So what the hell is The Fest? From an outsider’s perspective, it may look like a smaller version of South by Southwest. But it’s not. Every year, on an October weekend, The Fest commences in Gainesville, Fla.; there are hundreds of punk, hardcore, indie and alt-country bands booked, and 20,000-plus attendees from around the world.
This year’s lineup includes Lagwagon, Desaparecidos, The Menzingers, MewithoutYou, Andrew WK and many more, from the United States and beyond.
- Photo courtesy of Rob Spagaire
- World’s Scariest Police Chases
“It’s honestly like the perfect storm of a punk show,” says Dan Rock of World’s Scariest Police Chases, one of a few Pittsburgh bands playing The Fest.
Rock has gone to The Fest every year since 2009, initially with American Armada and Captain We’re Sinking, two bands then on his label Lock and Key Collective. He was blown away by “the mecca of punk.” WSPC has played the festival since 2010. Over the past five years, Rock has seen it grow. While organizers have added an outdoor stage, according to Rock, the largest indoor venue has a capacity of nearly 1,000, with many of the bars holding 200 to 400 attendees.
DIVORCE is playing Fest for the first time. Hell, it’s the first time any member of the band has been to Florida, according to Trevor Read. With some help from Chris Stowe, A-F Records manager and WSPC guitarist, the band was able to get added to this year’s Fest.
Read is stoked to represent his hometown at Fest.
“I think Pittsburgh in the past five years had had a lot of noteworthy bands, especially in the DIY scene,” says Read. “It’s good that we have a chance to represent the scene.”
As he and the WSPC boys gear up for The Fest, Rock hopes the festival can continue on, as it is run by “the right people for the right reasons.”
But it can’t get too popular.
“It’s one of those punk-kid things where you want to protect things that are special to you. And by protect them,” Rock jokes, “it means, keep them from everyone else.”
More information on The Fest is at www.thefestfl.com.