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DS Exclusive: Frank Turner plays his biggest North American show to date, w/Arkells, The Bouncing Souls (Boston, MA)

Frank Turner wound down the North American touring run in support of his 2015 full-length, Positive Songs For Negative People, in a big, big way; by headlining the Agganis Arena in his adopted American hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. Turner has played the greater Boston area an awful lot over the last decade, and this particular night, Turners 2031st show as a solo artist, marked his biggest headlining show in the Western Hemisphere to date. It doesn’t exactly reek of journalistic credibility to insert yourself and your outlet into a story, but, well, this is 2017 America. Here at Dying Scene, we’ve covered Frank Turner perhaps more extensively than most other artists over the last half-dozen years, and in some ways Dying Scene’s increase in readership has mirrored Turner’s own increase in listenership on this side of “the pond.” It’s not a 1-to-1 causal relationship, mind you, just a reflection on our similar paths; we’ve caught up with him at record store performances and small club shows and large club shows to opening for bands like Dropkick Murphys and manning afternoon sets at larger festivals. So it was with great pleasure (and perhaps more than a little pride) that we got the chance to take in the events of the evening as Turner and his high-powered backing band, The Sleeping Souls, did their best to blow the roof off the not-quite-capacity 7200-seat arena located on the campus of Boston University.

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled, full-journalistic-integrity portion of the recap. Turner took the stage promptly at 9:20pm accompanied by only an acoustic guitar and started in alone on the first few verses of his newest track, “The Sand In The Gears,” before being joined by the remainder of the Sleeping Souls (Ben Lloyd on guitar, Nigel Powell on drums, Tarrant Anderson on bass and Felix Hagan, filling in for new father Matt Nasir on keys/mandolin/tambourine/etc) for the song’s group singalong outro. From there, as you might imagine the bulk of the set’s remaining twenty songs drew from Turner’s three most recent — and most popular — albums; Positive Songs…, 2013’s Tape Deck Heart, and of course, 2011’s breakthrough, England Keep My Bones, though even half-dozen older tracks turned in to rousing, full-audience singalongs as well. Frank Turner fans are notably passionate and rowdy, and the increased scope of the venue didn’t seem to invite very many casual fans; yours truly did several laps around the floor and the seating areas and found nary an ass in their proverbial seat for the bulk of the evening.

No doubt because of his increased popularity in Europe, but Turner didn’t seem overwhelmed by the size of the venue; appreciative and in awe, maybe, but not overwhelmed. While Turner’s roots remain very firmly planted in his love of punk and hardcore and metal, the energy that Turner and his band have always played with are perfectly suited to play to the very back of even the largest venue, performing as though it’s their duty to keep even those in the cheap seats out of their…well…seats. Before the night was over, the set would feature a full-venue “wall of hugs” (think a metal show’s ‘wall of death,’ only with much less death), opener Will Varley circling the venue and selfie-ing with the people in the top of the back row before taking a celebratory Jameson shot with Turner, and the frontman himself crowd-surfing for the bulk of show-closer “Four Simple Words.” As Turner himself pointed out, some of these efforts might seem like (and were, in fact) typical arena rock frontman hijinks, but they have an effect of engaging everybody in the process. Rock shows are, by definition, communal, celebratory events, and Turner and his mates have perfected the art of taking their responsibility to the audience seriously while conversely not taking themselves too seriously at all.

New Jersey punk veterans The Bouncing Souls served as direct support for this particular night, their only night on the Frank Turner tour, and their first Boston show since the release of their 2016 full-length, Simplicity. The Souls have conquered stages across the globe for more than a quarter-century, so they certainly seemed right at home on the Agganis’ large stage. The band ripped through eighteen songs in their forty-ish minute set, kicking things off with “That Song,” from 2001’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation. From a strictly sonic perspective, straight-forward one-guitar punk rock doesn’t necessarily translate well to a large hockey arena, as the sound tends to come across as loud and muddy. That seemed to be the case for the first half of the Souls’ set on this night, although things certainly improved from there. And the four-piece certainly had more than their fair share of amped up fans in attendance, with traditional favorites like “Sing Along Forever,” “Anchors Aweigh,” “Lean On, Sheena” and, of course, “True Believers,” inspiring gang chantalongs from all points (the latter featuring an unannounced, stealth-style on stage appearance from Boston punk legend Mike McColgan on guest vocals).

