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Thursday, May 23, 2024

With FEST 18 right around the corner and eager attendees already filing into town, many are searching for ways to bide their time until the punk rock music festival kicks off on Friday.

In response, the organizers will put on a pre-FEST Halloween show tomorrow night at Bo Diddley Community Plaza in downtown Gainesville, featuring covers sets of songs by Van Halen, Smashing Pumpkins, the Descendents and more. The event is set to run from 6 to 11 p.m. with tickets costing $6.66 in advance and $10 on the day of the show. They are available for purchase on FEST’s website or in person at the door.

In previous years, the organization has held a larger pre-FEST event in Ybor City in Tampa but decided to host it closer to home this year to focus their efforts on the upcoming festival. Because Bo Diddley Plaza will already be set up in anticipation for FEST, it’s an accommodating and affordable solution for those who will already be in town and are looking for Halloween plans.

“Once people started coming in from overseas and started coming into town early, we’ve always tried to organize something for them to go to,” said Tony Weinbender, founder of FEST. “It’s also a bigger opportunity for bands that travel from very, very far away to play another show.”

Although not a part of FEST 18, the event will feature a number of bands performing at the three-day festival such as Save Ends, Answering Machine, You Vandal and Audio Karate. In addition, the event will include a costume contest, the winner of which will take home 20 beer tickets for FEST 18 and one three-day pass to next year’s festival.

Weinbender thinks that given the event’s prime location and affordable tickets, everyone should make an effort to come out and support it.

“It’s going to be fun if the weather’s amazing, which it usually is this time of year.” Weinbender said. “It’s a great opportunity to do something that’s going to be for all ages and right in the middle of downtown. Cover sets are always fun.”

Audio Karate will be doing a Descendents cover set at the event, who they accompanied earlier in the month for a brief tour. Gabriel Camacho, the band’s drummer, says that Descendents played a big part in shaping the band’s identity.

“As a teenager, Descendents and Bill Stevenson were my baptism into So-Cal punk,” Camacho said. “[He] served as my road map to everything I wanted to be as a drummer: loud, front and center in all recordings and often would do stuff I’d never heard a band allow a drummer to do up until that point.”

This year will mark Audio Karate’s second time performing at FEST. On the heels of releasing “Malo,” their first full-length album in 15 years that is comprised of “lost and forgotten” songs from their youth, the band looks forward to stepping back out into the spotlight and reintroducing themselves.

“I spent nearly 10 years away from the band — my family.” Jason Camacho, one of the band’s guitarists, said. “Being able to remix the album and do Audio Karate again is super gratifying and humbling. We are thankful our fans have stuck around and welcomed us back with open arms and ears.”

Audio Karate will also perform at Downtown Fats Friday night. Their set is tentatively scheduled for midnight.

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