Punkapalooza

Punkapalooza

featuring One Pump Chump, Side Out, Normal Bias, Crash Pad, Happy Hour, Unsung Zeroes, Breaking Up, Nuclear Saturday, Fetch, The Spitvalves, and Vangard

The Purple Porpoise, Gainesville, FL • March 31, 2001

Punkapalooza was a day-long punkfest put together by Porpoise bartender Russ Williams (himself in the punk band Marvin’s Not Gay) and Vangard manager Kyle. With almost a dozen bands participating, mention of each will have to be short, so hang on tight, here we go!

Locals One Pump Chump started off the festivities just after two PM, to a surprisingly decent crowd. This seven-piece skunk (that’s ska-punk, to the uninitiated) band has a three-piece horn section, the typical rock power trio (guitar/bass/drums), and a singer. They were fun (at one point working in a stripped-down melody from, of all things, “Sweet Home Alabama,” into a song) and very tight.

Next up was Side Out from Orlando, a quartet playing newschool poppy punk with some nice backing vox from the second guitarist. They had that NOFX thing going on, with some metallish dual guitar leads.

Third up was another Gainesville band, the trio Normal Bias. After some technical difficulties with an amp cable (in the spirit of the day, I ended up lending them mine), they went up and mixed some pop punk with the occasional reggae overtone.

Batting cleanup was quartet Crash Pad, also from Gainesville, the closest thing to an oldschool punk rock and roll band on the bill. Modesty (and/or editorial policy) prevents me from further comment, being a member of same. Ask around.

Fifth was Happy Hour, from Jacksonville, a skunk sextet. They had a two-piece horn section, but in addition to the rhythm section had two guitars (having two guitars is somewhat rare in traditional ska, and only slightly less so in skunk). Towards the end of the set, their bassist played a long solo on his five-string, incorporating everything from funk standards to the theme to The Simpsons. Cool.

After a short break for everyone to catch their breath and grab a bite to eat, the music continued with Unsung Zeros, from Mount Dora. They were the only band with any apparent emo influence, and although they could be lumped with the newschool brand of same (characterized by emotional lyrics, but more pop-punky vocals, especially a lot of harmony), Unsung Zeros has a more indie sensibility and better instrumental chops. Importantly, they carried off songs from their impressive debut CD, The People Mover, live, with apparent ease.

Next up was Breaking Up, a young newschool punk quartet from up the road in Keystone Heights. Having played with these guys about a year ago at what I believe was their Gainesville debut at the Civic Media Center, their stage presence and showmanship have greatly increased. They also have the added plus of two guitarists who can both sing lead, which gives the music more variety. They incorporated snips of a couple songs from probably before they were born, Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” into one song. It does an old geezer like me good, seeing kids do stuff like that.

Nuclear Saturday, a quartet from Atlanta, was up next. They’re a pop punk band that didn•t sound like a lot of newschool bands (which is a good thing), more like an amped up early Soul Asylum (who were actually pretty punky before they went and got all famous). The dreadlocked bassist contributed most of the backing vocals while keeping the bottom with his Fender Jazz. One standout song was called “Better Days.”

From Nuclear Saturday’s Atlanta, the bill next traveled to Tallahassee (there seemed to be a sizable Tally contingent in the crowd there) by way of Fetch, another two-guitared four-piece. Unlike the usual arrangement of a lead singer chording on guitar or just singing without playing an instrument, Fetch’s lead vocalist was their bassist. As someone who’s played both guitar and bass, and “sung,” it always amazes me that anyone can play bass and sing lead vox simultaneously. By now, a circle pit was in full effect, and Fetch ably kept it going, at one point proclaiming, “We love metal!”

The penultimate band of the evening was The Spitvalves from Orlando, the last of the skunk entries. Actually, they bill themselves as “ska-core,” and do have a slightly heavier feel than the aforementioned ska-punk bands, more along the order of Miami’s Against All Authority. The Spitvalves are a six-piece with a three-piece horn section, and the pit continued unabated through their set.

Closers were Gainesville trio Vangard, a band that combines newschool and punk rock and roll into a palatable mix. With only three instruments, Vangard doesn’t really do anything fancy, but then again, punk rock ain’t about fancy, and what Vangard does, it does quite well. Despite many people having been there since the afternoon, most everybody stayed to the very end, and that in itself says a lot.

Hats off to the organizers, The Porpoise, sponsors Rock 104 and Yuengling Beer, Fueled By Ramen Records (who had a merch table there all day and gave away a lot of goodies), and all the bands (amongst whom there was a very nice sense of camaraderie) and fans (again, everyone seemed to get along famously) for coming together to make a really great event. I haven’t been this glad to be this sore in ages. And sorry to that girl who was standing next to the pit when I got flung out, hope your nose is OK!

Note: A version of this story appears in the May 2001 issue of Gainesville’s Moon Magazine.

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