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Festival Review: Midwest Punk Fest X (Sincere Engineer, Off With Their Heads, Dopamines, etc)

Midwest Punk Fest.  Have you ever heard of it?  I thought not.  It’s an annual Punk Rawk event in Bloomington/Normal Illinois, and it celebrated its 10 anniversary this year.  Over that decade, the fest has had some ebbs and flows.  I attended the seventh edition and although they pulled in some decent acts, it was sparsely attended.  Dan Vapid and the Cheats headlined and they were basically giving a private performance to me and my wife.  They killed it being the consummate professionals they are, but I expected more from my local scene.  The venue that hosted MWPF ceased hosting shows soon thereafter.  Somehow MWPF soldiered on.  They put together a MWPF9, which was hosted by a local dive bar.  That lineup had national acts The Dopamines, Arms Aloft, and The Raging Nathans anchoring the bill.

What would MWPF have in store for Midwestern Punkers in its tenth incarnation?  Would there even be a MWPFX?  Some cohesion was introduced to the MWPF family the day Chris Golwitzer got involved.  Chris has played in MWPF before with his band Werepire Day.  These days, playing music is Chris’s second passion, his first?  A new venue in Bloomington called Nightshop.  When Chris opened the doors at Nightshop, MWPF found a kindred spirit and a new home.  With a stellar venue, and a seasoned booking agent in the fold, MWPF sought to crush it with this year’s lineup.  Which they did.  They managed to pull in The Smoking Popes to headline.  Old faves The Dopamines and the Raging Nathans followed suit.  Red City Radio was brought in as was Off With Their Heads.  Normally, those bands would have been more than enough to satisfy the punk contingent in central Illinois, but the new MWPF team did not stop there.  They rounded out the lineup with Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy, Sincere Engineer, Typesetter, La Armada, Flatfoot 56 and The Bollweevils.

With a lineup like that, MWPFX was a can’t miss.  I bought my ticket and blacked out the dates.  When the week of the fest finally came, I counted the minutes to Thursday.  As the day approached, The Smoking Popes had to cancel due to a death in the family, then Off With Their Heads almost cancelled due to Ryan’s slicing his finger to the bone by grabbing a glass with his hulk-like strengh.  It sounded like OWTH would be a gametime decision, and the loss of both of those acts might be tough for MWPFX to overcome.

Well Thursday came and I arrived to the dulcet tones of Better Days out of St. Louis.  Next came a sight to behold, Livin’ Thing out of Springfield, IL.  From the moment they took the stage, I could tell that these guys got it.  I just don’t know what “it” is.  The five-piece included instrumentalists in matching track suits with the shout-chanting lead singer looking like a cross between meatloaf and Gibby Haynes.  Check them out.  I missed the next two bands as I was imbibing at the watering hole down the street.  Blood People out of Chicago kindly stepped in for The Smoking Popes on short notice.  We caught their whole set.  Their upbeat pop punk is perfectly punctuated by frontwoman Aly Jados’ shakes and shouts.  Wanna play a fun game, try to figure out what famous frontwoman she reminds you of… is it Courtney Love, or Brody Dalle (The Distillers), or Joan Jett (it can go on and on); but that’s some amazing company.  Off With Their Heads acoustic contingent of Ryan Young and John Polydoros popped up next, much to the relief of the MWPFX organizers.  I spoke with Ryan before the show and inquired about the condition of his finger.  He then put forth the digit in question and demonstrated his home surgical skills, which looked to involve a generous portion of Gorilla Glue.  We all shrugged and hoped for the best.  I guess the glue held up for a few songs and from there on out, he was going on adrenaline.  Which came in spades as they dropped some choice cuts off of their recent acoustic record Won’t be Missed including Jackie Lee, Start Walking, and Clear The Air.  Red City Radio came out next and I was amped for these guys.  They brought the house down and closed a great first day.

