The Fest offers intimate venues for big-name bands

While largely for punk music, folk and pop acts are included.

Joey Cape performs “Violins” to a packed crowd Friday night in the Civic Media Center, as part of The Fest, a weekend-long concert series featuring musicians from all over the country and even some bands from the United Kingdom.

Logan Jaffee
Published: Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 11:42 p.m.

Tongue tastes the metallic blood where your teeth hit your bottom lip while moshing in the mob of tough, pierced and tattooed bodies in black shirts.

Ears are ringing from band members who have their crunchy, distorted guitars turned up to 11. Eyes are blasted by strobes, lasers, the contorted faces of those around you and those on stage.

And your heart is pounding along with the wild, driving rhythm of the bass drum.

Friday through today, Gainesville has been taken over by masses of punk fans for The Fest, a raucous music festival held at 12 venues around the downtown area.

According to Dave Proctor, manager at No Idea Records, 2,500 people came to see 300 bands play. "People from Japan, a lot from Germany, England," Proctor said. Some of the bands came from as far away as the U.K.

The Fest is unusually intimate compared to other music festivals around the country. Because the performances are divided up among numerous venues, attendees get close to the bands. The shows are crowded. Festivalgoers get to see big-name bands from a small-venue perspective.

House parties at which bands from The Fest perform afterward are also a tradition, though not officially condoned by The Fest organizers.

The festival is largely for punk music, but there are variations within this genre as well as some non-punk bands. Michael Claytor and His Friends, for example, is a folk group. Morningbell plays semi-psychedelic pop.

Ghost Knife, a band from Austin, Texas, came to Gainesville in a minivan, according to Mike Wiebe, guitar and vocals.

They sound like "a sonic, sexual reawakening," Wiebe said in reference to the band's bass-driven music. Their songs feature "bass tones that resemble African rhythms ... firing up the loins of teenagers."

Ghost Knife stayed at a friend's apartment while in town.

For Wiebe, Ghost Knife is a side project. Usually he sings with Riverboat Gamblers, whose tours are much more comfortable. He was willing to sacrifice to play at The Fest.

"This is a thing that's worth it. It's almost like a vacation," Wiebe said.

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