Bands To See At FEST 13

Posted: by Dan

FEST is an indie/punk music festival in Gainesville, Florida. This year is FEST 13. It also happens to be the first FEST that The Alternative will attend! We’re headed down to Florida to listen to some great music and join in on the festivities. To celebrate the occasion, we’ve decided to list some of our must see acts at this year’s FEST. If you’re headed to FEST definitely consider catching these bands, if you aren’t able to get down to Florida, give these bands a listen from the safety of the internet.

Hendo’s FEST Bands To See

Pup (Friday 8:50 PM – 9:30 PM at The Wooly)
Pup’s self-titled album is definitely one of my favorites this year. The release was a major step for the band and combined great songwriting with legitimate punk rock energy. The record was followed by a series of incredible music videos, which somehow managed to elevate the songs to another level and made the band seem even more approachable and fun. I’m hooked. I need to see these guys live, and what better time than on Halloween at FEST.

Listen To: Watch Pup’s videos for Reservoir and Mabu and then tell me you don’t want to see this band live. You can’t.

Spraynard (Saturday 2:40 PM – 3:20 PM at 8 Seconds)
Spraynard are back!!! Of all the recent reunions, none made me happier than this PA punk band. Spraynard write incredible songs about growing up and fighting the instinct to let life pass you by. I managed to see them once live before the break up a few years ago, and it was an explosive performance. I can’t miss the chance to see them again, you shouldn’t either.

Listen To: Spooky, Scary + Stickin’ Together Is What Good Waffles Do

Free Throw (Sunday 8:10 PM –8:40 PM at Boca Fiesta/Palomino)
I had to nominate Lavender Town for our EP of The Year Award last year. It was so good! Nashville has pumped out some incredible bands recently (Diarrhea Planet) but Free Throw is my favorite. I always wondered how they weren’t signed to some awesome emo label. NOW THEY ARE. CYLS snatched them up and then they put out an awesome breakup album, Those Days Are Gone. I absolutely need to see it all live.

Listen To: So excited to see these dudes live after catching their Lil Elephant session.

The Hotelier (Friday 6:20 PM – 6:50 PM at High Dive)
It seems like forever ago that The Hotelier changed the emo rock game with their AOTY contender Home, Like Noplace Is There, but it was only this February. After a great album the question is always “Can they do it again?”. Well, that was Hotelier’s 2nd great release (the first being their only other album the underrated It Never Goes Out from 2011). 2 for 2. It’s for real. They are great. There’s a lot of heart in everything this band does. I need to see it live.

Listen To: Home, Like Noplace Is There so good.

Nai Harvest (Friday 7:10 PM – 7:40 PM at High Dive)
When I first listened to Nai Harvest’s debut album, Whatever, I knew I had stumbled onto something. A fun poetic British two piece who combines 90’s indie jams with an emo flavor. The fuzzy messy debut was exciting, but Nai have only stepped up their game since. They’ve kicked down the US’s door this year with an EP of the year contender, Hold Open My Head on Topshelf Records, and a cool split with Playlounge on Dogknights. I saw them at a recent stop in NYC and their live show is a great time. Can’t wait to catch them again at FEST and hear a few more songs from their upcoming LP.

Listen To: Hold Open My Head EP + the video for Buttercups.

Dan’s FEST Bands To See

Banner Pilot (Saturday 2:30-3:10 at Bo Diddley Plaza)
Upon deciding that we would be going down to FEST this year, this was the very first band that I rushed to see if they were on the lineup.  This Minneapolis band has a consistent catalog that was further bolstered by this year’s release of Souvenir (Fat Wreck Chords), which saw them refine their sound since the release of 2011’s excellent Heart Beats Pacific. I can’t imagine a better setting to finally experience their live set and hearing Nick Johnson’s distinctive vocals, although I’m sure they may be drowned out by the sound of a large crowd singing along, which sounds perfectly fine to me.

Listen To: Modern Shakes + Central Standard
If not Banner Pilot, go see: Spraynard (2:40-3:20 at 8 Seconds)

Direct Hit! (Friday 8:50-9:20 at Rockey’s)
If you want a loud, fast assault of a set, this is one of the weekend’s best bets.  Direct Hit! has certainly pushed the tempo throughout all of their releases thus far, and I’m sure it is only faster and louder in person.  The Milwaukee band’s Brainless God (Red Scare) made its way onto several end-of-the-year lists in 2013, and rightfully so. It absolutely ruled and the accompanying videos they released for the record were great.  Mix in songs from previous release Domesplitter, and their set immediately becomes one of the most appropriate/fitting ones of Halloween night. 

Listen To: Buried Alive + Snickers or Reese’s (Pick Up the Pieces)
If not Direct Hit!, go see: Paint it Black, PUP, or Dads, all great.

