California punk band NOFX will no longer be headlining the 2021 Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas due to complaints about the jokes they had made while headlining in 2018. While onstage less than a year after it happened, frontman Fat Mike and guitarist Eric Melvin had attempted to make light of the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting in which 58 attendees of the country festival were killed.
Fat Mike’s initial joke had been, “We played a song about Muslims and we didn’t get shot. Alright,” to which Melvin responded, “I guess you only get shot in Vegas if you are in a country band.” Fat Mike had said back, “You know that sucked but at least they were country fans and not punk rock fans.”
Naturally, they got a lot of backlash for the insensitivity, especially considering they were playing in the city where it had happened at the time. They were promptly kicked out of their own festival named after their hit album Punk in Drublic. They were blacklisted from many US venues as well. When they eventually released an apology statement, they admitted it was too late to backpedal and formally apologized to those hurt and the families of the victims of the shooting. More recently, Fat Mike made a new controversial statement that the US is “full of racist idiots.”
On the 2021 cancelation, Fat Mike commented, “I’ve been playing and bowling at ‘Punk Rock Bowling‘ since the very first one when there were only 22 teams. PRB is my favorite time of the year. Like so many of you, I not only get to see my favorite bands, but I also get to see my punk friends from high school. This event is my reunion, it’s my convention, and it’s my church…. I was so fucking excited to play it this year….. but sadly we are not going to.”
He continues, “NOFX had a meeting this week and decided we shouldn’t play out of respect that wounds are still healing. There has been a lot of hate messages and threats because we are on the bill, It just feels wrong. We know we said shitty things that caused it, so we get it. Sorry to everyone that wanted to see us. It’ll have to be in a different city.”
Fat Mike did announce that Descendents will be taking their place on the lineup for Punk Rock Bowling 2021, “Hopefully we can see you all in Vegas when the time’s right. But not Everything Sucks, I talked to Milo yesterday…. And he’s comin! Descendents are taking our spot! It’s pretty fucking cool that we are being replaced by a better band! I wish I could be there to see ’em.”
Punk Rock Bowling 2021 is set to occur this September 24-26 in downtown Las Vegas. The other headliners that Descendents are joining are Devo and Circle Jerks, and some other bands playing the festival include Streetlight Manifesto, The Bronx, Anti-Flag and Ho99o9, among others. Descendents side project ALL will also be playing. Rather than postponing it, the 2020 edition of the festival had been held as a livestream event.
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat