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DS Show Review: FEST 16 Gainesville – Day 3

As I soaked in all of the sights, sounds and smells of FEST 16 in days 1 and 2, I purposely tried to keep day 3 out of my mind.  Day 3 had some great bands that I couldn’t wait to check out, but I knew that getting to day 3 meant that FEST was coming to a close.

I don’t think I was the only one with the aforementioned sentiment, people were going after it hard Saturday night.  I could hear them outside singing and reveling into the wee hours.  I felt ok Sunday morning.  Got some food and coffee in me, and got ready to face the day.  T shirt game was not as important today as the forecast called for unseasonably cool temps.  High of 65 meant that I would don the only sweatshirt I brought.  It has the Chicago flag on the front of it, which prompted a shout of “Oh Calcutta!!” from an apparent Lawrence Arms fan.  After three nights of mayhem, we were delayed getting out the door.  I wanted to catch After the Fall, but we actually arrived too late for that and went straight to High Dive to catch Squirtgun doing a retrospective of all the bands they had been in.  If you don’t know Squirtgun, they are fronted by Mass Giorgini who is probably best known as owner and resident producer at Sonic Iguana.  Some major punk royalty has recorded at SI with Mass at the boards.  Squirtgun broke out some of those tunes in a solid set which included The Riverdales and Screeching Weasel.

Next we grabbed a bite at Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille.  We could’ve heard Apologies I have none, but it was too cold to sit outside.  Sitting in a chain restaurant on Sunday afternoon did not do much to lift me out of the depression of FEST coming to an end.  After lunch, we cruised over to Bo Diddley to catch The Movielife.  I’ve been following these guys for a while and I real wanted to see them at Riot Fest, but a conflict messed that up.  Although they played in a tough spot, Sunday, Outdoors, afternoon, cool day, they represented.  Not my standout set of the FEST, but not bad.

After Movielife, we had some tough conflicts.  Mean Jeans, Toyguitar, Hiccup, and Ray Rocket (Teenage Bottlerocket).  My wife wanted to catch Ray, so we cruised over to Big Lou’s pizza for the show.  I grabbed a couple of beers to perk us up and we sat on the patio there sipping our brews as Ray got set up.  I’m so glad we caught this show, because he conveyed the hungover depressed malaise that everyone was feeling.  Ray asked us to bear with him as he had spent the previous night going door to door at Holiday Inn with The Dopamines.  Paint your own picture there.  As the cool breeze blew through, Ray gave us a solid but chill set, the perfect cure to what ailed us.  He played “Do you wanna go to Tijuana,” dedicated to his twin brother Brandon who passed away in 2015, and covered The Ramones “Pet Sematary.”

The Ray Rocket set definitely perked us up.  We cruised over to Tall Paul’s and caught some of Makewar’s set.  We bellied up to the bar and threw down some of their brewed-in-house craft beer.  The habanero-spiced pale ale stole the show.  It brought the heat!!  We had to cut out of Makewar to get a good spot for Smoking Popes.  Being from Chicago, my wife and I are both big Popes fans.  The Popes never disappoint.  They’ve been around a long time and they know what people want to hear.  They bring the hits one after the other.  They played my fave “No More Smiles” as well as “Megan,” “Paul,” “Rubella.”  One of the many highlights of this set was their cover of MC5’s “Ramblin’ Rose.”  And of course they played “Need You Around.”  When it came to playing Bo Diddley, some bands sounded better than others, but the Popes really rocked this stage.  Safe to say, this set was up there in the top 5 of FEST.

Iron Chic hit the Bo Diddley stage next, so we hung around for that.  IC had a very lively crowd and their brand of punk rock really got the people moving and singing along.  You could tell people were amped for this band.  We watched the set from afar, but we already had tickets to see them in Chicago in December, so we cut out to check some other sets.  We caught Kamikaze Girls at the Wooly.  I have no recollection of it.  I remember bouncing across the street to The Atlantic where Machinist! was playing.  I only caught the last song, wish I had seen more.  This mad dash ended at Rockey’s where we caught the last few songs from The Raging Nathans.  We must’ve been in the right place as a few dignitaries were on hand such as OWTH’s Ryan Young.

