Search Results for "The Lawrence Arms"

DS Exclusive: “There’s Nothing I Love More Than Seeing If I Can Pull Something Off!” – Brendan Kelly on The Lawrence Arms, punk rock Champions Of The World

When last we chatted with the inimitable Brendan Kelly – at an upstairs table at a firehouse-turned-swingers-club-turned-music-venue in a sketchy Providence, Rhode Island, neighborhood – his The Falcon project was winding down its year-long revival and there was talk of working on a new Wandering Birds album and firing the engines of the USS Lawrence Arms up again. It may have taken a tad longer than expected, but last Wednesday in the Boston area (see our photos and review of that show here), The Lawrence Arms kicked off the first of three scheduled twelve-day tours in the  in support of their latest album, We Are The Champions Of The World.

If you’re not familiar with WATCOTW, it’s a Fat Wreck Chords-released 29-song retrospective culled from the band’s nearly twenty years in the game. We caught up with Kelly again on release day (March 30), to discuss how a band without any bona fide “hits” – at least in the traditional sense – could pull together a “greatest hits” album. The idea, believe it or not, came from their Fat Wreck Chords boss himself.  “I would love — LOVE — to take credit for masterminding this,” explains Kelly, “but as with everything in punk rock, Fat Mike came up with the idea!” As you may have noticed, Fat Wreck has gotten in the “greatest hits” game in recent years, with bands like Swingin’ Utters and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and No Use For A Name getting the treatment. According to Kelly, Fat Mike reached out directly with the proposal. “He hit me up and he was like “hey, we like you guys, I seem to recall you guys liking us a lot. We’d love to do a greatest hits record.” I was like “that seems like an odd thing to do!” Like, really? When No Use For A Name puts out a greatest hits record or NOFX puts out a greatest hits record, I get that. But we’re the fucking Lawrence Arms…it seems like an odd thing.” Ever the businessman, Fat Mike of course had a method to his madness. Says Kelly: “He made a good point, or at least I’m attributing this point to him. (He said) ‘the way people consume music these days is that they just go on Spotify and check something out. Wouldn’t you like to have a bunch of good songs in one place so everybody can just go there and you can make sure they’re not getting something that’s not that representative of your band? A greatest hits record is a great way to do that!

With that, Kelly and his longtime TLA comrades Chris McCaughan and Neil Hennessy set to figuring out exactly what songs to include on such a retrospective. Individual fans might take issue with a particular favorite of theirs not making the cut, but the album is largely representative from the best parts of each of the band’s albums. Well…almost the best parts. Never one to pine wistfully on the olden days, Kelly isn’t the kind of guy who listens to his own catalog with any regularity. “I didn’t go back and revisit the old recordings at all, which MAYBE kinda bit us in the dick a little bit on this release, because there is a song on the record, that’s not supposed to be on there.” If you’re one of the lucky ones who already obtained one of the first pressings of the album, you may have already caught the mistake. While it is listed on the album’s official tracklist, the song “The Northside, L & L, and Any Number Of Crappy Apartments” does not actually appear on the record. In its place is “Someday We’re All Gonna Weigh 400 Lbs,” the track immediately before “Northside…” on the band’s debut album, Guided Tour Of Chicago. The mistake’s roots trace back nearly twenty years, as when Guided Tour… was being put together, not only did Kelly pull the album’s artwork and layout together, but he and an old engineer did the digital markings for the tracks as well. “This is so boring…” laughs Kelly without realizing exactly how big a dork I and many of the band’s rabid fans are. “We both didn’t know what we were doing, which is why there’s that five seconds at the beginning of Guided Tour Of Chicago that’s Track 1. So all the tracklisting is pushed as a result, and so when whoever either at Asian Man or at Fat was sending the .WAV files, I looked at them and said “oh, Track 6 is “Northside…” and it was labelled as “Northside…”when they sent it over, but it was actually “Someday We’re All Gonna Weigh 400 Lbs” instead. If you’re lucky enough to get a physical copy that has that song on it, hold on to it, because someday nerds will be fighting tooth and nail to get their hands on it!:

While We Are The Champions Of The World contains snapshots from each of the band’s studio albums – full-length and EP – it also contains five previously unreleased songs, all culled from the recording sessions for what would be their highly-regarded 2006 full-length, Oh! Calcutta!. Curiously enough, they also represent the only real unreleased music from the band’s vault’s, save for one song that the only existed on cassette tape. “(Oh! Calcutta!) was a unique record for us,” says Kelly. “We were in the studio for like three months. We were writing like crazy. I had a broken kneecap, so I was in a full leg cast. My songs kept getting angrier and angrier at the time…because I was fucking angry from being in a cast for six months! We just had this huge amount of material, and at the same time, as the record started coming together, we started to see a real vision of what it was becoming and how it was cohesing (sic).

