9 Reasons Why You Should Pre-Fest Next Year

By Maria Correonero

For the first time ever, Tony Weinbender and the rest of the Fest 12 crew gave all punk rock nerds and masochists of the world what they had been hoping for – six days of Fest, with the first two taking place in Tampa. Sound excessive? Here’s why you need to make it to Big Pre-Fest in Little Ybor next year:

1. You don’t want to miss out.

If you like fun and heavy drinking, the mere thought of not going to the Fest as a whole will probably make you, at the very least, sad. It might also trigger a “fear of missing out” in you – a 21st century “disorder” that plagues first world kids with smartphones and Instagram accounts. But wait, you tell yourself; you’re not actually missing Fest, right? Just two days, 100 bands, a lot of buds hanging out in Florida…

Don’t take chances with your anxiety levels; just go to the whole thing. You know you want to, and you know it’s going to be a great (blur of a) week.

Look how much fun these people are having.
Look how much fun these people are having.

2. You get to skip the monumental registration line at the Holiday Inn.

Yes, you read that correctly; you can collect both of your Pre-Fest and Fest wristbands in Tampa. I showed up at registration about five minutes before opening in Tampa, and the whole process took 25 minutes. Registration in Gainesville takes about four or five hours unless you start lining up at stupid o’clock, in which case you’re still (a) waiting FOREVER and (b) probably turning into a lobster under the Florida sun. Don’t waste your valuable day-drinking time; get your stuff in Tampa.

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You’d much rather be here than waiting in line. – Photo by Jeff Hong

3. The official Pre-Fest tattoos are pretty sweet.

For those of you that like to immortalize your PBR-fueled mistakes on your skin but don’t feel like explaining some version of the No Idea stressface to your unadorned co-workers, Ybor City Tattoo Company in Tampa offers some great alternatives for $50 AND they’ll give you free PBR. Because an angry dolphin wearing a heli-cap makes a lot more sense than the stressface, right?

Via instagram.com/capnnarcolepsy
Via instagram.com/capnnarcolepsy

4. The Pre-Fest hotel is really, really nice.

And I don’t just mean clean rooms and a pool; we’re talking rooftop hot tub, full-on gym, in-room iPod docking station and $5 water bottles swank. For a mere $25 per person per night (if you wrangle three friends to bunk with you), your squatty budget buys you luxury linens, a fancy water tank full of unidentified citrus fruit wedges in the lobby, and a Taco Bus down the block.

Indulge; your hungover neck and overworked liver will thank you for it.

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The real deal. – Via www.hilton.com

5. It’s all about warming up.

If running a marathon requires some training, so does a punk rock one. Rather than having events ’round the clock, shows at Pre-Fest don’t start until 5:30PM; this gives you plenty of time to do damage control during the day and ease into Fest mode progressively. Or, if you’d rather drink your way furiously through every second of your vacations, think of it as shock therapy; by the end of the week (if you survive), your immune system will be stronger than the entire cast of The Expendables II on a steroid overdose. No better way to combat Fest Flu!

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These guys have no idea what’s about to hit ’em.

6. No more overlapping sets.

Unless you’re the ubiquitous Mikey Erg, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have to make some tough scheduling choices in Gainesville. Hey, you know what? You can mitigate all those conflicts at Pre-Fest. With 100 bands lined up in Tampa and all of them performing double duties, there’s a good chance you’re going to see a bunch of shows that you’d otherwise miss in Gainesville. You’ll also have more time to invest in checking out bands you’ve never heard (everyone knows eating and sleeping is for suckers). Pre-Festing is the most efficient way to go about your punk rock holiday!

Off With Their Heads approve.
Off With Their Heads approve.

7. Venue-hopping is simpler.

In Ybor City, all the venues are within five blocks (i.e. stumbling distance) of each other. Not only that, but the tortured pedicab drivers of Tampa are also willing to give Pre-Festers free rides! In the event that you are running late to a show or you’ve become so intoxicated that you’ve forgotten how to walk, someone will be there to take you where you need to go (for an adequate tip). Without the standard capacity issues and crazy lines of Gainesville’s venues, you’re likely to see everything on your list.

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They have cute street decorations too!

8. The Ritz Ybor is the perfect venue.

While running around at Pre-Fest is pretty painless, chances are you’re not going to do much of it if you’re aiming to see the bigger bands. The Ritz Ybor has two rooms with bands playing sets back to back on alternate stages, so all you have to do is walk forty feet from one show to the next. You don’t even have to take a detour for the bathrooms, they’re in between the rooms. This is obviously very convenient if you were born without a sense of direction (like me), are tired, or (most likely) PBR-addled. Plus, if loud noises aggravate you and you need a quiet moment (I recommend that you stay at home if you don’t enjoy loud noises), there’s a full bar in the merch room. With stools and everything.

Tony enjoys the Ritz Ybor's layout as much as I do.
Tony enjoys the Ritz Ybor’s layout as much as I do.

9. Why wouldn’t you?

Every year in Gainesville I hear people saying they wish they could Fest forever; the Pre-Fest and Fest combo is about as close as it gets (and, realistically, you couldn’t survive more than a week of it). You finally got what you always wanted; why don’t you give it a go?

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Next year, this could be YOU!


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