As dark storm clouds loomed overhead, cars were backed up in both directions coming off Interstate 70 in Thornville, OH entering to Park/Camp at Camp Anarchy Festival.
As People made there way to the field to park/ enter Camping, the sky opened up and the rains came, unleashing a torrential down pour that set the mood for a weekend of what would be pure Anarchy.
With my anticipation building and my camera shielded, I made my way through the rains, to the gate while noticing license plates that ranged from New York to California were here for the weekend festivities.
After Entering Festival , I made my way to the stage and La Armada had just finished their set and Death By Stereo was beginning to set up.
Since this was a single stage festival, there was time in between bands for set up and tear down allowing the fans and bands undivided attention.
As Death By Stereo took the stage, the rains were still coming down, but it didn’t put a damper on anyone’s mood.
By the time Death By Stereo had finished their set, the rains subsided and Strung Out was next to play. With the crowd forming circle pits and slam dancing, there was plenty of mud being kicked up and thrown around.
There was no way that anyone was staying clean, but hey, isn’t that what Punk rock is all about? The next band to take the stage was Sick Of It All.
This was one of the bands that I was really excited to see and they did not let me down. Their set was packed full of unlimited energy!
The guitarist, Pete Koller was all smiles as he ran around showing an impressive display of high flying kicks that would make Bruce Lee proud. Towards the end of their set, singer Lou Koller commanded the crowd to part like the Red Sea. From the left to the right, the crowd was hyped and in an instant collided with such intensity that the force could be felt no matter where you were at.
Next up were two legendary Punk acts; F.E.A.R. followed by X (whom was one of only two female fronted bands at Camp Anarchy). Voodoo Glow Skulls resident saxophonist, Eric Fazzini joined F.E.A.R. on stage during “New York is Great if you like Saxophones”.
As the first day was coming to a close, you could feel the excitement and anticipation coming to a head for the headliners for Friday, The Offspring. As the lights went out, you could hear the roar of the crowd resonating through the valley as The Offspring took the stage. After experiencing a few technical difficulties, the band went straight into their set playing classics that spanned their entire catalogue while displaying the most impressive light show of the entire weekend.
As the last notes faded and the band left the stage, the campers headed back to their tents/RV’s to get well rested and rejuvenated for Day Two.
As Day Two got underway, the sun was shinning bright and there was no sign of rain to be had. However, there were some additions to the weekend. If you needed to take a break from all of the music, Saturday was the first day you could visit multiple craft beer tents.
You were able to purchase tickets that allowed you to sample different craft beers from all over and sending you home with a special souvenir double shot glass. There were also some physical activities to keep you moving and on your toes like Dodge Ball and where else could you and a teammate participate in a game of Beer Pong complete with 55 gallon drum red Solo cups and a huge Pong ball for amusement.
The Voodoo Glow Skulls kicked off Day Two with a set complete with saxophone and trombone players. The lead singer, Efrem Schulz wore his traditional luchador mask and serape all while commanding the stage while waving a Voodoo Glow Skulls flag.
After Voodoo Glow Skulls, A Wilhelm Scream was up next, followed by The Suicide Machines, Off and The Damned. They took us through the late afternoon and into the early evening when Suicidal Tendencies took the stage.
This was another band that I was totally stoked to see! They came at you with a highly energized set including acrobatic backflips off amps and running and jumping around the stage. These guys never let up for a moment setting the bar high for the remaining bands to follow. The first to try and achieve the new standard was Pennywise. As they performed, fans interacted by singing and dancing along. A select number of fans were even able to join the band on stage during “Bro Hymn”. Pennywise’s lead singer, Jim Lindberg, even asked one lucky photographer for their camera while walking the stage and snapping pictures of the hyped up crowd.
After they were finished, everyone was ready for the mighty Rancid! After raising a Clockwork Orange inspired backdrop, which in my opinion, was the best backdrop of the weekend, the band took to the stage. The crowd erupted and circle pits, crowd surfing as well as slam dancing became the norm for the rest of their performance while the band powered through 28 years of classics.
The final day, Day Three, started with The Spanish Love Songs, one of the more underrated acts of the weekend. I’ve just recently heard of this band, but have been told many, many good things about them and they lived up to everything that I heard and more. Once they finished their set, The Bomb Pops, which were the second female fronted band, took to the stage.
Iron Chic followed them and I wasn’t familiar with either The Bomb Pops or Iron Chic, but after watching their performances, I came out a new fan of both bands. Next up was The Bronx, who I thought had the best performance of Sunday. If you ever get the chance to see them live, you should definitely do it.
One of my biggest highlights was during “Knifeman” when Matt Caughthran, who is the bands front man, climbed off stage, went passed Security, over the barriers and made his way into the crowd. He told them that he “hasn’t seen enough Anarchy at Camp Anarchy”. When the music kicked back in, the crowd responded by surrounding him with one of the largest circle pits of the weekend as he sang.
Next up were veteran Punk Rockers, TSOL. Less Than Jake, followed TSOL, and was another band whom I was excited to see. They too have a saxophonist and trombonist that brought their ska infused Punk and fun, along with plenty of toilet paper, that was shot into the crowd. The crowd batted around that TP like a cat with a ball of yarn and had about as much fun as the cat at the same time.
Bad Religion was up next as they preformed track after track including their album, No Control, that was played in it’s entirety. They kept the crowd hyped and amped through their performance leading up for the final band of the night. It was now finally the moment that everyone had been waiting for…….the return of headliners and festival closers,
NOFX. You couldn’t help but feel the build up of anticipation burst like a bubble as they took the stage to Rocky Horror’s Time Warp. The crowd screamed their approval welcoming them for their first show in the US in over a year. You could tell they have been missed by their fans. NOFX responded by cranking out song after song keeping up with their playful banter and antics with jokes and stories in-between their songs. They were the perfect ending to the Camp Anarchy experience. As the last song was finished and the band left the stage, the crowd began to disperse and head back to their camps. It wasn’t said, but a sense of sadness filled the air cause the weekend was over, but sadness is not what need be felt because friendships were formed and memories were made to last a lifetime.
Cause for one weekend in late May and early June, the Punk world of all ages and locations descended to Legend Valley in Thornville, OH for a one of a kind experience.
Overall, no matter what kind of Punk you like, Ex. Ska, Hardcore or Classic, Camp Anarchy had something for everyone. There were only a couple of things that I believe would have made this festival better. I would liked to have seen a tent set up for “meet and greets” and more food vendors to choose from. The “typical” festival food was available and bases were covered with variety, but a larger selection would have been preferable.
I would like to say “Thank You” to all the bands and their crews, security, the Legend Valley staff and all of the vendors for giving us a safe and entertaining weekend, but most of all “Thank You” to all the fans that came for making this weekend possible. I can’t wait to see you all again in 2020!
A Wilhelm Scream
Death By Stereo
Less Than Jake
Sick Of It All
Spanish Love Songs
Vodoo Glow Skulls