As you’re reading this, the band’s first twelve day run in support of WATCOTW is about halfway over; after a two-week break, the second leg fires up in Seattle on April 27th and runs through May 6th in Denver. Both runs feature the likes of highly-regarded Red Scare Industries acts Red City Radio and Sincere Engineer. Both put out stellar releases within the past couple of months. And while most readers here are well versed on the likes of Oklahoma’s Red City Radio, the buzz behind Sincere Engineer’s Deanna Belos is intense and still growing. “Deanna is awesome, man,” states Kelly with the tone of a proud older brother. “She’s just like this weird kid from Chicago that grew up listening to all the bands that played with us and she really did her own thing, man. It’s really neat. I balk at taking credit for things that turn out well! But she’s been influenced by a lot of the things that a lot of my friends and peers have done, and she’s really synthesized it into something very cool and unique. I’m really happy to be part of Red Scare to give her a platform and I’m really happy that we’re taking her out on tour!”

Head below to check out our full Good Friday (the punkest of holidays!) chat with the always entertaining Brendan Kelly. There’s also more than a little bit of information on that aforementioned still-in-the-works Wandering Birds record!



DS Photo Gallery: The Lawrence Arms w/Red City Radio and Sincere Engineer (Cambridge, MA)

Over the course of a semi-llustrious career that’s spanned just shy of twenty years, it seems like The Lawrence Arms have played Boston somewhere around two dozen times anyway. And so it seems a little strange that this past Wednesday marked the trio’s first appearance in the area in over four years, since the tour for 2014’s Metropole. It also marked the first night of the twelve-date East Coast leg in support of their mammoth great-ish hits collection, We Are The Champions Of The World (released last Friday on Fat Wreck Chords). If there was any rust that had accrued after the three months of day jobs that the band had returned to since they last played together, it was shaken off pretty quickly. After taking the stage to the sounds of a polka rendition of the Queen classic that their recent release stole its name from, the trio ripped into “On With The Show” and “Alert The Audience,” in that order, from their 2003 full-length, The Greatest Story Ever Told and didn’t really let off the gas pedal for the next hour.

The crowd was engaged right from the rip as well, finally knocking yours truly from his spot at stage center about halfway through the hour long main set  out of fear of finally dropping my PBR-drenched camera into the pit once and for all. Chris McCaughan maintained his steady, workmanlike presence on stage right manning guitar and co-vocal duties. His stage left counterpart, Brendan Kelly, was not as noticeably *ahem* lubricated as his reputation had proceeded, though he nevertheless peacocked around the stage in his usual manner that’s equal parts tongue-in-cheek self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating. I feel like special mention needs to be made of Neil Hennessy. Hennessy’s drumming is wildly underappreciated in the scene-at-large (frequent “Henn-Ess-Y! Henn-Ess-Y!” or, in Boston’s case, “Neil! Neil! Neil!” chants notwithstanding). Hennessy is rock steady, proving that you can be a dynamic force without engaging in some of the self-flagellating over-playing that some of the better known punk rock drummers have made their forte. The band’s fourteen-song main set and two-song encore did feel a tad on the short side, but when you’re the champions of the world, people are cool with you leaving them wanting more. Let’s just not have that take four years this time around…we may not be here that long!

Direct support on the East and West Coast legs of the We Are The Champions Of The World tour comes from Red Scare Industries bands Red City Radio and Sincere Engineer. The Oklahoma-based foursome that is Red City Radio recently released their latest EP, SkyTigers, and it’s already solidified a spot on many year-end “Best Of…” lists. It’s a little sludgier and filled with more balls-out rock riffs than their normal, more punk-tinged fare. The new tracks were well-received by the audience, most of whom sounded already familiar with the bulk of the RCR catalog, although the weed-inspired “In The Meantime…” from their 2015 self-titled album finally got what would become a non-stop pit for the rest of the night to finally take shape.

Sincere Engineer exists in several forms but is primarily the brainchild/working moniker of Chicago’s Deanna Belos. She released her debut full-length late last year accompanied by a full band, and it landed like a welcome breath of fresh air; honest, raw and inspiring fresh air. Yet Belos grew her milk teeth writing and playing as a solo artist, with advice and inspiration from Kelly and from Red Scare Comrade-In-Charge Toby Jeg, and is on this tour accompanied only by her trusty Taylor acoustic guitar. Belos was outwardly nervous about the prospects of opening for her all-time favorite band on not one but two tours, but she wears her coy vulnerability as a badge of honor. she might cut a figure that’s equal parts demure and, in her own words, fragile, but Belos is a legit songwriting and perofming powerhouse, as evidenced by set closer “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7.”

