On a hot Saturday afternoon in Devore, California, punks from more than 40 states and 25 countries gathered between the San Bernardino mountains to celebrate a genre of music that refuses to give up. The first annual It’s Not Dead Fest featured more 20 artists, from powerhouses like NOFX and Bad Religion to contemporary artists like the Briggs and the Interrupters.
One of the first bands up on the main stage was New York City’s own H2O. They just released a new album the day before the show. Frontman Toby Morse is not a big fan of barricades, so he decided to do the entire 30-minute set among the fans.
The Old Skool stage had many of the influential bands such as the Dickies, Agent Orange and TSOL covering four decades of punk rock. The Big Ernie stage had a special guest show up during the Interrupters’ set—Tim Armstrong from Rancid. The Briggs had their set capped off by their anthemic song “This Is LA,” currently being used at Los Angeles Kings games after a win.
Anti-Flag had one of the most memorable moments of the day due to them throwing a pinata of presidential hopeful Donald Trump into the crowd. Less Than Jake had their mascot, Evolution Kid, come out and spray the crowd with toilet paper.
Many of the main stage bands also made tribute to bands who were either not performing at the show or no longer with us. Goldfinger pulled out a Operation Ivy song; Reel Big Fish covered the Offspring; Fishbone covered Suicidal Tendencies. However, the most left-field cover came from the Vandals, who played Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
There were a ton of kids at the show: Promoters offered children under 10 free entry with a paying adult ticket. There was a kid zone for them, featuring face painting and bounce houses to play in between sets. Next to the kid zone was a tent curated by Lisa Johnson featuring artists from all media relating to the punk scene. Featured in the tent were photos from Johnson as well as some behind-the-scenes photos from the new Green Day documentary, Heart Like A Hand Grenade. There were also pop-up shops from Descendents’ Ugly Christmas Sweater artist Chris Shary and early Goldenvoice poster designer “Bad Otis” Link.
Mid-day, promoter Kevin Lyman spun a magical wheel which decided the order for the four “headliners” to play. Lyman felt that there was no such thing as headliners in punk rock, so he wanted to make it fair. First band that was selected was Descendents, then NOFX, Bad Religion and Pennywise. No matter the order of the last four bands, each one of them helped cap off a Punk Rock Guy or Girl’s dream lineup.