Music has been an ever present fixture in my life. While I know that the idea of what is good music versus what is bad music is subjective, it is definitely a way to weed out actual music fans from those who just listen to the radio. The odds are against anything heard on the “Top 40” stations having any real substance. If and when you realize this, one of two things will generally happen: you will either start searching far and wide for the music that you can use to best self-identify, or you will just accept that you listen to crap. For those who are into good music, I would strongly suggest checking out The Fest in Gainesville, Florida one year.
What is The Fest? Imagine all of those incredibly lame music festivals you hear about, with all of those hippie bands playing in the desert. Then, remove the desert, plus all of the other awful things you normally associate with those festivals, add in some punk bands (about 300ish of them), around 20,000 punk/hardcore/open-minded type people, and you’ve got The Fest in a nutshell.
Halloween weekend of 2012 has me, your narrator, sitting on the stairs of the Gainesville Holiday Inn (The Fest headquarters, if you will) around 9am to get in and pick up my wristband for the weekend madness Fest 11 was sure to bring. The doors for registration don’t open until noon, but I had learned from previous years that if you’re not early, you can wait hours upon hours to get through the line. As I sat on the bottom stair, someone at the top had just purchased a tall boy of PBR. While she talked with her Australian friends, the can was accidentally nudged from the ledge of the building. The can fell, reached critical velocity, and imprinted itself upon the crown of my skull. I fell to the ground holding my head, stood up slowly and took it all in, and then moved my hand away. I experienced what others would later describe as a scene from a horror movie: the can and my cranium had taken it upon themselves to both open upon impact. This resulted in blood, beer, and possibly a minor concussion spilling out upon everyone in the immediate vicinity. It was obvious that I needed stitches, but that would have entailed leaving, so I instead tied a shirt around my head to staunch the bleeding. I headed up the stairs to find a small, sobbing, Australian girl apologizing even more profusely than my head was bleeding. While we didn’t become friends immediately, it was definitely the weirdest way I have ever met another human being.
I bled from around 10am until about 3am, when finally laid down in my hotel bed. I woke up the next day, which meant a couple of things really: I didn’t die, and my head was slightly sore. For the entirety of the weekend, I had people asking if I was okay, and I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness of strangers.
During my last night of Fest, I ran into my Australian assailant with a crutch under each arm. Sometime during one of the previous nights, a large person stage dove towards her, and it hyper extended her knee. I don’t believe in things like karma, nor do I think she even remotely deserved for this to happen, but I did think it was somewhat ironic that by the end of the weekend, I was feeling mostly better, and she was incapacitated. But hey, if it wasn’t for her, I may have never heard of The Smith Street band, so at least something good came out of it.