… Love always wins: Three Chords, No Brain – Punk Rock Raduno #4!

1st Part: July 10 – 12, from Wednesday‘s Welcome Night to the Riverdales Set on Friday Night

Hi www.gehkacken.de followers, it’s me (again), Frosch, reporting from the 4th installment of Punk Rock Raduno, the best little festival & music event in the whole fucking world: Not only for the music, certainly not because it’s for free, but because of the loveliest festival organizers/ most positive vibe you can possibly imagine: Franz Barcella, Andrea Manges and all of their fantastic staff, who are making sure each and every year that the long weekend mid July is going to be the best weekend of the year. A friendly and extremely joyful party atmosphere and lots of great surprises and special events are guaranteed during the course of the 5 days. This is part 1 out of 2 covering the first 3 days:

To kick the festival off properly we flew into Bergamo on the Wednesday, so that we could attend the Welcome Night in the evening. Same as last year it’s happening at Goisis Park, just a 15 minute walk from where we are staying. Our apartment has a little terrace, very convenient to meet with fellow travelers from Hamburg, relax and have some beers before heading out.  

Arriving at Goisis for the Welcome Night, the small stage and Raduno welcome area seem much more crowded than a year ago and we start worrying if this is getting too big already, after all it’s the intimate atmosphere that is making this event so very special. After greeting and hugging Franz & many more that we had met last summer (PEOPLE KEEP COMING BACK), The Creeps from Ottawa, Canada, are the 1st to take the stage playing an acoustic set. I find acoustic sets often unsatisfying to be honest, and frankly speaking this one is pretty  lame, plus they do not seem to pick the best songs either. The acoustic set by Even in Blackouts last year was much more enjoyable for me I have to admit.

2nd band playing is Bee Bee Sea from Italy, a garage punk band that is also going to play the MS Hedi end of August at the beloved Get Lost Festival in Hamburg. They play quite an interesting mix of psychedelic, 60’s influenced garage, OK, but also not completely my cup of tea. We are heading straight home after their set, having done this before we know that we need strength to endure, as the late great Ramones sang, and they and their musical style are the main reason for this festival.

Thursday is the day to get slowly into the groove, festival only starts in the evening, so you usually spend your time sightseeing in Bergamo. The 120.000 inhabitant city has quite a nice old town and is rather pretty overall. We arrive at Edone, a youth center and home of Punk Rock Raduno, just after 7pm and start record shopping right away. Many sellers and labels from all parts of Italy & Europe have stalls with great selections of records from Thursday to Sunday. I score the Manges 3LP box collecting all their early „7“‘s for a very fair price directly from Andrea Manges – Thanks!

After buying several records from Stefan Stardumb who runs one of the most important pop punk labels in the world from Holland I need to rush to the small stage where the Livermores from Ancona are playing. I did check them out before and really dig their RamonesPunk, which is also reminiscent of the Italian legends Manges at times. Really good live band too, and as I learned from the owner of their label Commando Records their 1st album will be released very soon – can’t wait.

Next up on the small stage are the Creeps, who are playing an electric set tonight. And… they are completely different to yesterday’s show at the Welcome Night. It‘s not only changing from acoustic to electrical. I honestly have to look twice if this is really the same band, the way they are acting, playing their brand of singalong punk with power and punch, driving their Italian fans in front of the stage totally nuts. An early festival highlight for sure, with lots of fans singing along, seemingly knowing every word of their songs. Well, here’s some pictures to prove it:

And now for the 1st band to hit the main festival stage, Derozer from Vicenza, an Italian legend in it’s own right, going strong for 30 years since 89. The last band announcement for the festival, they drew by far the biggest crowd. And it felt just like last year‘s CJ Ramone/Manges or Queers headline shows, everyone singing along to every song from the very start, arms up and air mattresses flying through the air. To be honest I had never heard of them before checking them out prior Raduno (they sing in Italian), but they got a bunch of great songs, play a pretty long set on this Thursday night and are celebrated excessively by their Italian fans. I guess the song „Vecchio Punk“ is their anthem, if you’re interested you might want to check this out or songs like „No Surf“ from their 1st album. Songs all sound a bit the same in some way, but hey we’re in deep Ramones worship territory here.

