Near the border between Slovenia and Italy, surrounded by mountains and the Soča River valley, there is a little town called Tolmin. Here, every year since 2011, takes place one of the most well made and funniest festivals in Europe, the Punk Rock Holiday. It started exactly five years ago with bands such as Bad Religion, NOFX, Strung Out and Street Dogs, and improved its quality every year, attracting more and more people and bands of international standing such as Anti-Flag, Lagwagon, Leftover Crack, Millencolin and many more.

I went there in 2011, for the first edition, out of curiosity and I found the only festival where you can jump on stage, you can easily meet the artists, you can camp for free, and you can drink cheaply! After the fervour for this first edition, I came back there in 2013 for the third edition. And I enjoyed it even more! More food&drinks stalls, more merchandising and the same basic rules: have fun and listen to good music!

This year, for the fifth edition, the premises are the same: great bands and a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this year I can report only from the warm-up show and the first day. Let’s see what happened!

I arrived on Monday afternoon, day of the warm-up show, and after a little bit of confusion on where to build up the tent I immediately reached the beach area for a swim and a drink on the shore of the Soča River. In the evening, the festival began with Petrol Girls, Scheisse Minelli and In-Sane, three powerful hardcore-punk bands which opened the festival before the set by Chris #2 from Anti-Flag and his acoustic show. And then the party started with the DJ-set all night long.

I spent the second day wandering around the site, meeting people from all around Europe and enjoying the chill near the river. It is worth mentioning the great food and the merchandising stalls that surrounded the festival area and provided exquisite food and very brilliant designs for the official t-shirts.

The bands started playing in the afternoon when a lot of people was already around. The first band was Dreamwalk, followed by Not on Tour and Upset Noise, legendary hardcore band from Udine. After them, Astpai played, followed by a very powerful hat trick: War on Women, Consumed and Misconduct which had warmed up the punks and started the pogo. I especially appreciated Misconduct, a hardcore-punk band from Sweden which really did a great show. It was the big discovery of the day!

Finally the three great bands which were in charge of opening the first night of Punk Rock Holiday 1.5: Against me!, Anti-Flag and Flogging Molly.

The set started with Against Me! perfectly on time at nine. The American punk band burned up the hearts of all the punks thanks to Laura Jane Grace as gorgeous as ever and their great songs such as Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Black Me Out, White Crosses, I Was a Teenage Anarchist, Don’t Lose Touch and especially Sink Florida Sink and Pint of Guinness Make You Strong.

Just the time for refreshing myself with a drink and Anti-Flag started their show. Veterans of the Punk Rock Holiday, the band from Pittsburgh were at their third time at the festival to present their last album American Spring. They started with their classic Turncoat, flaming up the crowd. They continued mixing new songs and old ones, giving peaceful speeches and thanking the audience all the time. And even if Justin Sane had injured his hand and he was able to move only three fingers they made a great show, ending with Pat and his drums and Chris #2 in the middle of the pogo singing Should I Stay or Should I Go together with their fans.

Finally the Irish-punk band Flogging Molly ended the first day of festival. Despite the loss he has recently suffered, Dave King was in a splendid shape as all the rest of the band. With their folk punk songs, they made dance and sing everyone from the first to the last song, Seven Deadly Sins. A special moment happened during If I Ever Leave This World Alive, when a little girl form Zagreb joined the band on the stage to sing together with Dave.

It’s one of the best concert I have ever seen and it will hardly be beated. However, I cannot end this report without mentioning the people who attended the festival. This year I saw a flying squirrel, a unicorn, two men dressed up like Arabs and one dressed up like a Hawaiian beating each other asses, a young punk with a wheeling chair enjoying himself in the pogo and a lot of colours and love. That’s the spirit of punk, that’s a very special holiday.

Let us wait for the Punk Rock Holiday 1.6 hoping for even more fun!