Waterfront Park, San Diego
When you think of punk rock, you probably don’t think of craft beer.
But for one day, that all changed in San Diego. Bands like Against Me!, NOFX, and Bad Religion rocked the stage at the inaugural Ye Scallywag! festival as over 100 breweries and wineries lined the sides and back of the park to hand out tastings of their finest drinks.
The day started just after noon with an energetic performance from Wakrat (Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine’s band) and surprisingly short beer lines. By the time Reel Big Fish took the stage an hour later, most of the crowd was just bouncing from one brewery’s line to the next as they filled their tiny tasting cups with a variety of IPAs, sours, and music pun-named brews.
Playing in the middle of the afternoon to thousands of people who were far more interested in drinking beer than actually watching their set seemed to work well for Reel Big Fish, as OC’s favorite ska icons were able to blast through speedy covers of the Offspring, Nirvana, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and more while cracking jokes and playing an occasional original song.
Since the free booze only lasted until 3:00, Against Me! saw a much smaller crowd when they opened their daytime set with “True Trans Soul Rebel” than they had by the end of it for “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” and the aptly named “Black Me Out.” Although a good portion of the intoxicated crowd seemed unfamiliar with much of the band’s set (perhaps because they were at least a decade younger than everyone else on the bill), drunken dance moves and cheers could be seen for hundreds of yards in every direction after last call for samples finished.
With the bulk of the crowd now focused on the stage, the supergroup known as the 2016 version of Goldfinger was next up. After walking out to “Let It Go” and a mixed crowd reaction, frontman (and record producer extraordinaire) John Feldmann was joined on stage by MxPx’s Mike Herrera on bass and backing vocals while Story of the Year’s Philip Sneed took his regular spot on guitar and Branden Steineckert (Rancid, the Used, etc.) on drums.
After some early technical difficulties, the quartet got it together just in time to lead a singalong version of “Here in Your Bedroom” with an increasingly sloppy crowd. As always, one of the other highlights of Goldfinger’s set was the discussion of video games leading into “Superman” – which had at least 80 percent of the crowd wondering just how much it would cost to get a Nintendo 64 and the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater at this point in time. Overall, it wasn’t the best set of the day, but anytime you can get such a star-studded lineup on stage for 45 minutes (plus Reel Big Fish’s horns section for some tunes), it’s really hard to complain.
As the sun continued to burn in the sky for the penultimate set of Ye Scallywag!, it became clear that much of the crowd was either there for Bad Religion or NOFX – although few would mind seeing the other.
The more intellectual and angry punks spent the next hour airing their social and political grievances along with Greg Graffin and crew, who played a crowd-friendly string of hits after being (perhaps rightfully) pumped up as the best punk rock band of the last 35 years (or ever).
If you’ve seen one Bad Religion festival set, you’ve kind of seen them all. The punk legends are a model of consistency, sounding just as clean and flawless on songs from the ‘80s as those from this decade. This time around, NOFX frontman (and Bad Religion friend/fan) Fat Mike briefly jumped on stage with them for a minute as Graffin jokingly yelled for security, and the crowd drunkenly slurred and screamed along to hits like “Los Angeles is Burning,” “Sorrow,” and “Infected.” Other than that, it was the type of masterful performance you’d expect from one of the most professional bands in punk rock.
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On the other end of the punk greatness spectrum, NOFX closed out the night (technically more like dusk since the whole thing ended at 7:00) with the exact kind of set the many hammered NOFX fans came to see.
Fat Mike danced his way back on to the stage to “The Time Warp” (which was extra appropriate, considering Fox’s recent controversial remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show) before he, El Hefe, Eric Melvin, and Erik “Smelly” Sandin warmed up by making fun of some guy riding on another dude’s shoulders in the crowd for a few minutes.
Once they finally got to playing, NOFX tore through their hits, crass jokes, and a few newer and deeper cuts over the course of about an hour. Not only was (the recently detoxed but no longer entirely sober) Fat Mike not even in the top 100 drunkest people at the show, but Eric Melvin wasn’t even the only white guy rocking dreads (although he was still the only white guy with dreadlocks who didn’t look super sketchy). Fans stumbled over each other both in and out of mosh pits as everyone joined in for tracks like “Linoleum,” “The Separation of Church and Skate,” “Don’t Call Me White,” and “Stickin’ In My Eye.”
Hell, NOFX even brought out Scott Sellers (one of the two drummers who replaced Sandin decades ago when he went to rehab) to play a half-baked version of “Six Pack Girls.” It was an excellent set to close out a great day of beer and punk rock – even if every version of “that asshole” was present in huge numbers with that many alcohol-soaked punk fans in one area.