By Andrea Ramirez-Maciolek, Rock At Night Philadelphia Correspondent
Location: Asbury Park, New Jersey–June 11th and 12th, 2016
I’m going to start this article by being out of character from my usual reviews. Punk Rock Bowling was an amazing event. As I’m going through my photos that night after the show, I noticed the amount of fun and emotional enjoyment in the faces of the audience and the musicians. It brought tears to my eyes. This great, great show happened the day of the early morning shootings in Orlando, Florida. I did not have enough time to digest what was going on in the world because I was busy preparing for my shoot and working until late that night when I was going through my pictures and catching up on the news when everything that happened in Florida finally began to sink in. It angers me that attacks are occurring in places of recreation where all our sorrows are supposed to be left at the door for a few hours of fun. I realized that we have correspondents who work the Orlando circuit and this tragedy could have easily hit close to home. As I’m going through my pictures and seeing the beautiful side of what loving life is all about I could not help but think of the victims who were also having a good time at the Orlando night club. I was pleased to hear most of the bands paying respect to the victims and dedicating songs in their honor. This was Punk Rock at its best! Everyone came together to cheer and everyone gave their respect. It’s hard to have a good time when something like this affects the entire world but at the same time we can’t stop doing what we love out of fear. This is our country, our culture, and we love our freedom of expression and no one should ever take that away from anyone.
Punk Rock Bowling was a two day musical extravaganza that took place in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it to the Sunday show which proved to me that I completely missed out on a great show the day before. From the beginning I had a great time the minute I walked in the door. I have never been to an event where the crowd was as equally entertaining as the bands. I knew I was going to be in for a great treat. Concert goers were dressed in their best punk attire. The vibe was great and I must have made friends with a handful of people the moment I arrived. A few stand outs in the crowd were baby punk rockers, full-on Mohawk punk rockers, and the assortment of rainbow colored hair amongst the crowd was like being in the middle of a Crayola box. The day began with an awesomely energetic band called Brutal Youth from Toronto, Canada, and I do have to say that they could not have picked a better band than Brutal Youth to open the show. They got the crowd going with their infectious energy and true to the heart punk rock melodies.
The scandals where next on the list. Our local boys from North Jersey put on a tight performance. You can tell these guys are experts at being on stage, they have been together since 2004 and they blew my mind away. Their sound leans more on melodic hard rock with an after taste of punk. They definitely have a thumbs up on my list of bands to keep on your radar. If you are from New Jersey or “Jersey” as we say here in the great Garden State I’m sure you are familiar with the local watering holes within the Jersey shore vicinities. If you are not familiar with Jersey at all we have a great little forgotten town called Asbury Park that is rising back to greatness which served as the host town of Punk Rock Bowling this weekend. What better way to describe Asbury Park than the way the thin, shaggy-haired lead singer of Drug Church described Asbury Park. He said everyone in Asbury Park looks like a tattoo artist or is the friend of a tattoo artist and everyone has a beard whether male or female. I loved the attitude of this band and he was pretty dead on about describing the hipster, artsy town of Asbury Park. Drug Church’s music had powerful attitude and they were hilariously vocal about a lot of things in the world.
What impressed me the most about Punk Rock Bowling was the band lineup. I can’t honestly pick a favorite act of the day. Every band on the list were very different in some ways and very similar in others. We were even treated to some great ska, soul, and reggae by way of the band The Slackers who had an impressive arrangement of instruments and a laid back stage persona. The band, Off With Their Heads, dedicated a song to the victims of the Orlando shootings and everyone listened, and cheered. Flag was another band who had a very heart felt speech by vocalist Keith Morris about the Orlando shootings. I admit, it was very hard to have a good time as you kept staring down at your phone with unescapable news updates but it was damn good to see former members of Black Flag on stage to take some of the pain of the world away for at least a few minutes.
As the day went on the crowds got wilder and much more entertaining. By 7 pm there was a full on mosh pit going on in the middle of the floor. The Anti-Nowhere League, the fabulously ostentatious band from the UK kept the audience hyped. This band goes back to the 1980s and they were as impressive as ever and you have to love it when the band members work the camera, give you the middle finger and then smile back at you just to assure you they were just having fun. Just when you thought the night could not get better, Agnostic Front provided the greatest form of entertainment for the people watching both the band and the mosh pit. At one point I was not sure whether I was being entertained by the audience or the band as line after line of body surfers emerged when Agnostic Front played the Ramones cover “Blitzkrieg Bop”. I could not help but noticing the happy, smiling faces as kids surfed through the punk rock wave of people. And last but not least, the veterans and probably greatest underdog band of them all, Cock Sparrer hit the stage with the biggest and loudest support from the audience that night. These guys go back to the early 1970s. Well, underdog is an understatement because going by the tremendous amount of love and support from the audience it’s surprising Cock Sparrer did not receive as much commercial success as they should have back in the heyday era of punk. One thing is for sure, they had the best audience of the night, and none the less they were the band everyone looked forward to seeing the most.
I myself, feel blessed to have such great musical experiences in my line of work but Punk Rock Bowling has been the best musical festival I’ve attended. The crowd was amazing, everyone was there to have a great time and we all came together during a sad time in our nation’s history. If you missed this show, you missed an amazing event and you should have been there. May this great event that included people of all races, sex, and color be a sign that there is hope for this world, with music we will always come together in peace and love and this is as bad ass as punk rock can get!
Off With Their Heads
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I'm a photojournalist who is passionate about music. I love the adrenaline of shooting live concerts. Photography has given me the opportunity to photograph some of today's most legendary bands, and entertainers. When I'm not photographing music you can find me on the runway shooting New York, London, and Philadelphia Fashion Week. I am also a contributing photographer at Getty Images.