Following an aborted Austin kick-off date, Sir Fat Mike Burkett brought his Punk in Drublic Craft Beer and Music Festival to Fort Worth. Featuring five bands and more than 20 breweries, the festival was a huge success under the raging Texas sun.
Upon entering, you were issued a sampling cup and 10 tickets for the free craft beer tasting. You could drop some cash for more tickets, or you could flirt with the ticket gal or chat up dudes in Minor Threat battle vests to score more without opening your wallet. God bless straight edge punks! Theoretically, one ticket would get you one sample, but at least a dozen of the breweries on hand would give you two samples for one ticket. The usual Texas suspects were on hand, like Deep Ellum, Martin House, Bishop Cider Company, and Peticolas – to name a few. But, some of the smaller brew houses got exposure as well, like Rabbit Hole from Justin, Arlington’s Division Brewery, and McKinney’s Tupps. If you were determined, you could hit them all. Many people re-visited their favorites over and over again. The food was plentiful and was typically priced for festivals of this nature. That’s to say, it wasn’t cheap. Whether you wanted jerk chicken, a barbecue sandwich, pizza, or chicken and waffles, there were plenty of options. If you needed to cool down there was ice cream and shave ice. If you were inclined to give Swisher Sweets your ID and email address, you could score some cigars and do whatever it is one might do with them.
The “free” beer tasting lasted until 4pm, around the time many had had enough and just wanted water and shade in preparation for the music. Of course, the music actually started at 3:00pm with the Last Gang kicking things off, followed by Mad Caddies and then the Interrupters. By the time the Interrupters went on, most of the crowd had fled the beer tasting and were ready to take in the music. That said, the Last Gang was great in front of a few hundred people and the Mad Caddies kept the ball rolling as more people filed in. The Interrupters were welcomed by a joyful crowd who were properly lubricated and not yet beaten down by the unforgiving sun. It’s worth pointing out there’s next to no shade at Panther Island Pavilion. I doubt organizers were anticipating 90+ degree heat, but this is Texas – you plan for the unexpected. There were 5 large trees at the end of the venue opposite the stage, where hundreds of folks huddled for shade as they scarfed down their food and drank water and beer.
Before Bad Religions set, organizers announced free water at the entrance gate. There was free water. They weren’t lying. But, it was just in large jugs and if you didn’t have an empty water bottle or beer cup to refill you were shit out of luck. By the time Bad Religion took the stage the beer tasting was closed down and a few thousand folks were packed in and ready to rock out. Opening with “21st Century Digital Boy,” the band immediately had the crowd in their grip. And the crowd sang along and would continue to do so throughout their set. After playing a selection of four or five other songs from their discography, the band launched into the full Suffer album. Thirty years since it was released, the crowd – old and young – were absolutely giddy. The band was reliably great.
Just before sundown, NOFX took the stage and surprisingly the crowd was still full of energy when I expected them to be whipped from the heat and beer. Playing 20-some-odd songs across 10 or so albums, the band matched the crowds energy and finished off a long day with an excellent set. Fat Mike was his usual jovial and sarcastic self and his band played like they had been impatiently waiting all day to finally hit the stage. They were a kinetic ball of punk rock madness. Hitting every note, beat, and hook with perfection, they had the crowd in a constant state of celebration.
It was hot as hell. There was a painful lack of shade. But, it was a great time all around. If the festival is coming to your city and you like beer and punk rock, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be there.
– J. Kevin Lynch (words); Brently Kirksey (photos)
– click to enlarge photos –