This weekend punk rock and emo fans from across the world descend on Gainesville, Florida for the annual get together known as The Fest. Now in its fourteenth year, The Fest 14 is a three day (five if you include Pre-Fest) celebration of all that is currently good in the punk rock world and beyond.
With literally hundreds of bands taking over Gainesville for one massive punk rock party, there is plenty to see over the course of three days. However the Already Heard team has somehow picked out 15 bands you have to see at The Fest.
AH caught first hand the just how damned good Norfolk folk-punks Ducking Punches are live when they made their Leeds Festival debut on the introducing stage a few weeks back. Needless to say we were suitably impressed with what we saw. This mob turn out simple, unrefined heart on the sleeve folk anthems that resonate with punk spirit, pack infectious strings into the mix and bring lyrical depth for days. The Florida sunshine may be a far cry from their sleepy Norwich stomping grounds, but this is one act from the British contingent that could win plenty of American admirers. (DW)
Where and When: 11:20pm – Loosey’s – Sunday November 1st.
Billy The Kid
As one of the standouts of last year’s crop of new Xtra Mile artists, including Canadian singer-songwriter extraordinaire Billy Pettinger, better known as Billy The Kid, in our list of must see Fest acts was a no brainer.
Pettinger’s rich soulful vocals and eye for spinning gorgeously crafted narratives through her writing, as well as her properly captivating stage presence has seen her win ringing endorsements from the likes of Frank Turner and Laura Jane Grace. So you don’t have to take to just our word on this must see act. Plus joining in a communal singalong to standout single ‘This Sure As Hell Ain’t My life’ has the makings of a great Fest moment for anyone. (DW)
Where and When: 8:50pm – Civic Media Center – Friday October 30th.
We’ve been big admirers of scuzzy garage punk duo Kamikaze Girls since they emerged from the ashes of their previous band Hearts and Souls last year. To say there’s just the two of them, Leeds pair Lucinda Livingstone and Connor Dawson still create a huge sound complete with gargantuan walls of riffs, pounding drums and a borderline schizophrenic vocal delivery from Livingstone that switches from floaty and ethereal to snarling anarchic defiance at the drop of a hat. Oh and their live show is electrifying to say the least too. AH thoroughly expects the Girl Gang to be initiating plenty of new stateside members this time next week. (DW)
Where and When: 8:00pm – Loosey’s – Sunday November 1st.
Teen Agers hail from the sunshine state and the land of disney, Orlando. Not only is their location awesome, their music is even better. Their 2013 release ‘I Hate It’ has been a constant in my playlist for the last year. Having missed them at previous fests, this year they are my ‘must see’ band of the whole thing. Playing a poppier face to face blend of punk, they can be appreciated by many different festers, and I really hope they are. They are criminally underrated and I’m just so bloody excited to see them. Expect a new EP this winter, but before then jump right in with previous releases and have a ball. (RK)
Where and When: 12:10am – Loosey’s – Saturday October 31st / 1:00am – Loosey’s – Saturday October 31st (The Get Up Kids cover set).
Meat Wave are a new find for me. Signed to SideOneDummy, and managed by our good friends over at Brace Yourself PR, without having heard a single note I knew I would love this band. Their record ‘Delusion Moon’ came out this September and my god, is it good. I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of the most engaging 40 minutes of music released this year. The Chicago trio have seemingly found their footing with this record and it’s all the more exciting to be able to hear this live. (RK)
Where and When: 10:50pm – Boca Fiesta – Saturday October 31st.
I can’t think of a single negative thing about this band. They’re wonderful. Podacter released ‘Plays The Millennial Blues’ this August and for a debut full-length, they couldn’t have got it more perfect. Having previous members of crucial dudes, and playing Latterman-esque punk, they’re the perfect sing-a-long Fest band. Like, really perfect. I want a beer in hand when I listen to ‘I Still Get So Goddamn Low’, and scream the lyrics “how can I just try to keep, connections to the life I wanna lead? What comfort’s waiting there for me, growing dull or living free?” Just, perfect. If you haven’t already listened to this band, you’re probably a moron. Or you just haven’t heard them and I’m about to introduce you to your new favourite band. (RK)
Where and When: 5:30pm – Loosey’s – Saturday October 31st.
Right back at the start of 2015 Choke Up snuck out ‘Black Coffee, Bad Habits’, a rabid, caffeine-infused punk blast. If it escaped your attention, do yourself a favour and get up to speed quick smart. Combining the pop-punk rock nous of Banner Pilot and the off-kilter emo of Tiny Moving Parts and You Blew It, ‘Black Coffee…’ is a barnstorming introduction to a band that recalls many of the modern greats but has a sound and character that is unmistakable. Throw in some raw, shredded vocals and some massive hooks, ‘Black Coffee…’ is the sort of album blessed with untold depth that rewards repeated listens – and if I were at Fest I’d be wondering if Choke Up could cut it live.
Chaotic and frayed, I’d bet my life they’d kill in a tiny toilet venue stage, with condensation dripping off the walls and the floor sticky with beer. Those are my favourite types of venues – and Choke Up just the sort of band I’d want to see in them. (RM)
Where and When: 10:50pm – Boca Fiesta – Friday October 30th.
