When you go to the festival which is in my opinion the best festival in the world, it is very hard to come back to reality after five days of magic. Punk Rock Holiday has everything that I love, excellent line up, great surroundings and friendly people without violence and without stealing stuff and all the other unpleasentries that you can cross on your way through the variety of other festivals. This festival refuses to spread the capacity over 5 000 people and that makes it the best little festival in Europe without the stage barrier and with the energy of club shows.
The day that all four of us waited with impatience has arrived. We put all our stuff in one car which was hard, but my friend Marko was very good at playing Tetris, so he always manages to find place in the car for all our shit.
In the late morning hours we got on our cca five our drive to Tolmin, Slovenia. We passed the border without problems, bought a vignette for the highway and the hours on the road were passing quickly with sharing jokes and talking about everything and nothing. We stopped on one resting stop on Slovenian highway to eat some sandwiches and drink some water. In the middle of the rest stop there was a bench and upon it sat a strange looking drunk hobo, dirty and he puked, pissed and shat himself all at once which was weird.
We arrived in Tolmin about 4 pm and were at once awestruck with the beauty of this little town surrounded with beautiful mountains and forests and of course, rivers Soča and Tolminka. Although I have been there before and I know what to expect, I am always struck by the beauty of this location. We had to go to the two entrances because some of us had press acreditations, some not, so we parked our car by the graveyard and went first to find some camping place in the forest if there was any left. Lucky, for us, the girls found an excellent spot, way better than the placed we camped on last year. We spent a couple of hours picking our living place for the next five days. Evening quickly came and we went to the nearby town to shop some wine and food and other stuff we needed, and dusk was setting when we set down in our camp to chill and drink some wine and just enjoy the fact that we managed to arrive again to that great place. Meanwhile the gigs for this early arrival warm up show started. On Monday there was no shows on Beach stage, only main stage action. Unfortunately, we missed the TRASH BOAT, CLOWNS, THE KENNETHS and JAYA THE CAT shows. When we arrived in front of the Main stage, Slovenian band PIGS PARLAMENT was starting their set. This band is practically festival house band, since that area is their home, and they play punkrock karaoke the final day of the festival at the beach. I saw them play live before but this show was in my opinion one of their most energetic shows ever.
Singer Tina was flying all around the stage like there is no tomorrow and the rest of the band kind of felt her energy and became even more active and the crowd was having fun enjoying the show. The only thing missing was stage diving and on stage crowd-band action because there was a barrier in front of the stage, as I heard later, that was a request made by The Offspring.
Pigs Parlament went through the set made by the different songs from their albums including couple of covers but what intrigued me were the new songs from upcoming new album like “Je blo zadost” and “Hejtr” that are somehow heavier than the earlier material.
Pigs Parlament had a great show, crowd enjoyed it and they enjoyed it. It is always nice to see the band trashing on stage with smile on their faces and you can really appreciate how they feel about the energy they bring to the crowd. Unfortunately that was not the case with the headliners of the evening THE OFFSPRING.
When The Offspring started their show, first thing that made me wonder was lack of the guitarrist Noodles. When I checked on their FB page it was stated that due to family matters Noodles could not come to Europe to tour.
The first four songs “Youre Gonna Go Far Kid”, “All I Want”, “Come Out To Play” and “Genocide” made the crowd go crazy and wild but there was no response from the band on stage. Only two-three words from Dexter Holland, and the only member of the band who tried to animate the crowd and did not act like he was playing on practice was the guy who was replacing Noodles.
There were some downers and misses in the setlist like The White Stripes cover, acoustic “Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?” and “Walla Walla”. Seeing the band boring themselves on stage the energy level in the crowd was spiraling down rapidly.
The atmosphere was different according to the currently played songs, but even through old hits like “Bad Habit”, “Gotta Get Away” it was evident that something was missing.
Four aces “Why Dont You Get A Job”, (“Cant Get My)Head Around You”, “Pretty Fly” and “Kids Arent Alright” finished the regular set and the band went offstage but it was evident that they will return to play a couple of songs more, even though nobody from the crowd especially asked and wanted them to do that.
They returned to the stage and Dexter adressed the crowd with a word or two without any kind of emotion and I could not help myself that he was there only to do the job and nothing else. Of course, they played two more songs for the encore, being “Americana” and “Self Esteem”. They finished the gig and left the stage as soon as possible.