Day 2: When we got to Nightshop for day 2, Jared Grabb Among Thieves was playing.  We cruised right to the patio to hang out.  While my wife mingled, I rifled through the offerings from Waiting Room records.  $1 CDs curated to Rock, Metal, Punk and Emo, aka my favorite music.  We popped back inside for a beer at a very opportune moment, The Dry Look from Champaign-Urbana IL were coming on.  I guess these guys are in a bunch of different bands, playing different genres of music.  But the singer has an affinity for the late 70s-early 80s power pop sound.  These guys nail it.  If you like 80s Iggy Pop, Bowie, Blondie, Suicide, Cheap Trick, The Strokes, check these guys out.  A standout set of the fest for me.  Sincere Engineer hit the stage next, having missed them (her) last year at the fest, we made sure to find a spot right up front for this set.  Deanna Belos, the brains and brawn behind SC, rocked the acoustic for this set.  You just can’t help but root for her, such clever lyrics and catchy tunes.  The way Deanna can cut the shit and get right to the heart of the matter, bare her soul for all to see, and still rock the house bears a striking resemblance to some folks that graced the stage the previous night (OWTH).  SC slammed through some tunes from her new record Rhombithian, closing with my personal fave Corndog Sonnet No. 7.  I guarantee everyone in attendance left a fan.  Would you think that Pontiac IL could birth a classic 80s style hardcore punk band?  If you know anything about rhetorical questions, the answer would be yes.  The Subservients promised crushing hardcore punk and they delivered.  They also promised a stage dive, but as the crowd did not appear ready, willing, or able, to support a human in flight, I think it was a good idea to save that move for another time.  The Raging Nathans had the prime slot on this bill as they caught the crowd at their ideal inebriation level.  RNs classic punk delivery and sing-along style got the punks moving.  Mostly swaying to the staccato rhythms, not much moshing to be had at MWPFX, for better or worse.  Dirty Rotten Revenge are something of a local legend in Bloomington IL and I had them circled as a band to catch.  What do they say about the best laid plans?  My wife and I missed the set.  We were hanging out with Josh Goldman of The Raging Nathans.  We exchanged thoughts on last year’s fest.  I also got a look at his clutch of CDs from the $1 bin.  He grabbed some classics including Goddamnit from Alkaline Trio and Read Music Speak Spanish from Desaparecidos.  He found a good opportunity to upgrade the CD library in the van.  I bored him with the recounting of my new DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) and how CDs are sounding much better than vinyl on my system since its addition.  We did make it out for Friday Night’s closer, another local favorite Dripping Slits.  I have to admit I was a bit toasty for their set.  I do remember that they bore a sonic resemblance to Butthole Surfers.  I have to catch these guys the next time they’re in town.

Day 3: We rolled into Nightshop as Turnspit sauntered up to the stage.  I had hoped to catch Bike Tuff, but other obligations prevented an early arrival.  I’ve been looking forward to seeing Turnspit, as I’m also working on a review of their album.  So I’ve been listening to it a bunch, and it’s a standout record of 2018 IMHO.  I enjoyed Turnspit’s set quite a bit, although it didn’t have the back and forth that I noticed on the record.  Both Jason Swearengen and  Gillian McGhee share vocal duties in TS, many times on the same song.  This dichotomy represents itself wonderfully on the record, but live the scale tipped towards Gillian for the most part, which took out some of that interesting dynamic for me.  They still rocked hard and played a great set.  Skin stood out, it’s an important statement and I recommend you give its raw honesty a listen.  I guess I spent more time socializing on Saturday than actually watching the bands.  I don’t remember catching Still Alive.  I did see Funrod and they surprised me with their classic punk sound and irreverent lead singer.  La Armada hit the stage next.  I had listened to some of their stuff and their brand of metal is a vicious assault on the senses.  They did not disappoint.  After that musical beatdown, we were on the ropes.  I wanted to catch Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy, so we hung in there.  Caught a couple songs by CN.  I dug their vibe, it was just too late and we needed to rest up for Sunday.

