Music Review: Punk in Drublic Detroit: A Look at the Fresh Faces
Named after NOFX’s best-selling record, the Punk in Drublic music festival takes place in various locations throughout the USA and Europe to provide the audience with awesome Punk Rock, and copious about of beer. It was founded by NOFX frontman “Fat” Mike Burkett and Cameron Collins of Brew Ha Ha Productions to promote the finest craft beer with tastings, food, and a music festival to top it all off. Punk in Drublic made a stop at the Masonic Temple in Detroit Michigan on Saturday, June 9th, 2022 with NOFX headlining, of course. The rest of the lineup, I admit, I wasn’t familiar with. The preceding bands in the lineup, however, caught me off guard with how distinct they were.
The Rodeo Boys
The Rodeo Boys were the first band to hit the stage. Originally from Lansing, MI, The Rodeo Boys describe their music as “90’s grunge with a southern twang”. The description was spot on, as the music was reminiscent of Kim Gordon and her work with Sonic Youth, only with a hint of a country accent. Before the pandemic, the band often performed in dive bars all across Michigan, making this performance one of their biggest yet. Their chemistry on stage was very lively and even a tad romantic. The front-woman and backing guitarist shared a kiss as they battled it out in a guitar battle, thrashing on the floor and playing back to back. The performance was short, sweet, and simple. It was a decent start to the night.
Up next was the band Pet Needs, hailing from England. Founded by brothers Johnny and George Marriott, the band was taken under Frank Turner’s wings and released their debut album this past April. Having this being their first ever American tour and festival, the band was very energetic and eager to bring their A-game to Punk in Drublic. They succeeded as the band had great vitality with their catchy anthems and frontman Johnny Marriott moshing to his own music. It was refreshing to see a frontman with so much vigor over his own music, and the crowd loved it. The music reminded me of why I love British Punk so much. They definitely gained a fan through me.
The band afterward was The Bronx, who wasn’t from New York but instead from Los Angeles. The band formed in 2002 with roots in the Hardcore scene. With seven albums under their wing, they proved to be one of the seasoned performing acts at the festival. Their music was much heavier than the previous bands and more inviting for people to mosh in the pit. Matt Caughthran even got into the crowd, microphone in hand, and yelled to his music as many punks swarmed around him like a human tornado. This wasn’t the first time I had seen the singer get into the audience for a show, but this was the first time where the crowds were enormous. It was the most energetic the pit had ever been up until that point of the night. It would only get more intense with the next act.
The Suicide Machines
Detroit based band, The Suicide Machines, were up next in the lineup. It was fitting they went on after The Bronx as The Suicide Machines were the most experienced out of the rest of the previous bands. The band formed in 1991 and released music under many punk labels, including Fat Wreck Chords. It’s no wonder why they were a part of this festival, not because of the label, but because they were one of the best bands in the lineup. Their ska/hardcore sound was very inviting for the audience.
They could be dancing for one song to moshing for the next. Front man Jason Navarro was also very interactive with the audience, as he often got close to the crowd and let them sing into the microphone. Despite the many injuries I got from the pit during their set, it was a very fun and unique performance that made me become an overnight fan.
Up next we’re The Menzingers, a pop punk band from Scranton, Pennsylvania. The band was signed under Epitaph Records in 2011, and released seven albums under the label. Epitaph founder Brett Gurewitz said, “These guys play the kind of pure punk rock that I grew up with.” After seeing their set and their performance, I would have to agree with Gurewitz. Their pop punk sound was very nostalgic to me, and reminded me of the music I listened to as a kid. It’s similar to a later Sum-41.
The music was more mellow with some ballads performed here and there. It was a welcome break from the chaos the previous bands caused. The crowd was a lot more mellow with their performance and there was far less moshing, which is odd for a punk festival, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad. The Menzingers performed one of their albums in full and about two more songs before passing the mic to the next act.
The last act before NOFX was Frank Turner, an artist that really surprised me. Another act that is from England and under the Epitaph catalog, Frank Turner was in the post-hardcore band, Million Dead, before touring as an acoustic solo artist in 2005. This was evident when he alternated between a hardcore sound and acoustic sound in his set, which altered the mood and tone. Turner’s set, however, proved how much of a versatile musician he is without losing his charisma, as he often cracked jokes and interacted with the audience. The highlight of his set was his acoustic cover of NOFX’s “Bob”. A punk song going acoustic is one thing, but it was another when NOFX guitarist Eric Melvin joined in on Harmonica. It proved how much respect NOFX has for the cover and for Frank Turner himself.
Long Live Punk
Overall, the bands at Punk in Drublic were interesting, to say the least. One would expect all the bands to sound the same in a punk festival. But, this lineup proved how diverse the punk genre can be. From a grungy-country sound, to “Buzzcocks” style British punk, and even ska, all of these bands were unique. They each provided music that was for everyone in the audience. I highly recommend checking out Pet Needs, The Bronx, and The Suicide Machines, as they were my personal favorites. These three elicited the most emotions from the audience. Punk isn’t dead, because festivals like Punk in Drublic are keeping it alive.