Arkells had been touring alongside Turner on the bulk of this run, and while they weren’t direct support on this particular evening, they certainly could have been. The Hamilton, Ontario-based five-piece hit the ground running from the first notes of set-opener “A Little Rain (A Song For Pete).” This is the first time that Arkells have graced the pages of Dying Scene, and their power-pop sound is outside the traditional scope of Dying Scene’s coverage spectrum, but their high energy, politically-charged set filled with positivity and unity was perfect for the evening’s overall theme. Arkells frontman Max Kerman rivals Turner’s own energy, and he had propelled himself onto the railing and into the crowd before the first chorus of the set’s aforementioned first song. If you’re a fan of Turner’s brand of arena folk-rock (and we are) and have a penchant for modern rock radio bands like Twenty One Pilots and Catfish and the Bottlemen, give them a Google.

With apologies to show-opener and frequent Turner tour mate Will Varley, the scope of the setting and the check-in procedure contained therein meant that yours truly missed the photo op portion of his set, though the latter half of his set that we did catch (especially “Talking Cat Blues”) were especially well-received be the vocal crowd. We’ll catch you next time, Will; promise.

Check out our full photo gallery below.



DS Photo Galley: Rebuilder w/City Limits, In The Pines and Dan Webb + The Spiders (Boston, MA)

It’s awfully tough to keep any sort of independent music scene alive in a city like Boston, Massachusetts, circa any time in the 21st century. Continually-expanding gentrification and (sometimes comically bad) law enforcement crackdowns on house shows and DIY spaces have combined to help make it difficult for a really thriving scene to truly take root. Difficult…but not impossible. Enter a space like O’Brien’s bar in the city’s bustling, not 1000% overpriced Allston neighborhood. The cash-only hundred-ish capacity spot is no frills without being truly a dive, and its poorly-lit back-corner stage has been the site of more than its fair share of local and national barn-burning acts over the last handful of years, thanks in no small  part to local promoter Ryan “The Terrible” Agate.

Rebuilder

Bands like Rebuilder and Dan Webb & The Spiders have each pounded the sweaty confines of O’Brien’s a fair amount of late, and combined to both headline and local-open (in that order) a pretty kick-ass show last weekend. It was a busy night for the local punk community; AFI were headlining a mile or so down the street from O’Brien’s, and Boston-based street punk OC45 were playing an album release show down the road in Jamaica Plain. Yet the crowd was near-capacity as Rebuilder took the stage late into the evening. The five-piece (yes, they have a keyboard player, Patrick Hanlin, and yes he was on stage this night; his lack of appearance in the photo galley below is merely a reflection of the cramped stage and the photographer’s lack of photography skills) just finished tracking a new EP (more on that later) at Jason Maas’s Getaway Recording studio in nearby Haverhill, Massachusetts, and took the occasion to rip through the half-dozen songs in their entirety. Most of the songs were largely unknown to most show-goers, but that didn’t stop the crowd from being surprisingly vocal and ambitiously rowdy.

Dan Webb and the Spiders

Dan Webb & The Spiders, in this writer’s humble opinion, are one of better — and more overlooked — bands in the local scene. As I’ve told you a bunch on the pages here at Dying Scene, Webb and the boys play a tight, aggressive style of garage punk rock that is catchy and compelling from the word “go.” The Razorcake review of their recent split release with fellow Massachusetts rockers leads with a comment that “DWATS should be huge,” and yours truly couldn’t say it better himself. There set on this night was punchy and no-nonsense, stylistically different but otherwise a kindred spirit bookend to the aforementioned headliners.

City Limits

New Jersey’s City Limits and Philly’s In The Pines made the trek up from points south to serve as the delicious, mid-Atlantic filling an otherwise Boston-based sandwich. In The Pines, if you’re not familiar, are a coleslaw-obsessed four-piece who’ve got a new EP, “Sides,” out tomorrow (February 10th) on Black Numbers. They’re a textbook Black Numbers band; raw, intense angular post-punk goodness. City Limits, meanwhile, are a another four-piece band who play a melodic punk style that’s been compared accurately to Off With Their Heads, Dear Landlord and, of course, The Lawrence Arms. Neither of the latter are Boston bands, obviously, but as newer bands, they both represent the sort of musical spark plug that their (and other) local scenes need to keep pushing the needle forward.