Day 4: We hit Nightshop while Winder was in the middle of their set.  Good stuff, atmospheric post-punk.  They really wringed every last note out of their instruments.  Witchfeet hit the stage next and they seemed to attract quite a following.  They kept the post-punk theme going with their sound that they compare to The Cure, Guided by Voices and Built to Spill.  I’m going to have to give these guys a second listen.  Ok.  Next MWPFX did a major tone shift.  The Fantastic Plastics brought their theatrical brand of synth pop.  The band led by Tyson Plastic on guitar and Miranda Plastic on keys looks like they dropped right out of a Power Rangers episode.  Their cheesy neo-futuristic garb and regurgitated DEVO sound really make a statement.  They come complete with video show.  Just as I was getting into these guys, I thought to myself, I don’t know where the sequencers leave off and where the band picks up.  Still worth catching if you get the chance.  Ok.  Let’s get back to the good old-fashioned punk rock.  No one better to do that than City Mouse, who I’ve seen before at Nightshop.  This three-piece gives just what the doctor order from frontwoman Miski Dee Rodriguez.  Classic stripped-down punk in the vein of The Ramones!  We had to cut out of this set early to grab a smoke.  While we were out on the patio we caught up with Sarah from Typesetter.  We got the lowdown on their tour and on the new record.  We are totally amped for that release!  While hobnobbing we bumped into Jon Lewis from The Dopamines.  We talked a little bit about their set at FEST last year which he informed us that the band had no recollection of.  It’s tough being punk rock’s reigning party band!  These guys live up to the hype though. As Typesetter started making their way to the stage, we grabbed a front row spot.  As always they crushed it.  They played some new tunes and some old, and for grins, they broke out a cover of Blondie’s “Hangin on the Telephone.”  Bollweevils came out next.  These guys were in rare form.  I think they had been prepartying with The Dopamines.  Love these guys.  They came up out of the old school Chicago Scene with bands like Naked Raygun and Articles of Faith.  Bollweevils bring a ton of energy and they haven’t lost a beat in all these years.  Fun fact about Bollweevils frontman Daryl Wilson, when he’s not diving off stages at punk fests he works as an ER Doctor in the suburbs of Chicago.  Finally, after 30 hours and 4 nights, we came to the end of MWPFX.  And who better to take us home than The Dopamines.  We caught these guys at the FEST as previously mentioned, and I thought they embodied everything punk rock stands for.  Loud catchy tunes, a down to earth attitude (when they’re not talking shit onstage), and a party til you die lifestyle.  They crushed it.  Going through some of their new album Tales of Interest.  They broke out King of Swilling Powers and Business Papers.  What got me singing was their classic Soap and Lampshades.  I have to say when they sauntered off the stage, I started making my way to the door, it being almost 1am and me having to work the next day.  I looked around for my wife and she was embroiled in a blood game of flip cap with members of the Bollweevils and The Dopamines.  I went over to get her out when Jon Lewis threw a Vodka Redbull in my hand and told me to flip the cap.  A stack of bills sat on the table for whoever could get the cap to pop up and catch it.  I failed miserably and threw in my buck.  Jon Weiner of The Dopamines was next and with cat like dexterity he got the cap airborne and snatched it.  By this time the barkeep was pushing us toward the door.  As everyone discussed where to reconvene the party, I grabbed my wife and ducked out of there.  It was 130 and I had get home to bed.  I probably missed out on a night of debauchery and hilarity, but at least for a minute I got to party with the infamous Dopamines.



Off With Their Heads perform “Nightlife” at Live From the Rock Room

Off With Their Heads visited Live! from The Rock Room recently and performed a few songs. One of those was “Nightlife”. This track comes from their most recent studio album Home, which was released in 2013 via Epitaph Records.

Watch the video below.



Stacey Dee (Bad Cop/Bad Cop) is in the hospital and could use our help!

Well this is a bummer or rather sizable proportions.

The lovely and talented Stacey Dee, better known as one of the guitar-wielding co-frontwomen in Bad Cop/Bad Cop was just about to head out on the road for her first slew of solo acoustic dates alongside Off With Their Heads and One Week Records recording artist Seth Anderson for a jaunt that kicks off tomorrow (January 12th) in Asbury Park. If you follow Dee on social media, you’ll know that she’s been under the weather lately but had pledged to plow through in typical bad ass fashion and hit the road anyway. Unfortunately, according to a post from OWTH’s Ryan Young, Dee was suffering from an abscess of some sort that turned into sepsis and she’s now stuck in a hospital bed. Needless to say, she won’t be on the tour, and as such she’ll be without a source of income for the foreseeable future.

