Punk ‘N Brew Arrives In Huntington Beach

The Punk In Drublic Festival made its second to last stop in Huntington Beach last Saturday and featured performances by co-headliners NOFX and Bad Religion, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, Goldfinger, Strung Out, The Dickies, DI, Ignite and Faulkner.  Fans who purchased VIP tickets were treated to an exclusive performance by Guttermouth Hilltop Rats.  Unlimited craft beer tastings from top breweries were available from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., or noon until 4:00 p.m for those who purchased VIP tickets.

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Fans who purchased VIP packages had three options to choose from.  The first option was for VIP lounge access and early entry to the event so that they could start tasting at 12:00 p.m.  The second option added meet & greets with Punk ‘N Brew bands.  The third option added a meet & greet with KLOS’ Frosty, Heidi & Frank at a designated time, a Punk ‘N Brew collector’s edition poster signed by Punk ‘N Brew artists, and VIP meal tickets.

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Both Guttermouth and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes were listed on the original lineup for the festival when it was announced in late August, however, by the time the festival arrived both bands had been removed.  Guttermouth released a statement on October 26, just two days after reminding fans that they would be playing the festival, addressing their removal which stated: “To our fans, we regret to inform you that it is true, we are no longer playing the Punk n Brews fest. We received an email stating we are no longer on the bill. We wish we could give you all the explanation you deserve but we were not given one. Stay classy HB.”

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Faulkner, Ignite, DI and The Dickies kept fans entertained while they enjoyed their complimentary tastings from the various breweries.  Then it was time for Strung Out, and it was at this point that the event really started to go south.  Fans were moshing so hard that sections of the barricade began to separate from one another.  This caused Strung Out to put the remainder of their set on hold while attempts were made to repair the barricade.  Due to the prolonged delay, fans began to become irritable and at least one fight broke out in the VIP area.

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Goldfinger, who have recently revisited their ska roots, followed Strung Out and helped get everyone into a much better mood.  Their set featured classic hits as well as songs from their new album The Knife.  It was also recently announced that Goldfinger will be joining MxPx for their show at The Novo on December 16.  MxPx vocalist and bassist, Mike Herrera, is also the bassist in Goldfinger.

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After Goldfinger it was time for the first of the co-headliners, Bad Religion.  Bad Religion put on a great show, as always, and their performance included the hits “Infected”, “21st Century (Digital Boy)” and “Sorrow”.  Following Bad Religion’s performance, the barricades had to be repaired yet again, resulting in more delays.

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Punk ‘N Brew was presented by Fat Mike, of NOFX, and 95.5 KLOS, so naturally NOFX closed out the event.  Fat Mike arrived on stage in a black and pink horizontally striped dress, while dancing to “The Time Warp”, and was joined by everyone except for El Hefe who appeared to be missing.  Fat Mike did his best to keep the crowd entertained until El Hefe finally arrived with a can of Punk in Drublic in hand.  Punk in Drublic is a hoppy lager which NOFX recently partnered with Stone Brewing to create.

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The Punk ‘N Brew festival appeared to be very similar to the numerous other craft beer and punk rock festivals which have taken place over the last couple of years.  For this reason, people likely expected this event to run quite smoothly, but unfortunately that was not the case.  Inside the venue, the VIP area did not appear to be well secured, which led to overcrowding, and the barricades were not installed properly which resulted in performance delays.  The barricades were placed directly on the sand, instead of on plywood or plastic panels, and it appeared as though not all of the bolts had been installed.

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Fans were encouraged to take advantage of the available shuttle service, due to the limited parking at Bolsa Chica State Beach.  According to the Punk ‘N Brew website, the shuttle drop off location was at the “front of Punk ‘n Brew at Bolsa Chica State Beach”, yet in actuality the shuttle dropped off at the rear of Punk ‘N Brew which meant fans had to walk all the way around the event just to get in.

As great as attending a concert at the beach sounds, this venue and layout was not a good fit for this type of festival.  Most festivals have a square, or wide rectangular layout, however Punk ‘N Brew’s layout was a long skinny rectangle.  This resulted in a significantly denser crowd, and fans were forced to stand farther from the stage than they otherwise would have been.

Craft beer and the Punk ‘N Brew lineup were a great combination; however, it didn’t seem like Bolsa Chica State Beach was the best venue choice for an event of this magnitude.  Earlier this year, the Sabroso Taco Festival was held at Doheny State Beach, and that event did not experience the same problems as Punk ‘N Brew.  I hope Punk ‘N Brew will return in 2018, however, the festival has some issues that need to be worked out before it returns.

– Martin Shook

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All photos by: Martin Shook

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