As I am writing this report my memories are still fresh with the beauty, positive energy, friendship and awesome music, so I will try to pass it on to you in this report. It is long, but it is the way I like it, so if you don´t like to read long articles, skip to the parts you are interested in, or go do something you would like to do rather than read this.
Punk Rock Holiday is like a New Year celebration to us, so all of us are measuring the year from one Punk Rock Holiday to the other. This year´s combination for the festival was a bit different than the previous since we rented the house apartment for the first time along with our friends.
The day before the festival started me and Allegra went by bus from our town to the capitol of Croatia, Zagreb. It is approximately 90 kilometers from our hometown to Zagreb. There we slept over at our friend´s Željka flat and I just couldn´t sleep well from all the excitement. The morning coffee and breakfast passed quickly and our friend Irina from Zagreb picked us up with her car and the journey started. Irina is our friend who lives in Zagreb, part of the Kraykulla Webzine crew and an awesome girl. The ride to the border passed quickly and we met the other half of the crew at the petrol station in Slovenia. Our friends Zoki and Petra arrived soon, we joked a little, drank coffee and continued the journey.
The hours passed, it took us about three and a half hours to get to the beautiful Gorica area. We missed the turn, so we entered Italy briefly he-he, but it doesn´t matter. We can say that we traveled through three countries to get to the festival. As Tolmin drew nearer, the awesome mountains and river Soča brought smiles on our faces knowing that we are almost there. When we entered Tolmin, we first went to the festival area to deal with the formalities with the acreditations and the festival wristbands. Afterwards we bought some food we needed, booze of course and then Irina took us to the house she rented for the five of us.
When we got there we were awed by the look of the awesome apartment house hosted by the nicest couple I met. We unpacked, relaxed a little, ate delicious pasta, showered and then the games were about to begin. We headed towards the festival area.
The return to the stage and festival area every year is for me like a return to some sanctity, some shrine to the dimension of beauty to which we are taken every time at Punk Rock Holiday. The smells, the noise, the people, the music, that brings goosebumps to my skin.
We unfortunately missed the first two bands, meaning Ducking Punches and Union 13.
When we entered the main stage area, the American veterans Dog Eat Dog started their set. Those guys and their music were just ideal for the start of PRH. Their fun core with saxophone, melodic and rap parts, groove, made us all dancing in front of the stage. John Connor looks like he hasn´t aged one bit since the 90-ies and the rest of the band just ruled on stage. They played all of their hits like No Fronts, Isms, Rocky, If These Are Good Times and all the others. The sun was still pretty much up in the sky and it was hot, but no matter, Dog Eat Dog and their set brought smiles upon our faces.
The only Croatian band this year Hladno Pivo began their set with Utjeha Kose, the song we never thought we will hear live. That gave us hope they will play only old punk stuff and not new ballads and pop/rock songs that take main places in the band´s setlist nowadays. The band played most of their older opus, songs like Pjevajte Nešto Ljubavno, Fur Immer Punk, Bubašvabe, Ne Volim Te, Šank…but they still had to fuck up their set closing it with Superman, sleazy ballad. Hladno Pivo set left us with bittersweet taste in our mouths, personally, I don´t think they are the band for Punk Rock Holiday, but the crowd in front of the stage, mainly Slovenians and Croats had fun during their set.
After the brief stage makeover the two Slovenian bands on tonight´s bill were ready to tear the stage apart. First of them, Happy Ol McWeasel threw the crowd in the frantic dancing with their mix of melodic punk and celtic punk and I swear I have heard some Slovenian polka in there hehe. For a brief period, but I heard it. I am not a big fan of celtic punk, so after hearing a couple of songs, I went to get a couple of drinks.
Elvis Jackson deliver their set for years having the same confetti, crowdsurfing, similar stage show, but they manage to do it every time. Hats off lads! Somehow, they always make the crowd eat out of their palms. I saw them couple of moths ago at another festival in Slovenia and they played basically the same set, but this one was a bit even more energetic and made people stage dive, dance, smile and that is what matters the most. All of us had fun!
The Living End crossed half of the globe to play here. The guys are from Australia and this trio plays a mixture of punk, rock n roll and psychobilly, the bassist even plays upright bass. I almost died laughing during their set because the guitar/singer looked to me like Campino of Die Toten Hosen. I loved the faster stuff, almost psychobilly, but the slower songs were too rock n roll and the show lacked the energy in my opinion. Don´t get me wrong, it is high quality music, but it simply lacked energy for me.
