Rock & Awe


Awesome Fest 5
When: September 2-4
Where: North Park music venues Eleven, The Office, Soda Bar and U-31 Cocktail Lounge
Passes: $36 for all three days
(passes must be picked up
September 2 or 3 at Summerset
Suites Hotel, 606 Washington
Street in Hillcrest)

By Pat Sherman

More than 65 bands from across the U.S. and Canada will come together in North Park September 2-4 for the fifth annual Awesome Fest, a multi-venue punk and indie music extravaganza.

The event is a collaboration of longtime members of the Southern California DIY (i.e., experimental, non-corporate-sponsored) punk community-and centered on what they call “non-sh!t” music.

Co-organizer and self-described local “band whore” Davey Quinn (Tiltwheel, Bloodbath & Beyond, Too Many Daves) says Awesome Fest is a looser alternative to corporate-backed festivals like the Warped Tour, comparing it to “a couch to crash on and a cooler full of beer in the backyard.”

Another co-organizer, Kyle Pagel, agrees, likening the weekend to “a big family reunion.” “Our music scene’s pretty close-knit, but we’re spread out all over the country,” Pagel says. “These festivals are the only time some of us get the chance to see each other all year.”

U-31 general manager Nicole Novak says her venue has hosted Awesome Fest since it moved from Riverside to North Park three years ago. “Those kids literally come out in packs of hundreds, like unbelievable, in solidarity,” she says. “Three hundred punk rocks kids will just show up at the same time.”

While the vibe is understated, the talent shouldn’t be underestimated. One Awesome Fest headliner is David Dondero, whom NPR labeled one of the top 10 “best living songwriters” alongside Bob Dylan, Aimee Mann and Paul McCartney. Dondero performs on the evening of September 2 at Eleven, 3519 El Cajon Boulevard.

If the sounds are anywhere near as epic as the names of some of the other acts-which include Lipstick Homicide, God Damn Doo Wop Band, Underground Railroad to Candyland and the seminal ‘90s garage punk band, Scared of Chaka-brace yourself for an awesome weekend, indeed.