Camp Anarchy, 31 May 2019
Legend Valley; Thornville, OH
La Armada, Death By Stereo, Strung Out, Sick of it All, Fear, X, The Offspring
I can officially say I’ve survived the first day of this three-day punk extravaganza. It’s one helluva accomplishment because things definitely got crazy.
But Friday is the short day. There were fewer bands and a later start time. Due to traffic, hotel check-in and bad mapquest directions I got there late and completely missed the first two bands. I wasn’t extremely broken-hearted as I’d checked them out on YouTube earlier in the week and wasn’t extremely impressed. But it’s still nice to see bands live and maybe something will grab you.
Strung Out was the first band I was able to watch and they had a great set. They do some pretty basic punk-pop but mix in the occasional breakdown or arpeggiated bridge. Not that I have any issue with basic punk-pop, but it was pretty cool to hear a band add a few other ingredients to the old formula.
Sick of it All is a band that pops up in my life every decade or so. I had Built to Last in high school and I remember hearing a lot of Death to Tyrants when it came out, but I’ve never been a huge fan. I was psyching myself up to get in the pit for “Take The Night Off” but didn’t prepare for it to be their opener! And I didn’t expect the pit to come to me! Come on guys, give me some warning. I’d gotten a great spot for their set, but I didn’t hold onto it for long. The best thing about a mosh pit is it makes it easy to catch the band from many different vantage points (albeit with a large sweaty man running full bore at you).
Both Fear and X were the elder-statesmen of the evening. It’s great to be able to cross both those groups off my bucket list, but I wasn’t going crazy for them. Fear is a great band with hooks to spare in their tunes and that irreverent humor that makes the punk great. I wish they would loan a few of those hooks to X, who are a great rockabilly band,
but I’ve always found them difficult to get into. They were definitely a little out-of-place, but they were probably out of place when they started in 1977. I think they would be out of place anywhere this side of JFK’s election (not that that’s a bad thing. It puts them in great company with Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams and Others.)
The Offspring was fucking crazy. I saw them a few years ago at the Summer Nationals Tour in Pittsburgh, but at that show, I was on the lawn and far away from the thriving biomass in front of the stage. I spent the first few songs learning what a sardine feels like at the canning factory before I hopped in the pit for a little fresh air. That had to be one of the craziest pits I’ve ever been in. I’m always surprised at how intense people mosh for punk bands, I thought I could handle anything after Slipknot and Slayer, but the Offspring and Primus have been way more intense. Then again, I am getting a little old.
The highlight of the evening was Dexter Holland’s solo version of “Gone Away” on piano. I was disappointed when they didn’t do that tune the last time I saw them but this performance more than made up for it.
It’ll be hard to top the performances from yesterday, but I have faith in the bands scheduled today. If I’d had to pick one day of the weekend to attend, it would be today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to eat some White Castle and pop some Ibuprofen.