Check out our full photo gallery below!

 



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 Photo Galley: Street Dogs’ 11th Annual Wreck The Halls w/The New Darkbuster and Jesse Ahern

Much like their punk rock big brothers, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, working class Boston punk band Street Dogs have carried on the tradition of playing annual hometown holiday shows. The 2016 installment of Christmastime Street Dogs gigs, dubbed Wreck The Halls, featured the band playing four consecutive nights at the same venue (Boston’s Brighton Music Hall) for the first time ever. Only the opening acts varied from night to night (Matt Charette and the Truer Sound on night one, The All Out on night two, Jesse Ahern and the Roots Rock Rebel Revue on the penultimate night, and Ascend/Descend for the finale). In another unique twist, all four shows were billed as co-headlining affairs with the newly retooled classic Boston punk band Darkbuster playing full sets before Street Dogs closed each night. And if you’re more than a little familiar with both bands, you’re no doubt aware that this meant Street Dogs guitarist Lenny Lashley and drummer Pete Sosa pulled double-duty, assuming their respective roles as frontman and drummer for The New Darkbuster each night as well.

 

Headlining four shows in the same venue over four consecutive nights may have its benefits in terms of gear set-up/breakdown, etc., but is no doubt arduous for more than a few reasons, particularly when it comes to generating unique setlists that don’t let up in intensity level while giving each night’s respective crowds the feeling that they witnessed something unique. Yours truly was present and accounted for at night three, which featured the Street Dogs set kicked off in traditional “Irish punk” fashion by a pretty rousing and well-received performance by a step dancing troupe from a local dance studio. (Editor’s note: there was a noted connection between the step dancers and founding Street Dog frontman Mike McColgan, but yours truly missed that part.)

Street Dogs proceeded to dive head-first into a headline set that did a pretty decent job of mixing songs from across their catalog. It’s been noted on this site in the past that the more recent additions to the band (Lashley and Matt Pruitt on guitar, Sosa on drums) have reinvigorated the longtime core of McColgan and bassist Johnny Rioux, who had rather famously announced what turned out to be an abridged hiatus a few years ago before announcing the new lineup. Now in their third decades in the punk world (and halfway through their second decade as bandmates), McColgan and Rioux rarely stayed in the same place for very long, jumping around the stage and playing to the crowd with the energy of a band half their ages, yet with the sort of professional stage presence that comes only with having reached ‘crafty veteran’ status.

Pruitt and Lashley ably man their respective sides of the stage, the former doing so with more forceful energy than I’ve seen him play with as a member of Street Dogs at any point. There’s a bit of what seems to be a natural yet unspoken, or even unacknowledged, chemistry between the two guitarists, as they play most parts in lock-tight connection without much in the way of demonstrable interaction at any point in the set. Perhaps that’s all by design, as it gives McColgan and Rioux a chance to roam around the crowded stage that also contained the aforementioned Charette on mandolin and Rioux and McColgan’s FM359 collaborator Hugh Morrison (from deep in the heart of Texas) on accordion on this particular night.

What wasn’t included in the set at least on this night (and, according to reports, on any of the four nights) was brand-new material from the album the band recently finished recording. It’ll mark their first full-length in almost seven years by the time it’s released (and obviously their first full-length with 60% of the present lineup), and given that the material is essentially completed, teasing an obviously accepting hometown crowd with a song or two would have probably made an already vocal and rowdy crowd elevate even more. But perhaps that’s biased, fanboy wishful thinking on my part.

It’s probably no secret to readers of this site (or at least those of you that are still with me through this post) that I’m a rather large fan of Darkbuster in the recent and prior incarnations and am a card-carrying #teamlenny member (some of you will get that). And yes, I get the whole history of the band and where they fit in the Boston punk lexicon and the level of abject chaos that made Darkbuster fahkin’ Dahkbustah, kehd. So as such, it’s virtually impossible to place the new incarnation of the band in the proper context. That said, I acknowledge being among the ranks that in many ways finds “The New” Darkbuster equally to if not more enjoyable than the historical lineups. Sure Lashley is not only the only original member but the only one who can be considered a member of the Boston punk history books (Sosa and guitarist Halston Luna hail from Texas, bass player Ruben Lipkind calls Buffalo, NY, home), but what this lineup lacks in chaotic energy it makes up for in…well…professionalism and genuinely enjoyable fun. It’s genuinely fun to see Lashley doing well and having fun diving back in to the Darkbuster catalog. The set on this night all but avoided most of the band’s most recent release (last year’s No Revolution, though there’s a story there too…), pulling heavily from the more “classic” albums, 1999’s 22 Songs You’ll Never Want To Hear Again and 2005’s A Weakness For Spirits, much to the delight of the sold-out crowd, who were so revved up that they took to singing along to songs that weren’t even being played yet (a not-uncommon event at local Darkbuster shows). Yahtzee!

As stated above, Jesse Ahern and the Roots Rock Rebel Revue provided opening duties on this night. For the uninitiated, Ahern has been performing as a solo folk/punk/Americana troubadour since early this decade and has more recently been playing with the support of a full five-piece backing band. The parallels between street punk and true American folk have been explained other places by people well smarter than this writer, so Ahern’s Springsteenian roots rock sound not only sounds right at home in a punk rock club but was particularly well received by a blue collar, working class, pro-union crowd.

Check out our full photo gallery below!

 



DS Exclusive: 2016 – A Year in Pictures (Jay Stone)

2016 might have been a multitude of suck for myriad reasons, but the music scene — and the live music scene in general — was nowhere on that list. Your friendly neighborhood Dying Scene editors continue to travel far and wide to try to not only take in as much local and national live music as possible, but to show you first-hand what we’ve been up to.

Because everybody loves year-end wrap up posts (you do still love year-end wrap up posts, right?) your photographer friends decided to pour through the thousands of photos we took this year and pare them down to highlight some of either the best ones, or our personal favorites. For yours truly, shows ran the gamut this year, from neighborhood bars and Elks Lodge basements to sold-out 2500 capacity nightclubs and, of course, the Warped Tour (I know, right?). The highlights were almost too numerous to name, although seeing The Falcon twice, The Loved Ones, Bob Mould, Chuck Ragan a few times, Descendents, NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket, Lucero (twice), Against Me!, The Interrupters (twice), Bad Cop/Bad Cop, The Scandals a few times, Brian Fallon a few times, Cory Branan four times (in four states!), Laura Jane Grace and Off With Their Heads acoustic in the same year is pretty damn great, and only scratches the surface, really.

Also, for the second year in a row, I think I saw The Scandals’ Jared Hart more times in one year in one form or another than I’ve seen anybody else in a given year, although I may have topped that by probably seeing Rebuilder more times than I’ve seen my own mother. Sorry, ma!

Anyway, check out the gallery below, and stay tuned for more cool concert moments in 2017!



DS Photo Gallery & Show Review: The Vandals 2016 Christmas Formal in Anaheim, CA (12.23.16)

Ah, it’s December again. Here in Southern California, December means twinkle lights in the palm trees, 60 degree weather, and the certainty of one major holiday tradition – The Vandals‘ Christmas Formal. Now in its 21st year, the Christmas Formal has become a bigger and better tradition every year, with both “formal”wear and Christmas onesies encouraged, a photo booth, and a “Christmas punch” at the bar (which sadly sold out within the first hour). 2016 marked a venue change – to the City National Grove of Anaheim. Personally, I loved the new setup – bigger venue, bigger stage, more room to move around, and a more spacious bar/merch/photo booth area. The Christmas decorations still adorned the stage, including the suspended carousel, inflatable snowman, and mountains of wrapped presents and piñatas.

Openers for the evening included Sharp/Shock and The Interrupters. Due to LA traffic, made 10 times worst by the constant rain all day Friday, I arrived during The Interrupters set in time to see them play, but not early enough to shoot them. They are a DyingScene favorite, and you can check out shots from some previous shows here and here.

At last, The Vandals (with Josh Freese on drums this year!) took the stage to the Oi To The World overture and kicked it into high gear for all of their Christmas classics. Despite battling the flu (and still wearing his tuxedo t-shirt that makes an appearance every year), Dave Quackenbush still managed to make it on the stage and give the crowd one hell of a show. After they played a majority of the songs from the Christmas album, they entertained the crowd with a few other select favorites, like “Anarchy Burger,” “People That Are Going To Hell,” “I’ve Got An Ape Drape,” “And Now We Dance,” and “My Girlfriend’s Dead.”