Being the awesome dude that is, Ryan has put all of Stacey’s tour shirts up on his Anxious and Angry webstore and is giving all the money to Dee as a way to help out. Head here to pick one – or all three – up (they’re pretty awesome!), and head here to see where you can show some love to OWTH and Seth Anderson on the road!



Off With Their Heads perform “Start Walking”, “Drive”, and “Nigel” on Live From The Rock Room

Minneapolis punks Off With Their Heads are the latest group to appear on Live From The Rock Room. They performed three songs – “Start Walking”, “Drive”, and “Nigel.” The 9-song session will be available on vinyl, courtesy of Asbestos Records, and will be on sale at The Fest Flea market this weekend (afterwards on the Asbestos Records website).

You can check the clip out below.

Live from the Rock Room is an ongoing webcast started by Smoking Popes drummer, Mike Felumlee, in which he has bands stop by his tiny studio just outside Chicago to play music and chat.



Off With Their Heads stop by Live! From the Rock Room, play “Come Find Me” + 2 others

Punk rock veterans Off With Their Heads recently stopped by to see the fine folks at Live! From the Rock Room and proceeded to rattle the walls, playing “Come Find Me,” “Eyes of Death” and “Jackie Lee.” This video is a good way to kill 10 minutes if you have 10 minutes that need to die.

The band was last heard on last year’s acoustic album Won’t Be Missed. Check out the Live! video below.



Dummerfest 2017 announces lineup

Milwaukee’s Dummerfest has announced its lineup for this year’s show. Held in June, 2017 the event will host: Off With Their HeadsNegative ApproachPEARS, TypesetterDirect Hit!Brokedowns, AvenuesThe Copyrights, plus many more who will be announced in the coming weeks.

If you’d like to get a ticket for the show, just visit the festival’s event page for all the necessary details.

 



Crusades (Canada) stream cover of Off With Their Heads track “Your Child Is Dead”

Canada’s Crusades are streaming their cover of the Off With Their Heads classic “Your Child Is Dead”. Their take on the track is a much slower and emotional affair and it can be enjoyed below.

The cover track comes on the back of Crusades’s latest release This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End, released earlier this year.



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.



Off With Their Heads perform acoustic version of “Go On Git”

Minneapolis punks Off With Their Heads were recently guests on the Live from the Rock Room live sessions show and performed an acoustic version of their song “Go On Git.” The track is one off of their latest LP, Won’t Be Missed. You can watch the video below.

Won’t Be Missed was released on October 25th, 2016.



Off With Their Heads will headline Denver’s Don’t Panic! festival

The inaugural Don’t Panic! festival in Denver will take place on February 17th and 18th, and the lineup looks pretty good so far.  Off With Their Heads will headline the 2-day event, with support from Nobodys, Ray Rocket, The Windemeres, Allout Helter, and lots more.

The shows were organized locally as a “not for profit” music festival to showcase the best of Colorado’s music scene, plus national favorites like OWTH.  You can find tickets and more information here.

 



Video Interview: Off With Their Heads chat with Mike Felumlee (Smoking Popes) for Live From The Rock Room

Well here’s a pretty fun thing as your Monday evening winds down. If you haven’t been paying attention to Live From The Rock Room, it’s a project started by Smoking Popes drummer Mike Felumlee in which he has bands stop by his tiny studio just outside Chicago to record a few songs and chat for a while.

Ryan Young and “Nice John” Polydoros of Off With Their Heads recently stopped by and played a couple of the tracks from that band’s recent acoustic album, Won’t Be Missed. (Check out “Old Man” and “Clear The Air.”) Today, LFTRR posted their interview with the duo, and it’s as unexpectedly rad as you might expect. Check it out below.

Off With Their Heads recently wrapped the acoustic portion of their touring year. They do have a few remaining full-band dates that you can find below the aforementioned video.