One of the reasons I broke the bank and travelled down to FEST this year was Superchunk.  I’ve seen them a handful of times; the first time in 1993.  At one point I remember thinking to myself, “I’m going to buy every Superchunk album that ever comes out.”  Well who knew they would put out like 40 records!?!  I don’t have them all, but I have a lot of them.  So we trekked over to Bo Diddley to catch Sunday’s headliner, Superchunk.  For one, they sounded great.  I’ll give them that.  They didn’t play the full 90 minutes, which was a bit of a bummer.  They also threw in some random tunes like “Hello Hawk” and “I Got Cut.”  Deep cuts aside, they also dropped some fan favorites like: “Slack Motherfucker, Sick to Move, Driveway to Driveway, Hyper Enough, Precision Auto, and Seed Toss.”  The ‘Chunk brought the goods and sent the main stage out in grand fashion.

The main stage might have been done, but we were not!  We popped over to The Wooly, grabbed a brew and caught Meat Wave.  Their new album, “The Incessant” is on my list of the best of 2017.  These guys rock the 3 piece like Alkaline Trio or Husker Du; although their sound is more like Big Black.  I’m definitely going to catch these guys again.  After MW, I made a fatal error.  I decided we should hit Durty Nelly’s to catch Dingus.  For one, I had the complete wrong band.  I guess there are two Dingus’s (Dingi?).  Unfortunately, the one I planned to see was recording an album in Belgium at the time.  I sat there for about a half hour completely confused.  When we came to our senses, I looked my wife in the eye and I could tell she was done.  40 shows over 3 days will tend to wear you out.  I was running on fumes as well.  We decided to call it quits.  I had hoped to catch Night Witch, Teen Agers, and Tiltwheel; but I will have to wait for them to come to town.

We survived FEST 16, and had an amazing time!  One thing is for sure, we will be marking our calendars for the lineup announcement for FEST 17.  We will be back!



FEST 16 Gainsesville Day 2

Read my review of Day 1 here.

Woke up on Day 2 of the FEST feeling pretty good.  Got fueled up on coffee and complimentary pastries and was ready to hit it.  My T-shirt game was on point.  I had my Broadways T set aside and didn’t have any reservations about it.  Without much fanfare, we bailed the hotel.  The weather was perfect, 80 and sunny, which worked out nicely as many of the acts on our list were playing outside at Bo Diddley Plaza.

We arrived at Bo Diddley just in time to grab a couple of drinks and see The Dirty Nil.  I’m a fan of TDN, I know their music tends more to the pop side of punk and they’ve had issues with people calling them punk.  Call it what you will, I like it.  They brought it in their set.  Maybe they lacked a little energy and that could be due to playing at 2pm.  After Dirty Nil, we caught the second Teenage Bottlerocket set, this time conveniently at Bo Diddley.  Catching them outside didn’t compare to the High Dive show, but it was still amazing.  These guys are pros and they lay it down no matter the time or place.

Off With Their Heads came out next.  Once again at Bo Diddley.  Ryan was in rare form.  He paid some guy in the crowd $20 to dress up as Sully from Avatar.  The guy skulked around the stage for a few songs and then Ryan assisted him into the crowd.  For the rest of the show, the wig was flying through the air like a hairy hawk.  Wish we could have seen more of OWTH as they were in rare form, but we had to cut out because I really wanted to catch Grade.  When I saw that Grade was playing FEST, I had it circled and underlined.  I loved these guys back in 2000, and they pretty much fell completely off my radar.  I gained a new appreciation for their catalog during my fest preparation.  The downside, they were playing at 8 Seconds.  There’s just something about that place that’s a little depressing.  I don’t know if it’s just the way it looks like a typical college campus meat market, whether it’s too dark, whether it’s the shitty sound, or all of the above.  Throw in the fact that not as many other FESTers were as amped as I was for the Grade reunion, and you have the makings of a downer set.  From what I could tell, Grade sounded good, but everything sounds like mud at 8 Seconds, so for these guys, it was just a big mushpile.  We hung out upstairs where a roof blocks the sound even further, making for a quieter muddied mess.

Getting out into the open air really raised our spirits.  We basked in the sun as we headed back to Bo Diddley for Beach Slang.  Whenever BS comes on the ipod, I’m like “Who is this” (good thing) and I had hoped seeing them live would drive that home.  They brought it, the singer has a cool 1980s ruffled tuxedo happening, they busted out a Replacements cover, but it just didn’t make me want to buy all their records.  The next band on the list, Extinction AD, would hopefully get us to the next level with their brand of Pantera-esque metal.  Kudos to E AD, they did their best in a tough venue (8 secs).  They had only about 20 people watching.  They still blew the place away.  The face-melting shredding that usually emits from the lead guitar unfortunately got lost in the muddied 8 Secs reverb that completely drowns out higher registers.

We decided to head over to High Dive to catch the Flatliners.  On the way, we bumped into Mike Felumlee.  We had a quick chat about what bands we were going to see.  I had City of Caterpillar circled and underlined.  Their post-punk, screamo concoction really resonated with me and I had the album on heavy rotation prior to the fest.  Mike said that we should try to catch the Penske File.  He was adamant that it would be one of the best sets of the fest.  Interest piqued.  We waited for like 20 minutes to get in to see the Flatliners.  Caught about 20 minutes of the set.  They were playing The Great Awake front to back.  I don’t have the album.  I have it on my list now though.

One set that stood out as a can’t miss for FEST 16, Against Me doing Reinventing Axl Rose.  After Flatliners, we cruised over to Bo Diddley, grabbed a PBR and staked out a spot.  AM really had great energy, they definitely drew the biggest crowd of the FEST, Bo Diddley was packed.  Instead of opening with Axl, they opened with a retrospective greatest hits set.  They started with “Haunting, Haunted, Haunts” then followed with “333,” “True Trans Soul Rebel,” “Black Me Out,” “I was a teenage anarchist,” and “Thrash Unreal.”  Tough conflicts, but I really wanted to see City of Caterpillar, so we cut out of Bo Diddley.

City of Caterpillar was playing at 8 Seconds.  They had a decent crowd considering they shared the same slot as Against Me.  These guys bring the post punk noise and sludge.  The perfect marriage with 8 Secs reverberating sound system.  The cacophony these guys brought almost blew the roof off of the place.  We were digging CofC, but Mike F’s recommendation was gnawing at us.  So we cut out to see Penske File.

After taking a circuitous route and bumping our way through a restaurant full of people enjoying a late meal, we went through a back alley and finally found the venue.  They played the Boca Fiesta/Palomino, which appeared to be a Mexican Restaurant by day, I guess they push the taco and salad bars out of the way to host shows.  Safe to say that making our way to the Penske File paid off.  These guys reminded us of why we got into this music in the first place.  They brought pure raw energy to the stage.  The singer told a story of how one of their original members passed away, and they almost called it quits.  They carried on, and redoubled their efforts.  They thanked the crowd and then broke into “Damned.”  The place lost it.  People stormed the stage and sang along.  Others dove out into the crowd.  These guys had a loyal and rabid group of supporters.  Definitely one of the top 5 sets of FEST.

At this point our schedule had gotten jumbled around.  The Civic Media Center was close by and Typesetter was doing an acoustic set there, so we checked it out.  We only caught the tail end, but they did play a cover of The Replacements “Can’t Hardly Wait.”  I know I wasn’t abducted by aliens during this time frame, but I do have some lost time in here.  We caught The Copyrights at High Dive.  I remember thinking they sounded better than the last time I saw them and that I need to check out their new stuff.  I remember Iron Reagan vividly as they ripped the roof off of 8 Seconds with their inspired brand of Thrash Metal.  The image of IR forever seared into my brain involves the lead singer and the two guitarists swinging their hair in circles to the chugga chugga guitars.

We next found ourselves at High Dive.  Our anticipation of the FEST favorites, The Dopamines, had caused us to arrive early and catch some of Clown Sounds.  Once again, no recollection other than the fact we were there.  One of the toughest conflicts of FEST involved HUM and The Dopamines.  I had HUM firmly on my radar, my wife wanted to see the Dopamines.  We had never seen the Dopamines, so what the heck!  Glad we went.   For one, High Dive is a great place to see a show.  Great sound.  Perfect setting.  They get it.  I have to say after seeing The Dopamines, hearing their stage banter, including their bravado in the fact that “The Copyrights opened for us.  Thanks Copyrights, for opening for us.”  They’re just awesome.  Everything that punk rock should be, a non-stop party.  At one point the crowd pelted them with ice, cups, cans; they didn’t miss a beat.

We did make it over to 8 Secs to see the end of the HUM set.  They played Stars and something I didn’t know.  When you find a good routine that works for you, you stick with it.  So after Hum, we bailed town and hit Taco Bell on the way to our hotel.  Once again, it hit the spot.  I got some sleep, even though a fairly raucous group serenaded us outside doing a singalong at around 3am.  I was too tired to figure out what was going on.  Maybe Laura Jane Grace dropped in for an impromptu set.



DS Show Review: FEST 16 Gainesville Day One

The night before the Fest, my wife and I sat out on the patio at the Wyndham Gainesville and enjoyed the delicious brews we grabbed at HourGlass Brewing on our way up. We sipped wistfully and gazed into the trees. I broke the silence, “Honey, tomorrow there are going to be people swinging in those trees, and running naked in the courtyard.” Obviously I had a slightly exaggerated sense of the debauchery that was to ensue, but only slightly.

I think we rolled out of bed on Friday morning around 10. We grabbed some coffee and got ourselves moving. Other than the bands that we wanted to see, we really didn’t have much of a plan or any idea what to expect. The first crisis of the day arose as I was getting dressed. I had decided to wear my The Spits shirt because I thought it was appropriately obscure and it’s yellow which would help keep the sun off of me on what was supposed to be a warm day. As I went through my luggage, I couldn’t find the shirt! I didn’t pack it!! Now what? Noise by numbers? Might give me some Chicago cred but too obscure. Desaparecidos? Naw. The Appleseed Cast. A band I like and have seen? Check. Obscure? I guess. Old shirt? Check. So I went with it.

After slamming a pineapple drink by the pool to the not-so-smooth sounds of Jason Guy Smiley, we decided to head over to the Holiday Inn and get our wristbands. The combination of people, confined space, and flea market atmosphere overwhelmed my senses and although I wanted to shop around, my agoraphobic side told me to get back out in the open air. We managed to fight though the cars and people. Made it to a parking structure and dumped the car. We lucked out with the parking situation. Not too expensive and close enough to the action to drop off any shirts, records, etc. that we accumulated.

The absolute best thing about the fest is the proximity of the different venues. You are never more than a five minute walk from any show. After grabbing a bite, we decided to check out A Wilhelm Scream. We beat the rush. Got our first of about 40 wrist bands, and looked to grab a beer. Eventually I would succumb to the masses and drink the more reasonably-priced PBR, but I started with the Swamphead IPA, which was actually pretty good. Caught a little A Wilhelm Scream and then cut for one of the first Mystery Shows of the weekend. Teenage Bottlerocket at High Dive doing Total in its entirety.

I’ll spare you the suspense. TB crushed it. High Dive is a great venue and I would recommend to future FESTers to see as many shows there as you can. If the choice is between High Dive and 8 Seconds, definitely take the Dive! After catching all 3 TB sets at FEST, I have to say I love these guys. Total was amazing!! They dropped “Skate or Die” and a few others to close out the set. Oddly enough, this was our second set of the fest and it stole the show. We wouldn’t know that until 40 bands later.

I wrote a piece about how to do the FEST, which was odd, because I’d never done it before. Still I had a philosophy in place, and that was to see as many bands as possible. We often had to make tough decisions and cut out early on some good sets, but I wanted to be on the move. So that explains how we hit The Flatliners, caught a bit of DAGS! (bought their record), saw some of Ratboys (not enough), and then hightailed it over to The Wooly to catch Tartar Control. These guys are awesome, the act is hilarious, and they just bring it 100%.

Next we hit Durty Nelly’s to catch The Bigger Empty. This is Mike Felumlee’s (Smoking Popes) other band, where he gets to come out from behind the kit and show off his boyish good looks. Great set from these guys. We moved on to catch Ghouls at Rockey’s where we hung on to catch the beginning of Sinai Vessel. My wife is a bad person and she really wanted to see The Lillingtons at 8 Seconds. We were worried that at one point people would just pick a spot and we wouldn’t be able to get into certain venues. So we cruised out of Sinai Vessel (very sad about that) and went to Pegboy at 8 Seconds.

Certainly Pegboy can turn your mood right around. They sounded great and hearing the songs off of “Strong Reaction” really brought back some mems. But 8 Seconds wasn’t full, and our fears of being shut out were unfounded, so we cruised back to Rockeys to catch Typesetter. Great set by them and afterward I got to catch up with Caleb Cordes of Sinai Vessel. I should mention that I had yet to get a shout out on my shirt and was questioning my choice to wear it. Then I met Caleb and he said “nice shirt.” I told him that SV reminded me of Appleseed Cast. He told me that he worked with Chris from AC on Brokenlegged. That totally blew my mind. The shirt was vindicated!!

FEST has a magic quality, maybe it’s the music, or something in the PBR that acts as the fountain of youth. At this point in the evening, we needed all the energy we could get. We were determined to catch The Lillingtons, so we went back to 8 Seconds and grabbed a couple of PBRs to pep us up. We arrived to the sounds of 88 Fingers Louie. I heard mixed reviews on their sound, but they definitely overcame the limitations of 8 Seconds better than most. I thought they sounded great. I could listen to Mr. Precision play all day. After we drained our PBRs, The Lillingtons came on. We hung on as long as we could, but had to cut out early. I don’t think they played our fave tune “All I hear is Static” so at least we didn’t miss that. We got some much-needed sustenance at the local Taco Bell, and then retired to our room for the evening, pretty amped to crash out so we could get up and do it all over again.



DS Editorial: A guide to FEST 16 preparation by an overly passionate first-timer

I have to admit something, and it’s not easy. I’m addicted to preparing for The Fest. A cure might be hopeless but I’m hoping that my story can help other like me – first time Fest goers looking for answers to some of the weekend’s logistical questions.

First things first. Lock down your tickets. Then I would suggest locking down your accommodations. The more I deal with the fest, the people, the website, the more I realize that it is meticulously organized and curated. More on that later, but I suggest that people stay in the hotels dedicated to the fest. The Holiday Inn is supposedly located right in the middle of the action. The whole thing is booked by Fest attendees and will thus be an absolute free-for-all during the entire event. I’m not sure I can handle that type of commitment. I booked at the Wyndham. Another Fest hotel that is supposedly a little more chill. Once again I have no frame of reference on this and we shall see. I should also mention that the Holiday Inn has some kind of Flea Market thing happening. I’ve got it pictured where venders and bands can sell merch and other trinkets that would appeal to Fest-goers. Once again, I’m not sure about this. Pure conjecture at this point.

Band Prep: Right now I’m in band-prep stage. You might want to follow my lead on this as it will help you get a handle on the 350 plus bands that are playing The Fest. I was hoping for something a little more user-friendly from the website, but when you’ve got over 100 bands playing a day, there’s probably no “perfect way” to convey the when and where for each band. It looks like this breaks down along philosophical and/or personal-preference lines. Are you looking to stay in one spot and get the most bang for your buck? Then you will be looking at the schedule by location. If you are committed to catching at least a piece of some of the bands on your wish list, then you can break the schedule down by date and time. At this point, I found that I could no longer work with the website, I needed to get some micro-organization going. So I copied the time and date schedules and dropped them into an excel spreadsheet. I broke them up with a tab for each day. I found with a little tinkering you can get the day’s entire schedule in chronological order: my choice for the best way to get a handle on what’s happening when and where.

Phew. Okay. Are you still with me? Step one was to highlight all the bands I definitely wanted to check out. I found it useful to start here and get an idea of what the skeleton of my schedule was gonna look like. I’ve got some locks as you might guess: Against Me (performing Reinventing Axl Rose), Superchunk, Smoking Popes, Hum, 88 Fingers Louie, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Movielife, Pegboy, Off With Their Heads, The Bigger Empty; you get the idea. I had a lot of other bands that I wanted to check as well, and I really want to check some of the cover shows, but I digress. Get you’re a-list, can’t-miss picks in the spreadsheet; mine are highlighted in yellow.

After the skeleton is in place, you can fill in the meat. I chose to highlight these bands in blue. I thought I knew a lot about punk music, emo, screamo, indie, etc. Maybe I do, but I’m always willing to learn more, so I made a dive into some of the bands I hadn’t heard of. Once again the spreadsheet comes in handy for this task. I use eMusic for most of my music purchases these days, so I found it most useful to check out some of the lesser-known (to me at least) bands. You can use YouTube, that would probably be better and I’ve had to resort to it a few times when the band’s music is not available on eMusic. And most of the bands are available on bandcamp as well. One thing that I’m finding as I go through the bands that are new to me: they’re all really good. I spent a day checking out bands and one after another proved to be amazing. Some of the bands I’ve been turned on to (and subsequently really want to check at The Fest): Sinai Vessel, City of Caterpillar (how did I miss these guys?), Apologies I have none, Army of Ponch, Deadaires, Tartar Control and many many more. I’ve got my b-list highlighted in blue. Once again I must tip my hat to The Fest as they obviously know their music and have assembled an amazing lineup this year. I’m thinking you could conceivably just pop into any venue and end up getting into the show happening at the time. Which would require no prep at all. Can’t have that now can we?

