Festival Review: Punk In Drublic 2022 at The Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, NJ

The craft beer and music festival “Punk in Drublic” made the last stop of its current tour at the iconic Stone Pony on Friday, October 14th. This show’s gone through a number of different lineups over the past few years, with this show including NOFX, The Descendents, Face to Face and two local bands, School Drugs & Free the Witness. Unfortunately, due to technical issues at the venue, I missed the two local openers, which was disappointing, to say the least.

Most conversations about old-school punk bands begin with The Clash and go back and forth between bands like The Pistols, Dead Boys, Ramones, and The Misfits; all while glossing over NOFX. And while I’m well aware of the polarizing effect NOFX has on the Punk scene, there’s no denying this band its legacy, or recognizing its overall contribution to the scene. Not a band to shy away from sensitive subjects, this is a group of guys who are kind of like your drunk Uncle at Thanksgiving, you never know what he’s going to say, but you can’t wait for him to say it. With a new album set to drop in December, I’m not sure I believe their claim of hitting the exit ramp as a band in 2023, but only time will tell.

NOFX, as expected took the stage to “Time Warp” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and worked right into “Dinosaurs Will Die,” Stickin’ in My Eye,” and “Fuck the Kids.” Checking out the band you could see that Fat Mike abandoned his usual fuchsia hair and eveningwear in favor of a simple black leather kilt and combat boots.

While NOFX is really tight as a band, they’re really loose on stage, at times seeming like a comedy show, with Hefe playing the trumpet adding punctuation to Fat Mike’s banter. Watching the crowd go from rocking out, to busting out laughing and back again is a real change of direction you don’t get much at Punk shows. After hearing the guys relentlessly break each other’s balls it was back to music.

I was kind of expecting the band to play at least a few from their latest album, as well as possibly a preview from their new album, set to drop in December, but they stuck to a mixture of songs off their pre-2021 albums. The set continued with songs like “Linoleum,” “Idiots Are Taking Over,” “Can’t Get the Stink Out,” and my personal favorite “Six Years on Dope.” For a band that flies so loose, they sure get it done. NOFX played a total of 31 songs including the encore during their set.

The Descendents took the stage Friday night and wasted no time getting things set off to a high speed and energy to start working the crowd with a catalog of music spanning forty years and eight albums. Watching the fans absorb the bombardment of punk rock anthems was a sight to see, with fans both young and old fixated on the performance.

Watching this band play, you can’t help but notice how comfortable they are in their own skin. Milo, a total nerd type with a buzz haircut, thick black framed glasses, and his trademark water bottle slung over his shoulder, his bandmates balding, shaved, and grey hair telling a story of years spent in the gritty punk scene. Sometimes at shows, you can hear people comment that they’re surprised a group of older guys can rock out like this, but in reality, these guys wrote the fucking book on rocking out.

The Descendents played a banging set of twenty-six classic Punk tunes including “Everything Sux,” “Merican,” “I Don’t Want to Grow Up,” and “Suburban Home;” with my favorite being “I’m The One.” The Descendents are a timeless band who seem to get better with age, and tonight showed no sign of slowing down!

Face to Face is a band we don’t see often here in the Northeast, as such I was really stoked to see them on this lineup. Stylistically they walk a different path than NOFX or the Descendents, being a bit more melodic, not quite as gritty, and do a bit more in the vocal harmony area. Face to Face comes with a SoCal pedigree and has been a band (with a few lineup changes) for over 25 years.

The venue was almost full by the time Face to Face took the stage, opening with “No Way Out
but Through” a hard-driving song with a dominant baseline, and somewhat dark lyrics. It seemed to me that a lot of the people in the crowd were really there to see them, singing the lyrics along with the band. Face to Face’s music seems to come from a place of hurt and healing, and while the instrumentals are upbeat and fun there’s definitely a dark underside.

Face to Face put on a killer set of Punk anthems including “Walk the Walk,” “Bent but Not Broken,” and closed out their set with the crowd favorite “Disconnected.”

Big thanks to the fine people of Punk in Drublic for having me out at the show, the bands for the killer music, and last, but not least, the staff at The Stone Pony for keeping us all hydrated and safe.

NOFX

Descendents

Face to Face

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