On Saturday, October 22, 2016 John Paul Allen, Stevie Allen and I headed down to San Diego for the very first Ye Scallywag Festival. With such a killer line up I knew that this would be an event I would regret missing quite a bit. The fact that it was also a beer and wine tasting made it extra tempting to be there.
Interestingly, Ye Scallywag was not your typical punk rock festival in that it started at 11am and ended around 7pm. The fact that it ended so early made it really easy for us to make it back to Orange County without staying up until some ungodly hour. The fact that it was so early meant unfortunately we would hit that very real and infamous Southern California traffic and miss the opening act The Bombpops. What I can say about that band having seen them play at least five or six times in the last year and a half or so is that they always put on an awesome show. So if you have the chance to go see them – definitely do!
The first act that the three of us actually got to see was the one that I was the most unfamiliar with, which was Wakrat. I had heard of them because I know that Tim Commerford, bassist for Rage Against The Machine and Prophets Of Rage is the front man. As a long time RATM fan I was definitely open to hearing what they had to offer. I wouldn’t classify them as strictly a “punk” band, but you could definitely hear elements of genre in their music and especially when Tim flipped off the audience for the remaining minutes of their set. But their music was very bass-heavy and pretty abstract. Over all it was nice to see what Tim could do as the lead guy of a band. Wakrat’s self-titled debut albums is set to be released on November 8, 2016 so I’ll definitely be checking it out.
The following two acts after Wakrat were 90’s ska classics. Reel Big Fish really got the festival moving. You could see that a majority of the audience had a few drinks in them by then so it didn’t take long for the circle pits and skanking to start. As usual the band put on a great set with songs such as “Trendy,” “I Want Your Girlfriend,” “Everything Sucks,” “Beer,” and their classic cover of “Take On Me.”
Reel Big Fish
This next band really warmed my heart to see. “Superman,” which they played, was the first ska song I heard playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater as a child in the 90’s so seeing Goldfinger at Ye Scallywag was extra special. John Feldmann still has it — his distinct singing voice and after all these years he still jumps and bounces around on stage. Interestingly, he was the only original member of the band at this show. Mike Hererra (of MxPx) was on bass, Brandon Steineckert (of Rancid) was on drums, and Phillip Sneed (of Story Of The Year) was on guitar. I have to say this (“supergroup”) version of the band nailed it like they were always the original members of Goldfinger. What was also cool about Goldfinger’s performance was that when one of their songs needed horns, the horn section from Reel Big Fish joined them on stage and effortlessly played each song perfectly. Goldfinger also played songs like, “Counting The Days, ”Get Up, “Here In Your Bedroom,” “Miles Away” and they ended their set with their cover of “99 Red Balloons.”
Strangely this was my first Against Me! show of 2016. Usually I would have seen them at least once or twice by this time of the year. I’ve seen Against Me! countless times and it literally never gets old. This time I was especially curious to see them because this was the first time I heard them play some songs from their 2016 full-length Shape Shift With Me. I would go as far as to say that the new songs sound just a great or even better than the studio recording. Hearing them live you could really hear Against Me!’s rawness that long-time fans crave. The band played mostly newer material, but did manage to throw a couple of songs from Reinventing Axl Rose in there, too. Some songs their set list included “True Trans Soul Rebel, “Haunting Haunted Haunts,” “Unconditional Love,” “Walking Is Still Honest,” “Boyfriend,” “Crash,” “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong,” “Rebecca,” and they finished it all off with “Black Me Out.” What was probably the most mind-blowing part of the whole festival was when they played “Tonight We’re Going To Give It 35%.” That was huge for a massive Against Me! fans like me. I had only seen Laura Jane Grace play that acoustically at a solo show, but I never expected them to play it as a full band. Like always, Against Me! didn’t disappoint to say the least.
Up next was Bad Religion who are always a pleasure to see. This time was the first show I had seen them with their new drummer Jamie Miller, who nailed every song. He was noticeably graceful and played each song like he had been in the band for years. Of course the rest of the band put on basically perfect show – fantastic musicianship and awesome vocals as usual. This being a 21+ event and just by eyeballing it, the average age must have been in the low to mid 30’s. So it wasn’t all that surprising that the band played a remarkable amount of older songs such as “You Are The Government,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” No Control,” “You,” ”Fuck You,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Recipe For Hate,” “Against The Grain,” “Infected” and they finished with “Sorrow.” What was pretty cool was during the bridge of “21st Century Boy” Fat Mike ran on stage and stole Jay Bentley’s mic and took over lead vocals for a bit.
NOFX finished out Ye Scallywag also with a set list that consisted of more older songs, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. The band’s live performances have gotten better with age. They play their songs quite well (despite the self-deprecating jokes) and they are one of the funniest live bands out there. I’m a big fan of their new album First Ditch Effort, so I was excited to hear some of their new songs. They did play “Six Years On Dope” and “I’m So Sorry Tony,” which was really great. I hope they plan on throwing in some more of the brand new tunes into their set list next time though. They also played songs like, “Stickin’ In My Eye,” “Murder The Government,” “Eat The Meek,” “The Separation Of Church And Skate,” “72 Hookers,” “Murder The Government,” “Herojuana,” “Fuck The Kids,” “60%,” “Seeing Double At The Triple Rock,” “Linoleum,” ‘The Idiots Are Taking Over” and they ended with “Don’t Call Me White” and “Theme From A NOFX Album.” They even brought up their former drummer Scott Sellers on stage to play “Six Pack Girls.”
The very first Ye Scallywag was definitely a success. The line up was killer and all of the bands put on really fantastic performances. The bands, the beer, the wine, the cider, the food and even the weather were all great. The only issue that the three us found was that because the festival was so crowded it was pretty hard to walk back and forth from the food area to the stage area because you had to walk through some many long food and drink lines. So logistically it could have been planned out better. But that in no way ruined it for us. Hopefully Ye Scallywag will be happening again. If so, I’ll make it my mission to be there.