The Bash Fest 2019: Sacramento

The Bash Fest, a touring family-friendly punk rock music and beer festival presented by Rancid, had brought together some of the most notable bands in the punk rock scene to the stage for fans to enjoy. The musical lineup included favorites such as Sharp Shock, L7, Suicidal Tendencies, Pennywise and, to headline each night, Rancid themselves.

Bash Fest included four hours of unlimited beer tastings to get the day going and by the time Sharp Shock hit the stage, you could feel the anticipation from excited fans. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Sharp Shock, they are quite the mixture of musical backgrounds, with members from the UK, New Zealand and San Diego. The band features members of Beat Union, The Dear & Departed and The Aggrolites. Now based in San Diego and freshly signed to Alkaline Trio’s record label, Heart and Skull Records, the band hits makes you instantly feel their mixture of reggae, punk rock, surf rock and hardcore when they hit the stage. They are definitely a band to keep a lookout for!

After Sharp Shock, the all female punk rock band L7 was up. Now, I will admit, I had never heard of these ladies before and my father made sure to let me know I was missing out! (The Bash Fest in Sacramento happened on Father’s Day, so I took my father who quite literally lives and breathes punk rock music. According to him, L7 are legends!) So, you can imagine at this point that my curiosity had led me right to the front of the stage. L7 was formed in 1987 and has made quite a reputation for themselves, from selling out shows across the globe to founding Rock for Choice (a pro-choice charity organization that raises money and awareness for women’s rights through benefit concerts) to even having a documentary released about L7’s fundamental contribution the the early grunge, house, noise and punk scene. The girls blew me away with their new single, “Dispatch from Mar-a-lago”, the band’s testament to their disgust with President Donald Trump. The band is currently signed to Don Giovani records and you can catch them on tour this summer/fall in the UK, South America and Mexico.

If you are a true fan of Rancid, there was no way you could’ve been disappointed.

During the changeover before Suicidal Tendencies hit the stage, I took a walk around the ground to look for the Ska Brewing tent; turns out that Ska Brewing partners with various bands to release limited edition craft beers. They even partnered with Rancid themselves to create ‘Brewstomper’: a golden ale, handcrafted with every member of the band involved. Truly a collaborative effort, Tim Armstrong himself did all the artwork for the can and advertisement of the beer. You can find Brewstomper on the Ska Brewing website and at the Ska Brewing headquarters in Durango, Colorado. Be sure to try it out!

\When the time came for Suicidal Tendencies to play, there was an energy that one could only describe as a bunch of people ready to hit the mosh pit. To my own surprise, Suicidal Tendencies opened up with their biggest hit, “Bring Me Down”, that the band stretched to 11 minutes, almost double the length of the actual track. Immediately, the crowd went wild. Like, really wild. I am talking crowdsurfing, three mosh pits and lots of insane energy along with interaction from the band. These guys, who are in their 40’s, were hopping and running around the stage like nothing I had ever seen, not even from their younger counterparts in the modern hardcore and punk scene. One thing I noticed is that all their mics were coordinated in the same tone, so band members could easily switch from mic to mic while moving around the stage. Suicidal Tendencies also played fan favorites such as, “Institutionalized”, “No Body Hears” and “War Inside My Head”.

The best way to describe it, it was punk rock magic.

Pennywise was next and hit the stage in full force, opening with “Bro Hymn” and “Fight Till You Die” off of the 1996 album, Full Circle. A true ode to the skate punk generation, the album touches on themes like inner battles, economic strife, political struggle and taking back our power as a society. I first heard that album sitting in my Dad’s garage on his record player. I still have the original record from ‘96. To hear them for the first time live was powerful to say the least. They even played “Greed”, which I literally first heard on the Dave Mira BMX computer game when I was eight years old, so you can imagine how that was a moment of nostalgia to fully indulge in. The band made sure to make their voices heard by all when they played “Fuck Authority” and the entire crowd broke out into chanting along. The energy was really that of generations ready for change!

By the time Rancid came onstage, the crowd was ready to dance! Rancid played a set that was just over an hour to give their fans exactly the songs we all came to hear. Opening with “Radio”, the crowd separated into the biggest multigenerational circle skank pit I have ever seen! The band played everything I came to hear, short of “Ruby Soho”. That means we fans got to bounce the night away to “Time Bomb”, “Maxwell Murder”, “Roots Radicals”, “Journey to the End”, “East Bay Night”, “Red Hot Moon”, “Old Friend”, “Where I’m Going” and so many more. If you are a true fan of Rancid, there was no way you could’ve been disappointed. During “Fall Back Down”, I decided, after 26 years, it was time to go in my first skank pit and boy was I not disappointed. There is nothing that can compare to singing that song with thousands of people skanking around, feeling the same energy. I actually fell down during the song and got a hand up from another fan who put their arm around me as we sang and skanked to the rest of the set. The best way to describe it, it was punk rock magic.

The Bash Fest was such a well put together festival. The music blew me away, the beer selection was full of variety, there was enough food options to cover vegans to meat eaters and logistically sound with plenty of bathrooms and reasonably priced parking. It was truly a festival that the whole family could enjoy and we cannot wait to attend again.

Didn’t catch The Bash Fest?  Check out Rancid’s fall tour with Pennywise.

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