After a long postponement due to the pandemic, ANTIfest — the popular music festival featuring Swiss Army, Doll Skin, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Punchline, Suicide Machines, and headlined by Anti-Flag — finally went off on Sat., Nov. 20 at the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks.
For this photographer, and I assume many in attendance, I had this date circled so many times on my calendar. First of all, I had been waiting for a long time to hear Swiss Army play after meeting and photographing the band with their signature Dancing Gnome beer a while back. It was certainly better late than never as this was their last show as a band.
Of course, Punchline has been a staple in Pittsburgh for quite some time as well, but I was also excited to hear something new, and Doll Skin and Bad Cop/Bad Cop did not disappoint. They each had the full crowd engaged during their entire sets, and I appreciated that they took time to remind and educate the crowd that it was Transgender Day of Remembrance.
I’d be lying if I said that hearing “New Girl” by the Suicide Machines didn’t immediately take me back to elementary school playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. As a kid who grew up listening to punk music, pushing my skateboard around town on my anti-skip CD player listening to Anti-Flag, Suicide Machines, and others, things had come full circle. Our Pittsburgh City Paper Best of Pittsburgh issue from last year gave me the opportunity to meet and photograph all the members of Anti-Flag when they were voted the Best Legacy Band in 2020, but to see them passionately going about their craft on stage was a pretty awesome moment. Year after year, their lyrics reflect the struggles we have in this country and continue to connect and ring true today with how we’re capable of being part of that change.