The headliners of Monday night were Vandals. The California punk veterans just blew me away with their high octane energetic punkrock show. Joe Escalante and the rest of the fellows delivered blows from all parts of their long time career playing hits like Live Fast Diarrhea, My Girlfriend´s Dead, Oi To The World and they joked a lot in between the songs which only added to the awesome show. Vandals show was for me the highlight of Monday at Punk Rock Holiday. We were tired from the trip and from all of the excitement and drinks, so we didn´t go to the beach party after the shows, sleeping was necessary.
We slept like babies inhaling the mountain clean air, so when we woke up, had some late breakfast and went for a walk through Tolmin to see the military graveyard from World War I.
Tolmin and surrounding towns like for example Kobarid are perfect not only for mountain climbing, but also for history tourism. The WWI front between Austro Hungarians and Germans on one side and Italians on the other side went through the area and there are many museums, places to see, graveyards, bunkers and trenches if you are into that stuff. The day was so hot that we turned around half the way to the graveyard and returned to Tolmin to have a beer somewhere to cool off. We found a perfect bar with the beautiful wooden terrace and had a beer there, talked, joked and cooled off a while prior to going to the beach.
The beaches around the festival area are something special. The beautiful colour of rivers Soča and Tolminka are so pleasing for the eye. The air is nice and the water is really cold. I personally can´t bathe in such cold water, but only standing in there was enough to cool me off for a while. We chose Tolminka/Soča estuary for our beach, so it was freezing in the water, but also nice.
I decided to go and see what´s going on and who is playing at the Beach stage, so I went up there and the rest of the guys soon joined me to check out Dead Neck from UK playing at the Beach stage in the early afternoon hours. Led by Andy Dazzler, Dead Neck delivered their fast paced, energetic and melodic punk hardcore and the crowd was very pleased despite the heat and Sun.
We were so hungry, so we wanted to get back to the house, prepare our meal, drink something and make ourselves ready for the evening shows, so we returned to the house. This time we baked chicken in the oven, along with tasty vegetables. The chicken looked big, but afterwards we attacked it, not much was left he-he.
Little by little, the time has come for the evening shows to start at the main stage. We drank a little, met with the people who we didn´t see a long time, so we came to the stage just when The Menzingers played their last song of the set, so we didn´t get to see much of their show.
I saw Comeback Kid from Canada for the first time there and they practically blew me away with their fantastic mixture of energetic melody and more aggressive hardcore. They gave a high energy show with a lot of jumping, moshing, stage diving and the rest of hardcore punk folklore. Their show was shadowed with one unfortunate incident when one guy got hurt by stage diving and the ambulance had to take him away. Fortunately the guy is okay, I saw him the day after at the festival. I have an impression that this year some stage divers just did not look after themselves and the people in the crowd enough. Comeback Kid finished their set with one of their most beloved anthems Wake the Dead.
Terror was just too angry for us and too metal for us to watch, so we went to have a look at the merch and drink a couple of drinks while they played.
I saw No Fun At All at PRH in 2016.for the first time. Now, with some changes in the lineup and new album out, their show was even better in my opinion than that one in 2016. The Swedes delivered the fantastic setlist of the old favorites like Out of Bounds, Master Celebrator, Beat Em Down, but also the favorites from the new album like Spirit went along well with the crowd. It was very heartwarming to see how both the band and us in front of the stage enjoy their show so much.
Mad Caddies from California headlined the Tuesday main stage. I saw them live for the first time and their show really made my heart warm. They played their mixture of punkrock, reggae and ska with all of their hits from their long time album catalog being there. The fans just enjoyed the hits Monkeys, Contraband, couple of songs from the new cover album and of course the awesome ballad Drinking for 11. Mad Caddies played the longer set of the day with the crowd just not letting them off the stage and nobody wanted the magic to end. Mad Caddies were absolutely one of the best performances on this festival. After the shows we had a couple of drinks and went to sleep and get some rest.
It was the middle of the week and of the festival, so we had somewhat different plans for that day. Since we had scheduled interviews for the afternoon, we went to town to buy stuff for delicious pizza. We had some really good fun in the town and then went back home to prepare for the interviews.
