The way this post was supposed to work originally was to be a preview to hype you up and encourage more attendance and high fives. However, since we hadn’t officially launched this fancy new site yet, that wasn’t going to fly. Instead, what you have is a first-person account of being lost amidst flying elbows, extending digits, and slapping palms (gosh that sounds dirty).

Saturday, August 10, The Barbecutioners of Bagby’s BBQ once again took over Bottletree: from the stage to the patio, and even the taps at the bar (courtesy of Good People Brewing Company), they had their hands in everything.

I would love to give you a full breakdown of each set from that day, but I wasn’t able to make it until after 6pm, and by the time I got inside, the legendary Nail was just two songs away from finishing their set. However–and this may be blasphemy–you didn’t need to catch all of Nail’s set to understand what they were about. Just as I was entering, some guy was leaving minus some teeth and a few ounces of blood. Singer Joey Henson quipped “It just wouldn’t be a Nail show without someone getting knocked out.” Unfortunately, I just missed seeing Nail in their prime by one year: I was 13 in 1996 when they pulled the plug, and I got my start in Birmingham music in 1997. If you’re like me and missed out, you’re in luck: my buddy Mike Parsons of Best of Times Records is curating the Alabama Hardcore & Punk Archival Project and you can grab Nail’s 1993 “Hell Hath No Fury” 7″ and their other release from the same year “Leon” absolutely free.

During the intermission, I learned that Substrate Radio was broadcasting live from the side patio, where you could also grab your choice of chicken, pork, or sausage that had been smoking since midnight the day of the show. Tofu was also available and very much home-cooked: a power outage forced them to prepare the veggie-friendly delight at one of the Barbecutioners’ homes. Four delicious sauces were available to jazz up your meat or unmeat; naturally, I chose the Green Machine jalapeno sauce on my pork sandwich and was the exact opposite of disappointed. Even better, all of the TVs around the cafe were showing Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It was fitting, because the sequel is even better than the original, and that was just as true of High Five Fest compared to last year’s event.

I tend to ramble when I try to review a full lineup of music acts, so instead I’ll give you my version of being a sommelier–except with beer–and share my beer-band pairings with you (again, all beer courtesy of Good People Brewing Company, and only $3 each):

  • Nail: Brown Ale
  • Great American Breakdown: Bearded Lady Summer Wheat
  • The Bear: Bearded Lady Summer Wheat
  • Teen Getaway: Snakehandler Douple IPA
  • Coliseum: Coffee Oatmeal Stout
  • Green Seed: Coffee Oatmeal Stout
  • Gainer: Coffee Oatmeal Stout (You know, they were tapped out of everything else by the time Coliseum started, but stout was perfect for the closing three acts. Besides, it’s one of my favorite beers.)

Other than the 17-year return of Nail, the musical highlight of the evening was the epic Gainer reunion. It took over $1900 raised by fans on a “Fund Gainer” Kickstarter-like campaign and “nine months of begging” according to Barbecutioner Brad Reed to pull it together. Why so much money and trouble, you ask? You know the saying “Come Hell or high water?” Well, in this case, it was high water: the Atlantic Ocean, to be exact. You see, singer and bassist Jason Barker had to make the journey from NORWAY to make the reunion possible. So you really had no excuse to miss the show compared to that. However, if you did miss out, you can grab the self-titled EP from Gainer over at the Best of Times hardcore/punk archive.


I learned that we were SO CLOSE to having a Plate Six reunion at the fest. Unfortunately, guitarist Darryl Jacks would have been sharing duties between Gainer and Plate Six, and he could only pull off one of them. By Barbecutioner Andy Birdwell’s account, it will take them “about a year to recover” from this show. So, maybe we’ll all feel it in our jogging suits next summer? What are your thoughts on who you’d like to see pull off an awesome reunion at HIGH FIVE FEST III? Check out the Best of Times Bandcamp for free old-school recordings, including the most recent addition, the Dixie Punks compilation for inspiration.


3 thoughts on “HIGH FIVE FEST II

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