No Echo contributor Allix Johnson (here's his snazzy website) wasn't able to score tickets to Punk Rock Bowling 2021, but he absolutely needed to see Devo. So, he made that shit happen. Read on (and see the photo proof below) of his adventures, which also includes some classic and newer hardcore action.
Watching Seinfeld and scrolling through Instagram because I can never sleep. I came across a show flier for Slapshot with surprise guests in Las Vegas. Then some deeper digging took me to Punk Rock Bowling’s website. I had no idea any of this was even happening and I missed so many good bands the entire weekend. I immediately bought a ticket for Slapshot, the main fest was sold out but I figured I’d find a way in.
I absolutely needed to see Devo.
Since moving back home I’ve become a gambling degenerate and typically only play at Caesars casinos. Because of that I get comp’d rooms at any hotel they own. That morning I booked a room at the Paris and was on my way. The desert is a magical place filled with gifts. In the middle of it about halfway to an abandoned mining town that is now just a gas station and speed trap, there happened to be this trailer with the Eiffel Tower and a message of well wishes in French. I have a feeling this is the universe winking at me.
I usually look out of place when I’m at the nicer hotels. My ripped Levi’s, Rollins Band shirt, and disheveled long hair were a dead giveaway that I’m not the type of person to be able to afford being here and often get strange looks when walking into the VIP services room to check in.
While making small talk with the woman checking me in, she asks if I’m in a band. I’m not but I always make one up. She responds with, “Wow, and you’re staying here!” I’m not sure if that’s a backhanded compliment or sincere surprise that I, a fake rock star, would be staying at their expensive hotel.
I finally get to the Fremont area where the fest is. I’m not sure exactly where it is but I park in my usual spot close to the El Cortez (the best hotel casino if you’re looking for an unintentional Fear and Loathing vibe) and walk to Evel Pie for a vegan slice and look at a map of where the fest actually is. I went with the Fake the Snake slice.
When I finally get there, I figured I’d at least try to get in the honest way. I pass by a shirtless man in Carhartt overalls bleeding from his hands on my way to the box office. I asked if there happen to be any unclaimed tickets or if I could just give them some money to get in for Devo.
After scanning the area for a bit, I got to the top of a parking structure across the street with a direct view of the main stage. I could watch from there with a few other tailgaters that had the same idea, but I’m committed to getting in. From my vantage point, I see a trash can next to a bus stop just tall enough that I could safely hop over the gate onto some beer kegs, wiggle behind a portable office building and walk through an open fence next to some bathrooms with a straight shot to the stage.
There’s a person in front of that open fence but after monitoring him he seems to just be a drunk guy stumbling around on his cell phone. My plan is immediately foiled after I realize there are cops on top of the same parking structure monitoring the area with binoculars. Shit.
I’m certain I can find another way in. After walking around other sides of the festival I realized there are cops on top of every parking structure. I didn’t plan on being killed by a sniper today. I’m sure I look really suspicious at this point so I tuck into the Golden Nugget and play craps for a little bit to kill some time. Bad idea, I lost $300 immediately.
Back on the trail. I text a friend who has extensive experience with PRB and sneaking into fests. He immediately responds with directions and GPS coordinates for the area he’s gotten in through before. It’s on the opposite side of the area I’m in, so I head that way. He says he’s busy and can’t talk anymore but good luck. Later, I find out he was eating Thai food alone.
On my way, I pass an alleyway with a back entrance to the main stage as one person is entering. If I look important or like I know what I’m doing I can walk in just like him. I put my camera in front of me and walk toward the guard as if I own the place. She stops me so I make up a fake name that sounds important and ask for the main office I left my passes in. Surprisingly, it didn’t work. Moving on.
I get to the location [name redacted] told me about and it looks possible but there are too many people around and it definitely won’t be discreet. Defeated, I’m ready to give up and head back to the top of the parking garage with the sniper cops.
Walking through an alleyway that seems like a shortcut to the parking garage I see a gate with people who seem like workers walking in and out. There’s a security guard but he’s sitting and hasn’t looked up from his phone at all.
I walk by as casually as I can and I’m in. I keep my camera underneath my arm to not draw any attention to myself and my face mask around my wrist so it looks like a wristband might be there.
People are spaced out enough I’m able to shuffle my way to the fourth row of people easily without feeling like a jerk.
What a performance! I’m still in shock I actually made it in. I rush over to Fremont Country Club for the Slapshot gig that I actually got a ticket for. I get a text from a friend that the secret guest is Youth of Today. There’s no line in front so I’m anxious that it started already or that I missed something, but when I get in its nearly empty with people mingling amongst their own little groups.
There are tables with reserved signs so I can’t sit down. There’s no re-entry. This show is not accessible for old tymers like myself who don’t want to be anywhere longer than they have to and can only stand for so long without my knees screaming. I get a beer to hide behind and act busy on my phone.
Overexposure finally starts. They sound like All Hallows era AFI. Really sick.
I stopped keeping track of time. Here’s Slapshot:
And finally, Youth of Today! They played all the hits, but the highlight for me was them covering "Glue" by SSD with Choke. I went against my own advice and stage dived during Break Down the Walls.
My entire body hurt for 3 days following.
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