released one of the best albums that year in the form of the emotionally torn "Sometimes Things Just Disappear" to insane critical acclaim. They've kept up ever since; their sound may be more polished and leaning towards pop punk these days than the introspective emo/post-hardcore of their debut, but their shows are big time sing along fests. They can fairly be considered one of the most successful punk rock related bands of the last 5 years, so watch out, this venue's likely to be packed long before they get on stage. PP

Recommended album: "Sometimes Things Just Disappear"

See if you like: Living With Lions, Basement, Make Do And Mend, Balance & Composure


Real Friends

There's no question about it. Real Friends are this 2013's version of The Wonder Years. Not just because they sound practically identical, but because their popularity is surging at an unprecedented pace, with the band having attained closed to 50,000 fans for their Facebook page in only a few short months. Some of the catchiest emo pop punk tracks you'll hear this year, guaranteed. This show should be crazy. PP

Recommended album: "Put Yourself Back Together EP"

See if you like: The Wonder Years, With The Punches


Red City Radio

I'm a sucker for melodic punk with comprehensible vocals and I'm a sucker for bands that utilize multiple singers, and both of those qualities are present in Red City Radio, who have shown some of the same energy as Off With Their Heads both time I've seen them live and whose new second album is so far promising to be just as good as the first one. Naturally then, there's no way I'm going to miss them. TL

Recommended album: "The Dangers Of Standing Still"

See if you like: The Holy Mess, Iron Chic, Frank And Earnest, Nothington


Run, Forever

Run, Forever is a band that I've wanted to like since I first heard them, yet despite their characteristically angsty, Tigers Jaw-ish punk rock, their songs have rarely clicked for me on album - With the strong exception of "10.000 Leagues", which is a tune I keep coming back to. The band's set at The Fest hence provides me with a chance to try to get it in the live setting, or to at least sing along to that one favourite song of mine (fingers crossed for them to play it)! TL

Recommended album: "The Devil And Death And Me"

See if you like: Against Me, Titus Andronicus, Tigers Jaw, Desaparecidos


RVIVR

If you're into the noisy expression of Japandroids, whose sound overflows with passion to play music, then RVIVR should already be on your radar. They have a playful expression that draws from punk, garage, noise, indie-rock, and much else for a curious sound. Add in a ridiculous tempo, super catchy songs, and you've got another must-see band at FEST. PP

Recommended album: "The Beauty Between"

See if you like: Japandroids, Titus Andronicus, Dead To Me, Latterman


Samiam

If you want to experience a magical, life-changing moment when seeing live music, chances are you're gonna have one af a Samiam show if you haven't seen the band before. Blending together light punk rock with 90s style alternative rock, their melodies are truly back-chilling in their nature, driven by their nostalgic style. Though not the most active band on stage, they manage to create an enthralling experience every time they play live. They are criminally underrated if you ask me. PP

Recommended album: "Trips"

See if you like: Crime In Stereo, Jawbreaker, Leatherface


State Lines

State Lines released a surprisingly strong album earlier this year where they shifted their sound from The Menzingers style shout-along punk towards introspective indie rock with nuances of punk rock in between. If you're into songs with plenty of depth ('growers'), State Lines' darkly crooned songs should be right up your alley. PP

Recommended album: "For The Boats"

See if you like: The Menzingers, Crime In Stereo, Brand New


Stickup Kid

Stickup Kid's 2011 album "The Sincerest Form Of Flattery" was one of those promo submissions which came out of nowhere, sneaking up on me to the point where its fast-paced, melodic punk rock appeared to me like one of the genre's most solid releases that year. I have a persistent guilty conscience from continually pushing down their new record "Future Fires" on my review list, but that doesn't mean I'm going to miss out on a chance to see them live. TL

Recommended album: "The Sincerest Form Of Flattery"

See if you like: Lifetime, Daggermouth, Caleb Lionheart, Set Your Goals


Titus Andronicus

Admittedly there are a lot of bands in The Fest's lineup that sound quite similar to each other, and obviously PP and I don't mind that since we're coming from halfway around the world to attend anyway. But if I had to mention one band who somehow gives the punk-rock sound a more unique and unpredictable twist, it would be Titus Andronicus, who deservedly made some waves with 2010's "The Monitor", which emerged a much more fascinating listen, than any record that describes itself as using Civil War narratives as metaphors for modern love stories should have any business being. TL

Recommended album: "Local Business"

See if you like: Off With Their Heads; Against Me; Run, Forever


Torche

Torche

I dare almost guarantee you have never heard stoner rock played like this. Classified as 'pop stoner', Torche's innovative sound has brought them much critical acclaim through its seamless combination of thick, muscular riffs and radio-friendly melodies. It's safe to say Torche bring one of the most interesting sounds to this year's FEST. PP

Recommended album: "Harmonicraft"

See if you like: Baroness, Mastodon


So there you have it, our take on the 400 band roster. There are of course countless more bands we could've included in this overview, but let's be honest here: if we were to include all of the bands we're looking forward to seeing, this list would comprise close to 200 bands just from mine and TL's preferences alone.

So before you place a question mark on why wasn't band X included instead of band Y, the answer is because of space constraints. Many of the above bands should be on the not-to-miss shortlist for anyone participating the FEST to start out with, so it functions as an overview of what's hot that can be used as a guide to constructing your own FEST experience. PP

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