Fans who come every year know how the encore will go – Warren will sing “Hang Myself from the Tree” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” before the band finishes with a giant sing-a-long of “Oi To The World.” This year was no different in terms of the encore setlist, but, as always, Warren can be hard to predict when it comes to his stage presence. “Don’t Stop Me Now” tends to have a musical interlude where Warren entertains the crowd – this year, it included destroying all of the gifts on the stage, smashing the piñatas with his body (not the stick that Dave brought him) and throwing the pieces into the crowd, running around with the giant Santa boot piñata on his foot, and pulling the inflatable snowman across the stage, eventually having it collapse in front of Josh Freese’s drum set. The Grove of Anaheim has monitors on the side of the stage, so everyone was able to see the antics in real-time, and it was pretty amazing. This is gonna be the best Christmas ever!

It’s always a pleasure to celebrate Christmas with The Vandals and shoot the show for DyingScene. Check out our full gallery below and we’ll see you in 2017!



DS Photo Gallery: The Falcon w/ Kyle Kinane, Arms Aloft, Rebuilder + Jenn Lombari (Providence, RI)

It probably goes without saying that the reemergence of The Falcon over the last year from their previously indefinite period of hibernation has been one of the coolest and most welcome bright spots over the course of the miserable year that was 2016. (Wait…do falcons hibernate? They don’t, do they? Should have thought that metaphor through.) Dave Hause was added to the already heavyweight lineup of Brendan Kelly, Dan Andriano and Neil Hennessy, and together they put together what’s easily one of the year’s best and most interesting albums (Gather Up The Chaps, Red Scare Industries). they also hit the road for the first ever Falcon tours, playing somewhere in the neighborhood of four-dozen shows across the country (and one at Groezrock) since April.

The Falcon might be the musical brainchild of the delightfully twisted Kelly, and it may have started all those years ago as a fun studio side project, but in a very real sense, they have morphed into a “band” on stage in surprisingly quick fashion. Dying Scene was lucky enough to be at the first show of the Gather Up The Chaps tour in Cambridge back in April, and to have been at one of the last shows for the foreseeable future in Providence last week. In some ways, both shows served as apropos bookends to what was a fun and disturbing train wreck of a year. The Providence gig, rather perfectly, took place at Firehouse 13, a 160-year-old former working firehouse that’s been repurposed as a bar/concert venue after a lying dormant in the middle of a sketchy neighborhood for roughly a quarter of a century. It’s a gritty, no-frills kind of space that, according to the locals, also used to house a swingers club upstairs. Now, what’s great about this apparent set-up is that the holes that used to surround the firepoles are now just plexiglass skylights, meaning that if you’re upstairs, you’ve got a clear view of the concert space below and vice versa. So…do the math in your head on this one, kids. Anyway, both on paper and in practice, it seemed the ideal setting for a band like The Falcon.

Over the span of a little more than an hour, the band ripped through the bulk of The Falcon’s recorded catalog, drawing equally from Gather… and from their Hause-less 2006 debut full-length, Unicornography. It’s a bit of a strange phenomenon when a band goes on its first real tour ten years into their history of making music, creating a situation where all of the fans present are hearing the music for the first time, meaning that decade-old songs like “The La-Z-Boy 500” and “Little Triggers” and “Blackout” appear woven into a setlist alongside newer tracks like “Sergio’s Here,” “Hasslehoff Cheeseburger,” and the deceptively powerful “Black Teeth.” I’ve mentioned on these pages before that drummer Neil Hennessy is one of the more vastly underrated drummers in the scene, and I’m not entirely sure that a Falcon set would operate as seamlessly as it does without Hennessy behind the kit, particularly with music that is as purposely flawed and angular as the subject matter here. If this run is, in fact, the last run for The Falcon for the foreseeable future, both live experiences Dying Scene has covered this year have been positive, fun evenings that left showgoers privileged to know that they had just witnessed something pretty effing cool.

