In its ninth incarnation, this weekend's Best Friends Day is a tradition that started in 2002, when some 40 friends met up at Hadad's Lake for a day of merriment. It has blossomed into a several-day affair that mixes physical activities with healthy doses of superb punk rock.
Steeped in do-it-yourself goodwill, the event has grown almost wholly through word of mouth and become a sort of homecoming for out-of-towners. Despite the swelling attendance (an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 through the weekend), co-organizer Curtis Grimstead affirms that the event's ultimate goal remains admirably simple: “It's just [about] spending quality time with your best friends.”
Thursday, Aug. 19
Best Friends Day kicks off with five bands (among them Lemuria and Banner Pilot) playing at the Warehouse at 7 p.m. Details on the venue's address and the cost are pointedly sketchy. “Ask a punk,” Grimstead advises, adding: “I believe there might be a mechanical bull at that one.”
Friday, Aug. 20
A group called Field Day performs a free show at Mojo's Philadeli at 733 W. Cary St. at 11:30 a.m., which is followed by an actual field day at Holly Street Park. In lieu of a scavenger hunt, Friday's chief activity will be the “Decathlon of Oblivion,” in which 10 teams of four compete to get into the Friday and Saturday concerts for free.
“It's going to be some pretty wacky stuff,” says Grimstead, who describes the event as “Double Dare meets the Olympics meets season two of ‘American Gladiators.'” At 7 p.m., the Canal Club at 1545 E. Cary St. holds a $20 show with Propagandhi, Andrew W.K., and the indomitable Municipal Waste residing on the five-band bill.
Saturday, Aug. 21
Beloved Richmonder and recent Style Weekly cover subject Tim Barry performs a free acoustic set at Fine Foods Market at 700 Idlewood Ave. at 10 a.m. Then it's off to Hadad's Palisades (1140 Mill Road) for a bevy of all-day festivities: miniature golfing, swimming, pedal boating and grilling. Carytown's Burgers and Fries will be sell food on-site. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., an eight-band bill will feature Negative Approach, Off with Their Heads, and Brainworms. Also, 821 Cafe and Mojo's will provide free bus trips from Fine Foods' parking lot to Hadad's (and vice versa) through the day, so driving is discouraged.
Sunday, Aug. 22
The weekend wraps up with a $5 show featuring Government Warning, Grabass Charlestons and Mouthbreather at Gallery5 at 200 W. Marshall St. Doors open at 1 p.m. Local vendors such as WRIR and Worthless Junk will be parked nearby. After that, Grimstead and company move on to assembling next year's event.
Remember: No pets or glass are allowed, all venues are cash at the door, and attendees are encouraged to find a designated driver if they plan on drinking. For information visit bestfriendsday.net.
Note: The first year of the festival was listed incorrectly in the print edition as 2001.