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Lots of highlights from Punk Rock Bowling day three

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Lagwagon closed out a rollicking Punk Rock Bowling set Sunday with a cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”
Photo: Lisa Johnson
Chris Bitonti

The Bouncing Souls took the stage just before 7 p.m., and though they released a new record Comet in 2012, they announced—to much fan celebration—they would only play one new song. Their set instead focused on 2006’s The Gold Record and earlier tracks, anthems full of adolescent pride, partying and general jack-assery sung effortlessly by Greg Attonito.

With so many bands to be excited about in this year’s PRB line-up, I had almost forgotten how much I love the Bouncing Souls. It wasn’t until I realized that I still knew every word to their songs (as did the rest of the crowd) that I remembered how big fan I am. The Bouncing Souls were one of the bands that drew me into punk music with their pop sensibilities and witty lyrics, tunes like “Manthem,” “True Believers,” “Kids and Heroes,” “Ole,” “Sing Along Forever” and “Lean on Sheena,” all still so fun to scream along with. During “Kate is Great,” Attonito surprised fans by leaping into the crowd holding a colorful donkey piñata that was immediately ripped apart like a scene from The Walking Dead. Attonito emerged from the pit wearing a fan’s hat instead and closed the show with “Hopeless Romantic.”

Lagwagon followed shortly after with their similar smart-assed speed punk. Lead singer Joey Cape's growl was in great form last night, performing favorites including “Violins,” “After You My Friend,” ”Sleep,” and “May 16.” Lagwagon is no stranger to Punk Rock Bowling but Joey declared this the “best year yet, with so many great bands,” before closing the set with a burning cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”

But the band that stole the show on Sunday was Norwegian death-punk outfit Turbonegro. On the last show of their North American tour, Turbonegro’s very devoted fanbase the Turbojugend (Turbo Youth) showed up in costumed droves to support the “chubby dudes,” wearing sailor hats and personalized denim jackets (aka Deathpunk Mode Kutte) with each member’s chapter city stitched on the back. More than being offensive, more than being ridiculous, Turbonegro is fun as hell. They combine ‘70s stadium rock anthems with death metal themes and punk speed for a completely awesome, unique sound.

Turbonegro is now fronted by British singer Tony Sylvester, tasked with filling the void left when former frontman Hank von Helvete quit in 2010. Sylvester and Helvete are two completely different (party) animals. Helvete had a reckless abandon to his style that bordered on insanity. Sylvester is more reserved but portrays a darker, sexual persona of dominant sadomasochist, like a modern, fatter Rob Halford trading leather and studs for denim.

Sylvester growls Turbo songs in a gruff perma-yell that is great but I still prefer Helvete’s versions of “All My Friends are Dead,” “Wasted Again” and “Turbonegro Must Be Destroyed.” Sylvester sounds more comfortable performing songs off Sexual Harassment, like “I Got A Knife,” “Dude Without A Face” and “You Gave Me Worms.” Their set was a 45-minute tour de force that Sylvester proclaimed as “biblical, like Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Somehow in 15 years of Punk Rock Bowling, Sunday’s headliner Bad Religion had never made an appearance before. That seems unbelievable to think that a band as integral to punk’s history as Bad Religion had never played punk’s most famous bowling-themed music festival. The group performed a set with a mix of classics and a few tracks off their new record True North, but I made a strategic decision to leave halfway through to make my way over to Fremont Country Club for easy entry to see punk cover band and supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. It proved to be a wise move considering that by the time FCC opened the doors, the line had again stretched down the street and wrapped around Backstage Bar and Billiards. When female-fronted opening band the Bombpops took the stage at 11:30 p.m. the venue was still mostly empty because of the difficulty getting into the club. When Pulley went on at 12:45 a.m., the venue is finally full of fans awaiting the band’s ‘90s speed punk favorites like “Cashed In.” At one point, lead singer Scott Radinsky posed the question “Who's been here all weekend?” After a loud eruption from the crowd, he admitted, “I don’t think I could do it myself.”

At 2 a.m., Fremont Country Club was still packed with fans waiting for Me First to take the stage, no doubt with feet aching from a long day of enjoying great punk rock. When the curtains finally opened, bassist and NoFx frontman Fat Mike did offer an apology: “I'm sorry it took so long, but it takes forever for drugs to be delivered here.” The boos subsided immediately as the band, dressed in matching peach Hawaiian shirts, broke into punk versions of Kenny Loggins’ “Danny's Song,” John Denver’s “Country Roads,” Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” “Science Fiction/Double Feature” from Rocky Horror Picture Show and many others. The Gimmes got the pit moving again—granted, much slower than earlier in the day—until well past 3 a.m., when I finally had to call it quits and head home, exhausted but still excited for one more marathon day of punk planned for Monday.

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