Event: The Fest 14
Venue: Downtown Gainesville, FL
Date: October 30th , 31st , and November 1st
This Halloween weekend (October 30th-November 1st), Gainesville, FL will be putting on the 14th annual Fest. No, Fest is not a nickname for anything, it is just the Fest, and any punk rock enthusiast can tell you just how amazing the Fest is, or how disappointed they were over missing last year’s.
Started back in 2002, the Fest has become both a safe haven and party central for punks and music-goers of the alternative persuasion. When it first began, Gainesville only had 60 bands playing on 4 stages over 2 days. Of course, with the success of any large event, it was expected to grow. Since its conception, Fest has become a 3 day event (with the exception of Fest 12, which was 4 days of Festivities), now taking over 20 stages and hosting over 350 bands.
To the average concert-goer, this probably sounds crazy, but to many Fest-goers, this wasn’t enough. In 2013, the wonderful people who put on the Fest decided to give everyone an extra two days of fun, thus creating Pre-Fest over in Ybor City, Florida. No, it’s not as epic as the main event, but it is pretty close. As of right now, nearly 100 bands are flying out a few days early to play for smaller, more intimate groups of people.
If you’re wondering why this is such a big thing, the line-up will tell you. Past years have included Less Than Jake, Real Friends, Matt and Kim, Lifetime, the Lawrence Arms, the Swellers, Fake Problems, and Against Me! As if these heavy weights weren’t enough, Fest 13 managed to snag a huge new venue, Bo Diddley Plaza, and got the legendary Descendants to play for 5,500 people.
Now for those who have never attended Fest, there are things you should know. Of course, the typical festival rules apply. But because of the size and epicness of this event, here are some extra tips:
- Get to Gainesville a day early and figure out where the correct Holiday Inn (check-in) is.
- SLEEP. Make sure you get enough sleep! One thing you don’t want to be is tired as you’re running back and forth across town trying to catch every band. Believe me, you will be running and you will wear yourself out, especially if this is your first Fest.
- Set your alarm clock on Thursday and make sure you get to the hotel early. If you don’t, you’ll be waiting in line for a few hours.
- Make sure you have enough money for merch. Yes, there will be tons of merch being sold by all 18 of your favorite bands at the different venues, but that’s not the main concern. Right before check-in, you get to walk through the lovely Fest bazaar, and you will be tempted. Everything from $10 band tees to Fest memorabilia to backpacks made specifically to hold vinyl albums are being sold here. Last year, I spent over $50 before I even got to the first venue. You’ve been warned!
- Make a (loose) schedule. Yes, there are those bands that you’ll NEED to see, but there’s a good chance that you’ll have to make some sacrifices. With how many stages there are, it’s best that you make a schedule and map out your best route. Remember, there are 20 stages. Do you really want to be running all the way across town to catch 20 minutes of a band you’d love to see, when you can catch a band that you really like at a venue that’s down the street who hasn’t even begun their set yet?
- Speaking of venues and running across town, do not lose your map! This is key. If you do, you may end up lost. Luckily, everyone is super friendly (punks are so much more friendly than people think); ask someone and they’ll help you out.
- PAY ATTENTION TO THE MYSTERY BANDS. For me, this is the most important thing. The mystery bands aren’t announced until a few hours before the set; you’ll probably have to wait in a long line at a small venue, and you may even get denied entrance, but it’s worth it. To give you an idea, The Hotelier played “Home, Like Noplace Is There” in full, and We Are The Union played their 2007 album “Who We Are” in full. The sets are insane, but well worth it.
- Pack warm clothing. You may be tempted to leave your hoodies and jackets at home, but don’t. Every year that I’ve gone, I’ve had to buy a hoodie because I left them at home/where I was staying because I thought it wouldn’t be cold. Yes, it’s Florida, but it’s North Florida. It gets cold up there!
Honestly, with the exception of check-in and mystery sets, Fest should be treated like any other festival. No matter what, you will miss bands you want to see, so you should definitely make a loose schedule. Also, study the map and venues! If you figure out where the venues are and when the bands you want to see are playing, it’ll make your weekend much easier. And pro-tip for the different venues: keep your venue wristbands on all weekend. They may get uncomfortable, but they’ll keep you from waiting in long lines to get in. It doesn’t work with all venues, but it does work for some of the smaller ones, so it’ll save you some time!
At this point, all I can say is that Fest is a special time of year. It’s not like any other Festival you will experience, and it really is one of, if not the best weekend of the year. Fest is a weekend of good music, good times, and new friends. It should not be missed.
Interested in going, but don’t know who to check out? Here are some acts you definitely shouldn’t miss this year!
- Andrew W.K.
- Antarctigo Vespucci (my second personal favorite)
- Everymen (Lake Worth, Florida natives)
- Grey Gordon (played the Acoustic Basement on the entire Warped Tour run)
- The Hotelier
- The Menzingers (my personal favorite)
- Mustard Plug
- Off With Their Heads
- PUP (played the entirety of Warped Tour)
- Rational Anthem
- Riverboat Gamblers
- Signals Midwest
- Smoke Or Fire
- Teenage Bottlerocket
- Underground Railroad To Candyland
- We Are The Union
For more information: www.thefestfl.com
Age restriction depends on venue click here
Combo package $135