WORDS AND PHOTOS BY: TOBY HUGHES
After skipping 2016, It’s Not Dead Fest returned for its second year on Saturday August 26th in San Bernardino, CA. With record breaking heat on the doppler for this day, that had no stop for the veteran and youthful attendees that suited up and showed up to pay homage to the punk rock gods that shaped this genre. Four stages, 40 bands, half a day, mohawks, art, children, studded belts, and leopard pants…this festival had it all, and then some.
At high noon the festivities kicked off with Spider and Channel 3 but the main focus came to the main stage when Wraths started to play. Fronted by Jim Lindberg (Pennywise, The Black Pacific), Wraths even stole Kevin Lyman’s attention because he told them to keep playing even after their set time was up. Standing out as the youngsters of the lineup, The Interrupters staked their claim in the punk scene with a female vocalist who’s fun spirit and charisma made everyone happy. As the sun beat down on the grounds, Mad Caddies, A Wilhelm Scream and The Flatliners got those friendly circle pits into full speed.
Taking a break from the music and sun, fans could venture off into the art tent that was filled with photography and authors as well as signings for the bands to meet and greet fans. The festivities were also welcomed by the hundreds of children in attendance spending quality time with the parents while enjoying music made from before they were even a twinkle in their parent’s eyes. Offering free admission to children under the age of 10, the grounds also had a kid friendly play zone with jumpers that I’m sure more adults wanted to join in on but were not allowed.
For the thousands in attendance, seeing the sun start to tuck behind the mountains brought a sigh of relief from the 100+ degree weather. Although temps started to drop, The Adicts kept the heat with their theatrical set featuring a cape, a chinese food box costume, streamers, confetti and playing cards with legendary frontman Keith Warren’s grining face on the front that were tossed into the crowd by Mr. Keith Warren. As the night came closer, each stage eventually came to an end, leaving the main stage the point of focus for the final sets with Dropkick Murphys and Rancid.
Dropkick Murphys and Rancid were ending out their tour, “From Boston To Berkeley,” on this date and you better believe they went out with a performance to remember. After Rancid closed out their set the band came back out for an encore unlike another. They continued on for a 25 minute encore as a supergroup with Dropkick Murphys. Playing a few cover songs together, the two iconic bands vibes on each other’s energy and showed the true meaning of a punk rock friendship and portrayed an important mutual respect for each other.
For 12 hours everyone on the festival grounds put aside all the nonsense in the world and enjoyed the day together as a community. It is this togetherness that keeps this scene alive and going. It wasn’t about race, gender or religion, it was about being a family and bringing to the light one real message regarding the punk industry…It’s Not Dead.