Mellonballs, unicorns and a lot of good music: welcome to PRH 1.9
It is always one of my fav moments of the year: arriving in Tolmin, descending into the valley and starting the five days in one of the most beautiful festivals in Europe. And it’s always a great thrill to go home and try to find the words to describe this Punk Rock Holiday, the little paradise for punks.
For the uninitiated, the Punk Rock Holiday is a festival held every year in August in Tolmin, a small town in Slovenia not far from Kobarid next to the border with Italy. Every year the line-up is amazing and the activities inside the fest increase, making it a truly happy oasis for all punk rock lovers.
This year as well the lineup brings me goose-bumps and therefore, we start immediately with the first day – what is considered the warm-up show – which sees on the main stage Templeton Pek, Not on Tour and Pulley, as well as some Slovenian and Croatian bands like the great Golliwog, hardcore punk band always full of energy. But my heart goes all the way to the Not On Tour which, besides being an energetic band with fast-paced rhythms, are also exquisite people. And, of course, they played their hits Therapy and Daddy from Growing Pains and Flip.
Time for the headliners of the evening, Pulley, an American band who were missing from Europe for a long time but have certainly not lost their determination and desire to hit hard with their punk rock!
Of course, the acoustic set at the American Socks booth, which features another Israeli band, Useless ID, cannot be missed. They are a band that is always a great pleasure to see and listen to, again and again.
Tuesday’s line up is probably the one that I most waited for in this 2019 edition. After a swim in the river – guys I swear to you that you will recover ten years of life – the dances will start at the Beach Stage with Goodbye Blue Monday. And we continue throughout the afternoon until we reach the final hat-trick with Ants, Blowfuse and La Armada. Three bands with different sounds and backgrounds but that manage to ignite the stage like no one else! A special thanks to Blowfuse who managed to mix energy and melody incredibly. We hope to see each other again in the pit!
Moving on to the main stage, the bomb is dropped by The Bennies and then flamed up by Useless ID, Good Riddance, Frank Turner and the legendary Descendents. I must say that I still have to recover from a similar lineup! Unfortunately, I did not enjoy The Bennies, a dazzling Australian band, due to my hunger and need for food but I run back to the Useless ID, an Israeli punk rock group already hosted by the PRH in previous editions, which, after a beautiful acoustic set, also gives us an engaging live set.
Immense and full of energy as always, Good Riddance presents their new album Thoughts and Prayers. And while the first drops of rain falls, there is also time for an acoustic set by Not On Tour that, if possible, exalts me even more!
About excitement, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls really know what it’s like to involve the crowd. Mixing punk, songwriting, folk and energy, Frank and his band gave an hour of pure entertainment and high levels of music, managing to convince even the most sceptical in the audience.
So, still with so much emotion, as with the rain that increases more and more, the moment of the legendary Descendents has arrived. And who cares about the wheather, Milo’s band shoots us one song after another, at a speed that is still impressive and between some thunders we can still jump to the point of exhaustion. The setlist is perfect: Suburban Home, Everything Sux, I’m The One, Myage, I Don’t Want to Grow Up… Immense, really.
We arrive tired but happy to day three that sees another good group of bands, both in the main stage and on the beach stage. Some names? The Dopamines, Call me Malcolm on the beach stage and Less Than Jake, Sick of it All, Pennywise. Needless to say, we start dancing in the afternoon and we only end in the night – with the help from the guys of American Socks and their Dj-set.
One word, or rather two: Bro Hymn. For those who have already been to the PRH and they have seen Pennywise, know what the end of their set means with this song: a real stage invasion. Could we back off? Of course not!
Also, the godfathers of the NY Hardcore, Sick of it All, fresh from the new album, are in great shape, while the Less Than Jake open to the dances with their ska sound that drags in even the most immobile of the participants.
There is nothing more healthy for recovering from a night party than a swim on the river. And that’s exactly how my fourth day of fest begins! I must say that I am more curious about the beach stage bands than those on the main ones, thanks to the presence of two bands with female vocals, For I Am and CF98 and two other bands that smashed the brain with their punk rock: Straightline and Much The Same. For those who do not know them, it is mandatory to go to any streaming platform and listen to them!
The main stage instead sees Dave House – whom I lost because of food, again -, Booze & Glory, Iron Reagan, Ignite and NoFx. What to say, unexpectedly NoFx are in great shape and between a joke and another – including cutting a shirt judged too hippy – they pull out all the classic songs that always bring happiness to those who are present. Beyond any controversy, NoFx remains a band that knows how to have fun on stage and above all knows how to entertain with their unique irony.
And at the end, could we miss another DJ set on the beach? To the rhythm of punk, ska and hardcore we are all on the riverside to move our feet!
And this is how we arrive at the last day that brings Cigar, Pears, Pup, Teenage Bottlerocket and Propagandhi to the main stage. Before that, it is the day of relaxation on the beach, between a dive, accidents with unicorns, endless drinks and bands to remember: Krang, Sidewalk Surfers and Hit the Switch.
The great surprise for me is Cigar, which I had never listened to carefully, whereas it is always a great pleasure to see both Pears and Teenage Bottlerocket again, with a super guest: Milo, son of Ray Bottlerocket.
And while the last notes of the Propagandhi are running away, you already know where you will end up: waiting for the dawn on the river singing along with the Pigs Parlament and their karaoke. One of the most exciting moments of the festival!
If I decided to spend a few words on the bands it is not because they do not deserve my attention, indeed, all of them, from the first to the last deserve continuous listening and support, because they carry on the music and the spirit of punk rock, either from thirty years or just a few months. Moreover, punk is not made to stay still, so get out and go looking for all the bands that played this year (and the years before) at the Punk Rock Holiday.
But what I want to do is spend some time and give some thoughts on everything that goes beyond the Punk Rock Holiday. Starting from those who organize it and all those who work and make it possible: thank you, thank you with all my heart! It is impossible not to mention the quality and care with which the festival area is managed, from breakfast in the morning to the last drink in the evening. It is impossible not to mention all those who bring their products and merch to the fest, all those who drive kilometers to come to this corner of Slovenia, the colleagues in the press room, all those who, year after year, I met and still find and with whom it is always nice to drink, talk and have fun. And above all, it is impossible not to talk about the atmosphere of the festival, with that relaxed and joyful air, like an enlarged family gathering together and who devoted themselves to the fun and spirit of punk rock. All the sing-alongs, all the queues at the bar where I met new friends, when I embrace a companion in the pit, when with the last energies we dance the last song…
Punk Rock Holiday has always been for me, from the first year, my ideal vacation, a little magic corner in which to have fun, feel safe and listen to the finest music in the world to the point of exhaustion.
Thanks again to the PRH and see ya in the pit!
Here’s the gallery by Francesco Dose: