The Fest’s second largest venue – 8 Seconds – boasted a stacked line-up on Saturday, but there were numerous reasons to sneak away and see some less hyped acts. UK’s Caves played early at 1982, proving that there’s plenty flying under the radar at Fest. The power trio’s dual vocal interplay was successful, even as vocalists Louise Hanman and Jonathan Minto energetically bounced across 1982’s tiny stage. The crowd was small, but it was no matter to Caves, as it ripped through a set full of urgent pop-punk anthems.
Pop-punk provocateur RVIVR has crafted some tightly wound anthems, but has become notorious for its actions at its shows. Whether it be arranging its crowd from shortest to tallest, going on longwinded rants about sexism, or stopping shows for crowdsurfing, RVIVR’s set at had the possibility of becoming a complete train wreck. Perhaps recognizing that there was no way to effectively control a room as large as 8 Seconds, RVIVR played its upbeat pop-punk with little regard for what was going on in the crowd.
Immediately following RVIVR was Iron Chic, a group closely related by alma mater, Long Island’s Latterman. However, where RVIVR went on lengthy rants between songs, Iron Chic’s banter was almost nonexistent. Instead, the group tore through a set of gruff pop-punk that worked the crowd into a collective of dancing, screaming bodies. By the time Iron Chic finished – with a superb version of “Time Keeps On Slipping (Into The Cosmic Future)” – it felt less like a strong closer and more like a shared catharsis among those in the venue.
It wasn’t until Good Luck took the stage later that night that the crowd was treated to another set of unadulterated joy. The twinkly indie-punk trio put on a great performance, offering a welcome change from the abrasive acts that preceded the group. Fans up front shouted back song lyrics between huge smiles, and the band soaked in the positivity, playing some of the best songs from its debut Into Lake Griffy, as well as tracks from its brand new sophomore effort Without Hesitation.
Closing out Saturday at the Florida Theater was the often divisive Against Me!. Festers piled into the venue, bringing it near capacity by the time the group launched into its first song, “I Still Love You Julie.” Unfortunately, none of the instruments or vocals were run through the PA. Even after this was resolved, for AM!’s first two songs the house music was still running, making it sound like two groups dueling. Technical difficulties aside, the band put on an energetic, no nonsense set that featured selections from each full-length albums as well as its Disco Before The Breakdown EP. While older material such as “Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious” and set-closer “We Laugh At Danger And Break All The Rules” garnered the largest crowd response, there was still plenty of people singing along to “White People For Peace.” Perhaps the cries of “sell out” were all too arbitrary, because by the end of Against Me!’s set, there wasn’t an attendee that could doubt that the band’s still got plenty of gas left in the tank.