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Monday, June 24, 2024

The Fest 8 was like Disney for punks - a dazzling array of attractions made less enjoyable by long lines and low-capacity venues.

For a standard Fest pass holder, seeing a popular act meant arriving at the venue long before the band played, a strategy that causes headaches when the lineup throws several great bands in a row.

A perfect example was Sunday night at The Kickstand: The Emotron, O Pioneers!, Bomb The Music Industry! and Defiance, Ohio.

In the statement "If you like X band then you will like Y band," all of these acts are X and the venue reached capacity hours before Defiance, Ohio took the stage.

But the crowds were there with good reason. The Fest provided a whirlwind tour of up-and-coming undergrounders from every genre with ties to punk. All three days had incredible moments of fan dedication and artistic impressiveness.

On Friday, the metalcore band Coalesce was ferocious on the Common Grounds stage.

At moments, their trance-like states were hard to watch, appearing more like intensely personal religious experiences than public performances.

"We're here to f***in' play a punk rock show and have a good time," bassist Nathan Ellis said after the show. "What's important to us is getting the soul out."

Folk-punk outfit Andrew Jackson Jihad ruled Saturday with their impromptu show following a set inside the Civic Media Center.

Fans outside, who were held because of capacity, crowded around the center's entrance and started chanting, "Play outside! Play outside!"

Not wanting to disappoint, Andrew Jackson Jihad played several songs in the parking lot, with the guitar only barely audible under dozens of fans singing along.

On Sunday, Samiam, a major headliner of The Fest 8, was without their bassist, who had missed his flight to Gainesville.

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To make sure the show would still happen, two local musicians involved with Fest learned the bass lines to Samiam's set and played in the show on Sunday night.

Those who saw the show said it went off seamlessly.

"That was really awesome to see Gainesville pulling together to help this band out," said Tony Weinbender, founder of The Fest. "Where else can you see that pulled off?"

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