OK. So you’ve got your tickets, accommodations, schedule. You’re well on your way to maximum family fun at The Fest. To round out your enjoyment, definitely download the App. Take your spreadsheet and then transfer that info over to the App and it will sort your schedule by date and time. Now you are ready to go mobile! Next, you might want to check out the website. It’s loaded with goodies!! If you haven’t already, download all the Comps!! Get them in heavy rotation on your sonic delivery vehicle of choice. I’m from the old school, so I burned CDs. You might just find one of your new favorite bands in there. I had to juggle my schedule because I came across a must-see through the comp: Tartar Control. I guarantee you’ll find something in there that you might have missed. Hidden gems.

If you are insane like me, you can start planning your wardrobe, but you might not be that hardcore. I just can’t decide if it makes sense to represent for your favorite bands at the fest, or to bust obscure band Ts to give you more street cred. I could go on for days on this subject. Don’t forget your swimsuit!! There are pool parties happening at both the Wyndham and Holiday Inn. I’m guessing that will be a sight to behold.

I really could keep going and drive this whole preparation thing right into the ground, but I think I’ve already lost most of you, so to those who stayed til the end. I’ll see you on Sunday night. Teen Agers and Tiltwheel are my choices to close things out. Let’s get together and toast the fact that we survived. Cheers.



DS Interview: John of Dead Bars talks new album, slice-of-life songwriting, and dreamin’ big

For years now, Seattle’s Dead Bars have been releasing killer music on a small scale. Now, the band is poised to release their first full-length on No Idea Records, joining a legacy that includes Radon, Against Me!, Hot Water Music, The Tim Version, and many, many more.

I was lucky enough to hear the new record and talk to chief songwriter and vocalist John Maiello via e-mail. Click here for the interview.



Dead Bars (pop-punk) stream new album “Dream Gig”

Seattle gruffy pop-punks Dead Bars are streaming their long awaited new album, Dream Gig. The 8-track release is currently up for streaming over on the band’s Bandcamp page, which you can check out below.

There will be a CD and vinyl release in Japan, stay tuned for details as they come to light regarding this physical release.

Dream Gig is officially released digitally through No Idea Records. It follows the band’s 2016 split with Florida’s The Tim Version.



Album Review: Dead Bars – “Dream Gig”

Well, the day has finally come– Dead Bars have released their debut album. The Seattle punks have released splits with the Tim Version and Sunshine State, recorded a perfect self-titled EP, played Fest, and are a piece of the incredibly rich and diverse No Idea Records legacy, but, until now, they have avoided putting a full-length to wax. Dream Gig is a culmination of talent and tendencies, met with vision and ambition and all the stuff that makes good rock ‘n roll into something to swear by.

Dream Gig isn’t so much a concept record as a thematic one. Whatever you want to call it, it is undoubtedly cohesive. The album opens with “Overture,” a lone piano playing a melody that alludes to the hook of the title track. From there, we get “Earplug Girl,” the first traditional song on the album. It’s a classic Dead Bars song, and probably one of my favorites of their catalog. It shows off a handful of their best qualities– a knack for singalong melodies, as well as John Maiello’s slice-of-life songwriting. “Earplug Girl” transcends through mundanity. It tells a small story with simple matter-of-facts that becomes bigger than either the event that inspired it or the music itself. It reminds me a lot of the dirty realism of Bukowski or Carver, whose stripped down prose and banal subject matter captured common folk and desperation better than anything flowery and elegant ever could.

“D Line to the Streamline” is another highlight– catchy, with a memorable guitar hook, a chorus to die for, and a bridge to scream. “And now I’m closing out my tab/ I have to walk home, I am sad, blah blah the sorrow. I have work tomorrow,” might be the defining lyrics for a generation of punks too old to mosh. In the wrong hands, the idea of aging rockers living out their rock ‘n roll dreams on a small scale could be uncomfortable and even a bit depressing. But, through “Face the Music” and “Tear Shaped Bruise” the music is given an identity of its own: savior. At the heart of Dead Bars’ self-aware bummers is the truth that rock ‘n roll is something worth sacrificing for, something pure and loud and powerful.

