The It’s Not Dead Festival makes its triumphant return with a lineup spanning over 30 years of punk rock.

Despite the sweltering 105 degrees temperature, the punks are filing in early for the 4 stage, all day festival. With a line-up stacked with over 35 bands, including Rancid and Dropkick Murphys, who are wrapping up their “From Boston to Berkeley” tour with one final show, the day promises something for everyone.

Returning to the festival this year is “Arts Not Dead” and “Punks Well Read,” which is a “pop-up” instalment that includes photos and flyers from punks early days, highlighted by works from Jordan Schwartz (We Got Power), Jennifer Finch (L7) and KRK Dominguez.

Long time punk stalwarts Channel 3 kick off the festivities at 12:30 pm over on the Fenders stage, while Reagan Youth delivers an old school Southern California hardcore set at the neighboring Olympic stage as soon as they wrap up.

For the next several hours sets rotate on the side stages, and highlights include an acoustic set by Kevin Seconds, (whose band 7 Seconds played the main stage during the first installment of the festival) Murphy’s Law, Slaughter and the Dogs, U.S. Bombs, and The Casualties, who are making one of their first appearances with new vocalist David Rodriguez.

Of course, there is, even more, punk rock action over on the main stage, and with a stop at the misting tent or to buy a tall-boy Corona to beat the ever increasing heat, the punk rock kids make their way over just before each band hits the stage. Wraths, the band fronted by Pennywise singer Jim Lindberg is up first, and deliver a brief set highlighted with a cover of Black Flag’s “Fix Me.” Next up is The Interrupters, and as always the band seemed to be having the time of their lives on stage. They deliver a strong set of ska inspired punk rock sing-along songs and made the crowd forget all about the rising temperatures.

G.B.H. frontman Colin Abrahall also seems unaffected by the heat, and as he takes the stage in a leather motorcycle jacket, zipped all the way up to the top, he and the rest of the band put on a ferocious set, giving the kids a healthy dose of proper English punk rock. Highlighted by “Give Me Fire,” “Sickboy,” and “Diplomatic Immunity,” they are clearly the fan favorites thus far.

Giving G.B.H. a run for their money though was OFF!, who also put on a blistering (no pun intended) performance with a twenty-five song scorcher that includes “Void You Out,” “Rat Trap.” and “Upside Down.”

After strong showings from both The Adicts and Me First and The Gimme Gimmes, the support headliners Dropkick Murphys take the stage just as things have cooled off a bit, and the sun has gone down below the hills. As the stage lights dim to the intro of “The Foggy Dew,” the Dropkicks open with a rousing rendition of “Barroom Hero” that has the punks pumping their fists and singing along. The next hour is filled with Irish influenced punk anthems, making everyone forget that they had just spent eight plus hours in an outdoor furnace.

Of course, the day was not over yet, and as headliners Rancid finally take the stage to “Radio,” the crowd has been given a new life, soaking up every minute of the headliners. Given that this was the last show of the tour, Rancid were firing on all cylinders, and put on nothing short of a Punk Rock clinic as they tear through a set list that includes “Roots Radicals,” “Salvation,” “Time Bomb,” and of course “Ruby Soho.” It is the perfect way to end what turned out to be nothing short of a spectacular day.

In the days of the big mega-festivals that are geared more to pop culture and fashion more than anything else, it’s refreshing to a festival like It’s Not Dead that gets it, and knows that the music is, and always will be the bond that brings people together. Now if they could just do something about that damn heat.

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It’s Not Dead Festival
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Dropkick Murphys
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Event Date: 26-AUG-2017

About The Author

Raymond Ahner is a professional freelance photographer residing in San Francisco, California. Growing up in the Bay Area, Raymond was lucky enough to witness both the Punk and Thrash Metal scene of the 1980's explode literally right in front of his eyes. It was a pretty special time in his life, and is what instilled his love for live music. Over the years Raymond has been fortunate enough to combine his passion for live music with his love of photography. And although he will always love shooting the big arena Rock show, it is in a tiny, packed to the rafters club were he his most at home with his gear.