Stand-up comic Kyle Kinane provided direct support on this leg of The Falcon’s tour. Kinane has collaborated with fellow Illinoisian Kelly in the past, and due in part to Kelly’s belief that The Falcon’s sound is left-of-center enough to not necessarily allow for a sonic perfect fit of a touring partner, now seemed the perfect opportunity to hit the road with each other. On paper, it might sound a little strange for a bill at a punk show to feature local openers and a national touring band before a stand-up comic would have the effect of driving down the energy level of the crowd, the exact opposite intended effect of an opening act. But Kyle Kinane is different. Having been in and around the punk scene for the last few decades (Google his set at SideOneDummy Storytellers to get that rundown, or, hell, just go here), Kinane has a grasp of not only what it means to be in front of a punk rock crowd, but what it means to be in the crowd itself, perfectly cognizant of both the sense of community and the searching for relief that so many of the rest of us are. Kinane’s fifty-ish minute set contained pitch-perfect bits about getting kicked out of Canada due to a years’ old DUI arrest in the States, his love of ghost-hunter shows (in spite of their logical fallacies), and perhaps most poignantly, a great and seemingly newly written topical riff about the Ku Klux Klan.

Arms Aloft, the Wisconsin-based four-piece whose Red Scare Industries released full length What A Time To Be Barely Alive is one of the best albums of this calendar year, also serve as touring support on this run. Led by passionate frontman Seth Gile, Arms Aloft play a fierce, emboldend version of punk rock that still maintains some hooky, poppy sensibilities, with boldly left-leaning lyrics that hearken to the core of what socially-conscious protest punk is all about. Like most of us Gile and the fellas are not only pissed off but seemingly legitimately scared about the direction the country took a couple of weeks ago, and while the knee-jerk reaction for many might be to run and hide (or move to Canada), they seem emboldened to fight on, to rail against racism and sexism and hatred and intolerance (not to mention the bullshit going on in Standing Rock), and that’s a really great thing. We’re going to need a few brazen torchbearers, and that’s exactly what Arms Aloft can be.

It’s probably no secret to anybody that checks Dying Scene on the regular that Boston-based punk band Rebuilder ranks pretty high up on my list of favorites. They served as the second local opener on this night and, even correcting for my personal feelings for the quintet, they always are more than deserving of the times that they get to share the stage with much bigger acts. Rebuilder live is a lesson in controlled intensity, as none of the five have much of a penchant for leaving anything on the stage (although, on this night, bassist Daniel Carswell would, in fact, leave the stage for a little bit, searching for a replacement four-string after a technical malfunction with his own). Co-frontmen Sal Medrano and Craig Stanton have an interesting stage relationship, having played together long enough that they push and pull against each other without managing to step on each other sonically in the process.

Rhode Island’s own Jenn Lombari served as local opener, kicking the evening off not long after doors opened at Firehouse 13. Normally one-third of the awesome pop-punk band Lucky United, Lombari took to the stage on this night armed with only an acoustic guitar and her dynamic voice as she scorched through a set that included songs from her own solo catalog and from her “day job” band. Lombari is passionate, and has a lyrical wheelhouse that deals with loss and unrequited love in a way that’s inspired by the high points (yes, you know there were some) of the emo heyday, without coming across as overly saccharine or sappy.

Check out our full photo gallery below!



Show Review and Photo Gallery: Wake The Bat / Allout Helter / Screwtape / Choking Victim – The Gothic Theatre (Denver) 11.11.2016

Choking Victim

After nearly seventeen years, NYC skacore innovators, Choking Victim have returned for a Reunion Tour in select cities across the US. Since our West Coast staffer, AnarchoPunk is legally prohibited from entering Orange County, we couldn’t send him to the show in Santa Ana. Instead, he was awarded a no-expense paid trip to the Mile High City to catch the legendary trio’s performance at The Gothic Theatre. Check out his review and photo gallery below!



DS Photo Gallery and Show Review: Ukulele Hiro/Aggro Mucho/Fozzy’s Hero/Pulley – Maui Sugar Mill Saloon (Los Angeles) 11/4/2016

While underrated, Maui Sugar Mill Saloon in Tarzana has become a rather noteworthy dive bar in recent years. This San Fernando Valley institution’s minuscule stage has played host to a number of high profile musicians over it’s lifespan including Dave Grohl and GNR’s Slash just to name a few. Veteran skate punks, Pulley were the latest legendary act to perform there and DS staffer AnarchoPunk was there to catch the whole thing! Check out the photo gallery and show review below!



