By DONNA BALANCIA
The Stitches, The Weirdos and The Dils rocked Backstage Bar as punk rockers from all over the world arrived in downtown Las Vegas Friday for the annual Punk Rock Bowling festival.
The Punk Rock Bowling headliners this year are Rancid, Descendents and The Specials and this year the fest touts two stages and is sold out. But the real stories are going on behind the scenes as punk-loving friends gather to enjoy veteran acts and new talent at the event and in the clubs.
Punk Rock Bowling is an inter-generational celebration of the music that has traditionally been known to represent anti-establishment and positive social change. On hand are some of punk rock’s pioneers but also young acts on the way up who admire the style that the genre from the 1970s and earlier represents.
Check out the Instagram postings from Punk Rock Bowling here:
The Dils with The Stitches, The Weirdos and Danger Friends opened the festivities at the Backstage Bar and Billiards in downtown Las Vegas Friday night. The Dils are comprised of Chip Kinman, an original founder of the band with his late brother Tony, with son Giuliano Scarfo on drums and Brian Melendez on bass. With a set list that included some oldies but goodies like “I Hate the Rich” and “Class War” The revamped Dils added in a cover of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Die” neatly covered by Nathalie from Katatonic, who also sang on “Wimp,” a Zeros song.
Blending Veterans with Current Players at Punk Rock Bowling
In the audience at the show was Vince Conrad, whose bands American Bad Taste, Smart Pills and The Aliens were popular in the early punk days. He says he’s enjoying a resurgence in music sales and interest from a new generation who wants to hear the authentic punk sound of the 1970s. Conrad has reissued some of the older music, but also is producing new music through his Vince Conrad Productions label. Chip Kinman and Conrad both are featured in the June issue of the Big Takeover, set to hit the stands shortly.
Conrad, whose latest record is Transition, said he was particularly impressed with the The Stitches, the longtime LA pros.
“The Stitches are my ideal of what a punk band is,” Conrad said. “They put on a great show and the frontman Mike reminds me of a combination of Iggy Pop and Johnny Rotten. He even did some stage diving.”
The Stitches were formed in the 1990s but have hit the 1970s style punk on the head. The Stitches are comprised of frontman Michael Lohrman, Johnny Witmer on guitar and vocals, Pete “Action Man'” Archer on bass and Craig “Skibs” Barker on drums and vocals.
The Weirdos, like The Dils, are actually from the 1970s. The players are John Denny, Dix Denny, Bruce Moreland and Jarrod Alexander.
Chip Kinman and Tony Kinman Songs Get Reissue
While many bands from the era have faded away, Kinman’s music is finding a new audience. His music is being covered by current artists of today and songs he wrote and recorded with his brother Tony are getting reissues. The Kinmans’ new reissue on Omnivore is called Chip and Tony Kinman Sounds Like Music.
Kinman said that the sold out Friday night opening gig played by The Dils proves that good music lives on and has emotional impact.
“It was a very special night,” Kinman said. “The show was so much fun.”
While many bands from the 1970s have lost members for a variety of reasons, some including older age, the key to staying alive in an independent music environment is to mix it up, Conrad said.
“I think what keeps the spirit alive is the blending of the old style punk and using current players,” Conrad said. “A lot of the bands are doing that today and it’s fun to collaborate with a range of musicians.”
That collaboration seems to be the key as PRB keeps growing. This year the Punk Rock Bowling event venue has two stages and the fest is sold out, as are most of the other club shows going on. And there are plenty of musicians who are not taking the stage who came to hear good music.
Check out some of the sightings on the scene, like the gals from Go Betty Go as well as Pennywise players and fans. Meanwhile there was some other hot action at PRB. For more information, set times and activities go to the Punk Rock Bowling website.
Ra Diaz of Suicidal Tendencies saw Sick Of It All: