Another Memorial Day Weekend, another Punk Rock Bowling. But it’s not just another music event. Born of an informal gathering for musicians and industry people to hang out, drink beer and play some 10-pin, PRB has evolved a decade and a half later into a full-fledged music festival, with the main, three-day concert event complemented by smaller late-night gigs, parties and, of course, the bowling tournament.
And as you can imagine, shit happens when you let a bunch of drunk punks run amuck in Vegas. Here’s some of their accounts from over the past 15 years.
ROB RUCKUS (member of The Vermin and other local bands, attendee at all 15 Punk Rock Bowlings): It’s the same shit that happens at every punk rock thing: People get beat up, people throw up, people drink too much and there’s a lot of great fucking bands.
FAT MIKE (member of NOFX and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes): I play [Punk Rock Bowling] every year. NOFX plays every other year, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes plays every other year. The first time was at the Double Down. And that was when there were only 22 teams [and] maybe 80 people there. That was maybe the fifth or the sixth show that Me First and the Gimme Gimmes ever played.
BECCA PORTER (former BYO Records employee): The first year, we were all hanging out at the Double Down drinking in the alley. And it’s right by the airport. So we’re standing there talking, and all of a sudden I just completely freaked out. And [my friend’s] take on it was my face turned completely white, and I was shaking a little bit. And I was like “Oh my God! Oh my God!” … I thought the airplane was going to crash into the Double Down because I was all fucked up. I guess you had to be there.
CHE TREICHEL-MASCOLINO (music fan): I liked the outdoor [PRB] shows at Sunset Station. It was a cool stage, and it was all fenced in on grass. But the port-a-potties got a little hairy with the grass and the mud and everything. Then the leaking port-a-potties added to it. So you didn’t know if you were standing in shit or standing in mud. There were lots of girls screaming about those port-a-potties.
ROB RUCKUS: I have a bunch of friends that do the bowling, so I go down and support them. … Oh, my god, it’s insane. The whole bowling alley is filled with fucking punk rockers. And they’re playing music over the P.A. and through the bowling alley. Everybody’s got a beer, a shot in their hand, a pitcher or a 40-ounce. There’s a couple teams like Tiltwheel that come down from San Diego, they all play shirtless — just a bunch of fat hairy drunk dudes. It’s fucking beautiful!
J.T. HABERSAAT (comedian and frequent emcee of the PRB award ceremony): The first year I got down there, and they hadn’t informed the venue sound guy that I was gonna [emcee the awards show]. So I get there at the door and the guy says, “You can’t touch my mic.” I said, “What am I supposed to do?” So it was a very awkward introduction. And then he proceeded to give me [something] like a Fisher Price My First Microphone. And then the bowling machine ate the award scores. So I basically had to go out with this awful mic and fill about 20 minutes worth of time doing stand-up to people who could barely hear me.
SHAWN STERN (co-founder of BYO Records and PRB): We pretty much empty the bars of alcohol on a fairly regular basis. … [One year] we went to have a meeting with the guy at the Gold Coast, who was the beverage manager [and] a complete asshole — some old guy who was nearing retirement and didn’t really want to talk to us. And we told the guy, “Listen, we’ve got some sponsors, like Red Bull.” And he says, “I don’t fucking deal with Red Bull. We don’t sell Red Bull.” I said, “Well, you know, you’re gonna need to increase the amount of bartenders here.” And he said, “I don’t need to be told by you guys. I know how to do my job.”
We got the same sort of attitude from the beverage manager over at the House of Blues, where we had Flogging Molly play. … And they ran out of Guinness in the first hour. Flogging Molly is sponsored by Guinness and the House of Blues ran out in an hour. And at the Gold Coast, we drank all the alcohol in the main bar, just on the first night. And we drank all of the alcohol in the little gift shop where they sell alcohol; that was cleaned out. We also had a party across the street that night at a bar. And the 7-Eleven or whatever it was on the way to that bar was cleaned out.
JOE “PERV” MASCOLINO (member of local band The Tinglerz): We were at the circle bar at Sam’s Town that has the animated stuffed animals — like a wolf and a bear — and they do a big laser light show, I think, like, once an hour. And the laser light show happens, and Lee Greenwood’s “Proud To Be an American” comes on. And all the people who had been drinking all day long, they all start singing along with it. … We had [friends] in from all over the world, friends from the U.K., people from Canada. And they’re there thinking, “This must be America — people with mohawks singing country songs.”
SHAWN STERN: We moved to the Showboat … and it was mostly older people that were patrons. They loved us. There was a guy who [did] a one-man-band karaoke thing in their little lounge that was right off of where their bowling alleys were. And I don’t think it could have held more than a couple hundred people. This guy was doing his karaoke, and he had these old couples who were dancing. And by the end of the bowling [tournament], when everybody started coming out, all the punk rockers started dancing with the old people. And they loved it!
BECCA PORTER: The Pistol Grip guys would always set off alarms and cause all kinds of problems. From the first year that those guys started hanging around to even now, whenever a fire alarm or any alarm goes off in a casino, everybody that I’m with looks around and says “Where’s Pistol Grip? Are they here?”
FAT MIKE: I have a house out there, my Vegas punk house. So my girlfriend is a dominatrix, and she usually [brings] a lot of her female friends to the parties. So it’s usually a cross between punk rockers and BDSM people. … So what happens is we end up doing drugs and going in the hot tub. Everybody ends up in the hot tub at some point. It holds like seven people, but we’ve had like 14 in there.
ROB RUCKUS: You know, we’ve been doing it for so long that a lot of us have created bonds with each other, and we only see each other once a year. So it’s the family atmosphere that I dig the most — the fact that it brings everybody back together again.