If one were to total the number of active years performers such as The English Beat, The Adicts, 7 Seconds, Youth of Today, NOFX, and Rancid have behind them, it must add up to centuries of experience. But sounding no worse for the wear, every band at Punk Rock Bowling 2012 put on a performance that would be the envy of kids less than half their age. Dave Wakeling and his crew were no exception, playing an energetic hour-long set of their classic 2-tone tunes. The English Beat stretched out most of their songs far beyond the recorded playing times, jamming and urging the crowd to sing along. The band reached back to 1980 for recognizable hits like “Click Click” and “Mirror in the Bathroom,” and, to my delight, threw in a nearly seven-minute long rendition of “Sooner or Later.”
The English Beat were followed by The Adicts, and if you’re wondering how long they’ve been around, consider this: there are grandparents who were high school students when The Adicts started playing 37 years ago. Yet, despite being the world’s longest continually-running punk rock band, Keith “Monkey” Warren and his band of droogs put on perhaps the most energetic performance of the festival — at the very least, the most theatrical show. Decked out in a rotating set of elaborate costumes, Monkey bombarded the crowd throughout the show with paper streamers, confetti, toys, playing cards, and oversized beach balls. In a brief but unfortunate moment, guitarist Pete Dee couldn’t restrain himself from snapping at a stagehand struggling to rapidly untangle about 50 yards of paper streamer from a wilted mic stand and cord. I guess breaking the upbeat mood of the performance by being a dick is less distracting than having a dude onstage doing his job, eh Pete? Otherwise, it was smooth sailing for the band. Monkey summed it well when he asked the crowd: “Is this not the best fucking day on the planet?” It was easily the most mesmerizing — and surprising — performance of the fest.
NOFX closed things out on Saturday, returning to the city for the time since ringing in 2012 at the House of Blues in Vegas. A second home of sorts — front man Fat Mike owns a punk house (and somewhat of a “museum”) in the western part of the city — Las Vegas has hosted NOFX each year during the annual Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival. After a bit of a delayed start, NOFX performed a lengthy set to a deafening crowd. The band’s 90-minute performance included playing their 1994 hit album Punk in Drublic in its entirety. It was the weekend’s longest set, and the band didn’t step offstage until the moment the festival was legally obligated to shut down for the night.