Head below for our full photo gallery!

 



The Lawrence Arms stream “We Are the Champions of the World” best of

There goes my night. The Lawrence Arms are streaming their massive twenty-nine track “We Are the Champions of the World” best of collection.

You can stream it below and buy it for $12 at bandcamp while I sit here and relive the soundtrack to the last fifteen years of my life.



The Lawrence Arms premiere previously unreleased “Black Snow” ahead of upcoming compilation album

The Lawrence Arms have released “Black Snow,” one of five unreleased tracks from the “Oh! Calcutta” sessions. All five will be on their upcoming compilation album, “We Are the Champions of the World.” Check out “Black Snow” below!



The Lawrence Arms announce best-of album and tour

To celebrate their 19th year, The Lawrence Arms have announced a best-of album, with unreleased tracks!

“We Are the Champions of the World”, a 29 song retrospective collecting the band’s most popular works, is due out March 30th on Fat Wreck Chords.

The band took a unique approach to crafting the compilation record. Rather than just a smattering of commercially successful singles, they attempted to capture the band’s evolution throughout their career.  “I think you have to have hits to make a greatest hits,” says bassist/vocalist Brandon Kelly, “of which, frankly, there are none.” The album will feature material from all of their releases, and include 5 unheard songs recorded during the “Oh, Calcutta” sessions. 

This spring, The Lawrence Arms will set out on tour to support the record starting April 4th in Boston and winding down May 6th in Denver, CO. Check out additional details on the dates below!



DS Photo Gallery: Riot Fest Chicago – Day 2 (Bad Brains, The Lawrence Arms, Fishbone and more)

The weekend of September 15-17 saw the annual return of Riot Fest. Riot Fest 2017 was held for the 12th consecutive year in Chicago and for the third consecutive year in Douglas Park. Once again, Riot Fest saw an eclectic crowd turn out, including multiple generations of families. We brought you our full day one gallery a week-or-so ago, so now we’re on to Day Two!

Taking Back Sunday was billed as a co-headliner on this particular evening, but perhaps the most anticipated set was that of Bad Brains. Given the health issues that varying members of the band have experienced over the last handful of years — most notably frontman H.R.’s recent brain surgery, there have been rumors circulating that this fortieth anniversary set might have been the DC punk scene pioneers last ever. If so, it was a hell of a way to go out!

Also featured on the second day of the three-day whirlwind in the sweltering heat were hometown boys The Lawrence Arms; Wu-Tang Clan, the Beastie Boys’ Mike D performing a DJ set, ska-punk pioneers Fishbone, English street punk veterans GBH, Australia’s The Smith Street Band, and Faith No More’s Mike Patton’s latest project, Dead Cross. Check out our full photo gallery of the festivities below, and stay tuned for day three (JAWBREAKER!!) tomorrow!



Riot Fest announces full schedule

Riot Fest has released their full schedule of set times for all bands on all stages. The three days of bands upon bands upon bands in Chicago with a carnival and freak show is headlined by Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, and freaking Jawbreaker, who have reunited after a 21 year hiatus.

A handful of bands will be playing full album sets, including Wu Tang Clan, The Lawrence Arms, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Dinosaur Jr., Bayside, and everyone’s favorite crotchety old man that can’t take a punch, Danzig.

Tickets Check out the full schedule below and see if you can get through it without your brain melting from being over-inundated with rad.



Lineups announced for Punk Rock Bowling (Las Vegas) club shows

As though you needed additional excuses to make the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival, the lineups for the club shows should put you over the edge.

Roughly a dozen shows were announced, and the lineups include such varying acts as The Lawrence Arms (and a separate solo appearance by Brendan Kelly), Screw 32, Bad Cop Bad Cop, Vandals, Street Dogs, Off With Their Heads, The Menzingers, The Mr. T Experience, Hepcat, The Scandals and so many more. Head below for the full rundown.

A reminder that the just-announced club shows are in addition to the main festival shows that include Iggy Pop, Bad Religion, Cock Sparrer, and dozens more.

Check out the festival’s official website for all the details.



DS Photo Gallery: Night 3 of The Lawrence Arms’ War on Christmas with The Copyrights & The Brokedowns (Chicago, IL)

Night 3

“I’m alive,” I thought to myself upon waking. “But how?” As I played the festivities (some would call it debauchery) of the last two nights through my mind, I came to the same conclusion that I do upon waking in the morning/afternoon on any festival’s third day – I am superhuman and my liver filters better than a Brita faucet. I rounded up the crew and we headed off to feed on tacos at nearby L’Patron. We parted ways mid-afternoon and I got ready for a dinner with friends. Dinner was accompanied by drinks which of course lead into post-dinner drinks at a bar down the street which lead to flashing forward and suddenly being inside the Double Door again with a drink in hand. I would have worried more about this ‘time traveling’ episode, except it pairs so nicely with the theme of the evening.

