Sunday, May 20, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Before Gainesville's Fest, Tampa's punks will converge for Pre-Fest

Clubgoers. Neon-colored EDM fans flocking to Amphitheatre. Street preachers. Now for two days, you can add punk rockers to the list of those crawling the sidewalks of Ybor City.

The inaugural Big Pre-Fest in Little Ybor will bring nearly 100 bands on five stages to Ybor City on Tuesday and Wednesday. The event leads up to the 12th annual Fest, which runs Oct. 31-Nov. 3 and draws thousands of punk music fans to Gainesville.

The Bouncing Souls and Teenage Bottlerocket headline The Ritz Ybor's main stage. Also playing are ska groups Big D and the Kids Table and Mustard Plug, and critically acclaimed acts Obits and White Lung.

Organizer Tony Weinbender said the idea came when trying plan a Pre-Fest show. He has put on Gainesville shows in the past, but was hesitant to do that after already extending Fest to four days this year.

"I was like, 'Can we do a Pre-Fest on Wednesday, and then people are in Gainesville Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday?'" he said. "Then I was like, 'Well, here's another option.' "

Tampa Pabst Blue Ribbon representatives Matt Bennett and Seamus Gallagher set up a meeting with Ybor venues, who agreed to host the festival. And Weinbender said the bands were excited to have another Fest-affiliated show to play in Florida rather than having to book their own.

Plus, he said, Ybor City offered a wild time whenever he'd visited it.

"I've never been there for any of the crazy parades or anything like that," Weinbender said. "But just on a given night in Ybor, it's like a frickin' parade."

Every act playing Tampa will also be in Gainesville. But some bands will perform special sets to entice Fest attendees. For instance, The Bouncing Souls will play their album How I Spent My Summer Vacation in full.

As with Fest, Weinbender curated each stage's lineup. Tuesday at Crowbar hosts hardcore acts like Code Orange Kids and United Nations. Meanwhile, New World Brewery will feature overseas bands like the U.K.'s Caves and Scotland's The Murderburgers because the venue showcases the state so well, Weinbender said.

Then there's The Ritz Ybor, which will have bands on both the main and side stages. Weinbender said that makes it the largest indoor venue he's ever worked with.

Also like Fest, Big Pre-Fest in Little Ybor relies on local volunteers. Among them is No Clubs marketing director Sarah Gecan, who has been promoting the event and will stage manage the Orpheum.

Gecan said she started volunteering at Fest in 2009 after working at St. Augustine's Harvest of Hope Fest, which Weinbender also helped organize. So she jumped at the chance to help with a festival in Tampa.

"I'm Tampa Bay born and raised, so it was kind of an honor to have it in my backyard," she said.

Whether it'll return to Tampa depends on how this year turns out, Weinbender said. But he would like to — and perhaps even diverge from the punk of Fest to something like Harvest of Hope, which also had indie and hip-hop acts.

"A goal would be for us to get back to what we were doing with Harvest of Hope and be able to do something in a different city where we could diversify the lineup of Fest and not even call it Fest," he said.

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