Every year tons of kids venture down to the florida swamplands for a weekend of amazing music. On it's 8th year and still going strong. Lots of IYMIers are playing too. Run by No Idea Records.
THE FEST is a culmination of bands and friends from all over converging for a few days of pure insanity all over the fine city of Gainesville, FL. The first one took place May 24th and 25th of 2002 and was thought to have gone down in history as the drunkest and rowdiest time ever to be had in Gainesville. We hosted over 60 bands in two days at 6 different venues, got free beer from Pabst Blue Ribbon, had a massive late night after show that was mistaken for a riot, watched HAR MAR SUPERSTAR start the largest dance party in his underwear, first time we got to see Against Me play to over 100 people, and I think the only other "big" band we had was Pretty Girls Make Graves. Man, how things have changed. Overall I think people were hung over for the rest of their natural lives. So in a nutshell it was a fucking blast.
Then after a much-needed break and recuperation THE FEST 2, "Two more days of falling down," was launched on Oct 17th and 18th 2003. What no one could have expected was that the attendance came close to tripling the previous year. Not only did all of Gainesville come out to support but we found that people had come from all over the US, Canada, Germany, and even Japan. We stuck to the same plan, to make THE FEST 2 just as insane and keep the all out party plan in full effect. Pabst Blue Ribbon once again made drinking way easy and affordable and it seemed that people were much obliged. We kept all the shows in walking distance, trashed most of the venues, hosted the largest backyard BBQ hootenanny ever, and most went completely ape for 48 hours straight (a few would log in an extra shift or two for sure) Against Me! and Hot Water Music packed Market Street Pub to way past capacity and when the show let out it looked like Mardi Gras. Mastodon showed that they not only destroy live but also can turn a downtown hotel parking lot into a war-zone. Tiltwheel flew in from Cali once again to consume all that there was to consume. One club ran out of all their beer. The men of Gainesville grew mustaches to show the out of towners the power of Magnum. Savage Brewtality boldly announced they were putting on a drinking display. All in all it was a massive success and seemed that everyone involved enjoyed them selves a little too much and expressed not only their gratitude, but also their anticipation for THE FEST 3.
THE FEST 3 took place 2004 over Halloween weekend. Since it was such a special time of the year we decided to extend the event to a three-day debacle. We had many repeat offenders and were also graced by several new friends and family. Attendance hit an all time high as we had over 3,000 crazies taking over the Gainesville streets. More people, more bands, more brew, and a bigger BBQ. Add in costumes and more out of town fools equaled just a bigger party. You can look below to see who played. I could go on and on about all the insane stories but I think I should keep it under wrap for now so you can wait to see it all on THE FEST 3 DVD that we released on NO IDEA RECORDS.
THE FEST 4 happened November 18th, 19th, 20th. It sold out!!! So that was kinda crazy. We had one of the best lineups we could have ever imagined. More people traveled retarded distances to come to little old Gainesville, Fl. D4 played two shows. One was naked. We were blessed with a reunion from Gainesville legends RADON!!! Ted Leo held a dance party. We ran out of space at the Plan-it-X daytime show so we moved it outside and still ran out of room. Against Me! once again proved why they are loved and adored. We fed over 500 people BBQ. There were bikes in trees, kids in bushes and shark attacks in the pit. Four years without any fights. That is why you don’t book hardcore bands that ninjas like. Billy Reese Peters played. Well, if you call having a stage full of shirtless drunks playing. Bouncing Souls finally played after years of begging and it was worth all the begging for sure. Tons of more insanity took place but you will just have to wait for that edition of the DVD.
FEST 5 was Oct 26, 27, 28 2006. I think the ratio of growth or bands to beer bellies was on par. Dillinger Four had about 200 people on stage and another 1,200 in the crowd. We had LIFETIME come back to Florida for the first time in over 10 years to a stage dive heaven of a reception. The Ergs packed a 500 capacity club of freaks and geeks and people realized "Hey, people really like this band!" The Holy Mountain threw 10 steaming hot pizzas at the pit. Defiance, OH played a FREE show in the middle of downtown to about 1,000 punks, families, dogs, homeless, and one NARC. The Bomb played some Naked Raygun songs and it made me feel fuzzy inside. Minus The Bear rocked some jams that had the folks sling their hands in the air like they just didn’t care. Off With Thier Heads got wasted and lit all their merch money on fire. The Side Bar once again ran out of everything drinkable. Smoke or Fire puked on stage due to the heat from the crowd. Overall it was way bigger and it still ran smooth as ever. Five years of still no fights or arrests. Who said drunken punks are a problem!
FEST 6 took place on Oct 26th, 27th, and 28th 2007. We came close to once again doubling in size from attendance to bands performing. We had an impressive amount of heartfelt reunions from Naked Raygun, Seaweed, Quadilliacha, and Small Brown Bike as well as unprecedented, once in a life time, performances from AVAIL, The Lawrence Arms, Municipal Waste, Smoke or Fire, Dead to Me, and the Marked Men. It was also the biggest year for smaller bands that took it to the limit each day and night. The after parties were also some of the most ridiculous antics to be seen. Paint It Black and Shook Ones played an apartment where the floor nearly caved in on the not so excited neighbors below, the official “FEST HOTEL” turned into an "Official Mess" with people breaking into the rooftop pool with fireworks, window dives, and exit sign smashing. It was hands down the biggest thing we have ever had part of in our entire lives. Overwhelming? Yes! Exhausting? Most definitely! Hard to Top? Only time could tell.
Despite a harrowing barrage of rumors that THE FEST 7 wouldn’t happen, it sure as hell did. Oct 31st, Nov 1st, and Nov 2nd we once again found ourselves awash in a sea of stale beer and shirtless loons. Another sold out year, but this time with hundreds of slackers calling for our heads roll as they missed the boat. Lesson learned! Leatherface hopped the pond for a crushing Sunday night show, The Bouncing Souls returned on the eve of their 20th anniversary for a Halloween night with Less Than Jake that made us all feel at least a decade younger and our livers a decade older, Atom reunited with The Package for a back-to-back Saturday afternoon duel with Coalesce that laid waste to all present, None More Black emerged from the crypt for legendary shows and house parties, and Paint It Black played in a parking lot at 2 AM in front of 800 kids for exactly 27 seconds before the horse cops showed up. House shows raged around the clock and hundreds took up camping in welcoming Gainesville yards as every hotel in town was sold out. We welcome hundreds upon hundreds of overseas Festers from the UK, Japan, Germany, France, Australia, and South Africa. Three days of carnage and the town was still standing, but just barely.
What does The Fest 8 hold in store for this year? Who knows! More of the same. More friends, more family, more brew, more party times, more high fives, more hugs, more passed out fools on random couches, and more other things I can’t bring up in public. You can see who we’ve got confirmed so far, and we’ve certainly got a few more tricks up our sleeves. Join us in the armpit of the world and see what all the fuss is about this year. Or, miss out and see it on Youtube!