Camp Anarchy: Festival Review
What do you get when you gather some of the best punk rock groups from the last forty years, thousands of punks from all over the world, and a three-day camping festival that includes camping, over-sized beer pong, dodgeball, and free Rockstar Energy Drinks? Complete and utter anarchy- Camp Anarchy! This year’s Camp Anarchy marked the first US performance of NOFX for the first time since last year’s incident, which Fat Mike took a few moments to kindly explain in only a manner that he himself can do.
Friday started out with a bang from La Armada who brought their heavier punk style and high energy to the stage that set the tone for the whole weekend. These Dominican natives laid down their hardcore punk style with a great response from the crowd in the pouring rain. They also stated how they were blessed to be opening for so many of their idols in front of so many fans. La Armada is very much a punk-style Fever 333 as they incorporate political and ethical issues in many of their lyrics. Death By Stereo from SoCal took the stage next with their aggressive metal/hardcore style and kept the high energy laid down by La Armada going as the rain continued to pour down. Many people at this point were waiting in camping for the rain to subside to enjoy the remaining acts of the day.
Strung Out took to the stage as the rain had given way to some sunlight as the crowd started to thicken. These SoCal punk rockers slowed down the tone just a little with their more melodic punk songs as they have recently changed their pace as evident from their acoustic Black Out the Sky LP. NYC’s Sick Of It All took to the stage with their pissed-off angst and high energy as they got the crowd back to moshing heavy and sending bodies over the barricades. Next up were one of the bands to help define what we know as the L.A. Hardcore scene- Fear. These punk rockers formed in 1977 and have not slowed down one bit since they released ‘I Love Livin’ in the City.’ Lee Ving was his normal offensive and outrageous self as he shouted out many of the lyrics that have gotten him the negative attention over the years. Ving got the crowd behind him many times as he confessed his love for beer, both in monologue and in song. These guys may appear to be older, but they don’t show any sign of slowing down soon.
Early L.A. punk rockers X took the stage next as they played many of their huge hits that they have performed over the last 42 years. Their performance was phenomenal as they have all honed their skills over the years, even after Exene Cervenka had announced back in 2009 of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.
The headliner for Friday Night was The Offspring who, despite having some sound issues, absolutely brought the place down with their early punk hits as everybody sang along to every one of their songs. Dexter and Noodles were absolute riots as they kept the crowd entertained in-between songs and as they tried to resolve the ongoing sound issues. They ended the night with an encore of “you’re gonna go far, kid” and “self esteem.” Day one was over and everybody was set to party through the night until the sun came up. Day two was soon on the horizon.
Day two kicked off with the “the Casillas brothers ” and company, better known as Voodoo Glow Skulls. This ska-punk group put on such a fun, energetic show to kick off day two as their upbeat sounds and horns create such a happy environment full of the crowd dancing and stomping along. Following the Skulls was A Wilheim Scream, a post-hardcore group from New Bedford, MA who laid down some of the heavier tracks this weekend. It was quite a nice experience as they have a punk sound deeply incorporated underneath all of the heaviness. We were able to overhear their set as we took advantage of the wonderful Craft Beer Tasting that they offered on Saturday from 1-4 PM. This was one of the extra experiences that Camp Anarchy offers at an additional charge or as part of a ticket upgrade. There were over twenty different local breweries on hand that offered tastings in a commemorative Camp Anarchy glass that was handed out with every tasting pass. If you love fresh brewed beer then be sure to check out these tastings as they are also a great way to mingle with the other festival attendees.
After enjoying the beer tasting we were absolutely ready for the boys from Detroit, The Suicide Machines, to steal the show, and that’s exactly what they did on Saturday. With their mixture of hardcore and ska-infused punk, the Suicide Machines catered to everybody in the audience and brought them together. Jason Navarro was in awe of the weekend and everything that had transpired thus far. He went on to state that festivals like this are integral for the acceptance of those who may appear to be different. Be sure to catch their new album as they have completed it and are finishing the final touches.