Pet Symmetry (Saturday  9:40-10:20 at 8 Seconds)
I hate to beat a dead horse by referencing the endless projects of Evan Weiss, but here we have his collaborative effort with the band Dowsing.  The limited number of songs they have put out thus far have been great, and I believe/hope there is an LP looming in the near future.  My anticipation has been at an all-time high since watching them play at a DIY house in Newark, DE in July 2013.  Even on busted speakers, they managed to impress.  Until then all we have had are sporadic, vague social media updates spread across the members that have suggested QOTSA sounds.  Whether or not that is an inside joke or not, I can at least be pumped for their set at FEST and the inevitable LP.

Listen To: Boldly Going Nowhere
If not Pet Symmetry, go see:  TWIABP playing at a At The Drive In set, if I read that correctly?

Sundials (Saturday 11:10-11:40 at High Dive)
I was lucky enough to get to see Sundials at aforementioned house show with Pet Symmetry, and I have been hooked ever since.  I had already listened to their 2012 album, When I Couldn’t Breathe frequently up to that point, but I truly began to appreciate it the first second I heard the bass line for “710” open their set at a slightly quicker pace than normal.  Harris Mendell’s gentle vocals work perfectly with the steady pace that many of their songs have.  However, don’t let words like “gentle” and “steady” give you the wrong impression.  This band is definitely not a snoozer.  Their upcoming EP Kick (Topshelf) will surely continue to make listeners’ heads bob, while winning over many more.

Listen To: 710 w/ ridiculous Wilfred/Old Yeller inspired music video? + Stun Spore
If not Sundials, go see: Self Defense Family.

BACK-TO-BACK:  RVIVR & Iron Chic  (Sunday 1:30-3:10 at Bo Diddley Plaza)
I absolutely never shut up about these bands or stop pushing them on my friends.  I had not been keeping up with RVIVR since their early 2013 release The Beauty Between (Rumbletowne), so I was absolutely delighted to see the new Bicker and Breathe EP released last month. The EP further solidifies them as one of the most spirited punk banks around right now, while Erica Freas continues to be one of my favorite vocalists in punk.  Following RVIVR is Iron Chic, which is fitting because they are often closely associated with one another.  Iron Chic will likely bring out the best of the FEST crowd, with a set fueled by beer and massive sing-alongs.  Whoever set the schedule for FEST did everyone a favor by putting these two together in what will be one of the best displays of drunken (or not!) solidarity with a LOT of punk “woahs” and “ohs.”  Not a bad start to a Sunday, in my opinion.

Listen To: Don’t Drive Angry – Iron Chic w/ Erica Freas + LMD – RVIVR
If not, then Dikembe duh.

Dylan’s FEST Bands To See

Aviator (Friday 8:50 PM – 9:20 PM at 1982)
Despite the many splits that pre-exist it, Head in the Clouds, Hands in the Dirt has my vote for best debut album of the year. This Massachusetts band put out their first LP through No Sleep Records just a few months ago and it’s been a constant part of my playlist since then. They’ve got the perfect balance of energy and emotion for a melodic hardcore band and I’m extremely interested in seeing how it translates on stage.

Listen To: There Was a Light (It Went Out)

Frameworks (Sunday 11:10 PM – 11:40 PM at The Atlantic)
If their recent music video is any indication of what their live performance is like, Frameworks’ set is going to be the party of the century. After self-releasing the tremendous Small Victories EP, the Gainesville locals signed to Topshelf Records to put out their debut LP Loom, which is a powerhouse of frantic screams and intricate guitar work. I’m sure they have something amazing planned for a headlining slot on the last night of the Fest in their hometown.

Listen To: Loom + Ida

Dikembe (Sunday 2:30 PM – 3:10 PM at 8 Seconds)
Another group of Gainesville locals, Dikembe is my absolute must see band for the whole weekend. If I saw no one else, I would still go home happy after watching their set. I loved the emo-punk vibes of their earlier releases, but their new album Mediumship brings the band up to a whole new level. The alt-rock tone they went for this time around reminds me of The Devil and God… era Brand New and I can’t get enough of it.

Listen To: Even Bother + Gets Harder

The World Is a Beautiful Place (Saturday 9:30 PM – 10:00 PM at High Dive)
I’ll admit it, I’m not crazy into The World Is a Beautiful Place However, I’ve caught myself nodding my head to more than a few of their songs at shows before I asked the guy next to me who was playing over the house speakers and felt like an idiot. They’ve got a solid collection of new-emo albums and they just happen to be covering one of my favorite bands ever at the Fest: At the Drive In. Considering how much they’ve blown up recently, I can’t imagine that they could get away with doing a poor job of covering such a prominent group, so I’m sure it’s gonna be great.

Listen To: Heartbeat in the Brain + Arcarsenal

The Menzingers (Friday 9:20 PM – 10:00 PM at Bo Diddley Plaza)
This is a punk festival after all, right? Philly’s The Menzingers have been covering a lot of ground in the genre lately, and for good reason. Their most recent album, Rented World, came out this year on Epitaph and does a great job of showing just how much life there still is in punk music. They’re just getting back from a quick European tour and I’m willing to bet they’re ready to play to a more familiar crowd.

Listen To: I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore + In Remission