Let’s face it, there are way too many festivals out there. For old curmudgeon types — like myself — it’s overwhelming (in a good way) to have so many choices. Contrarily, checking out some great live music in a festival setting can be distracting due to the abundance of activities and dodging the under-21 set.
That’s what makes the new Punk in Drublic festival so refreshing.
Named after NOFX’s seminal album and curated by Fat Mike, the festival is shockingly no-frills — as minimal as an event like this gets. Taking over the course of three weekends in five locations just outside of major West Coast cities, Punk in Drublic is a 21-and-up festival that headlined by NOFX and Flogging Molly, with support from Goldfinger, Less Than Jake, Bad Cop / Bad Cop and Get Dead. There won’t be a ferris wheel or fine dining, but for beer connoisseurs, this will be as good as it gets. The festival teamed up with Stone Brewing to brew Stone & NOFX Punk in Drublic Hoppy Lager.
It gets better.
Before the bands hit the stage, there will be up to four hours of tastings with over 100 craft beers lining your palate (if you’re feeling adventurous). Guess what? The tastings are free. If you’re too drunk and don’t think you can make it to the headliner — which usually goes on closer to 10 — have no fear. The festival’s last act finishes by 9 p.m. So far, its gone as well as a new one could. (And tickets run $39 to $199.)
“It’s definitely exceeded our expectations,” Fat Mike by phone. “In Tacoma, Wash., we had 9,000 people — and the crazier thing is that we had $300,000 in beer sales. That’s three-to-four beers per person and is something that threw us all off. At first we thought about making it all ages, then we said screw it. My favorite moment came when I asked how many people had babysitters and almost everyone threw up their hands. It turns out that everyone is more comfortable without kids around, and I think punk rockers are alcoholics.”
The chill vibe extends to the bands. When he put together the lineup, Fat Mike had no intention of making it a huge extravaganza. Instead, he focused on getting friends to play so they could kick it for hours at a time each weekend. The premise for this festival was to put together an event that he’s want to go to and the bands that he’d want to see, along with the alcohol component, which he credits co-founder Cameron Collins of Brew Ha Ha Productions for getting the thing rocking. Originally, the plan was for 21 bands to play the event. Fat Mike had other ideas.
“Five bands is all you really want and need to see at one festival,” he says. “I didn’t want a big festival with Punk in Drublic in its name and not do well with 17 bands. It makes NOFX looks bad. This is all about having a good time. If we do this right, we’re not going to make a lot of money, but we’re not going to lose anything and everyone is going to have a good time. Playing on weekends is actually fun. I’m fucking 50-years-old and I’m over long tours, but I don’t want to stop playing. This is the perfect way to do it.”
Between sets, fans who got their punk on when the bands performed will be surprised if they hear what’s on the PA. Herb Albert and other jazz music will be playing in order, as Fat Mike says, “To cleanse their ear palates.”
Unlike other fests, there’s only one stage to take in all the action. The controlled atmosphere is something to appealed to Fat Mike and his co-founders. Seeing fans comfortably moving around in the front row with beer in hand has been one of his favorites aspects of Punk in Drublic.
Plans to expand Punk in Drublic are already in the works. After the first show in Tacoma, offers were made to bring a tentative total of 18 shows (spread over nine weekends) to the Southwest and East Coast. With the premise of the fest grounded in only taking place on the weekend, a possible future tour would begin in the spring and end in the fall.
“We’re so happy because the shows so far are exactly how we hoped they’d turn out,” he says. “It’s for people like me and my friends. All of them are like fuck yeah we’re going to this festival because it’s perfect for people like us. It’s not for what kids want to see. You’re not the old guy here and you don’t grow out of the best style of music. It’s so simple that it’s crazy.”
Punk in Drublic, Saturday, Oct. 14, doors at 1 p.m., at Concord Pavilion, $39-$199, punkindrublicfest.com.