Maybe they were tired, maybe someone of the guys in the band was sick, but The Offspring did not meet the expectations of many in the crowd, me included. Punk Rock Holiday is used to the bands that give much more in their performances and not just acting like they are on practice and if you give nothing to the fans, the fans give you nothing. Dont get me wrong, musical part was great, there is no flaw how they sounded, but it was like listening to The Offspring cd at home. Or maybe, like eating a plate full of cold white rice. It is edible, but there is no spice whatsoever. That set left us with a little bit of bitter taste in our mouths. Fortunately that was only the early arrival warm up show and the real thing started the next day.
When we woke in our tents after our first night there we were a bit hungover, so we went to the beautiful town of Tolmin, cca 15 minutes walk to buy something to eat, drink some coffee and so on…after eating some tasty bread, salami, cheese, mayonnaise and yogurt, drinking some coffee, we were feeling reborn for all the great stuff this Tuesday is gonna bring our way. We were at the Beach stage rather early at 1 p.m.because we had to check out FAST RESPONSE from Zagreb, Croatia. It is an awesome melodic punk hardcore band that we never managed to see play live yet and we also know some of the guys in the band, so their show was a must see/listen!
They quickly adjusted their sound and threw all the hits from their album and ep in the setlist(“Sober”, “Welcome To Corruptia”, “GTR”, “Homeless by Choice”, “Dear Landlord”…). The guys played this gig with a session drummer and the guy did a really fine job almost without blinking hehe.
They were nervous during the first song or two, but later they let out all the energy and had an amazing fun, so they managed to carry on that energy on us, and despite the hot Sun of the early afternoon, their show was great music, energy and fun!
The afternoon was hot, so we went to the river Soča wonderful beach that was already packed with punks who were swimming, drinking beer and wine, sitting with their feet in the river and the atmosphere of unity plus fun was overwhelming. We drank a couple of beers and chilled our overheated bodies in Soča river for a couple of hour. I really wanted to see Austrian awesome band DEADENDS on the Beach stage but I did not make it in time. Instead I saw the day headliner on the Beach stage, namely PETROL GIRLS but unfortunately their set and the nervous style of music did not impress me much, so I left before they finished playing to our tents to drink some bambus(red wine+cola) and get ready for the bands on main stage. Meanwhile, the first band on the main stage played, JESUS PIECE and they played some generic metalcore so I had no idea what were they doing on this festival. I know that they were last minute replacement, but anyway, they were not my cup of tea. That can not be said for GENERATORS from Los Angeles. I went to their show knowing that this could be something excellent and boy, was I right!
Generators play that old school American street punk with oi influences. The songs are not fast, but midtempo punk rock but everything is so energetic that all of the people in front of the main stage were jumping and dancing around with smiles on their faces. They played Cock Sparrer cover “Runnin Riot” between many songs from their releases. Generators 45 minute set was a lesson in street punkrock that I will remember with smile and I will definitely check them out live again as soon as I can.
The darkness was setting and the crowd anxiously awaited the headliners of the evening. More and more punks dressed in kilts gathered in front of the main stage and after a bit makeover on stage, everything was ready for THE REAL MCKENZIES show. I dont consider myself a fan of celtic punk bands, but this one is okay to listen to and I was sure that they will deliver a lot of fun to the crowd.
This Canadian based band is one of the godfathers of celtic punk because they played that music when no other bands jumped on the bandwagon trying to milk some money due to the popularity of such bands. The only original and sole constant member of the band singer Paul Mckenzie was having much fun, and they went through their set and all of the people as far as my eyes could see were dancing, jumping, fooling around, stagediving and crowdsurfing.
I love IGNITE for more than twenty years and I have seen them live, but it was nothing compared to this show that they gave this evening at Punk Rock Holiday. When they started the first song “Poverty for All” the crowd just went nuts including me. All of the hits like “Veteran”, “Run”, “Embrace”, “Let it Burn” were there.
Zoli sings like never before in his lifetime with his beautiful voice and all of the crowd was singing with him every verse of every song. They are still promoting the album “War Against You”, so they played a couple of songs from that album “This is a War”, “Descent” which Zoli dedicated to his friend who died from drug overdose and ” Oh no, not again, just another army…” Brett had some problems with his bass guitar so the band treated us with acoustic version of “Slow Down” and the singing of the crowd made goosebumps on my skin. Ignite surprised me with one song though, they played Uniform Choice cover “Screaming for Change” and that surprise brought tears of joy in my eye.
