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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Best of The Fest: Gainesville's annual music festivus for the rest of us

If it seems as though there are a lot more bearded, PBR-chugging 20-somethings in tight jeans roaming Gainesville today than usual, it's not your imagination.

The sixth annual Fest is upon us.

Hipsters, punks and music aficionados of all types have descended on our fair town to see the more than 200 bands that signed up to pack eight of downtown's most popular music venues this weekend.

If you're a visitor to Gainesvegas (or one of a surprising number of residents who haven't heard of The Fest's existence until now but want a part of it), tear these pages out and put them in the back pocket of your Levi's cutoffs. This is a guide to the best of The Fest.

Best Bands to Keep an Eye Out For

5. Defiance, Ohio (Sunday, 4:05 p.m., 2nd Street Bakery)

It's not every day you find a band with its roots in punk rock and a cello on its stage. The acoustic folk-punk band Defiance, Ohio pulls it off, though, and its enthusiastic show will have you singing and clapping along with the banjo and harmonica.

4. Planes Mistaken for Stars (Friday, 9:40 p.m., Common Grounds)

It's true: Planes Mistaken For Stars announced in July that after a decade of swapping band members and changing genres, they decided to part ways. You should pay tribute to the post-hardcore band formerly signed to Gainesville's very own No Idea Records.

3. Paint It Black (Saturday, midnight, Common Grounds)

This Philly-based hardcore punk band's energetic, shout-singing style is reminiscent of old-school bands gone by. It's no wonder, considering current and past members of Paint It Black were also involved in the influential punk bands Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, Good Riddance and None More Black.

2. Small Brown Bike (Sunday, 8 p.m., The Venue)

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Small Brown Bike's Fest show is the last of only five this year, a special reunion tour after a breakup in 2004. This could be your last chance to hear their melodic double vocals and '80s-like guitar riffs live, so take advantage of it.

1. Lopan Takes Japan (Sunday, 7 p.m., The Venue)

If history is any indicator, this band is actually another, more well-known Gainesville band that also possesses the initials LTJ, and it's always fun when they play their hometown. Just a hint.

Best Bands Your 31-Year-Old Brother Would Love to See

5. Youth Brigade (Friday, 11:30 p.m., The Venue)

Three brothers formed Youth Brigade in 1980, beginning the punk epidemic in L.A. They've broken up and reformed a number of times, but 2006 brought these punk legends back to touring.

4. Dillinger Four (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., The Venue)

Chances are you know this band from a Fat Wreck Chords compilation, but they go back much further. Since 1994, they've put out five albums of their Americana brand of punk rock, and as Fest veterans, they'll definitely play their best crowd-pleasers.

3. Avail (Saturday, 7:10 p.m., The Venue)

Avail was formed in 1987, and although they've released almost a dozen albums, it was likely 2000's "One Wrench" that changed the lives of all of us middle-school punk wannabes. A live show lets Avail showcase their range of musical styles, from classic punk to more pop-friendly punk to '70s-era rock 'n' roll.

2. Seaweed (Sunday, 9:20 p.m., The Venue)

Seaweed was born around the same time as many of you freshmen, and the band quickly earned a reputation for its gritty punk music and energetic live shows. The influential band broke up about a decade later, but they reformed earlier this year and a new album is in the works.

1. Naked Raygun (Friday, half past midnight, The Venue)

Formed in 1981, the Chicago-based Naked Raygun is considered one of the first post-punk bands in the U.S. They broke up a year later but reformed in 2006, bringing back their political lyrics and melodic hardcore style of music to stages.

Best Non-Music Stuff to Do

3. The Civic Media Center Film Fest (Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4:30 p.m., Civic Media Center)

The Civic Media Center will be showing seven documentaries, including a film about Iraq war veterans and a Noam Chomsky profile.

2. The Fest Flea Market (Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., University Hotel/Holiday Inn)

This year, The Fest offers its first-ever flea market. According to The Fest organizers, 60 vendors will showcase their "label, distro, clothing company or black-market counterfeit Pogs" to anyone who'd care to come by and purchase unique crafts from independent designers.

1. The Fest Art Show (Thursday, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., The Atlantic)

This is another Fest first. The Atlantic's upstairs gallery will showcase artwork from nine different designers responsible for photos, album art and merchandise for many bands we know and love.

Best Band Names

Editor's Note: This section may not be exactly informative, but the title is self-explanatory. You should see these bands due to their names alone.

5. Witches With Dicks

4. Religious as Fuck

3. Shark Pants

2. Vagina Sore Jr.

1. Bloodbath & Beyond

Fest 6 passes are indeed sold out, but check out venues to pay a fee and walk in for shows.

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