Punk Rock Bowling, that time of year where Mohawks and Manic Panic, buttons and butt patches, Converse and Docs, and lots and lots of black t-shirts take over Downtown Las Vegas. The festival just turned 19 and has expanded massively over the years. Believe it or not, quite a few people don’t get why “bowling” is part of the festival’s name and have no idea there’s a full-fledged bowling tournament attached to the weekend (which was previously the main attraction). But there is, and teams with names like Suicidal Nippleheads knock down those pins and win cash and/or shiny trophies that prominently display the rear-end of a horse.
On day one of the festival, after checking in to the Plaza Hotel (which chose not to officially invite PRB back, though they gladly took money from whoever wanted a room), we made our way to the festival — still downtown, but at a different location this year, which might be the reason things also felt a bit more organized. Punks of all shapes, sizes, and ages lined up to get in and were immediately greeted with vendors and food trucks galore (faves were coffee from Grouchy John’s and the vegan Philly cheeze steak sandwich from Garden Grill).
Bands this day included female-front ska from The Interrupters, garage punk tunes from The Spits, and Keith Morris’ current band OFF! (supergroup with members of Redd Kross, Rocket From the Crypt, and, of course, Circle Jerks and Black Flag). Heard some sped-up cover songs (and bad jokes) from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes — Paula Abdul and John Denver hits, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and other classic singalongs.
The highlight of the day was definitely headliner Iggy Pop. First time seeing him live, and he didn’t disappoint. Shirtless and strutting all around the stage, that gravelly voice bringing to life those timeless songs. Pretty fascinating that he’s the same age as that covfefe in the White House…