“A Place Called Home”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, acoustic singalong anthem “Live For Better Days” closed the regular set and Ignite ended their one hour set with “Bleeding” and Zoli and Brett both went crowdsurfing and I was in awe and once again Ignite proved that they are one of the best melodic hardcore bands out there and their set on this year PRH was one of the highlights of the festival.
Many bands would have a hard time headlining after Ignite, but that is not the case with PENNYWISE. If there is one band who can gather even more strength and energy in the crowd, that is Jim, Fletcher and the rest of the guys in Pennywise. This being their Punk Rock Holiday premiere, the setlist was great(“Fight Till You Die”, “Peaceful Day”, “Society”, “Fuck Authority” and all the gems were there). Many people resented that they have too much cover songs in their setlist(Ramones, Beasty Boys, Minor Threat, Bad Religion…).Jim Lindberg nicely put it on stage when he said were gonna play some covers again. Why? Because we can! Pennywise made crowd eat from their hand and as the set was closing to its epic ending I knew what was in store. “Bro Hymn” is absolute hit and when they played it something incredible happened. We all know that Punk Rock Holiday is a no barrier show and there is a lot stage diving, crowdsurfing, and generally people on stage. But, during Pennywise playing “Bro Hymn” there was more than hundred people on stage, singing, jumping, crowdsurfing each other, and all of the people on stage, in front of the stage and everywhere were just one being, one united wonderful existence. I still get goosebumps when I am writing this because I have seen nothing like that in my lifetime, probably never will again and I am so happy that I was there to witness that.
When the concert finished the party resumed till morning on the beach and everywhere. My heart was full and it was only day one. Fuckin a!
In the morning hours we went on a trip to Tolminska korita(The Tolmin Gorges). The nature that we have seen there is freakin beautiful and we really enjoyed the climbing up to Medvedja Glava(a rock that looks like bears head) and all the hanging bridges and Dantes cave. I certainly recommend to everyone to go there once and see it, the road is only 15-20 minutes by car. Also, it is a perfect medicine for hangover hehe. Afterwards we also checked out the World War One museum in the town called Kobarid. Every inch of the mountains surrounding Punk Rock Holiday venue is drenched in blood because in World War One, there was a frontline and great battles between Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germans on the one side and Italians on the other. Disturbing and interesting at the same time. In the afternoon hours upon returning to the festival I went to the Beach stage to check out NOT ON TOUR gig. This great melodic hardcore band from Israel had a full house, kids stage diving and crowdsurfing and everyone sang along to their songs, so that was a highlight of the afternoon gigs. The evening draw near and it was time to start the gigs on main stage. Unfortunately we missed the NO TRIGGER gig due to drinking some booze, chatting and chilling a little in the forest. The band I certainly could not miss was SLAPSHOT. The Boston hardcore legends were playing next and it was time for me to see them live for the first time and I was not disappointed.
Slapshot delivered great and energetic show. The setlist was made of sure hits like “No friend of mine”, “I ve had enough”, “Whats at stake”, “No Time Left”, “Hang up your boots”…
I was interested what will Jack Choke Kelly, known for his unpredictability do and say on stage between the songs and I was right. He said that he hates swimming and someone from the crowd presented him with a hockey stick. Unfortunately the hockey stick had a Montreal sign on it, so Choke said fuck this stick because of the sign. The kids moshed, sang along and the time passed by and Slapshot finished their show with “Old Tyme Hardcore” and “Step on It”. I definitely must see Slapshot play again. Great hardcore legends.
After all the hardcore energy, it was time to recuperate a little so we went to drink a couple of drinks and hang around a little, so we came back during the second half of FACE TO FACE setlist. All of the hits were there like “Bent but not broken”, “A-OK”, “Velocity”, “Double crossed”…
Face To Face delivered their melodic punkrock with energy and the crowd in front of the stage enjoyed every minute of it. They triumphally ended their set with “Disconnected” and the stage was so packed with kids that the band could not be seen. That was only preparation for ANTI FLAG show. This was the seventh Punk Rock Holiday and Anti Flag played on five, I think more than any other band out there. This show proved why and I will remember it as long as I live. Starting with “Press Corpse” “Cities Burn” and “Fabled World” they only prepared the territory what came next. The interaction between the band and the crowd was unbelievable and the singalong, stage diving and all the energy gave us strength to endure anything ugly thrown our way in this shitty world.
