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10 bands not to miss at The Fest 17 (which is this weekend)

Fest 16
photo from last year’s Fest (via @cynonymous_b)

The last weekend of October is approaching and not only does that mean Halloween is near, it also means over 300 punk and punk-related bands are headed to Gainesville for The Fest (and many of them are also playing Pre-Fest in Tampa right beforehand). The Fest goes down Friday, October 26 through Sunday, October 28 at various Gainesville venues and in addition to the hundreds of regular sets, there are also acoustic sets, cover sets, mystery bands, and more. If you’re headed to The Fest and trying to narrow down the stacked lineup, we’ve put together a list of 10 bands not to miss at Fest 17 that might help. Our list spans reunited veteran bands to promising newcomers and plenty of the in-between. Check it out below.

You can see the full schedule here and get info on last-minute tickets here. And since you’ll be in Tom Petty’s hometown, you might wanna take some time to stop by the new park named after him too. Read on for our list…

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The Get Up Kids are one of the big names this year, and 2018 is an especially great year to catch these indie-emo vets. They’ve been reunited for a while and first made a comeback with 2011’s solid There Are Rules, but this year’s Kicker EP (their first release in seven years and first for the venerable Polyvinyl Records) is the return to form that fans of Something To Write Home About have waited nearly two decades for. Kicker sees TGUK returning to the kind of catchy rippers that made many of their fans fall in love with them, and as you know if you’ve seen them recently, they still bring it live too.

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Piebald have been reunited for a few years now, but their shows are few and far between so any chance to see them is worth taking. Their sets tend to make room for some favorites from their earlier post-hardcore era but mostly they rely heavily on their fan-favorite 2002 album We Are the Only Friends We Have and that’s not a bad thing at all. The album actually ended up being kinda prescient — its Weezer-y power pop meets Thin Lizzy twin leads approach is something that’s kinda popular amongst modern indie rock bands — and Piebald tear through those songs like they wrote them yesterday. They’re an expert live band, and the hiatus didn’t add one bit of rust.

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There isn’t much metal at The Fest, but among the few metal bands on this year’s lineup are home state heroes Torche, who fit in perfectly on a punk-centric lineup (and who are no strangers to playing The Fest). Their sludge riffs may not be heard in most other bands on the lineup, but they share the same interest in aggressive-yet-poppy hooks as the many pop punk bands who have played The Fest over the years. And genre aside, Torche are just awesome and their live show always rips. Every album they put out is killer, and their latest (2015’s Restarter) is no exception.

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Midwest emo vets Mock Orange are still active but while their new stuff is very worthy, it doesn’t sound much of anything like their classic material. So it’s exciting that the band is revisiting 1998’s Nines & Sixes for its 20th anniversary and performing the album at The Fest. It still holds up super well — not only did it predate and help influence the early 2000s mainstream emo boom, but it helped define the type of mathy, shouty emo that started getting revived in the ’10s. It’s a true classic.

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San Jose emo newcomers awakebutstillinbed have picked up some internet buzz for their debut album what people call low self​-​esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you but seeing them live is what really sealed the deal for me. After seeing them at SXSW, I wrote: “Singer/core songwriter Shannon Taylor is truly a force who can seamlessly go from a whisper to a harsh scream, and when she whips out those screams it’s difficult to not be mesmerized.”

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SoCal punk vets Audio Karate are reunited for their first shows in 13 years and they also released a 7″ that features two songs from their “lost” followup to 2004’s Lady Melody (including “Bounce,” which is embedded above). The “new” songs are great and they reminded us that Audio Karate left us way too soon. Glad to finally have them back.

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One of my favorite punk albums of 2018 is War On Women’s sophomore LP Capture The Flag. It’s got the perfect mix of raging aggression, addictive choruses, and an uncompromising fight for social justice. (Not to mention a guest vocal from Kathleen Hanna.) As great as it is, War On Women are somehow even better (and even more uncompromising) at their live shows. It’s impossible to see them and not feel fired up. (They play a regular set, an acoustic set, and they’ll be the house band for Two Minutes To Late Night‘s Fest appearance.)

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Report Suspicious Activity were formed in the George W Bush era by Vic Bondi (of Articles of Faith, Alloy, etc), J Robbins (Jawbox, Government Issue, etc), and two members of Kerosene 454 and Oswego (Darren Zentek and Erik Denno), and they reunited for the Trump era and released Leviathan — their first album in nine years — this past December. They just followed that with a new single, “The Wilderness,” and all the new stuff is great. They’re making the same kind of pulverizing political post-hardcore they were making a decade ago, and Vic’s raspy bark has only gotten burlier since the Articles of Faith days. The Fest will be their last show of 2018, so catch these living legends while you can. (Vic and J also play a duo set at The Fest.)

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It’s been a great year for Kississippi, the Philly-based indie rock project of Zoe Reynolds. She released her very good debut album Sunset Blush, and then her ace live band hit the road with Dashboard Confessional, Beach Slang, Foxing, and others, and they’re about to wrap up the year with a headlining run. First they’ll be at The Fest, and we highly recommend catching them before they’re back playing a much bigger stage in a few years.

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Tampa indie/emo vets Pohgoh helped define the genre back in the ’90s with a few EPs, singles, splits (with Braid and with Allison Mosshart’s pre-Kills band Discount), and their sole album, 1998’s In Memory of Bab. Now they’re reunited and back with their first album in 20 years, Secret Club, and it’s even better than their debut. You can hear similarities to other indie-emo vets like Rainer Maria and The Get Up Kids, but you can also hear similarities to a handful of modern bands like Waxahatchee, Into It Over It, and TWIABP, who were either directly or indirectly impacted by this band and the sound they helped create. Secret Club was a reunion album worth making, and the great new music makes the prospect of seeing them on this reunion tour even more exciting.

There are many, many, many other great bands playing The Fest including Cursive, The Menzingers, The Lawrence Arms, Dead To Me, METZ, Tim Barry, Radioactivity, Iron Chic, RVIVR, and much more. Full schedule here.

Check It Out

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