Less Than Jake. Photo via Shutterstock.

The Fest 2023

OCTOBER 27-29, 2023


Where Florida’s angsty football haters and punk rock lovers unite.

Gainesville, Florida’s The Fest is true, anti-capitalist punk rock. Event planners intentionally hold the festival during the last weekend of October when the University of Florida football team leaves town to play the University of Georgia, resulting in a relatively empty, football fan-free town. The Fest 21, the 2023 version, takes full advantage of those three days, hosting shows at multiple venues throughout Gainesville, all walking distance from one another. In its 21st year, it has stacked the lineup with a diverse array of old-school punk and newer acts making waves in the modern scene. Nineties post-hardcore favorite Thursday is playing two-sets, as will ska-rockers Less Than Jake, lesser known pop-punkers The Wonder Years and second wave emo band Braid. Also on the lineup: old-school favorites Dillinger Four and Against All Authority and indie pop band Cloud Nothings. 

In many ways, thrashing your body around on a stage or in a rowdy audience is the essence of punk rock culture. As if The Fest didn’t already have enough of that, it also hosts Fest Wrestling, an effort to showcase independent professional wrestlers known for being much wilder and inherently less mainstream than WWE wrestling. 

The Fest prides itself on the belief that punk rock culture should not be used to get rich, and they keep their punk rock truly for the people. This show isn’t run by a large production company or funded by deep-pocketed investors, and in an effort to reject the price gouging that comes with so many festivals, PBR tallboys will be sold at all venues for four dollars or less. 

The festival will add a second group of artists to the lineup on June 1. On June 16 they will announce the comedy lineup, and July 15 is the “kick-off party” which is when single show tickets go on sale.

The Specs

  • Last year over 8,000 people attended over the course of the festival’s three days.
  • The three-day passes are not for sale at the time of this writing, but you can buy a Thursday night kickoff show ticket for 20 dollars.
  • If you’re just visiting, check out these guides to the best things to do in Florida’s many great cities.


Is this The Fest put on by the Center for Pastoral Leadership?

No, it’s not. That festival is the Christian one that’s held in Wickliffe, Ohio. This year it is on Sunday, August 6, and features Christian artists like Chris Tomlin and Big Daddy Weave.

Who is on the lineup of The Fest 2023 in Gainesville? 

Headliners include Thursday, Less Than Jake and Descendents. Also on the bill are: Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits, The Wonder Years, Dillinger Four, Lucero, Gwar, Sparta, All, Laura Jane Grace, Mustard Plug, Against All Authority, Samiam, Braid, Strike Anywhere, Smoking Popes, The Pietasters, Cloud Nothings, Eve 6, Saetia, Prince Daddy & The Hyena, Jeromes Dream, Tim Barry, Brendan Kelly, Chris Gethard, Folly, We Are The Union, I Am The Avalanche, Free Throw, Direct Hit, No Trigger, Zeta, The Bollweevils, Gel, The Methadones, Capsule, Signals, Elway, Jer and more.

Where is The Festival held in Gainesville?

The Fest is a multiple-venue underground music festival held annually. The shows take place in downtown Gainesville and beyond. Here is a list of the venues:

  • Boxcar/ Depot Park –  201 SE Depot Ave
  • Bo Diddley Plaza –  111 E University Ave
  • Heartwood –  619 S Main St
  • The Backyard @ Boca Fiesta-  232 SE 1st St
  • Palomino – 19  SE 2nd Pl
  • Vivid Music Hall –  201 W. UNV AVE.
  • High Dive –  210 SW 2nd Ave
  • Loosey’s –  120 SW 1st Ave
  • The Wooly – 20 N Main St
  • Vecinos – 208 W University Ave
  • Hippodrome – 25 SE 2nd Pl
  • The Bull –  18 SW 1st Ave
  • How Bazar – 60 SW 2nd St

How far is Jacksonville from Gainesville? 

Jacksonville is about 70 miles from Gainesville.

2023 Poster



Past Performances

The Suicide Machines, 2022

Comeback Kid, 2022

The Flatliners, 2022

Avail, 2022

The Menziners, 2022

#thefest on TikTok

BY Ayla Burnett