Punk In Drublic 2023
This past weekend, April 22nd and 23rd, Austin hosted the beginning of the end for NOFX as they commenced the Punk In Drublic Festival as well at their final retirement tour. Set up at the Carson Creek Ranch, the festival featured 14 bands spread across the two days with a marketplace of Punk Rock fashion, and Beer Garden where local breweries offered samples their crafted suds. Breweries like Nomadic, Baa Baa Brewing, and even Jester King dispensed ounces of ales and lager for the first several hours of the day. The village of Punk in Drublic was set up as to allow the Texas punks the chance to browse original art piece and search through Fat Wreck Chords’ vinyl collection, before trying a selection of craft brews.
During the day, the festival showcased top-notch names from Punk, Hardcore, and Alternative musicians. Local artists such as Piñata Protest, Days N Daze, and Pear started off the early mornings and gave the lineup a more homegrown feeling.
One of the warmest received artists on the bill were Austin’s own,The Riverboat Gamblers, who had crowds going wild seeing them elevated to such a major stage.
A circle pit engulfed the field as singer Mike Weibe grabbed the microphone and let out the battlecry “Let’s Eat!” A short pifty intro that led into their smash hit, What’s What. Every band gave a truly spellbinding performance, but if there were two that particularly stuck out, it would have to be the Subhumans and Pennywise.
The Subhumans, representing the only international act for the weekend, felt distinguished and retro. In many ways their set feels firmly rooted in the origins of Punk Rock and embodied the rough edges of play fast, play loud. Songs like Animal or Thought Is Free still prove that Punk is an attitude and the frantic spirit of this music is the perfect vessel to communicate powerful messages. By contrast, Pennywise shows what is possible with a lot more polish and a sound that often reflects the Hardcore elements of the West Coast. This is a punk band, make no mistake, but 4 guys wearing all baggy black garb and harmonizing to gang-vocals definitely draws more from Hardcore than Crust-Punk.
On both nights, it ultimately came down to NOFX in the headlining position, arriving on stage and cracking jokes with each other and the fans before launching into their jam- packed setlists. The band advertised (and mostly delivered on) playing 40 songs to reflect their 40 years as recording musicians, which they intend to play in 40 cities as their final tour. What made this a particularly fascinating challenge was their insistence on centering much of their performances around classic albums, (mostly) played in their entirety. Saturday night saw the performances of So Long And Thank You For All The Shoes and Pump Up The Valuum, while Sunday featured Wolf In Wolves’ Clothing and White Trash, Two Heebs, And A Bean. In some cases, several of these songs, despite being over 20 years old, have never played live. The Austin crowd would be the first to ever witness live renditions of And Now For Something Completely The Same, All Outta Angst, and Take Two Placebos And Call Me Lame. Better late than never I suppose. The tone was mostly set, after playing classic favorites like Dinosaurs Will Die and It’s My job To Keep Punk Elite, the band would either tell a joke or recall something nostalgic about a classic time they played Austin. During the encore on Saturday night, a change-up was made, and they decided to play Stickin’ In My Eye. Before the first chorus Fletcher Dragge of the band Pennywise took it upon himself to “hydrate” the band with a bottle of Tito’s Vodka that he involuntarily poured down their throats while playing. El Hefe, clearly irritated by this, stowed his guitar and decided to tackle the 6’5 Dragge who collapsed onto Mike Melvin, leaving him with a bruised nose. The next night while Melvin had a bandaged nose,the band would play it again, and finish it. Fat Mike paused to look offstage to Dragge before commencing and asked: “You’re not going to ruin this one, right Dumb-Dumb?” Back on Saturday, they closed out on Theme From A NOFX Album, and an injured Melvin set up a laptop and promised a performance of his solo “Melvinator” after-show for anyone who would stick around. On Sunday, after a similar showcase, Fat Mike shelved his gruff demeanor temporarily before the end, to profusely thank the city of Austin for always standing by them for all these years. With that, they concluded on the bizarre fan-favorite, Kill All The White Man.