Night 3 – The Ghost of Christmas Future

This was the evening that I was most looking forward to witnessing. It was also the evening that I was the drunkest, mostly from bogarting a bottle of Prosecco at dinner. Everything was nicely coming together. Hometown heroes The Brokedowns opened the show. I feel like I’ve covered this band 50 times over the last five years and I still never properly express how much I appreciate them. Their last album, Life Is A Breeze (Red Scare Industries), is damn near perfection. Their stage presence is hard hitting and powerful and their stage banter always has me doubled over with laughter. The fact that they rarely ever tour and I get to brag to my faraway friends that am privileged enough to see The Brokedowns on a semi-regular basis is just frosting on the cake! One thing that always seems to differ per set is where the band writes out their set list for the night. I’ve seen Brokedowns set lists on anything from business cards to cereal box tops to a band member’s leg. Tonight, the list was written on a glass bottle of Tostitos salsa which accompanied chips that the members snacked on between songs. Another memorable set in the books and another set list written on a recyclable food package.

Closing out the openers for this trio of shows was Carbondale’s pop punk favorites, The Copyrights. Similar to The Brokedowns, I’ve covered this band countless times and I’ve never gotten bored. The other fans in the crowd seemed to feel the same way as they pogoed and pitted around. I actually saw three guys in matching Copyrights t-shirts interlocking arms, dancing together all while never spilling their beers. The band’s front man, Adam Fletcher, fearlessly lead the four-piece through countless favorites such as “Kids of the Blackhole”, “No Knocks”, “Worn Out Passport” and of course “Shit’s Fucked” as the audience shouted back every word. If The Brokedowns and The Copyrights are the future that Christmas is offering up, then I’m stoked. I’ve been living in this world for some time and it’s a hell of a lot better looking than how I pictured the next four or so years panning out. Perhaps a Brokedowns set list will run for president in 2020. But I digress…

Night 3

It was the bottom of the 9th. The bases were loaded. It was time to bring it on home. Does that sound right? I figured that since I’m from and writing about Chicago, I should throw in some sports shit for you guys. Go Cubs, etc. The Lawrence Arms took the stage one final time in 2016. They opened with “The Slowest Drink…” and, from where I was standing, it looked like the whole of the audience suddenly imploded. Then, there was a huge explosion of movement as crowd surfers came out of nowhere and semi-full beer cans were rocketed through the air. Now, dear reader, I could drone on about the set. I could talk about the humorous things Brendan rattled off between songs to entertain the crowd. I could talk about how the trio has been a band for over 15 years and no matter the physical distance between them, they cannot help but display their chemistry when onstage. I could even mention that the crowd started up the Hennessy chant one more time; every fucking show with that damn chant! Instead, check out the set list and let’s wrap this thing up. On Night 3, they played:

The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City

Cut It Up

Beyond the Embarrassing Style

Presenting: The Dancing Machine (The Robot with the Monkey Head)

The Raw and Searing Flesh

Recovering the Opposable Thumb

Light Breathing (Me and Martha Plimpton in a Fancy Elevator)

An Evening of Extraordinary Circumstance

Chapter 13: The Hero Appears

Boatless Booze Cruise Part 1

The North Side, the L&L, and Any Number of Crappy Apartments

Right as Rain, Part 2

Like A Record Player

ENCORE:

The Redness in the West

The Ramblin’ Boys of Pleasure

100 Resolutions

Night 3 left me with a feeling very similar to the awe that I felt during Night 1. It was a kind of (drunken) cheer for the season. That being said, there is no point in arguing that the world is complete shit right now. We’re on the brink of what will be a very tense and interesting few years. We’re basically living in a dark comedy where all of this may actually be funny if it was happening to someone else… or to no one at all. However, for three amazing nights, music did exactly what I have always believed it is supposed to do. It was an escape and made things (at least temporarily) seem better. The Bollweevils showed that, no matter their age, they are and always will be a force to be reckoned with. Dead to Me is back with Jack and they have returned stronger than ever before. Dowsing is making huge waves and is turning jaded listeners like me into surefire believers. Worriers are incredibly and powerfully spreading their message and their fan base is growing by the moment. The Brokedowns will continue to talk about space weed and read their set lists off disposable cutlery between songs. The Copyrights will continue to write, record and effortlessly perform songs that will be deemed pop punk classics for decades to come. And the Lawrence Arms? Well, them angels been talkin’ of a possible new album in the works somewhere far down the road. Other than that, the War on Christmas will hopefully remain a pre-holiday staple. It’s the perfect way of bringing together friends from across the country to spend a drunken weekend in Chicago during winter. And what soundtrack would one listen to throughout a drunken weekend in December in the most beautiful city in the world? The goddamn Lawrence Arms.