With “Fuck Police Brutality” and “Turncoat”, Anti Flag heated the intense atmosphere almost to bursting and the mass of positive energy that surrounded us could be cut with the knife from the thick air. “This Machine Kills Fascists”, “One Trillion Dollars” only added the fuel to the fire.
“This is the end” and “Die for the government” shook the last atoms of strength that we thought we have, but Anti Flag squeezed our energies and demanded that we follow them all of the way to the flames of punk unity, solidarity and positivity.
Anti Flag ended their set with “Brandenburg Gate” and “Power to the Peaceful” leaving us sweaty, tired and smiling. This gig was also one of the highlights of the festival and definitely the winner of the day. That left us with the headliners GOOD RIDDANCE. I love them since I was a kid in the nineties and Russ Rankin is one of my personal idols, so I was really glad when I got to meet him in person this year, him being very nice, down to earth cool dude. Good Riddance just couldnt continue the amount of energy given by Anti Flag, so their set was musically great, but with much less energy and enthusiasm compared to the madness before them.
The set consisted of the songs from almost all of their releases, some new(“Disputatio”), some older hits(“Letters Home”, “Libertine”, “Shadows of Defeat”), but the biggest reaction from the crowd happened when they played the stuff from the first three albums(“Credit To His Gender”, “Flies First Class”, “Salt”, “Waste”,..).
Good Riddance ended their show and the second day of the festival with oldies but goldies, namely “Weight of the World”, “Mother Superior” and “Last Believer”.
The day passed by us wandering through town, eating some fine food, drinking some fine beer, chilling in press area and preparing for the evening shows. In the afternoon we met Zach from Pears in press area and made an interview for this zine soon to be published on these pages. After that we went to the Beach stage to drink some beer and enjoy a band or two. We watched and listened BONO! on the Beach stage in the afternoon and they played pretty good mix of screaming vocals hardcore and melodic punkrock. I wanted to see 69 ENFERMOS from Brasil bad, since I was lucky to meet in person my friend Dalin, and they are an excellent band, but after they played two and a half songs, such storm rose that the gig was stopped and I managed to run to press area to hide there untill the worse has passed. Luckily, the storm passed in half an hour, and it was time to start the evening gigs on the main stage. First were PEARS from New Orleans, who delighted me with their mix of melodic punk, hardcore, Black Flagesque song structures and that sound typical for New Orleans bands, sludgy, sweaty and greasy.
Their frontman Zach was all over the stage and the fact that they played first during daytime and after a storm did not bother them least. Excellent show by excellent band!
Next up came TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET. This is one of the bands that we were very happy to see when the festival lineup was announced, so we just had to check out their crazy Ramones-Core melodic punkrock. It was a little bit surreal scene watching punks stage diving alongside little kids who were also crowdsurfing and that only proves how Punk Rock Holiday as a festival differs from your usual festival, being without violence and little kids friendly.
Teenage Bottlerocket delivered half a million of their short melodic energetic bombs and with “Radio”, “Skate or Die”, “In the Pit”, “Nothing Else Matters(When Im With You) you cant go wrong.
Special highlight of Teenage Bottlerocket show was when the frontman dedicated a song to his twin brother who died and the band played a cover of Tony Sly “Via Munich”. I must admit, my eyes were moist with tears in front of the stage and looking around I saw that I was not the only one, because I remembered my personal family lossed that happened during the years. Excellent show, nonetheless.
Since I saw Agnostic Front and H2O this Summer, I was eager to see one more New York Hardcore legend, namely MADBALL. Boy, did they deliver a powerful set, I felt like everyone was jumping when I looked around. The setlist was made of all of their goodies like “Set It Off”, “Never Had It”, “Cant Stop Wont Stop”…
Freddy Cricien is a fine frontman, delivering power and energy and at the same time interacting great with the crowd. It was great to see again wicked punks and hardcore kids stage diving and crowdsurfing alongside little kids with parents. Through “Heavenhell”, “Pride” and “Doctor Martens Stomp”, Madball brougt their powerfull set to an end leaving me satisfied with heart full of hardcore.
After three bands, we just needed some rest and some drinking, so we unfortunately missed LESS THAN JAKE show. When we returned already the headliners of the day THE TOY DOLLS played on stage. I do not consider myselgf being the fan of this band, but they gave an excellent show. Everything was there, fun, laughs, the band plays awesome. the confetti were great. I could recognize by the smiles on their faces how much The Toy Dolls enjoyed this show. When Olga thanked everyone for 37 years that the band plays, I can only say, much respect to Toy Dolls and they proved why they were the headliners of the day.
