For the last four years, as part of the Make Music NYC festival, Punk Island has been held on Governor’s Island but this year, due to construction related to damage incurred by Hurricane Sandy, the event was moved to Pier 1 on Staten Island. So what’s it all about? Over ninety bands on seven stages playing from 11am until 11pm set up in the park area and then stretching down the pier until you basically run out of land and hit ocean.
Obviously it would be impossible for one person to see all the bands, especially if you don’t get there until after 1:30 and have to leave around 9 because the ferry schedules are a pain, but here are a few highlights from throughout the day.
LIVE FAST DIE FAST
New York Hardcore done right, these guys are from Long Island, except for their bass player who was from Long Island but now lives four floors below me in an apartment building in Queens. Had been meaning to see these guys for a while, as their album is great and they’ve got a new one launching in a few weeks but life happens and this turned out to be the first opportunity for that to happen. Pretty killer stuff overall, fast, aggressive, good musicianship and lots and lots of energy. Playing under a small tent might have been a bit restrictive but this was a great set. Check them out, you’ll be glad you did. They don’t screw around. Check out their band camp page at the link.
DONE WITH YOU
These guys came up next. Had never heard of them before but am glad that they were there as their set was a lot of fun. Kind of an old school sound but still lots of aggression, a good sense of humor too. Fast, catchy, easy to get into. They mix up a lot of different sounds but what’s important is that they do it well and that they sound great.
Stza seems to show up every year, either solo or with the Star Fucking Hipsters, which is cool. This year he had a woman whose name I didn’t catch accompanying him, so that when they did acoustic versions of SFH songs, there was someone there to do the female vocals. It worked for the most part. A few Choking Victim and Leftover Crack songs were worked into the set too. Lots of singing along from the crowd, no interference from the cops.
WORLD WAR IX
Another local band that’s been around for a while, these guys sing a lot about drinking and drugs and have a pretty great super snotty attitude. The vocalist, Filthy Phil, is a pretty flexible little dude. The drummer’s kid was in the audience wearing ear protection and they noted that this was more or less a tenth anniversary show for them. These guys were great. The whole band was just fast and tight and lots of fun.
TIED FOR LAST
Back to the Candy Apple Red Stage, Tied For Last were doing their thing. The singer’s neck seems to be made out of rubber, he shouldn’t be able to move it like that. Regardless, another fun set. A bit of a country rockabilly influence in spots, some bursts of pop punk here and there and some great sloppy garage rock style stuff too, but more fast and funny music that was easy to get into. You can download some stuff off their website at the link.
Possibly the heaviest act I got to see, Cop Problem are a pretty intense crust/hardcore/grindcore band from Philadelphia who play some seriously angry music, no strings attached. Vocalist Deb Cohen is small in stature but her voice is huge. Their drummer is a beast behind the kit. Crowd was definitely into it too. Craziness.
THE LAST STAND
We reviewed the first album from Brooklyn’s The Last Stand here. If you haven’t heard it, you should. Another band that I’d been meaning to see but for whatever reason never managing to, they play straight up traditional New York Hardcore and they play it really well. They had a pretty sizeable pit going, possibly the biggest one of the show, and they hit the ground running and did not let up until they’d run through their set from start to finish. Vocalist Mike Scondotto dedicated a song to Tony Soprano and let anyone who wanted to sing along up to the mic to do just that while the band punched their way through a solid half hour of heavy, rhythmic hardcore. Definitely one of the stand out sets of the day.
This was a complete surprise. All day long around the Candy Apple Red stage there was this weird Japanese group set up at a merch table towards the back. Not unfriendly at all, they mingled a bit and checked out a lot of the bands but were kind of quiet about it. Their table had a lot of shirts with rabbits and things on them and it was just kind of mysterious and odd. They started during The Last Stand’s set so I didn’t catch the first fifteen minutes or so of their set but I’m glad I caught the rest. There was a guy with a great purple Mohawk blasting away at a guitar, a petite lady behind to levels of synth/keyboards hidden away behind a speaker stack, a drummer who you could barely see and then an energetic other dude on the other side of the stage backing what appeared to be a crazy man running around in the crowd with a mic rambling about McDonalds and immigrating to America and the difficulties of not speaking English so well. Completely infectiously energetic and super crazy friendly and likeable, these guys were nuts. Crazy in the best possible way. When their set was over they asked everyone in the audience, including the sound guy and the cops standing nearby (they declined) to gather around them so that they could take pictures with us.
One of the great things about going to a festival like this is people watching. So a few random shots of attendees, some armed with giant machine guns on a boat.