The Color And Sound
Wanna dance and smile and sing deceptively sad songs really loud until your throat hurts? Well, you’re in luck, as Boston indie-popsters The Color and Sound are about the best in the business. With only 2 EPs under their belts, we’re still, impatiently, waiting for a debut-full length, but consoling ourselves with the fact that last year’s ‘Peace of Mind’ ranked alongside Beach Slang’s offerings as the one of the outstanding moments of 2014.
Characterful, beautifully arranged and rammed with more hooks than a Peter Pan convention, ‘Peace of Mind’is that rare record, possessing intelligence and wit to go alongside its immediacy. And, as he Color And Sound have a penchant for basement shows where the audience is on top of them, expect them to be a riot at Fest. (RM)
Where and When: 2:50pm – High Dive – Sunday November 1st.
Although The Progress remain something of a cult act, they’re hugely important thanks to their legacy, which includes these Collingswood, New Jersey upstarts. Having split, The Progress spawned Evan Weiss’ Into It Over It project, while guitarist Eric McNeils took some time fine tuning the sounds of his own emo/indie act. And while Into It Over It remain cornerstones of the scene, Sleep In are every bit as exciting.
Combining indie, emo and straight-up rock, they nailed their sound on last year’s outstanding ‘Settling’. Armed with hooks and melodies that make you swoon, and an ever-so-slight math rock nuance to make it stand apart, it’s a tour de force of crunching riffs and punchy, emotive, lyrics. Fest represents the ideal opportunity to see bands that are yet to make it over to the UK, and if you’re travelling, these guys are a must see. (RM)
Where and When: 8:00pm – Palomino – Friday October 30th.
West Country rockers Woahnows have been charging around the highways and byways of this little island like men possessed this year and, having settled into a comfortable three-piece, really honing their stage act into something special.
Armed with a slew of top tunes, and fresh off the back of this year’s excellent ‘Understanding and Everything Else’, the trio can also call upon some excellent material to ensure their live show is not to be missed. With a sound that could sit well on any bill from straight up rock to punk and math, Woahnows have plenty of ‘in’ points without ever sounding formulaic, and that should translate well to people catching them for the first time. And, as they’re homegrown heroes, show them some love on foreign soil… (RM)
Where and When: 12:30pm – Loosey’s – Sunday November 1st.
If you want a band that delivers thundering punk rock then look no further than Heartsounds. With their heavy metal-influenced guitar work and the harmonious duel vocals of Laura Nichol and Ben Murray, Heartsounds have a lot in their arsenal to offer. 2013s ‘Internal Eyes’ full-length showed a more dynamic style that evolved from the quartets EpiFat core sound. Tracks like ‘A Total Seperation of Self’ and ‘Cycles’ epitomise their style through their uptempo approach, raw instrumentation and the aforementioned duel vocals. (SR)
Where and When: 7:00pm – High Dive – Saturday October 31st.
We waxed lyrical about The Hotelier all the way through 2014 and even now ‘Home, Like Noplace Is There’ still sounds as timeless and as exceptional as the first time we’ve heard it. If you caught them at The Fest last October or over here on their UK tour earlier this year, then you’ll know the Worcester, Massachusetts quartet always produce a heartwarming set that backs up all that is good with ‘Home, Like Noplace Is There’. If you’re yet to see or hear The Hotelier then be prepared to be amazed. (SR)
Where and When: 10:40pm – Cowboys – Saturday October 31st.
The Winter Passing
These Irish emo/pop punks have been gracing the pages of AH since day one. So like proud parents, we’re stoked to see them heading to Fest for the first time. Fresh off the release of their exceptional debut full-length, ‘A Different Space Of Mind’, The Winter Passing are a band on the rise that continue to keep winning over fans and critics. Whilst they may have a small late afternoon slot, you shouldn’t dimiss the quintet as t(hey behold a set of upbeat, emotive songs that pull at the heart strings and unite a crowd in equal measure. (SR)
Where and When: 4:00pm – Market Street Pub – Saturday October 31st.
Pianos Become the Teeth
Whilst last years exceptional ‘Keep You’ marked a stylistic shift for Pianos Become The Teeth, their strongly emotive performances didn’t alter. If anything their new material has enhanced their shows. The Baltimore, Maryland quintet have fine tuned the art of capturing an audiences attention through a collection of songs that ebb and flow, leaving you on tender hooks. Whilst not the most punk band you’ll hear at Fest, you’re sure to be left blown away by Pianos Become the Teeth (SR)
Where and When: 5:00pm – Lot 10 – Friday October 30th.
Having produced the outstanding but under appreciated ‘Ours Is Chrome’ earlier this year, you could saySuperheaven arrive at Fest with a point to prove. ‘Ours Is Chrome’ is a record drenched in 90s alt rock that thrives on its consistency with the Doylestown, Pennsylvania band refining their sound along the way; distorted guitars provide the back drop to punchy vocals and percussion. Their appearance at Fest comes as they prepare to come to the UK next month with Every Time I Die. As much as I hate to say it but I have a feeling the Fest crowd will appreciate Superheaven more. Go and see them and appreciate all the goodness that ‘Ours Is Chrome’ has to offer.
Where and When: 7:40pm – Cowboys – Saturday October 31st.
The Fest 14 takes place from Friday October 30th to Sunday November 1st in Gainesville, Florida. Pre-Fest takes place on Wednesday October 28th and Thursday October 29th in Ybor, Tampa, Florida.
Words by Sean Reid (SR), Rosie Kerr (RK), Dane Wright (DW) and Rob Mair (RM).