Dear People of the World,
Just out of curiosity, what are you doing over the last weekend in October? Well, I know it may seem a little soon to be making plans, but I am inviting you to the best weekend of your life. That’s right. On behalf of the city of Gainesville, Florida and each and every one of it’s inhabitants, I am requesting your presence at The Fest.
You may be asking yourself questions like, “What’s The Fest?” and “Why on earth should I care?”
The Fest is the single most challenging, rewarding, and intense weekend of the human experience. Now, I am aware of what a grandiose statement that is, but remember, there always has to be a “best,” because how else would we know to be disappointed by so many other things in life?
Let me give you a run down of all of the things that this weekend in our festering bog of a college town will entail, and you can judge for yourself whether you see the same potential for greatness.
First of all, over 100 bands are booked to play in a mere 3 days. That comes out to one and a half bands an hour on average for 72 hours straight. Of course, it will be spread out to a few different clubs in and around Downtown and will occur during legal hours of operation, but still, you see what I’m getting at here. And I’m not talking about some shitty rap metal bands or douche bags trying to be Coldplay, but some of the most stellar punk rock ensembles in existence. These are bands that recharge the soul while irreparably damaging the eardrums.
In addition to local Gainesville bad asses like Grabass Charlestons, Whiskey & Company, Billy Reese Peters, and Asshole Parade, you’ll have the opportunity to witness heavy hitters including J Church, This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, The Ergs!, and The Lawrence Arms. Also slated are bands that must unquestionably be seen at least once in a lifetime, like Dillinger Four, Radon, and Tiltwheel.
Though the Fest orbits around the shows, they are only one part of what makes it so magnificent. This is a small town, so the addition of a thousand or two extra people ready to destroy their physical beings in the name of rock makes a big impact on everything. The laws of god and man dematerialize; gravity and time and space become irrelevant. Yes, it’s nice to have a general idea about time in order to catch every band that you want to see, but if you’re willing to keep your ears open and don’t wander off by yourself, you’re going to see a lot of cool shit regardless.
It all kicks off Friday night, which feels like Christmas morning. The collective anticipation will finally bust out of our torsos and blossom into the unbridled glee only experienced when all forces in the universe merge perfectly. Friday is the night when everyone is in a good mood, few have vomited, hangovers are still hours away, and nobody’s been lost yet. It’s really easy to go nuts on the first night, but it’s also important to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Sure, get drunk, do drugs, lose your voice, and after party, but be mindful of the fact that there are two more days looming ahead.
Day two is usually where the men are separated from the boys; women from the girls, etc. It will look like a less choreographed version of the Thriller video. This is where the war torn will descend straight into the heart of downtown for the Roots Rock show. This is where we’ll hear all sorts of bluegrass and acoustic music, while eating delicious barbeque and cursing the daylight. From there, the indoor shows resume as before and the nighttime madness rages on.
On Sunday, the strong will be powering through, while others will find a tree to doze under or a grassy patch to roll back and forth on while moaning to themselves. Stomachs will be feeling iffy and brains will be clouded over. You will probably ask yourself at this point if you even remember what it is to feel normal, and if you reckon that you’ll ever feel that way again. But then the rock will recommence and the drinking and the mayhem will pluck you up in their talons and everything will be fine. The bars close at 11 PM on Sunday, because of it being the Christian Sabbath and all (Gainesville rule, not Fest rule), so there will probably be a house show or a really fun party or five afterwards.
So there’s the basic gist of what can be expected this year. If you think you can handle that much awesomeness and you are planning to come, I have a few suggestions that may prove helpful.
1. Buy your pass in advance. Last year they sold out before the weekend started.
2. Stay hydrated. One glass of water to every 8 beers will do wonders.
3. Remember to eat. There are plenty of excellent establishments within close proximity to all of the venues. The Top has reasonably priced, creative dishes for vegetarians and carnivores alike, Flacco’s is the best place to get inexpensive Cuban fare, and on Saturday be sure to take advantage of the expertly crafted barbeque at the Roots Rock show.
4. Wear underwear. The chances of ending up in a pool or partially naked in front of a lot of people elevates dramatically during this time.
5. Know your limits. Spending time in the emergency room getting your stomach pumped or getting a cast because you fell off of a roof trying to find a better vantage point only detracts from your personal festing time.
6. Tip the bartenders. They are probably missing their favorite band at some other club just so you can drink that PBR. Freedom isn’t free.
7. For more information, check out www.thefestfl.com. You’ll find the complete band list and schedule, information on lodging and travel, and the message board where you can hook up with veteran and future Fest goers.
Here’s hoping that I’ll see you there. Be sure to come up and say hello. I’ll be the blond girl who will sound like she has laryngitis by the after party on Friday, who will probably be champagne drunk at the show on Saturday, and who’ll be screaming about it being my birthday by Sunday. Until then, take care and start training.