Off With Their Heads to play benefit play in New York with Masked Intruder

Minneapolis punks Off With Their Heads have been extremely active recently. Between putting out an acoustic record, “Won’t Be Missed”, back in October, playing protests, and touring; I am surprised they sleep at all.

To top it all off, the band will be playing a benefit show with Masked Intruder, Bridge Under Fire, and Hope Is in New York’s The Vault on December 14th. They will be raising money for the Standing Rock water protectors; this is what they had to say:

“Off With Their Heads and Masked Intruder are teaming up to raise a little money for Standing Rock last night. Even though the pipeline construction has been halted, that doesn’t mean it’s the last of it. Don’t forget that Trump owns stock in the oil company and doesn’t seem to give a fuck about anyone but himself and twitter. I want to do out tiny little part to make sure Standing Rock is prepared for what comes next. Syracuse (Liverpool) NY, come and help out!”

They will also be on the road this December, check out some of the tour dates below.

Off With Their Heads’ latest studio album “Home” was released in 2013 through Epitaph Records and Masked Intruder’s EP “Love and Other Crimes” came out in July on Pure Noise Records.



DS Exclusive: Ryan Young (Off With Their Heads) on “Won’t Be Missed,” touring as an acoustic act, and the prospects of a Donald Trump presidency

On the eve of gigantic clusterfuck that was the recent US Presidential election, yours truly caught up with the one-and-only Ryan Young from his hotel room in Knoxville, Tennessee. For reasons that are personal and professional, I’ve long been an admirer of Ryan’s work both with Off With Their Heads and with the Anxious & Angry podcast and merchandise venture, and find his unabashed and unapologetic way talking about the hard and painful and uncomfortable shit that so many people have gone through is not just refreshing, but that it’s actually been more helpful at normalizing issues of mental health, substance abuse, etc.,than it’s gotten credit for. So when news of Young’s then-upcoming acoustic album, Won’t Be Missed, broke, it seemed the perfect opportunity to pick his brain and, honestly, to find out how he’s been.

The initial intent, obviously, was to discuss not just Won’t Be Missed, but to delve into the transition from an angry, loud, plugged-in four-piece to an angry, stripped down acoustic duo (“Nice John” is joining Young in the acoustic incarnation of Off With Their Heads). But let’s face it; by the time we actually touched base, it was the night before the country ended up electing the Personified Fart that is Donald J. Trump. Young had been touring through the South in the days leading up to that fateful day, and was presently holed up in said Knoxville hotel on an off day. Voting booths on the Eastern seaboard were about twelve hours from opening, and the general pall over the country, particularly those over those of us who care about people and about helping people get better and about looking out for each other, and who are concerned with the concept of general human decency, was just plain weird. Like, fucking shit tons of weird. To that end, you can probably guess where our conversation steered itself pretty quickly, although the two main threads (Young’s professional careers and the coming Trumpification of America) found themselves pretty interwoven pretty quickly.

I’m going to let the text of the interview speak for itself on this one, because in transcribing and editing it, I actually enjoyed reading it and watching how the conversation evolved. So without further adieu, head below to check out our discussion. Once you read all the way through, you’ll find OWTH’s upcoming tour dates at the bottom. Go hang out. And check out Won’t Be Missed right here while you’re at it.

 



Off With Their Heads stream new acoustic album “Won’t Be Missed”

Off With Their Heads have made their highly anticipated acoustic album Won’t Be Missed available to stream. You can check it out and find details on their upcoming acoustic tour below.

Won’t Be Missed is set to release on October 25th. It will be Off With Their Heads’ first venture into the acoustic world. The band’s latest studio album Home was released in 2013 through Epitaph Records.



Off With Their Heads stream acoustic version of “Old Man”

Off With Their Heads have premiered a fantastic acoustic version of their song “Old Man.” The original version of the track appeared on 2010’s In Desolation, and this stripped-down rendition is taken from their upcoming acoustic album Won’t Be Missed.

You can give the song a listen below.

Won’t Be Missed is set to release on October 25th. It will be Off With Their Heads’ first venture into the acoustic world. The band’s latest studio album Home was released in 2013 through Epitaph Records.