October 28, 2007
ROCKIN' THE FEST OUT
As national touring band Paint It Black ripped through songs like "Pink Slip" at deafening volumes, the audience sang along while crowd surfing, dancing with fists in the air and jumping so hard that it tested the floor's support beams.
Only this punk rock show didn't happen under the glare of stage lights. It happened in a second-floor apartment at Bivens Cove.
For the three-day Fest VI in Gainesville, house shows happen every night.
"This is the most insane example of it I've ever seen," said Dan Yemen, singer of Paint It Black, whose 16-year band resume includes stints with Lifetime, Resurrection, Armalite and Kid Dynamite. Yemen said he was surprised by the audience's politeness and by how smoothly a house party ran, even after police showed up.
Paint It Black and The Shook Ones transformed the apartment, dubbed "The Thunderdome," into a punk rock club. So many people were being crunched together that the owners decided it had reached capacity and locked the doors, fearing the second-story floor might cave in.
During the Shook Ones' set, about a dozen kids danced and jumped along to the first song, causing the floor to literally bounce.
Brandon Lanie of St. Augustine described the sound of the floor going "wump, wump."
The audience was then asked to sit on the carpet, but it didn't last long.
"If we all die during the Fest, this is Fest heaven," proclaimed Avery Bender, 21, a Gainesville resident.
Both Paint It Black and Shook Ones were able to play short 10-minute sets to about 100 people before police arrived and kindly asked everyone to leave. The show ended about 3 a.m. Saturday, but day two of Fest VI was only beginning.
Hundreds of people have converged on downtown Gainesville for the three-day music festival, The Fest, now in its sixth year. Today is the final day of the event, with people coming from all over to watch more than 200 bands.
"Imagine going to a Gator game where all the colors were black," says Leigh Scott, radio personality and promotions director for 100.5 The Buzz. Just like at the Gator national championship celebrations, people this weekend have been seen walking down University Avenue high-fiving, cheering and hugging.
Scott, 31 and a Gainesville native, has been witness to Gainesville's punk growth.
"Gainesville has had a huge punk scene," he said. "Given that you have a 20-year history, most of it was done through house shows."
The house-show scene kind of died out once Gainesville put noise ordinances into effect, Scott said. But through the work of No Idea Records, venues and other media, punk rock in Gainesville has been given new avenues, he said.
"It's gone from being self-recognized to actually recognized in the media," Scott said, affirming that The Fest VI puts Gainesville on the punk rock map.
And even after a year of preparation and planning, Fest spirit never lost sight of one of punk's core tenets - no distinction between band and audience, said Scott. Bands sign in for The Fest in the same room as a regular fan.
Even with a dozen venues hosting more than 200 bands over three days, not everyone felt they were given a decent time slot. Some bands didn't get scheduled at all, but still found it worthwhile to drive to Gainesville. For these bands, impromptu sets were the way to go.
Traveling folk-punk outfit Peach-Colored Jug Smugglers set up shop underneath the staircase of Mojito's on SW 2nd Street. A four-piece consisting of spoons, washboard, fiddle and banjo, the band played to a small audience hoping passers-by would toss change into an instrument case.
"Basically, we wanted to meet up with people while traveling," says Sean Mohati, the 18-year-old fiddle player. The California band has been together for eight months. When not traveling, they squat on government property, living in a shack called The Chad House, Mohati said.
"Camouflage," Mohati explained as to why they haven't been caught. Once The Fest is over, the band hopes to make it to New Orleans by Halloween.
Milwaukee pop-punk band Chinese Telephones was slotted to begin at 12:40 a.m. Saturday, the same time as The Fest headliner Naked Raygun. The Chinese Telephones scheduled a second set at a house party Saturday afternoon on SE 2nd Place so their friends could watch both bands.
Dan Oppermann, guitarist for The Chinese Telephones, said the band drove to Gainesville for The Fest without scheduling any other dates. Normally when touring, the band attracts a crowd of about 25 people, said Oppermann. But at The Fest, both of their sets were packed.
"We didn't expect to play in front of a billion people," says Oppermann.
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