Listening to “Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster” to kick things off

Over the Independence Day Weekend, I was invited to cover  Camp Punksylvania 2024 at the fairgrounds in Gilbertsville, PA, put on by the fine folks at the femme-owned Riot Squad Media.

Jared collecting band signatures for the skateboard raffle

My good buddy Jared from Punksgiving, now part of the Punk Rock Saves Lives organization, introduced me to the fledgling punk festival when I interviewed him in Season 9 of Raw Travel, which you can see HERE.

Punk Rock Saves Lives is all about community. Positivity, unity, nature, and kindness are its mantras, so it was ironic that on this incredibly scorching hot weekend, as I rented a car, I would drive through some of the most ardent Trump country I’ve ever seen to get to the event.

If you’d told me eight years ago I’d see a sea of American flags with Don the Con’s angry image (or any person’s image, for that matter) superimposed over upside-down stars and stripes, I would have assumed you had lost it. No way would the so-called “patriotic” folks of rural Pennsylvania going to worship an individual over their beloved stars and stripes. Wrong.

Despite the anti-fascist, progressive atmosphere of the festival, the right-wing zealots were here too, with a giant “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flag draping one of the vehicles parked in the lot. Libertarians are people too, but they are also pretty damned non-unity, yes?

Mental health is a thing.

On Saturday, the second day, I had the displeasure of following a younger-looking-than-normal (for a MAGAt) 30—or 40-something-looking Trumper driving a small Honda Civic-ish car with bumper stickers and massive flags bigger than the car itself declaring “F—your feelings,” “Trump 2024,” and ” F—Biden.”

I didn’t get a great look at the guy as I was trying to steer clear in case this agitated fellow was armed with dangerous intentions of shooting up the place, but I could see he sported a MAGA shirt of some sort and cut-off jeans.

I get the feeling he wasn’t so much a punk as just an area resident who was adamant about attending the festival, but I could be wrong.

I don’t know the ins and outs of his presence, but I did notice him agitating the security folks at the press entrance as they buzzed around on walkie-talkies. He paced around, waiting to be admitted entry. It was apparent he had no ticket or any intention of paying.

Maybe he was a guest of one of the bands or claimed to be a journalist, but he finally made his way in, and his presence, combined with the stifling, suffering heat, was one reason I took an early exit.

Yes, it was a combination of climate change and the unraveling of society’s fabric that this man’s idol, Donald J. Trump, represents that led me to leave early and return to NYC. Still, let’s get it straight: mainly, it was the heat.

Welcome to Camp Punksylvania, an oasis from our dystopian world

The MAGA boy left right behind me (which is why I didn’t get a good picture of his tricked-out car for you), as I guess he couldn’t take the heat either.

Or maybe he was disappointed that no one seemed to notice or care about him and his beliefs and that his presence was triggering for precisely no one.

The festival’s mainly positive energy was not about to be disrupted by one lone wolf MAGAt; let’s face it, punk is a broad tent, as evidenced by the people attending.

Neither fascism nor heat gonna keep this punk from the pit

Non-judgmental and tolerant, with music ranging from the infectious ska sounds of Kill Lincoln to the street punk energy of  “Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster,” who opened festivities on Friday.

Hell, Kill Lincoln’s performance at the peak of the brutal afternoon heat, right in full view of an angry sun, was downright heroic. The skanking was not to be stopped.

Kill Lincoln’s ska sounds were infectious, and even in the heat, the pit was going strong.

The horn player was so enthusiastically jumping up and down, exhorting the crowd, that he fell down, broke his horn, and popped back out the next song with a totally different horn, I assume borrowed from somewhere.

That was the music, but I had the best time at the booths, like the aforementioned Jared from Punk Rock Saves Lives, who was selling raffle tickets for a skateboard to raise funds for their various good works.

Or the lovely, good-energy ladies for Women of the Pit, who have a CD compilation “Stronger Together” of female-fronted punk music from bands around the world.

Check out the excellent compilation

I also had a great conversation with Daryle Lamont Jenkins of Ida Vox One People’s Project  (no bots allowed), I bought a couple of his books about the original anti-fascist scene. Can’t wait to dig into them.

Daryle had some great stories about his days in the New Jersey punk scene as a skinhead and confronting the nazis trying to co-opt the scene. It’s a sad commentary that Daryle’s work is as needed today as it was back then, maybe more so.

It’s a real f-ing shame that punk music concerts can’t be the one place we can get away from the toxicity that is Donald Trump.

We certainly couldn’t escape climate change and it’s why I wilted and couldn’t make it to the evening to hear headliners like The Bronx, 7 Seconds, Bad Cop Bad Cop, Less Than Jake and more great bands scheduled to perform. Hey, I’m getting old and I have a trip to Ukraine to prep for so give me a break.

Still, the MAGAt and the heat were a reminder that not only is climate change here but the consequences for the planet when the United States elects a con man populist who denies science, tolerance, diversity, and elections.

But it makes sense. Punk Rock has consistently recognized how f-d up the world is and has tried to do something to change it, at least to use music to make it more empathetic and fair.

Kill Lincoln just before the fall

Or at least that’s how I perceive it.

Blistering heat or not, we need more Camp Punksylvanias and fewer MAGAts in the world so that we can finally do something about Climate Change and all the other injustices piling up on this unraveling planet.

Enjoy the photos HERE.










Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.