Make sure you also check out the coverage from Night 1 and Night 2 of the Second Annual War on Christmas!

Check out the gallery for Night Three below:



DS Photo Gallery: Night 2 of The Lawrence Arms’ War on Christmas with Worriers & Dowsing (Chicago, IL)

The day started out like any other – in the afternoon. I begrudgingly pulled myself off the bed and wandered into the living room to find myself being whisked away into an Uber by my motley crew consisting of my boyfriend and two visiting Minneapolitans. The next thing I knew, we were at Kuma’s (a famous Chicago burger joint) and the drinking had begun again with a mere eight hours until the show started. Lucky for me, the crew okayed a post burger nap and we headed back to the apartment to recoup, nap and watch Mighty Ducks 2 before heading to the show. Quack!

Night 2 – The Ghost of Christmas Present

The evening opened with Dowsing. The fourpiece is a fairly well-known local group which plays emo/indie music. Or, as they like to put it, feel good sad songs. Strangely enough, they are a band that I had not seen before despite all that I know about them. I know that they recently were signed to Asian Man Records (congrats, guys!). I know that they’ve played Fest a handful of times. I know that my friends go out of their way to catch the band play. And tonight, I finally heard them. I’m aware that it’s all about how you classify things, but the words “emo” and “indie” tend to be off-putting to me. My normal response: “Oh? you mean slow and boring and terrible to shoot with my camera?” Actually, this is everything that Dowsing is not. While they do play slower paced tunes, they are all but boring. The songs themselves are complex and layered. Steady music is framed by vocals that seem desperate and anxious. While it’s easy to dismiss bands based on their labels – especially as you get older, have less time for first hand research, etc – Dowsing is the perfect example of why we should always give everything a try for fear of missing out. Tonight’s lesson re-learned: Always trust Mike Park.

The unfamiliarity of Dowsing gave way to a band that I played this same game with before. I had no idea who Worriers were until I saw them play on the Double Door stage almost a year ago. Since then, I caught their sets at Riot Fest and Fest and fell in love with their 2015 full length Imaginary Life. Upbeat, sometimes danceable, melodic songs cover the spread of topics from the confusing gender binary to relationships to police brutality. While the band seems to at times have a rotating case of characters, they never fail to perfectly translate their recorded music to the stage. I also think that it’s exceedingly important to mention that during the Worriers set, a very drunk man in a fedora aggressively made his way to the stage and began shouting. At first it was compliments such as, “Yeah girl! We love you, lady!” Then, when he did not get the attention he was seeking, his comments started to turn. “I said I love you. The fuck?” Singer/guitarist Lauren Denitzio became noticeably uncomfortable at this point. The band powered through a song or two more before the man was removed from the crowd for hassling those around him. The crowd let out a cheer and Lauren thanked the security staff before moving through the rest of the band’s set seemingly lighter than moments before. Their set ended with grace and without any heckling idiots. Side note: one of my friends actually saw this guy get kicked out while smoking outside. Apparently, the fedora man – in true douche fashion – started shouting about ‘dumb bitches’ and ‘stupid hoes onstage’ not respecting him. Good job, dude. Way to get kicked out of the venue before the band you came for even played. Also, flush that hat down the toilet. You look like a crappy extra from Casablanca.

With that ugliness behind us, it was time again for the headliner. The lights dimmed as the Lawrence Arms took the stage to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”. Brendan Kelly walked up to the microphone, threw his hands in the air, sighed and shouted “Don’t you guys hate Christmas?” before the band flew into the first song of the set, “Great Lakes/Great Escapes”. Now friends, remember early on when I stated that the drinking started early this afternoon? Well, it never really stopped. Between the cans and the mixed drink and the shots with friends who had come into town just for this, I was happy that I could hold onto my camera. So when Brendan stated that they would be playing a brand new song, I started to giddily clap and jump like a child who just got a puppy for Christmas. It took me a good thirty seconds to realize that they were playing “Porno and Snuff Films” and that there was no new song. Thanks Tito’s vodka! When he tried the same party trick (get it? eh?) two songs later, I wasn’t falling for it. Someone from the audience actually shouted “Fuck you, Brendan”. “Fuck me? I’m providing you with entertainment. Fuck me. Well, entertainment is a relative term I guess,” Brendan shot back as the fans laughed.

