I’m not too proud to admit that when news broke a few months ago that Lagwagon and Swingin’ Utters were not only putting out new albums around the same time but teaming up for a tour surrounding those release, I had more than a momentary lapse into “16-year-old fanboy excitement mode.” You see, I’ve got a bit of a confession to make. It may result in the permanent revocation of my punk card, but whatever; I’m 35 years old, it’s been a good run. Though Lagwagon and the Utters have been firmly entrenched on my short list of favorite punk bands, it somehow happened that prior to December 2014, I had never seen either band in concert. (Actually, that’s not necessarily 100% true: I was at Warped Tour 1997, but I’m pretty sure Lagwagon were playing opposite Suicide Machines or something, since I have absolutely no recollection of their set.)
Anyway, it should probably go without saying that I had December 3rd circled on my calendar from the moment the tour was announced, as that was the day the two bands, alongside opener This Legend, wound their way to Boston’s Brighton Music Hall. As the day approached, however, I became a little tentative about the show. Not about going to it, but about how well it would be received. See, Boston is a bit of a finicky place to play sometimes, particularly for some of the stalwarts of the 1990s punk explosion crowd. So an all ages show on a Wednesday night in December didn’t necessarily give yours truly a case of the warm fuzzies.
It is more than worth mentioning that any trepidation on my part was wildly inappropriate, as the venue was at or near capacity, resulting in a sweaty, raucous show, particularly during Lagwagon’s headlining set. (In the interest of full disclosure, yours truly arrived from suburbia just as This Legend were finishing their set. Early shows make for many a show-opener missed.) Though the show was admittedly not without its technical difficulties, the general consensus is that the issues plagued the bands more than they did the crowd. No names are necessary, but I think we all know that there are numerous bands well in to their second or third (or fourth…) decades that continue to phone in performances night after night, essentially serving as almost unrecognizable shells of their former selves. It should be stated for the record that both the Utters and Lagwagon remain at-or-near the top of their live performance game, and both have put out some of the more highly-touted releases of their respective careers in the very recent past. The current wave of popular punk bands…if there is such a wave…should take notes (and with two-thirds of up-and-coming Boston punk band The Barroom Heroes in attendance, it seems that’s exactly what was happening).
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