Since the age of 15 or so, I’ve found myself in local fire halls and house basements. I’ve seen countless bands and felt the connectedness of the punk community, spanning subgenres and meeting new people as the music that hits me the hardest continues to create the soundtrack to my life. Today, I turn 28, and am glad to have finally achieved a several-year-long goal to attend The Fest in Gainesville, Florida.
Punk Out was honored to be a part of the opening Punk Rock Flea Market, where we were grateful to talk about the organization and our goals with attendees and bands alike. We started off our second day hosting a Punk Out Real Talk discussion group about inclusion and LGBT+ representation in the punk community. When we have these discussions, the amount of people who show up isn’t important – it’s the quality of the conversation that blows me away.
As a musician and a fan, one of the best things about Fest was how welcoming and friendly everyone was. I had the pleasure of meeting bands playing the festival for the first time, and I got to ask them what their experience was like from the stage.
Spending time with old friends and making new ones was a given; the punk community is alive and vibrant at a place like the Fest. I realized the depth of such a community and the idiosyncrasies of a subculture that is often misunderstood and misrepresented. I’ve never felt so at ease and comfortable in such a large group of people. My anxieties slipped away as I shared PBRs, side-hugs, and singalongs with strangers. I was reminded every reason I still call this my scene.
Here are the numbers: I rode an Amtrak train for 21 hours. I saw 26 different bands/sets (most in their entirety.) I crowd surfed four times (once during Pet Symmetry, twice during Beach Slang, and once during Chumped’s final set.) I made an uncertain amount of new friends, even some whom I simply chatted with for a few minutes. I ate three burritos from Boca Fiesta. I got one regrettable scene tattoo as a reminder of everything this community means to me, and how my only regrets are the years when I was afraid to go to shows alone and the bands I didn’t get to see.
My regrettable scene tattoo symbolizing the Latterman lyrics, “No matter where we go, our hearts will always follow,” is something I did to remind myself of why this music is a part of me, and for every new friend I’ve made and have yet to meet.
Thank you, Fest. We’ll meet again soon.
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