OFF! took to the stage next as this punk supergroup has garnered much attention since forming back in 2009. The result of Keith Morris of Circle Jerks and Black Flag, and Dimitri Coats of Burning Brides, OFF! was created after Coats worked as a producer of a failed Circle Jerks album. OFF! Has released three full-length albums, as well as working on a new feature film, Watermelon, which is slated to start production early 2020. Next to take the stage at Camp Anarchy was England’s first punk band to release a single, The Damned, who helped to create the U.K. punk movement alongside the likes of the Clash and the Sex Pistols. They recently enjoyed top 10 chart success with their 2018 album ‘Evil Spirits’ and show no sign of slowing down with age. The crowd was more than gracious to be in the presence of these founding fathers of U.K. punk.
Suicidal Tendencies kicked down the door and ransacked the place as they were the next band to grace the stage at Camp Anarchy. The mosh pits at this point had been getting larger and larger as each new band took the stage, and at this point of the day, the pit was swelling so much that it no longer was contained to just one area. Numerous pits broke out and crowd surfers were being launched without any concern as we saw complete anarchy unfold.
Next up was none other than Pennywise, who was high energy and engaging the entire set. At one point they invited fans on stage for “bro hymn” in which all you could see was a sea of people swaying on the stage. Rancid took to the stage as they were the headline act for Saturday night. Rancid is of course credited as being a huge influence in the punk revival of the 1990s alongside The Offspring, Green Day, and others. Day two had come to an end, but we were far from being done at Camp Anarchy.
Day three saw an increase of early attendees as the grounds were much more full before the first act started than the previous two days. It may have had something to do with the fact that this was NOFX’s first US show in a year and that they were kicked out before they could play last year’s Camp Anarchy. Spanish Love Songs, who formed in 2014 in California, opened up Sunday with their more intimate-infused sound. They were without a doubt one of the ‘softer’ bands this weekend, but they absolutely delivered an amazing performance. We look forward to seeing where this younger band of the weekend goes in the future.
The Bombpops took the stage next with their female-led punk presence, as well as their entertaining banter as they taught a few naughty words to the children in attendance. This event was for all ages, however there was a strong advisement for all attendees to be of 18 years or older. Nonetheless, the words used at this time would be of no warning as to what would be shared later in the evening. Following The Bombpops was Long Island’s own Iron Chic. This band is the quintessential DIY band as they handle all aspects of being and running a band, such as a home studio, artwork done by band members, and their own record label. These guys put all the effort in and feel rewarded with the success and recognition they do receive. If you’re looking for a band to follow to see how it’s done, check these guys out for sure.
The early show stealers for Sunday was California’s The Bronx as they brought the crowd to life and then some. Vocalist Matt Caughthran was completely high energy the entire set as he made his way out to the crowd for a couple songs to start a few circle pits and get dirty like the rest of those out there. TSOL (True Sounds of Liberty) took to the stage next with their varied sound as they are noted to be all across the board when it comes to fitting in a specific genre. These punk veterans put on a fantastic show as they played many of their classics as well as some new songs off of their latest album from 2017, The Trigger Complex.
Less than Jake took to the stage next with their fun, energetic ska punk. The crowd was absolutely waiting all day for LTJ to take the stage with their upbeat vibe, their childish antics, and their ability to command the stage. Fans singing along more than ever, and fans absolutely loved when the Mascot took to the stage, with toilet paper guns! You should have seen the amount of Bad Religion merch/tattoos that everyone had at this festival! Safe to say, a fan favorite! They played a solid hour set, playing through all the fan favorites, including the No Control album, in its entirety!
It was then time for the almighty, NOFX. Some fans split, still bitter from what went down in the past while the rest of us closed in on the barricade. && THIS was the loudest we had heard the crowd sing back at the artist throughout the weekend. They had a number of joking moments, with of course Fat Mike entering the stage in women’s laungire to some more serious moments- like an onstage proposal!
Overall, a great first festival for Camp Anarchy! We hope to see it again next year, with you in attendance! See the full photo gallery from the weekend here.