CONCORD — Thousands flocked to the Concord Pavilion Sunday to see a couple of the biggest names in punk and enjoy tastings from two dozen breweries at the Punk in Drublic festival. The headliners, Bad Religion and NOFX, incited chaos, in all the best ways.
Punk in Drublic was originally scheduled for two weeks prior, but due to poor air quality caused by the North Bay wildfires, the show had to be postponed. The reconfigured lineup included the addition of Bad Religion, but was missing original performers Less Than Jake, Goldfinger and Flogging Molly. Get Dead, The Mr. T Experience and Strung Out were also added as replacements.
NOFX took the stage to “Time Warp,” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and soon after declared Concord “the worst city in Northern California.”
The band kicked off its set with “The Idiots Have Taken Over, which vocalist-bassist Fat Mike said was all too relevant these days. NOFX followed that up with “Murder the Government.” At the end of the song, guitarist Aaron Abeyta grabbed a trumpet and scatted over a ska riff.
The rest of the NOFX set included a multitude of songs that hinged on the ska side of the punk spectrum, like “Eat the Meek,” “I Don’t Like Me Anymore” and a cover of Tony Sly’s “The Shortest Pier. The set appeased many of the fans who were missing Less Than Jake and Goldfinger.
The band members also told jokes and Fat Mike even poked fun at specific people in the crowd, teasing one person about his Halloween costume, and another for having a camera. There were some more jokes at the expense of Concord, which included an impromptu song with lyrics consisting simply of “This is Concord” repeated over and over while Fat Mike struggled to find a rhyme.
NOFX finished by playing “Bottles to the Ground” and a couple more impromptu songs, one of which was about Bad Religion.
Bad Religion, whom MTV once declared the “most wanted” band did not disappoint, begining its set with, “Let’s get this shit going.” Bad Religion hit the ground running with punk anthem “American Jesus.” Suddenly, beer and clothes were flying over the heads of fans who were too busy dancing to care. The free beer sampling had taken its effect, and even by punk standards, the pit was a little too rowdy. It was pure chaos in the center of mayhem.
More of the band’s classics, such as “New Dark Ages” and “21st Century (Digital Boy),” followed. During the latter, Fat Mike ran onto the stage, looking fabulous in a little red dress. He and Bad Religion frontman Greg Gaffin began dancing and singing together. The duet lasted for only a moment, before Fat Mike retreated back behind the curtain.
After performing “LA Is Burning,” Gaffin invited the crowd to tease him for his Southern California heritage. Other songs like “No Control” and “Sorrow” showed how time has aged the band members like a fine wine. Their presence, sound and energy was as strong as ever.
San Francisco rockers Get Dead opened the show with songs like “This One’s For You Johnny” and “She’s A Problem.” Lead vocalist Sam King took advantage of the smaller crowd to interact with the fans. King reminisced about the “good old days,” talking about drinking, smoking and skating throughout the Bay Area.
Get Dead has stayed close to its roots, and its homegrown audience was singing along. King also addressed the victims of the fires, and thanked those who helped people in need.
Los Angeles all-female quartet Bad Cop / Bad Cop—a rarity in punk—stood out in the lineup in the best way. Frontwoman Stacy Dee introduced songs with their backstories. “Broken,” for example, was inspired by Dee’s struggle with accountability and not taking responsibility for her actions. During “Victoria” about loving and supporting friends and family, Dee said she was inspired to honor a friend.
Although Bad Cop / Bad Cop touched on some heavier topics, the band had no problem keeping the mood light with humor. In the middle of the set, the drummer’s bass drum had slipped away, nearly falling off the pedestal. The band teased fans with the possibility of coming up on stage to sit in front of the drum, keeping it stationary.
Local band The Mr. T Experience came next. The band, which has been together for three decades, played songs ranging its career, from the ‘80s, all the way to its release this year. Frontman Frank Portman, better known as “Dr. Frank,” was not afraid to admit his shyness, calling himself a “bad frontman who’d rather be the frontman in the back.”
The Mr. T Experience’s sound differed from the more hardcore bands on the lineup. It dipped into the pop-punk side of the genre. The set included “I Just Wanna Do It With You,” “More Than Toast,” and the band’s best- known song, “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba.”
Strung Out had the good fortune to have a crowd that was primed and ready by the openers. The band kept crowd interaction to a minimum, and instead tried to play as many songs as possible in the alloted time. Having been around since in 1989, Strung Out had quite the discography to get through.
Things got interesting two songs in, when one of the guitarists, was dancing, accidently struck bassist Chris Aiken in the face. Aiken fell down, while two stagehands ran out to help him up. Aiken powered through. Incredibly enough, even with the pandemonium behind them, the rest of the band continued through the end of the song. Later in the set, the band paid homage to Leadbelly with a snippet of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” in the middle of one of its own songs.