After The Toy Dolls, one more band played on main stage. GET DEAD were supposed to be headliners on Beach stage in the afternoon but they could not play because of the storm so they were moved to the main stage after the headliners. They played some sort of melodic hardcore punk but during their set the rain returned heavily, so we went to our tents to drink some more and sleep.
The final day of the festival started with gloomy clouds hanging over the area and soon it started to rain. The rain was pouring heavily and we went to town to drink some coffee and sort ourselves a little before afternoon because the rain should stop in the afternoon according to the predictions on the net. Sure enough, the rain stopped and I went to the Beach stage to see STRAIGHTLINE show. I really love this band and I interviewed them for this zine a while ago and also reviewed their awesome record, so it was fun to meet Bart Straightline in person.
Straightline had an awesome show packed with dancing and singing kids and people generally enjoying their stuff. Their unique blend of metallic vibed skatepunk put a smile of happines on many faces that afternoon, including mine.
After DARKO finished their headlining set on the Beach Stage i finally got to see 69 ENFERMOS show on the Beach stage moved here because of the rain the day before. I knew their frontman Dalin Focazzio via internet but on this festival we met in person, talked a lot about different themes, did an interview for my zine, and also became brothers for life. Dalin and rest of the guys from this Brasilian band are some of the nicest, down to earth great people I have ever met. Back to music.
69 Enfermos played their set made of mainly songs from their new album “A Place To Call Home” and they play excellent melodic punk hardcore, a bit nostalgic and sad melodywise and they kinda remind me of one of my all time favourite bands No Use For A Name. Great stuff and I am so happy that they managed to play after all the trouble and delays with the weather conditions.
It was time to start shows on the Main stage and the first ones to open the last evening of the festival were UNDECLINABLE AMBUSCADE. This Dutch band opened the Main stage and they opened it with style and in front of the crowd in numbers similar to when headliners are playing.
They are excellent because this is a six piece band, yes they have three guitar players and every member of the band is singing on stage so they create such melodies and harmonies that I would dare to mark them Dutch Bad Religion. I need not mention that they sound very powerful and energetic.
The absolute highlights of their show were “African song”, the hit “7 Years” and the cover of “The Sound of Silence”. I am very grateful that I managed to catch them play live since this is a farewell tour for the band. Well, never say never!
We went to hang around a little and drink something, so we missed CHIXDIGGIT set and returned to the stage when 88 FINGERS LOUIE started their show. I am really glad that those guys are back with us and that they have a new album out on Bird Attack Records which they promoted by playing a couple of songs in their set.
The band sounded really powerful and tight going through their set of metalised punkrock and hardcore. The song I have been waiting since I was a kid was “Punkrock Rulebook” and I finally got to see it and hear it live. Lucky me, eh?
The stage diving was intense in spite of the fifth day of the festival and 88 Fingers Louie ended their set triumphantly with the crowd greeting them with a roar and smiles on everyones faces.
The time came for the last two bands of the festival and the first one was UK-s SNUFF. Their drummer/vocalist Duncan played with The Toy Dolls the day before so he had a day or so to rest a little and prepare for this gig. I never saw Snuff played before so I had no expectations but they gave an excellent show with all the jokes, keyboard parts, excellent melodic punk music and they proved that they are more original and different than the other bands of this genre. I will definitely catch them live somewhere again.
With a little sadness we saw that there was only one more band left and those were the headliners PROPAGANDHI. I heard from the other people that they are boring live, that they are assholes and that they suck but I am glad I was proven wrong. I am one of those people that loves the first three Propagandhi albums most, and the newer stuff with all the technical and metallic influences is not so dear to me. Propagandhi gave the great set mixed with enough old songs that made me happy and they also played some of the newer stuff and I am eager to hear how will the upcoming new album sound like. Todd was jumping all over the stage, Chris was more calm, but even Chris broke smile on his face when we greeted his kids via his phone and wished his son happy birthday. Propagandhi finished their mighty set with classic “Anti Manifesto”.
Thus ended the sevent edition of Punk Rock Holiday festival. It was awesome, the line up was stellar and it left our hearts full with joy of music, unity, energy and happines and that is the force of hardcore. This really is the festival which set the bar for standard high and all the other festivals are yet to cross it if they can.