It’s Not Dead 2
Glen Helen Amphitheater
August 26, 2017
Just under two years after the inaugural It’s Not Dead festival back in 2015, the full day of punk rock returned to San Bernardino for a long-awaited sequel. Although the first day-long punk rock reunion saw such a strong outcome that it was virtually impossible for any of its follow-ups to match, no one left the Glen Helen Amphitheater disappointed this weekend — no matter how long the trek back home was.
Kicking off just a touch after noon — and at right around the 100 degree mark — established local punk acts like Spider, Channel 3, Wraths, and the Interrupters (who also happened to be the youngsters of the festival) filled all four stages throughout the early afternoon before iconic acts like GBH, the Unseen, and A Wilhelm Scream took over later in the day. With half-hour sets and at least a pair of stages going at any given moment, the frenetic pace of It’s Not Dead 2 provided the same kind of relentless punk rock energy that the Warped Tour of old was known for, giving punks of all ages near-constant chances to mosh, sing, scream, and crowdsurf for as long as their mohawk and leather-clad bodies could handle in the August heat.
As the sun began to drop and evening mercifully spread over the grounds, the Casualties, US Bombs, and Voodoo Glow Skulls (featuring Manic Hispanic and Death by Stereo’s Efrem Schulz on vocals) closed out the secondary stages while the Adicts gave their massive fan base the first real spectacle of the evening with one of their classic glitter, streamer, costume, and beach ball-filled performances. Of every band there — and likely every band in general outside of the Misfits (of whom there was plenty of discussion both good and bad in regards to their upcoming reunion show and ridiculous ticket prices) — the Adicts certainly had the most fans wearing their signature merch and bowler hats, and a whole lot of folks cleared out in the few seconds it took to rotate the stage between the end of the British band’s set and beginning of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.
With the secondary stages effectively shutting down alongside the end of punk rock’s premiere cover band’s set, the previously spread out crowd effectively doubled in size for the evening’s two headliners — even if the 20 minute set change ahead of Dropkick Murphys’ set did lead to the longest lull of the entire day (as well as a small portion of the crowd deciding to skip the last two sets in order to catch the hyped up Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor boxing match that was about to start).
Of course, the level of overall inebriation eight hours into a punk rock festival happened to match up perfectly with the singalong energy that the Irish rockers always bring, and watching thousands of drunk punkers make their best attempts at riverdancing to “The State of Massachusetts” and “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” was entertaining for everyone between the ages of 7 and 70. After just under an hour of anthemic punk rock the Boston icons left the stage for right around 15 minutes before Tim Armstrong ran up to the microphone to begin Rancid’s set with a crowd-stoking rendition of “Radio.”
Following an hour-long set filled with a heavy dose of classics from …And Out Come the Wolves as well as Let’s Go — as well as a handful of newer tunes from this year’s Trouble Maker — many fans may have thought their It’s Not Dead adventure was over after a solid 10 hours of punk rock. But not trying to disappoint even the most discerning of fans, Rancid brought their tourmates in Dropkick Murphys back out one more time to close out the evening with an experience no one will forget.
Ultimately, It’s Not Dead proved once again that you can cram dozens and dozens of punk bands (and thousands of punk fans) into the same venue for a day and have a really good time — even in the sweltering heat. It’s also nice to see a festival that’s actually committed to packing a deep lineup into one full day of music rather than spreading it out to make people buy tickets (and drive) for two or three days with only a handful of artists worth seeing on each day.