7th Annual Punk Island Proves That Punk is Not Dead

Date: June 23, 2014

By Anthony Di Paolo

Whoever said that the best things in life are not free have most certainly never attended Punk Island.

On Saturday June 21, a punk music festival took place at Pier One in Staten Island. The show started at 11 AM and continued until 9 PM. With seven different stages just outside and along the Pier, a grand total of 97 bands played throughout the day. To top it all off, the show was entirely free of charge.

Traveling with my friend and soon-to-be staff member of WSOU, Dustin Feynman, we took the Staten Island Ferry (also free of charge) to Pier One. Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted with the thrashing sound of The Retreevers playing at the first stage.Between them and the other 96 bands playing, there was a wide variety of music spread out on the seven stages. Whether it was a third-wave ska-punk band like the High School Football Heroes, a banjo wielding band promoting women's rights like Absinthe Rose, or a heavy metal band like Mad Diesel, there was something for everyone. While I do not want to sound politically correct, there were honestly no bad bands there. Some were just better than others, and it reflected as people would flock to a certain stage when a band was playing well (or just sounded really interesting).

Speaking of the audience, they were also a big component of making Punk Island such a memorable experience. Even with the spiked and dyed hair, metal studded jackets and vests, and politically evocative shirts that would not be taken lightly if worn on a college campus, they were without a doubt the friendliest bunch of people out of any music festival I have gone to.Regardless of the band, there was always an abundance of people dancing or moshing at the front. As always, in the unwritten rules of metal shows, moshers were quick to pick up anyone knocked to the ground. Meanwhile, bands would try to rile up the crowd and ask how many times they have attended Punk Island before. The majority of the crowd would hold up 3's, 4's, or 5's, showing that the festival has gained a large and loyal fan-base throughout the seven years this show has taken place.

While the festival featured exceptional music and a lively crowd, another important part of Punk Island are the societal undertones involved. As music festivals are rising in popularity (Warped Tour, Skate and Surf, and the Governor's Ball come to mind), the prices for these events are increasing as well.Punk Island, on the other hand, is free of charge, and has been in its seven years of existence. Another notable feature of Punk Island is the lack of corporate sponsors. All of the money raised came from fundraising efforts and donations.One band that caught our attention was a politically-charged heavy metal group known as Cop Problem. In between songs, their bassist, George, addressed the crowd on the perils of capitalism in the United States. He said, "None of us chose to be born in this capitalist society, but we have to put up with it anyway!" He continued, "One thing I realized (about capitalism) is that one person's gain is another person's loss." Hundreds of people cheered wildly as the band resumed playing. That moment was able to sum up the festival; promoting counter-culture, unity, and the true meaning of punk. 

This was my second time attending Punk Island, and Dustin's first (special thanks to my older brother, Louie, for bringing me in 2012). If you missed the show, fear not! There will be another Punk Island in June of 2015. I highly recommend going to this event if you enjoy heavy metal and punk. Overall, Punk Island has proven that punk is not dead. It is alive, well, and kicking *ss on its own private island that welcomes any newcomers with open arms.

Rating: 6 out of 5 Liberty Spikes (because stars and proper fractions are not punk enough).

Posted in: Punk, Metal, WSOU, WSOU Exclusive, Show Review