Unlike Night 1, which was a Thursday, tonight the venue was packed wall to wall. It also seemed as if the entirety of the venue was drunk. A crowd surfer went to leap into the crowd and instead slipped and crawled. Fans in the first row struggled to keep their eyes open as they mumbled along to the songs. It was the present and the present was numb from any pain. While tonight’s set seemed to contain more songs off Metropole and more slower songs overall, that didn’t seem to stop the crowd surfers or mosh pitters. And for whatever it’s worth, nothing can ever stop the Hennessy chant. What else did they play? Well, take a look at the night’s set list!

Great Lakes/Great Escapes

Them Angles Been Talkin’

You Are Here

Porno and Snuff Films

Turnstiles

The Devil’s Takin’ Names

Faintly Falling Ashes

“I’ll Take What’s in the Box, Monty”

Metropole

The YMCA Down the Street from the Clinic

The First Eviction Notice

Jumping the Shark

Brickwall Views

A Boring Story

Another Boring Story

Your Gravest Words

ENCORE:

Hey, What Time is ‘Pensacola: Wings of Gold’ on Anyway?

As the show came to a close, we filed out of the venue and into a nearby bar where the Rumple Minze shots are only $5. I beat a stranger at Skeeball. I watched a very tiny girl throw up what seemed like gallons of tequila in a bathroom trashcan, burp, fix her lipstick and kiss the mirror before walking out into public. I ran into a huge group of friends that I know from Fest and suddenly time traveled to end up at home, passed out on the couch watching Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. While I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, I will say that the present seems pretty okay.

Make sure you check out the coverage from Night 1 and also check back later this week for Night 3!

Check out the gallery for Night Two below:



DS Photo Gallery: Night 1 of The Lawrence Arms’ War on Christmas with Dead To Me & The Bollweevils (Chicago, IL)

For most of us, 2016 has been a pile of shit topped with a rotten cherry soaked in trash water. We’ve lost some amazing people this year (both on the celeb level and on a smaller, more personal scale). We have an Oompa Loompa posing as president elect who somehow Tweeted his way into the White House. There are still people out there who won’t stop posting memes or hashtags about that damn gorilla, Harambe. Now, I’m not saying that everything was all bad this year. But sometimes I couldn’t help but find myself thinking, “Give me a fucking break already.” However, with the bad times come the good and with them being so few and far between, they can seem even sweeter. When it was announced that the Lawrence Arms were holding a follow up to last year’s trio of shows entitled the War on Christmas, I was elated. During last year’s WoC, each evening had a theme ranging from Sadness & Despair to Drinking & Revelry to Love & Triumph. This year, the themes were taken from the Charles Dicken’s story A Christmas Carol. They included the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Last year’s WoC turned into what I started calling the War on Myself, a drunken ramble through a four-day weekend. I was eager to see if this year would top last.

Night 1 – The Ghost of Christmas Past

The Bollweevils opened the Second Annual War on Christmas with their fast, fun version of Chicago punk. The four piece have rekindled their musical endeavors over the last few years, quickly becoming one of the staple bands in the Chicago scene once again. Front man and resident giant, Daryl Wilson leapt, jumped and danced all over the stage as the rest of the band held down the music. While I have seen The Weevils countless times over the years, I never get bored of them or their stage presence. Each member is always pounding away on their instrument, showcasing their craft while still smiling, laughing and thoroughly enjoying themselves. This is a feat that is not always achieved while onstage. While the members of the band may have been older than many of the Lawrence Arms fans in attendance that night, The Bollweevils’ energy and music still engaged the audience. My personal theory on why The Bollweevils was selected for the “Christmas Past” evening of War on Christmas: they’re a band that used to play with the Arms during the Fireside days. They’ve been around for years and going through an amazing resurgence right now. You get the idea, right? Great.

Dead to Me was next. Is there anything that I can even say about this band that has not been already harped on this year? Jack’s back. They put out a very strong EP entitled “I Want To Die in Los Angeles” on Fat this last October. No matter the members, the band has always put on a great live show. However, with both Jack and Chicken onstage, Dead To Me seems practically unstoppable. While the crowd was somewhat smaller since this was a Thursday night and all, there was no energy wasted during Dead to Me’s set. There were crowd surfers. There were sing-a-longs. From what I could see, everyone in the audience was giving it their all, as if they were right on stage with the band. “Ran that Scam”, “Arrhythmic Palpitations”, “Cause of my Anger” and of course “Little Brother” seemed to be crowd favorites. Fourteen songs seemed to fly by as I tried to remember to stop singing and dancing long enough to snap some photos. My personal theory on why Dead to Me was selected as part of the “Christmas Past” night of War on Christmas: While the band was always great, we can all admit that African Elephants is just not in the same tier as Cuban Ballerina, right? The band is reincarnated with Jack’s presence and are back to being themselves again, in a revamped self-confident way that is stronger than ever before.

