The Fest makes its return for its 21st year this October in Gainesville, Florida. Taking place from October 27-29, the festival features artists such as Thursday, the Descendents, Quick Sand, Gorilla Biscuits, and over 350 other bands. The DIY three-day event kicks off officially with a pre-show at Bo Diddley Plaza on October 26. Blind tickets will go on sale soon, and will only cost $20 until July 15—the day when the lineup for the pre-show will be announced. In addition to music, Fest 21 will also feature professional wrestling, comedy, and a massive flea market.
With so many bands already announced—and the second wave coming June 1—we at For The Punks thought it might be helpful to highlight ten bands on this year’s lineup.
The complete lineup can be found on Fest 21’s website here and single day tickets for the festival go on sale July 15. Unfortunately, three-day passes have already sold out; however, if you’re local to Gainesville and choose to volunteer with the festival, you will receive a free three-day pass.
10. Middle-Aged Queers
Earlier this year, the quartet Middle-Aged Queers released their newest single “Anal Beads.” This single marks the first contribution featuring the band’s newest guitarist Fureigh. “Anal Beads” has all the makings of an 80’s rock ballad, of course leaving the heterocentric behavior and toxic masculinity where they belong in the past. Middle-Aged Queers describe their newest song as a “love song for us, by us.” If you’re a fan of Pansy Division—like I am—then Middle-Aged Queers just might be for you.
The rest of the band’s discography can be found on their Bandcamp here.
9. Flying Raccoon Suit
Last year, the indie ska band Flying Raccoon Suit released Afterthought, an EP reimagining some of their songs. The band also released their newest single “Run Away,” experimenting with metal riffs and subtle blast beats; though primarily ska, it would be a misdeed to describe the group as just a ska band as they merge genres like hardcore, rock, and even jazz. Flying Raccoon Suit’s seamless blend of genres is indicative of a band that has a high level of musical craftsmanship.
Check out Flying Raccoon Suit’s Bandcamp here & watch a video of them performing at Fest 20 below!
8. Carly Cosgrove
Earlier this year, Philadelphia-based band Carly Cosgrove supported Hot Mulligan and The Wonder Years on the Hum Goes on Forever tour, making waves with their custom drum head that read “Fuck Dan Schneider.” Carly Cosgrove get their name from combining Miranda Cosgrove’s last name with the first name of her character from iCarly, a Dan Schneider show. The nostalgia-core band uniquely takes inspiration from quotes featured in Drake and Josh and iCarly. In fact, the band recently released their newest single “Don’t Lick the Swingset,” referencing something said by Sam from iCarly.
You can check out the rest of the band’s discography on their Bandcamp here.
Back in March, Gel released their highly anticipated album Only Constant via Convulse Records. The New Jersey band rejects the “macho guy” status quo of the genre by embracing their weird-side. Only Constant comes in at under twenty minutes—seventeen to be precise—and it’s a force to be reckoned with as it perfectly captures the experience of seeing the formidable band live. With its chunky chord progressions, breakneck tempos, and howls of near anguish from singer Sami Kaiser, “Attainable” is a reflection of Gel’s most powerful skills.
You can check out the band’s other music on their Bandcamp here.
6. I Am The Avalanche
I Am The Avalanche has been a band for close to twenty years now. Equally known for their anthemic post-hardcore songs and relentless tour schedule, the riotous and defiant group has become a household name at this point. Hot off the “Just Like Home” tour with Bayside and Koyo, I Am The Avalanche most recently released their newest single “Honey Bee,” which features lyrics like “Here comes the rain. Will we ever see the sun again?” The bittersweet song has become a quick favorite among fans.
Follow the band on Instagram here!
5. Laura Jane Grace
Everyone’s favorite post-teen anarchist will be making a return to her hometown for this year’s Fest. Coming of age in the Gainesville punk scene, Grace is perhaps most well-known for being the front woman of Against Me! That being said, she’s also released quite a few things on her own, such as her memoir Tranny and her album At War With the Silver Fish—the latter of which is a pandemic release that perfectly captured the mindset of the time. Perhaps the best example of this is the darkly comedic “Day Old Coffee,” which talks about how an everyday task can become a symbol for the “new normal,” so much so that the thought of doing it again is unfathomable.
You can find Grace’s music on Bandcamp here.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to see the formidable GWAR live, then there is perhaps only one way to describe them: mythological. From their highly shocking costumes, to their fake blood blasters, and their discography that seamlessly blends satire and metal, GWAR put on a show unlike any other. If you have the chance, GWAR’s visceral performance—nay experience—is a must for Fest 21. There’s just a taste of what GWAR is like in the video below.
Follow the band on Instagram here!
3. The Wonder Years
“The Wonder Years is a band,” that’s what Dan Campbell would write for every bio about the group. Hot off the Hum Goes On Forever tour, which Carly Cosgrove supported, the band recently released their newest single, “GODDAMNITALL,” which serves as a b-side from their Greatest Generation album, celebrating the tenth anniversary of this fan favorite record. Renowned music producer Steve Evetts (think Glassjaw, Misfits, Sepultra, Senses Fail, The Cure, etc.) helped to “reanimate” the single. Maybe if you’re lucky, The Wonder Years will break out “GODDAMNITALL,” during one of their two sets at Fest.
Check out the band’s discography on Bandcamp here!
What can you say about the father’s of punk, the Descendents? The power group, which was founded in 1978, will be headlining Fest this year. Most recently, the Descendents released their eighth studio album 9th & Walnut back in 2021. The twenty-five minute and eighteen song record is proof that the band still has it. Recently, the Descendents managed to unearth a hidden gem from their archive: a live audio recording of them performing in Winnipeg in 1987. You can check out the audio below!
More of the band’s music can be found on their Bandcamp here.
This year, Thursday celebrates the twentieth anniversary of their legendary album War All the Time—also their first album signed to a major label. To commemorate their emerald anniversary, Thursday will be performing the album in its entirety at Fest this year. In fact, this is just one of two sets the band will be playing at the festival. With only a couple more tour dates scheduled, make sure you add Thursday to your itinerary.
Follow the band on Instagram here!
If you’re attending Fest 21 this year, we at For The Punks hope you have an amazing time! Let us know who you are excited to see in the comments!