DS Photo Gallery: Dan Webb and the Spiders/Bundles Album Release Show (Boston, MA)

Dan Webb

A couple of yours truly’s favorite hometown bands recently teamed up to throw a record release party in honor of their new split 12-inch, and the result was one of the most enjoyable show-going experiences of the year in the local music scene.

The two bands of honor in this case were Dan Webb and the Spiders and Bundles. Their split, which you can still stream here, marks the first release on the American imprint (run by Webb himself) of German-based Gunner Records. The evening’s festivities took place at O’Brien’s Pub in Boston’s Allston neighborhood, a no-frills bar in one of the few no-frills neighborhoods left in an increasingly gentrifying city. O’Brien’s has long provided a dark, sweaty bastion for up-and-coming local and smaller national touring bands (shoutout to the great and terrible Ryan Agate), making it the perfect backdrop for the occasion.

Birdwatching

The first band out of the chute on this particular evening was Birdwatching. For the uninitiated (as I was until showtime), Birdwatching are a local three-piece who, despite being a newcomer to the scene in ever sense, seem to have perfected the sort of lo-fi, odd-time signatured indie punk sound that’s been building over the last couple years. They’ve got an album release show of their own in a couple weeks that Bundles will actually be opening, a clear sign that Birdwatching aren’t going to be “up-and-coming” for very long.

Dan Webb and the Spiders

While they very easily could have been headlining this particular show, Dan Webb + The Spiders actually played second out of the four bands on the bill. As I’ve told you before, they’re a four-piece that grew out of a one-man project, and they grab you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention, with a sound that owes more than a little bit of inspiration to the heyday of punk-infused ’90′s garage rock. On the split that this show was celebrating, tracks like “”No Excuse” pay sonic homage to Brit-pop bands, while the band bring more of an uptempo banger vibe to “Odd Combinations” and a throwback Lemonheads vibe on “Running Around” and “Inside the Cage,” though only the former and latter tracks made it into the setlist on this occasion.

No Weather Talks

Germany’s No Weather Talks played third, and marked a pleasant surprise if ever there was one. I’d admittedly not heard them…or heard of them…prior to this occasion, but they made quick fans out of myself and many others in the crowd by midway through their first song. Playing entirely on gear borrowed from Webb and his cronies, the Hamburg-based five pieced play a surprisingly tight set of tunes that are sort of a modern rock take on a classic skate-punk sound. The only band listed on their Facebook page as an influence is Samiam, and I would go so far as to say that a No Weather Talks – Samiam comparison is entirely accurate, if Samiam were fronted by a dynamic female vocalist, in this case the captivating Faye Herr.

Bundles

What can I say about Bundles that I haven’t said before? Hmmm…well…let’s see. The band consists of three dudes with questionable tastes in guitar tuners and facial hair and even more questionable penchants for quad-revealing short shorts. I kid. Not really. Well…kinda. Anyway, Bundles have become one of my favorite local live bands in relatively short order. While they band joked that they had no business closing a show after sets by the three bands that came before them, that speaks more to the strength of the bill than it does to their own prowess, as evidence by the way they plowed through their set in prototypical punk rock fashion. While the sound is still an intense version of post-hardcore, what has changed a little as the band has grown over the last year or so is the more toned-down points in some of the newer tracks (like “Welcome To The Rusty Nail” from the aforementioned split), proving that 1000mph isn’t always a necessity to get the point across.

Check out our full photo gallery from the evening below.

 



DS Photo Galley: Lucero and Cory Branan at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY)

If we’re being honest, there’s probably very little to say about a Lucero live show that hasn’t been said ad infinitum at this point. As they approach the 20-year mark since their inception, the band have a well-earned reputation for not only playing a high volume of shows year after year, but of playing some of the more intense, memorable shows within a hundred mile radius at any given time. That sentiment is true whether they’re playing in their native Tennessee, on the West Coast, or up in Yankee country. Time has changed and the Lucero family tree has grown, so, as is (rightly) the case with many a band of their tenure, the lure of family has pulled them increasingly off the road, paring the 200-250 show a year mentality down by about half, the net result for this writer is one New England show in the calendar year, and that was at an outdoor beer festival (covered here last month), you take the “four-hours-on-a-Sunday” trek to literal Yankee country (okay…formerly Dodger country) to catch them in their natural, club show element.

