Fest 11 Diary Part I – Arrival and Preshows

Wednesday, October 24th

The alarm goes off at 5:15a.m. and makes me jump put of bed so fast that my neck hurts. What a way to start this adventure. The early hour and the fact that I didn’t get sleep the days before does not help neither. So I’m starting my Fest trip already with a sleep deficit, knowing its not going to get any better any time soon. I spent a few minutes too much packing so I miss the subway and have to walk to the station. Getting to the airport is easy though. I check in and then do the smart thing: Get food in the supermarket downstairs for a fraction of the prices they charge in the terminal. There is a lot of waiting time ahead of me.

Transatlantic travel is annoying. Spending so much time on a plane in an uncomfortable seat is almost torture, at least I never even tried the food. I could go on a long and bitchy rant about all of this, guess I save it for another time. At the airport there is a guy wearing a Rvivr t-shirt. I bet he’s going to Fest as well. But I’m not in the right mood yet, so I avoid talking to him. Plus, Rvivr are smelly, aren’t they? He also was on my connecting flight to Orlando, I still didn’t say a word. However I decided to talk to him if he should go to the concert that night. Asking “Am I following you, or a you following me?” – but he did not show up.

Meet Robert. First time we met was at Insubordination Fest 2008 and every year since. He has been helping with the filming and other things. Then last year when I debuted the photo booth he pretty much volunteered to help and it went great. Guess part of this is the fact that he does this thing (portrait photography) for a living. Besides being a completely overqualified assistant he also turned out to be a great host, driver and friend. He picked me up at the airport and since we’ve got a some time to kill we went to a comic shop to hang around. One of the owners also likes pop punk so we sit there, talk about the Dopamines, listen to Screeching Weasel, this is all pretty nice. Robert says these guys love the music but never go to shows, not even local ones. Well, what can I say? There are these idiots that travel around the globe to see some bands play (*cough cough*) and others who don’t even dare to travel to the end of the block to do the same.

There is a pre-pre-show in Orlando that night at Will’s Pup. We went to the same one last year. This time its a little smaller band wise, although I think seven of them are playing. I don’t even know who played at all. For me this night isn’t about the bands, its getting to see some people, saying hello, getting into the Fest mindset. The evening was perfect for that. I don’t even make it to the door without seing some international friends. There are the Arteries (Wales), the guys from Leagues Apart (England), there is Rory (Toronto), Glen and Goli (Hannover, Germany) etc… Yeah this feels like Fest now. There is quite a mix of bands, from the guy doing an accoustic set to the post-emo-whatever-rock with the punk bands in between. The only band I really watch are the Arteries. We leave around midnight, finally going to get some sleep. I didn’t even bother trying to take photos.

Thursday, October 25th

In the morning I get to meet Roberts parents and we have a lovely chat. Then we pick up Morgue, get some photo supplies at Best Buy and start driving to Gainesville. Nothing happens along the road. We cannot check into the hotel room yet, its booked in another name, so we just go directly to the Holiday Inn and start preparing our stuff. So we’re doing the Fest Photo Booth. During registration and the after show party we’ll have a backdrop and props set up and take images of the fest visitors. Its stupid and goofy and usually fun. Its our second time doing this at Fest, plus we’ve done it twice at Insubfest in Baltimore.

Meet Kendra: Besides Robert and me she is the third person in our team. Tony got me in touch with her when we first talked about doing the photo booth at Fest. She is a Gainesville local which helps a lot with setting everything up. And she is not only a young, good looking woman, she is also super exited to do this. I couldn’t be happier with my assistants! (just a little side note: I guess technically I am in charge of this, and it was my idea etc.., but any one of us three would be able to do this on his/her own and we split the work pretty even I’d say).

Setting everything up works pretty flawless, the only thing we have to deal with is that the backdrop is missing. We had a huge Fest backdrop this year, but they were never delivered to the Fest this year. So we get a smaller one and use Kendras black muslin backdrop instead. We also got some other things to decorate and in the end it looks really good. We split and decide to do the final preparations in the morning.

Meet Hamish: Hamish is from Australia and I met him this year in Ottawa, when we shared a hotel room to visit the Ottawa Explosion festival. We got along really well, then we spent more time at Insubfest and after that. So when we were looking for room mates to share a hotel at Fest, I agreed immediately. He also came to the Holiday Inn and then we all headed out the preshow.

High Dive Pre-Show

Last year this pre-show was the highlight of the Fest. Everybody was there, you didn’t have to worry about what other band is playing the same time and we just had a really great time. Part of this was the fact that it was sold out and we managed to get two guestlist spots and found a third ticket for our friend Christian. This year it was again sold out, but we were smart enough to buy tickets in advance. And yeah, there are a lot of friends and people I know around. I’m also good friends with half the bands that are playing. I skip the first two (Shock Ones and Cobra Skulls) and then start the Fest with the Dopamines. Who are always fun to see live and one of my favorite bands. And the crowd is energetic from the start. Crowdsurfers, mad Germans and Australians drinking beer out of shoes on stage. Next are Dear Landlord. I have to admit I was not that exited to to see them. I have seen them quite often and they have not a lot of material so their sets tend to be the same over and over again. But at some point during the set I look up and into the venue and see that people are singing along from the front to the back of the venue. There are raised fists and people singing along everywhere. That reminded me how awesome these guys are. Definitely the crowd favorites of the night. Then there are Off With Their Heads, the band I’ve seen live the most often. Good set, at the end Ryan jumps into the crowd and keeps singing. The last band I get to see are Teenage Bottlerocket who seem to have added a few new gimmicks to their set (like a guy with a mask coming on stage at the beginning), which is entertaining. But after half their set I leave as the travelling, the jetlag and sleep deficit finally get to me. Robert and Hamish agree and so we pick up Craig (room mate #3) and go to the hotel and to sleep.

Solid start, even though the pre-show felt more special last year.

See the photo of the night here: Link to the gallery.