Punk in the Park: Live music returns to Big Surf Waterpark | Phoenix.org
Punk in the Park: Live music returns to Big Surf Waterpark

Punk in the Park: Live music returns to Big Surf Waterpark

Photo courtesy of Pennywise

By Alex Gallagher | May 19, 2021

After more than a year without live shows, punk rock returns with some of the biggest names in the genre, like Strung Out, Pennywise, Good Riddance and the Bombpops, taking the stage.

The Saturday, May 29, show at Tempe’s Big Surf Waterpark will have strict COVID-19 restrictions in place. The concert has deep meaning for the acts, who are aligned with the regulations.

“It feels like our first show ever,” Strung Out guitarist Jake Kiley says. “We’ve never had more than a month off since 1992, when I joined the band. We’re super ready to go, and now we have a date to look forward to.”

Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge was waiting with the rest of his band in Costa Rica to start a South American tour with the Offspring when the plug was pulled.

“Finally, we have something that looks like it’s going to happen,” Dragge said. “To be able to get out there and play a show in front of actual fans is definitely going to be a welcome change of pace at this point.”

A 25-year Pennywise musician, Dragge said the pandemic humbled him and made him appreciate touring.

“We’ve been touring for 25 years, and we’ve never seen anything like this ever,” Dragge says. “But it puts you in check with how vulnerable we are against Mother Nature.”

He mostly misses the community aspect of tour life, something he experienced best when Pennywise played its biggest songs.

“I just like playing live, period,” Dragge says. “But I really miss playing ‘Bro Hymn.’ I really miss having our friends come up on stage and join us or having fans join us during that song.”

Dragge isn’t the only one who wants to play live.

“Playing shows keeps us going and has always kept me young at heart,” Kiley says. “That’s been a challenge this year, not having an immediate connection with our fans and other artists and bands.”

It’s been difficult, too, for the musicians to be away from each other during the pandemic.

“Even with Strung Out, we’ve only been fully together two to three times since March of 2020. That, in itself, is a strange thing,” Kiley says.

Although they haven’t been able to perform, some of them have honed their craft during the forced time off.

“I’ve been able to play more guitar this past year than I have ever,” Kiley says. “When I’m on tour, I don’t want to touch my instrument when I’m off stage, but now I’m looking up new music and playing all day long.”

Kiley is excited to show off the talents he picked up during quarantine, but he’s more excited to be a part of a potentially historic concert.

“I was hoping once shows started coming back around that we would be a part of something,” Kiley says. “I’m so excited to be there with Pennywise and Face to Face and all these other bands that we love.” Kiley says.

The musicians are also hoping to provide a release for fans.

“This is going to be really a good return for people to come out, be entertained, let loose and have a good time,” Kiley says. “Concerts are always therapy, I felt, where you can go and get anything you need to exercise out of your system, and without that it’s been a struggle,” Kiley says.

Set lists haven’t been released yet, but Kiley and Drogge have similar expectations for their shows.

“I just expect a very energetic set and us to play like it’s both our first and last show,” Kiley says.

“We’re so lucky to have this show, and hopefully it’s not the last thing we do for a while. But if we don’t get another show booked until the end of the year, then I’m going to make this 30- to 45-minute set count.”

Punk in the Park Arizona w/Pennywise, Face to Face, Strung Out, Good Riddance, H20, Voodoo Glow Skulls, the Bombpops and others

When: 1 p.m. Saturday, May 29

Where: Big Surf Waterpark, 1500 N. McClintock Drive, Tempe

Cost: Tickets start at $45

Info: https://bit.ly/32uobgR

Other: By purchasing a ticket/attending this event, fans are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.

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