Friday starts very relaxed, with a brunch on our little apartment terrace. Relaxing at PRR always means missing out on something: This time it’s Larry Livermore, founder of legendary Lookout! Records, presenting his book „How to ruin a record label“ at Bikefellas coffee and, you guessed it, bike shop. Just before leaving for the acoustic shows that are happening in town this afternoon, Natali and me are treated to a special little acoustic gig by our housemates Frank & Yvonne, aka the UKUStripes. Their rendition of the Apers „Jamie Oliver“ is still ringing in our ears as we enter the Bomboclat Surfshop in town and what do we get?: Kevin Apers acoustic version of the song that he’d just started to play. Let’s call that just in time… As it’s impossible to get anywhere near „stage“, it’s a very narrow shop, I go for the backdoor:

Straight after we all make our way to the Ink Club, only a short walk away. Soon after we arrive we are buying a nicecat painting and 2 x „7“‘s from the extremely friendly Kepi Ghoulie, and as we are all cat lovers he is showing us a photo of his little black cat at home on his mobile, telling us a little worried that they have not been separated for so long before. Nice person! First up on the acoustic stage in the tattoo club are Gutter Romance from the UK respectively Berlin (they’ve moved from London), where Debbie and Spider (of Zatopeks fame) are living now. And they show just how awesome an acoustic set can be: Spider moving and swinging to the music, shaking his acoustic guitar like it was electric, and Debbie singing in the audience from time to time, before they are joined by Kevin Ghoulie and fellow Zatopek Will DeNiro on stage. They have what I like to call Ooomph, that extra bit of energy: they kick ass!   

Before it’s time for Kepi Ghoulie to hit the stage for the first time this Friday to play an acoustic set, people are hanging around inside the air-conditioned tattoo studio or outside in the yard. It’s pretty hot outside and vocalist Morten from Norway’s Yum Yums is moaning about the heat with sweat dripping off his forehead. Very funny indeed as they are one of the very best BeachSurfBubblegumPowerPop Bands on this planet, sun & summer fun being their favorite topic… Straight after Kepi has finished his witty acoustic set we head back to the apartment by bus before it’s time to set out for Edone and the festival grounds again.

We’re missing the Werecats set and most of the Ponches, another pretty good Italian band, as we decide it’s time for a Pizza. Edone Youth Center is offering a great choice of pizza at very reasonable prices, same as the fine beer & cocktail selection, and as the festival is free of charge it is obviously essential to eat & drink a lot to keep this wonderful event going. And then… it’s time for Kepi Ghoulie again. Backed by the Copyrights he is playing a fine set that consists mainly of songs from the excellent “Fun In The Dark” album. I’ve to admit that I’m not all that familiar with Kepi and his work, but I’d just bought the re-release of that album (Kepi backed by The Accelerators) some weeks ago: an all killer no filler album with awesome songs about Vampires and Brain Scrambling Devices – smashing!

Soon after the Copyrights are back to play their own show. Once more I never really got into the Copyrights, owned their “Learn The Hard Way” album, still owning their split with the Methadones. Fronted by the very likeable Adam Fletcher they put on a great and energetic show, I really need to check them out again. Their set has a Hit by Hit feeling, lots of short songs that make the Italian crowd go wild. Party! Party! Party! “Shit’s fucked” for sure. Hard to compare as we didn’t make it back in time for their show with Kepi on the MS Hedi in Hamburg the following Monday, but what I could figure out from Dos Alert’s review and video, it just wasn’t the same. But then you always have a fantastic sound at the Raduno, don’t know how they do it, but definitely another big, big plus for the festival.

Finally, Dan Vapid & The Cheats were going to play their Riverdales set (they missed last year’s flight to the festival). And it was an awesome show from start to finish, certainly worth the wait. The Riverdales were one of the very first bands to pay tribute to the Ramones, sounding and looking pretty much like their NYC idols. Founded by Dan Vapid and Ben Foster aka Weasel in 1994 they released their 1st “S/T” record in 1995, same year the Ramones released their final “Adios Amigos” album, and continued until 2010 releasing 5 albums in total.

Dan & his boys are really making up for not showing up at last year’s Raduno by playing a really long set spanning all Riverdales albums, emphasis on the first 2 of course. A big party with hits like “Hampton Beach”, “Squirm”, “Mental Retard”, “Blood On The Ice”, “Party At The Beach” or “Fun Tonight”. The Raduno crowd is going completely crazy, it’s almost as mad as last year’s Queers set with crowd surfers galore and those air mattresses flying high in the sky. If I can remember right the 1st song of the encore is “Judy Go Home” from the 1st album, but I am absolutely sure that the very last song played is “Riverdales Stomp” from their 2nd , “Storm The Streets”. A proper anthem to send everyone home perfectly happy on this summer night. What a fantastic show!   

If you’re not bored and fed up by my report yet and would like to read more, stay tuned for Part 2 to follow shortly. After all the proper mayhem and insanity that is Raduno is yet to come, starting right away on Saturday morning with the Pop Punk Bus tour (including free beer, buskers & DJ’s) to the Dan Vapid & Cheats show at the Roller Derby… (and there will be some spectacular video clips too)

Editorial note: Pics are either by Frosch or from the Punk Rock Raduno Facebook site (and used without specific consent – please shout if that is an issue). Fanx anyway!