The time had come for the Lawrence Arms to once again grace the stage of the Double Door in Chicago. As the three climbed the stage, the audience started shouting and clapping. Of course the “Hen-nes-sey” chant was soon to follow. What songs would they possible consider for tonight’s set? Well lucky for you, I was standing right next to the set list. Night 1 graced us with:

Necrotism

There’s No Place Like a Stranger’s Floor

On with the Show

Intransit

Alert the Audience!

Fireflies

Drunk Tweets

Minute

Lose Your Illusion 1

A Toast

A Wishful Puppeteer

Seventeener

October Blood

The Disaster March

ENCORE:

Beautiful Things

Are You There Margaret?

Although it’s been almost three years since the band has put out an album and extensively toured, their onstage chemistry this night made it seem like it could have been yesterday. While the set wasn’t flawless (is it ever though?), each mistake was taken with a smile and a laugh exchanged between the three friends. Maybe I was drunk – spoiler alert: I was. Maybe it was the amazing set list or because I’m feeling particularly festive this year. Maybe it was because they played “The Disaster March” which they almost never play no matter how much I pray and hope. Whatever it was, there was something almost palpable about the importance of the show, of these series of shows. To be see a band like the The Bollweevils – who used to play alongside the Arms – execute a set with so much vivacity and passion makes me almost embarrassingly proud to be part of the Chicago punk scene. Then, having Dead to Me – a band that was influenced by the Arms – showcase their regeneration basically reaffirmed my faith in new/current punk music. And finally, to witness the Lawrence Arms play to a crowd of avid fans and followers in their hometown of Chicago (no matter where their lives have taken them years after the band’s formation), is an experience all its own.

I know that I promised you drunken revelry earlier and don’t you worry. There is much more of that to come in Nights 2 and 3. Check back for that coverage later this week!

Check out the gallery for Night One below:



DS Exclusive: Brendan Kelly on The Falcon taking a break, firing up the Lawrence Arms and the Wandering Birds…and punching babies in the face?

Dying Scene last touched base with the inimitable Brendan Kelly back in early February. At the time, we discussed the budding relaunch of The Falcon, a band that had already been a pseudo-supergroup and was now adding Dave Hause to the lineup. The band’s first album in close to a decade, Gather Up The Chaps, was still a month-or-so from being released. The band’s first-ever tour dates were booked, but hadn’t kicked off yet. Donald Trump hadn’t yet won so much as a primary, his Presidential bid still widely considered a punchline.

When we learned that The Falcon were going to take a break of indeterminate length after their recent bunch of tour dates, we decided it would be the perfect time to catch up with Beex again to bookend what some (read as: nobody but me until just now) have referred to as The Year Of The Falcon. As it turns out, an awful lot can happen in nine fucking months. Gather Up The Chaps was released to stellar reviews. The initial run of a dozen-or-so tour dates ended up extending to close to four-dozen dates in three countries over the better part of the year. And Personified Fart Donald J. Trump is President-Elect of the United States of America. Talk about taking the good with the bad…

We caught up with Beex in person prior to The Falcon’s recent gig at Firehouse 13 in Providence as a bit of a postmortem on the latest incarnation of the band. “This is it for a while,” says Kelly rather diplomatically, before quickly pointing out that it is not, by any means, the end of The Falcon as we know it. “This is just the last tour on the album cycle. And while there may not be any pending Falcon plans in the near future, don’t you dare use the ‘H-word’ to describe the break in the action. “You know what annoys me?” asks Kelly before diving immediately into the otherwise rhetorical question. “So many bands make these giant proclamations where they’re like (*mock rock star voice*) ‘We’re going on hiatus now.’…It seems to me that it’s just simply a press release so that they can still maintain a little bit of juice while they’re not active on the road. I don’t need to get into any of that nonsense.”

So instead referring to that-which-shall-not-be-named, we’ll call it what it ultimately is: the end of an album cycle.  we just toured on the record, and now tour’s over and there’s other things to do. We’re (all) still cool.” Instead of diving in to a new tour or a new studio album, the individual Power Rangers will focus on their other projects before someday returning to initiate the Falcon Megazord again some day. Hause, for starters, has his third solo studio album in the bag, set for release this coming February. And Kelly? “The next thing I want to do is put out a Wandering Birds record,” he says, much to the delight of yours truly, who still finds I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever amongst his favorite albums of the last half-decade. He adds: “I think The Lawrence Arms needs to get back out on the road a little bit, to remind people that we exist.”