Me and Allegra ran to the press area, did No Fun At All, Chaser and Satanic Surfers interviews. Then in the heat and sweat we ran back home to eat some pizza that our beautiful friends baked in the oven and left us. I was so excited with the interviews and meeting all those awesome bands, that I couldn´t eat really much. Then we ran back to the press area, because we were scheduled for H2O interview at 19:00 hrs. I was very nervous but all the guys from all the bands we interviewed were nicest guys on this planet.
Meanwhile the show on the main stage started, so we managed to see and hear only the last three songs The Bombpops performed and we were surprised how this band sounded great. I wasn˙t impressed with their records, but the melodic punk music those two girls and two guys make on stage is pure love.
We missed Voodoo Glow Skulls set, because we went to grab a couple of drinks after all the excitement with the interviews that afternoon. We needed a couple of drinks with our beautiful friends.
H2O played in Zagreb about a little more than a year ago, but this set at Punk Rock Holiday and the energy they provided was way better than the gig in Croatia.
They played the songs from all of their releases except the cover album, so we were blessed to hear Sunday, Fairweather Friend, Still Here, Five Year Plan, Guilty By Association, Everready and more. Toby´s son Maximus played drums on Nothing To Prove and he did it superb! Of course, What Happened To The Passion was the grand finale with crowd invading the stage and everyone singing along loud. Toby Morse and company gave us the show full of hardcore positivity, friendship, stagediving and moshing and above all positive mental attitude! One of the best shows of this year˙s PRH for sure!
I was really excited I am gonna see and hear Satanic Surfers for the first time in my life. Those Swedish guys were really big among our crew in the 90-ies and we knew their albums by heart back then. The singer Rodrigo was also drumming and singing first after 16 years because the original drummer stayed back home because he became a father couple of days ago. Although they have a new album out and it is awesome, they didn´t include the songs from the new album in the set, they only played the old and legendary stuff like Armless Skater, And the Cheese Fell Down, leaving Don´t Skate On My Ramp and Head Under Water for the grand finale. I was totally impressed with the speed these guys play with and with the amount of delivered hardcore force and the melody mixed with positive political messages like antifascism, antihomophobia and antixenophobia. I love these guys and I love their music. For the end of their set, No Fun At All bassist took the bass guitar, Andy went on drums, so Rodrigo could sing and crowd surf. Awesome memory for us!
Headlining main stage were Beatsteaks from Germany. I once saw those guys at Mind Over Matter festival in Austria in 1999.and I wasn´t impressed. Nowadays, they sound more like a noise/alternative indie band than punk band they were in their beginnings. The people, mainly Germans, had much fun during their set but to me they sounded boring with all the electronica, double drumkits, too experimental and they played way too many covers. Just not my cup of tea.
After the shows we went to the Beach stage where we joined the party. First, American Socks had their party with dancing, fooling around, even some of us break danced hehe and later on Dirty Skunks continued to DJ punk and hardcore and we partied there till the early morning hours drinking, singing and dancing. Great times!
We slept longer that day and when we woke up, we decided to have a big and rich breakfast to regain some energy for another awesome day with awesome lineup.
After regaining our strength me and Allegra went to the press area to do The Lillingtons and Misconduct interviews and the rest of the crew went to the Beach Stage to check out the music there.
When we got there Adrenalized from Spain were playing an awesome set with high speed energetic metalised hardcore punk. The impressive crowd danced, sang along and stage dived with the Spaniards playing their hearts out.
As the Sun was still up and burning, there was something special going on at American Socks acoustic stage and that was Misconduct acoustic show. Who was there will know what I am writing about, that show was all about love, unity, friendship, singing and dancing and all of us had tears of joy in our eyes and the urge to hug the person standing next to you.
Main stage shows started and the first ones to open it were Mute from Canada. I love their music which is a mixture of metal and skatepunk and they play technically superb yet catchy fast songs with melodic guitar solos and I literally saw thunder from their instruments and amps while watching them stomp all over the stage. All of the hits were there Fill the Void, Dagger, and for the end of their set awesome Bates Motel and then they invited the crowd to join them on stage for the cover Be With You. Loved their show!
We went to grab something to eat while stage makeover and we just got back in time for Bad Cop/Bad Cop set. The four girls played PRH for the first time and were awed by the reception of the crowd. They play melodic punkrock, but with the lyrics against wife beaters, how to help prevent suicide, feminism and their set ruled. All of the gems like Victoria, Sugarcane, Nigtmare, Womanarchist along with Cheers and many others were their in their set and we danced, sang and it was an awesome premiere for girls at PRH.
