Punch and Pie Fest—fresh and tasty
The inaugural Punch and Pie Fest brings new energy to Sacramento’s punk scene
Summer welcomes festivals—and so does Sacramento.
The kicker, a revamped Friday Night Concerts in the Park series complete with free-roaming beer drinkers, found people jamming to reggae beats one week and swaying to acoustic melodies the next. Then, the Torch Fest, held at the historic Torch Club, welcomed all genres, such as jazz and bluegrass on its small stage. And, in July, the fourth annual Launch festival hosted an array of artists that included electro-pop duo Chromeo and DJ Shadow. But as summertime in the City of Trees marches through its last hot weeks, there’s still one event that its organizers hope will give a second wind to the city’s thirst for live music: Punch and Pie Fest.
The festival, with its heart of punk rock, is spread out over five days, packed with more than 25 bands and organized by Sean Hills, Bastards of Young bassist and music promoter for The Press Club.
Hills says he believes Punch and Pie Fest, which he plans to turn into an annual event, will energize the local scene.
“I want this to be something that brings new people out to see live music in Sacramento,” Hills explains. “I’m hoping that everyone will have a great experience and they’ll get turned on to new bands they’ve never heard before.”
Of course, there will be familiar names on the lineup as well. There’s Kill the Precedent’s industrial take on punk rock, along with veteran band the Secretions’ classic adaptation, while Oakland’s Phenomenauts’ space-age costumes give the genre a novelty spin.
But the festival also highlights bands from even more far-flung locales, such as the Fat Wreck Chords trio from Reno, Nev., Cobra Skulls, currently on tour; San Diego’s Tiltwheel; and Red City Radio, a four-piece traveling all the way from Oklahoma City.
Each day, the festival will feature a variety of punk acts skipping between Luigi’s Fun Garden and The Press Club, and, unlike other similar festivals, this bare-bones event boasts no sponsorships—an element that, Hills admits, has translated to a fair share of budget restraints.
That’s OK, though, he adds: Punch and Pie Fest operates under a classic punk ethos that values the cheap, hands-on attitude Hills’ learned during his 15 years on the local scene.
“No sponsorship whatsoever. It’s completely DIY, and this festival much like the punk-rock community in general is all about that sense of community,” Hills says. “It’s a really tight-knit group around here that supports each other.”
In other words: no brand-name-beer tents selling $4 domestics, no radio advertisements and definitely no high-paying guarantees.
Rather, Hills and his friends are getting the word out via some old-fashioned footwork—hanging fliers around town after work, designing homemade posters and promoting through social networks such as Facebook.
Danny Secretion, a local musician and one of the organizers behind this year’s Concerts in the Park series, praises Hills’ efforts.
“He’s one of the most proactive and easily the most positive promoter in town,” Secretion says. “The reasons that he’s doing this is because he wants to do something positive for our scene.”
Of course, punk festivals are hardly a new idea. In 2011, the Secretions staged a three-day event celebrating the band’s 20th anniversary, for example; and Ken Fury from the band Rat Damage hosted multiple punk events. Still, Secretion says, he thinks Punch and Pie Fest will be the biggest of its kind locally.
“A lot of the bands that are playing this work together. I think there’s much more of a sense of community in the punk-rock scene then what I’ve seen in other scenes,” he says.
“I really do see a lot of cooperative effort to support this festival. I think that’s what makes it so special is a lot of these bands are really good friends with each other.”
Hills sees it all as opportunity to bring new fans—as well as fresh ideas and energy—into the local music community.
“There’s nothing I love more than seeing new faces that I’ve never seen at a show before. Otherwise, it’s just a stagnant scene,” he says.
“I’m hoping [the festival] will get more people involved the same way I got involved when I started going to punk-rock shows.”