Photos by Alan Snodgrass

 

With the addition of a second festival stage and more pre-fest options, it’s sadly impossible to see it all, so we’ve taken a stab at our Top 5 of 2019 (that we saw).

  1. The Stranglers:  Every year the punk police take to the socials to complain about the Punk Rock Bowling line-up with the typical complaint: “They’re not punk!”  Remember when DEVO blew the roof off the main stage a few years ago? Well, the amount of pre-fest whining was put to rest 30 seconds after they hit the stage. In 2019, The Stranglers were that band, and boy did they prove the critics wrong.
  2. The Exploited:  2019 marked the triumphant return to PRB by The Exploited after frontman Wattie Buchan’s health issue, which included multiple heart attacks.  Clearly on the mend, the lean Wattie was no less mean as the band started their set with the face punch of “Let’s Start A War” and didn’t ease up during their fiery set.  This show at the Bunkhouse gets bonus points for putting the always-epic Iron Reagan on the same stage.
  3. The Darts:  These ladies from Phoenix have a brand new album out on Alternative Tentacles that is worthy of a listen, so their main stage set was blocked on our calendars far in advance. They did not disappoint, no doubt walking away from PRB with a load of new fans.
  4. The Drowns:  Some of the nicest guys that have ever graced the Punk Rock Bowling stage (and that’s saying a lot), but maybe we’re biased. Full of grit and heart and infectious AF, these Seattle dudes were all smiles as they tore through their second-stage set that whipped the afternoon crowd filling 3rd Street into a frenzy. Be sure to check out our review of their new EP, The Sound (now out on Pirates Press Records) and keep an eye on these guys … you will not be disappointed.
  5. Shame:  Never heard of them, glad we saw them. Shame they were one of those early, main-stage bands that would have been easy to pass over for a nap if not for a recommendation. These young Londoners commanded the stage with a swagger that belied their youth and wowed the crowd with their antics.

After listing the Top 5, it feels remiss not to throw out a few honorable mentions:  the triple-whammy of Saturday’s The Damned-FLAG-Rancid lineup made Saturday’s fest a standout. Killing Joke’s set at the Bunkhouse proved that the band is at the top of their game after all these years. The Stitches at the BBB (’nuff said, if you were there you know what we’re talking about).  The second stage action was off the hook with bands like The Casualties, Lower Class Brats, Street Dogs, and Teenage Bottlrocket all soaking up the intimacy that it afforded.

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