Since there were many out there whose feelings were hurt by my suggestion to skip The Last Domino's set on the first day of this year's installment of Pirad Fest, I decided to ignore my own advice and watched their set at the E.S. jungle... or at least as much of it as I could stand.
Showing up right after It's All Happening (which I'm bummed I missed), I watched The Last Domino professionally glide through their generic pop-rock ditties. The Pirad kids seemed to like it well enough, but the non-Pirads in attendance were left scratching their heads and plugging their ears. Luckily, the next act up was the much buzzed-about Jookabox. Jookabox sounds good on record, but they sound AWESOME live. Classic songs, like "Girl Ain't Preggers" (from the Grampall Jookabox days) received impressive full-band face-lifts. Frontman "Moose" delivered every line with an almost insane intensity, while bassist "Benny" provided the theatrics and on-stage banter.
Jookabox rocked hard, but it was Totally Michael that truly stole the show. The Bloomington/Chicago two-piece could be brushed aside as a novelty act if they weren't so undeniably good. Their silly songs recall the light-hearted pop of Matt & Kim and the electro-punk of Atom And His Package. Most of the songs are nonsensical (subjects include cheerleaders, Winona Ryder and erections), but the melodies and choruses are so infectious that they're impossible to ignore. It also didn't hurt that frontman (Totally) Michael acted as a charismatic Pied Piper, leading his sea of dancing children to a hilarious sing along of "Damn girl!/ you make my dick erect/ Oh boy!/ you make my pussy wet." Everyone left day one sweaty and smiling.
- In The Face of War: In YOUR face.
The second day of the fest was a long, hot, sticky one. It started at one in the afternoon and went til about midnight. The first two-thirds of the day were dominated by high school punk bands who were still hung-up on the thrashy street-punk of The Casualties, GBH and The Unseen. It'll be a few years until the tykes of The Frontline finally buy a Fugazi or Dinosaur Jr. record and and find out that mohawks and studs aren't the end-all-be-all of punk rock.
Day two of the fest took off when veteran hardcore act In The Face of War played. Their set was brutal and it got the crowd moving, which set the stage for the rest of the evening. Full Rainbow (formerly The Sorely Trying Days) stormed the stage next. What compelled these goons to change their name, we may never know, but their set was phenomenal. Their classic songs, like "Failing Engine", sounded great, but it was their new material that sounded the best. I have always predicted big things for these little dudes, but after hearing their new material, it would be a real shame if they didn't blow up outside of the local scene.
Harley Poe played a strong set of creepy folk-pop songs. It was especially cool to see them considering that they rarely play anymore. Prizzy Prizzy Please closed the night with a wild set of R'n'B-infused pop-punk. Their sound, which has drifted away from the party punk of their past records, still elicited a rowdy mosh pit which was punctuated with plenty of sweaty stage-dives and pile-ons. After a sweltering encore, which included the rousing "Too Many T-Shirts," the drenched crowd dispersed into the balmy night. Despite all my criticisms of the Piradical scene, I must say that this year's Pirad Fest was the most fun that I have had all summer. Great job!