Dream Gig is Dead Bars at their most ambitious and defined. Guitar, bass, and drums have combined to fill out their melodic punk singalongs with an almost classic rock optimism– a fist-pumping specter that gives lines like, “I got insoles in my shoes,” a shade of honest-to-god victory. And it’s this defiant sense of accomplishment that makes Dream Gig tick. The title track is the band at it’s most ambitious, a seven-minute mission statement of everything Dead Bars. There’s a hunger within those shouted lines, a manifesto of purpose that throws a finger to the face of anyone who has forsaken art for getting a real job, for those who say dreams are meant to be waken from. From the refrain of “Dream big,” the instruments lead their way through melodies and feedback, before blasting into industrial sounding static, an innovation to their sound that brings to mind acts like Titus Andronicus or Fucked Up.

Dead Bars courses with nervous energy and insight, they’re both wistful and cutting and they do so while playing immediately likeable music. Dirtbag couplets, woah-oh’s, and guitar leads; the smell of pale lagers and the lingering guilt of a path not taken; chance encounters broken down and mined for meaning– coalesce into something vibrant, victorious, and uniquely defiant. Dead Bars play punk rock like it means something to them, like it should mean something. Dream Gig is an ode to the dreamers and the music that keeps their head in the clouds.

5/5



Dead Bars stream new song ‘Face The Music’

Seattle’s Dead Bars are streaming a new single off their upcoming debut full length. ‘Dream Gig‘ will be out digitally via No Idea Records on the 10th of March. Physical release will follow later this year.

Go check out ‘Face The Music’ here.



Dead Bars premiere new song “Earplug Girl”

Seattle punks Dead Bars have premiered a new song from their upcoming album Dream Gig.

The track’s called “Earplug Girl,” and you can check it out below.

Dream Gig is set to release on March 10th through No Idea Records.



Dead Bars (No Idea melodic punk) announce new album “Dream Gig” and tour

Seattle’s Dead Bars have announced their new album Dream Gig will be released digitally on March 10th, with the vinyl release handled by No Idea Records. The band will air a studio session on KEXP on March 18th at 10pm.

And if you wanna catch them live, they also have a handful of Pacific Northwest Tour Dates coming down the pipeline, listed below.

March 16th – Bellingham, WA @ The Swillery
March 17th – Vancouver, BC @ Astoria
March 18th – Victoria, BC @ Logan’s Pub
March 19th – Seattle, WA @ Vera Project **All Ages**

In the band’s own words:

“Founded in Seattle, WA by vocalist and songwriter John Maiello in 2013, Dead Bars had a very specific plan to play one show, record a demo, and only tour Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. After four years of playing a lot more shows, recording five seven-inch’s released on three different labels in three different countries, and never touring outside the continental United States, Dead Bars is releasing their first LP titled Dream Gig. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes you don’t get what you want. Keep on dreamin’.”

Dead Bars self-titled EP was reviewed here. Their last release was a split with the Tim Version in 2016.



DS Exclusive: Crusades premiere new song and video, plus interview with singer Dave Williams

Sweet news! Crusades have released a lyric video for “1713 (The Scorching Fevers)” off their upcoming This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End, out March 7th through Anxious & Angry (US) and Countless Altars (Canada/World).

Even better news! I was lucky enough to sit down (via e-mail) with Crusades singer and guitarist Dave Williams to talk about songwriting, heavy music, and cathartic art. Click here to check out the video and the interview!



Dead Bars and The Tim Version stream split EP

Seattle punk band Dead Bars and Tampa punk act The Tim Version have released a split EP, and you can listen to it now.

Check it out below.

The split was released on August 26th, 2016 via No Idea Records.



The Fest announces schedule and a handful of more bands

The schedule for the party weekend of the year is out: The Fest 15 hosted by No Idea Records. You can check it out here and the Pre-Fest schedule here. In addition to the schedule dropping, they’ve added a few new bands including Cayetana, Hard Girls & Super Unison. You can see the whole list below.

The Fest takes place October 28th-30th in Gainesville, FL while Pre-Fest is October 26th and 27th in Tampa.



Dead Bars do short west coast run

Dead Bars has announced a short run of dates with The Tim Version. Check the dates below.

Dead Bars last released the single “Emergency” with “Off The Ground” in June 2015. The Tim Version released “Ordinary Life” in September 2014.



Shallow Cuts stream new song “Decision Tree”

Shallow Cuts are streaming a new song titled “Decision Tree” and you can give it a listen here.

“Decision Tree” will appear on Shallow Cuts’ upcoming albumEmpty Beach Town, which is due out on June 14, 2016 through No Idea Records.