Still, in spite of the fact that the one door closing temporarily allows for the reopening of a few other awesome doors, there are those among us who A) really dig the resurgent Falcon and especially dig Gather Up The Chaps and B) who can envision this project existing as a regular thing going forward. While Kelly is quick to point out that a lot of people seem to agree that this album is something to be proud of and that the shows are a lot of fun, he also points out that “it’s important for us to keep it a little bit lean in order to keep it interesting,” perhaps mindful of making sure they don’t overstay their welcome. He explains: “It’s important to be cognizant of what you’re throwing out there. We’re not a young, hungry, up-and-coming band, like PUP or something where people see it and are like “oh my gosh! There’s this new band you’ve never heard of! You have to come!” With us, it’s like “oh, it’s those guys that you’ve seen in various incarnations for the last twenty years!”

The Falcon project, and the addition of Hause in particular, seems to have recharged Kelly a bit, opening his mind to new, or at least different, ways of working. “It’s easy to get surrounded,” says Kelly, particularly of his working relationship with Andriano, with whom he’s been working since their mid-teenage years in Slapstick, “in this echo chamber, where we all grew up doing things the same way, and now we come into this band, and it’s like “oh, you’re a meticulous, attention-to-detail kind of guy. You’re very precise!” Where meanwhile, I’m more improve, you know what I mean?  That tension is really cool, and it’s informed my worldview. I think it’s informed Dave’s worldview. I think we’ve learned a lot from each other. That’s kinda the coolest part about this journey so far, for me.”

For Kelly and his bandmates, and for many of us, it seems from Jump Street that the prospects of a Brendan Kelly-Dan Andriano-Neil Hennessy-Dave Hause supergroup taking the scene by storm seemed to be more than a little awe-inspiring. “Whenever you start doing something new, you get that kind of “new girlfriend syndrome,” where you think, like, “this is going to be the best ever!” There was a point where I think we all had pretty grandiose ideas about what was going to happen,” Kelly explains, his voice still full of excitement at the prospects. Did those things happen? No. But it’s been awesome. It’s been really, really fun. We’ve made great friends, we’ve played great shows, we’ve become closer as dudes. Those things are so much more invaluable than some sort of fleeting twenty minutes of playing the big stage at Reading or whatever. That shit is fleeting and comes and goes. The real building-blocks experiences out of this have been totally beyond my expectations.”

And so, it’s on to the next phase, and on to writing music under the umbrella of a Trump Presidency. But he’s also, got to get a real job. “My job kinda…ended. I was like a permanent freelancer at this ad agency, and they let go all the freelancers at once. And I had been there for four years. So…I mean it’s fine. But I’ve got to get a job.” That’s a bit more of a daunting task when you’re forty, and when you’ve only had to get a job once before. “The thing is, I never really had a job before. I’ve always done this. The band I was in in high school (Slapstick) was fortunate enough that, through whatever stroke of cosmic dumbassery, we became very popular and I haven’t had to have a real job since then. I’ve been lucky enough to stay on the road and keep making music. So this job that I was at for four years was the first job I ever had… before that…”drank beer in a van for twenty-five years!”

Something tells us that ol’ Beex will do just fine for himself. Head below to check out our full interview. We talk about more than just The Falcon, naturally. There’s the whole but about “punching babies in the face,” and a particularly interesting story about an encounter with a fan in Texas while on the tour as a seventeen-year-old that continues to influence the way that he writes music as a forty-year-old! And if you’re so inclined, check out our photo gallery from the aforementioned Providence show here.



Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms/The Falcon) performs exclusive acoustic set at Pouzza Fest

The Lawrence Arms/The Falcon main-man Brendan Kelly performed an acoustic exclusive for Raw Cut Media and Minus2 Digital Media at Pouzza Fest 2016. The punk-rock household name performed The Falcon track “Dead Rose”, taken from their latest album “Gather Up the Chaps”.
Footage of the performance can be viewed below.



The Falcon announce new album “Gather Up The Chaps”

Chicago punk super-group The Falcon (ft. Alkaline Trio‘s Dan Andriano, Brendan Kelly and Neil Hennessy of The Lawrence Arms, and The Loved Ones frontman Dave Hause) have announced they will be releasing a new album titled Gather Up The Chaps on March 18th.

It will be their first full-length record in almost 10 years, serving as a follow-up to their debut LP Unicornography, and as always the release will be handled by Red Scare Industries.

We’ll keep you posted as more details on Gather Up The Chaps come to light. All we know right now is a new track from the album titled “Hasselhoff Cheeseburger” will be available on a flexi 7″ that comes with issue #23 of New Noise Magazine (more info on that here).



Brendan Kelly (Lawrence Arms) and Derek Grant (Alkaline Trio) announce solo shows

Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms and Derek Grant of Alkaline Trio have announced they will be playing a short run of east coast solo shows together in January.

You can check out the dates and locations below.

Kelly’s latest solo release was a split 7″ with Sam Russo, which came out last May through Red Scare Industries. Grant will be putting out a new split 7″ with Dan Cribb of The Decline on December 11th.