One of the reasons we waited Thursday eagerly were The Lillingtons. It was also their premiere at Punk Rock Holiday although Kody played there already with Teenage Bottlerocket. Their show was really something different and special compared to the others meaning it was cold, grim and ritualistic. The band came out under red lights with candles and Baphomet´s head placed on stage and there was almost no interaction between the band and the crowd during their set. Their set included the older Ramones core songs along with newer, different material from my personal favorite new album Stella Sapiente. I still get goosebumps when I remember this show!
After the awesome three sets, we needed rest so we went to drink something, so we missed Talco set but as far as we could hear, the Italians provided the awesome party for which their gigs are known.
Lagwagon headlined Thursday night and I was really looking forward to their show, remembering an awesome set they played two years ago in the same place. When they entered the stage and started to play into the first couple of songs, it was obvious that something was wrong. After playing couple of songs like Violins, Island of Shame, Coffee and Cigarettes, they performed the album Let´s Talk About Feelings in its entirety celebrating the 20th birthday of that album. I am personally not the fan of that album so it was pretty boring for me while they played it. Also, musically was everything okay, but Joey Cape´s performance was just under all average levels. Totally broken voice, too long pauses between the songs and this Lagwagon set was just not on the headliner level for Punk Rock Holiday main stage.
Afterwards, we went to grab a couple of drinks and went home to sleep and prepare for Friday and the grand finale.
The final PRH day is always somehow a little bit sad, because deep in your mind you know that the fun will soon end and you will have to wait for another year to be there again.
We decided to get out there in the afternoon to check out some of the Beach stage bands, have a beer and once again cool ourselves off in Soča river. When we got there Young Hearts from Belgium just started to play their set.
I must admit that I have never heard of these guys prior to their set at PRH, but I am glad that I discovered this band. They play an excellent mix of melodic skatepunk and hardcore and the crowd including me were very pleased with their superb set they delivered in the early afternoon hours.
I have seen Trash Candy from Slovenia play at another festival in Slovenia like two years ago and I was eager to see and hear how they sound now. Trash Candy play powerful pop punk similar to the Croatian band Kraj Programa and to me they are a bit too poppy but that´s only me. The people there enjoyed their show and their music was great despite the nervousness the singer showed in the first two or three songs. Hey, nobody should be nervous, it´s PRH, we are all family there!
Afterwards we returned home to eat delicious tuna/pasta/vegetables salad and to have a couple of drinks prior to returning to the main stage for the grand festival finale. So, we drank a bit and joked, so we missed the Rebuke show and returned to the main stage just in time for the last two songs by Adhesive.
Now was the time for Misconduct to take their place on the stage. The Swedes are one of the bands that we waited eagerly since we heard who was playing this year, and their acoustic show the previous day was a very emotional and beautiful experience. Despite some problems during their set, they played all the hits like Blood On My Hands, Ready To Go, We Are As One, Solution…
Singer/guitar player Fredrik talked a lot betweeen the songs about love, unity, friendship and importance of staying and fighting together, keeping our planet safe and taking care of each other. That is the whole meaning of philosophy behind the hardcore movement isn´t it? They triumphantly finished their set with Never Going Down with Fredrik singing and crowdsurfing. For me, it was a very emotional experience and my old hardcore heart was full of pride and joy after their set.
After such energetic show we had to get our impressions together, drink a couple of drinks, hang out some more with some people that we don´t see very often, so we missed Authority Zero and Lawrence Arms shows.
Grand finale was upon us and that finale was coming to us in shape of Bad Religion. I have never seen the legends live and I was so happy that finally I will be enjoying their show. Indeed, they didn´t disappoint when they started their set with Generator, the first song I personally heard back in the days when I was a kid. They threw hits like You, 21st Century Digital Boy, Punkrock Song, Anesthesia, I Want To Conquer The World, American Jesus, Recipe For Hate and many others.
Somewhere at the half of their set, the banner with the band logo fell down and beneath lay the banner with the cover of Suffer, the legendary album which celebrates 30th birthday this year. So, Bad Religion played the second half of their set that album in its entirety. I am still impressed how this band does it. Every note, every sound is correct, they sound like a well oiled giant machine.
All good things come to an end, so PRH ended leaving us hungry for more and packing for our journey back home. Once more this festival proved that there is none like it, none better and this is the place where everyone can be happy and it is the most beautiful place in the world. See you next year at PRH 1.9.