And so it was last weekend, when the band’s three-week run with Cory Branan in tow made its northeasternmost spot at the Music Hall of Wiliamsburg in Brooklyn. Perhaps more than most bands in this genre (and really, Lucero are their own genre), the Ben Nichols-led outfit have continued to grow and evolve, never seeming content with resting on their collective laurels. Because of this, the band have had several distinctly different sounds with myriad different lineups, meaning that no two Lucero tours nowadays are entirely alike. They’re now on the road fairly consistently as a somewhat stripped down five piece that finds one-of-a-kind Nichols joined by equally one-of-a-kind longtime core members Brian Venable (lead guitar), Roy Berry (drums), John Stubblefield (bass) and, of course, Rick Steff (keyboards/accordion). The lack of pedal steel and, more recently, horns, has produced a sound that’s closer to the raw, post grunge of the early years, but one that’s also refined by years of growth as musicians and songwriters and owners of the stage.

This particular show found the band taking the stage promptly at 9:15pm and slowly ramping up the intensity level over the course of the first handful of songs. As has been the case at more than a handful of shows over the year since their last album, All A Man Should Do, debuted, the slow, brooding “Went Looking For Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles” kicked the evening off in slow-burn fashion. When the band went opener-free on the tour for that album, they filled the evening by playing both an acoustic and an electric set. That formula seems to have grown legs, as the evening’s first eleven songs all featured Nichols and his newfound Martin acoustic. While it’s to be expected on songs like “Texas & Tennessee” and “The Man I Was,” this gives a little bit of a fun, intricate vibe to older show staples like “My Best Girl” and “Raising Hell.”

Never one to abandon his trademark Epiphone Sheraon II for too long, however, Nichols and company increased the volume (though, admittedly, not the level of happiness…) around 10:00pm sharp, beginning the electric portion of the evening with “Downtown/On My Way Downtown” from 2012’s Women & Work. Though 2016-era Lucero shows tend not to devolve into the occasionally chaotic events that they did in earlier times, Nichols’ constant need to continue pushing boundaries still creates a ‘seat of their pants’ energy that leaves the effect of having both the audience and the remainder of the band left guessing as to exactly what’ll come next.

And what came next was a pretty representative cross-section of the band’s near-twenty-year catalog. Sure All A Man Should Do remained well-represented,  though the band’s 2002 release Tennessee was most represented, producing rambling jams on staples like “Here At The Starlite” and full-crowd singalongs on tracks like “Chain Link Fence” and, of course, “Nights Like These.” “Tears Don’t Matter Much,” from 2003’s That Much Further West, and which name-drops Cory Branan rather famously, garnered probably the most lively crowd response at the 550-capacity Muic Hall, with Berry’s machine-gun-caliber snare and Berry’s steady, heavy groove pacing the way through, providing a launching pad for Nichols and Venable to trade guitar lines. The evening slowed down again toward the end of the set, easing out in much the same way as it eased in, with Nichols donning the Martin acoustic again for “Me & My Girl In ’93” before a brief respite and set closers “Drink Til We’re Gone” and “Fistful Of Tears,” the latter of which found Nichols going guitarless, accompanied only my the always steady, dare I say classy, Steff on keys.

The aforementioned Branan opened the evening’s festivities. (Editor’s note: This marked yours truly’s fourth Branan show in four different States this calendar year, having previously seen him in Connecticut with Brian Fallon and in Rhode Island and Massachusetts with Chuck Ragan). Branan and the Lucero camp, Nichols in particular, obviously go back until about the beginning. Branan is equal parts self-aware (almost painfully so) and self-deprecating, and has long been not only known for his gut-wrenching, razor sharp lyrics but for the curiosity surrounding why, exactly, he hasn’t jumped up to the next level (or two…or four) and become more widely known. When on point (and that’s more often than not in more recent years) about as talented a solo performer as you’ll find, with a unique ability to vary the dynamics of both vocal stylings and his near-virtuoso guitar abilities in a way that will extend its way to all corners of the venue, regardless of the size, and force the listener to pay attention, often times rendering new listeners curious as to what they just heard. Branan’s eleven song set included it’s fair share of long-time crowd favorites (“Prettiest Waitress In Memphis,” “Tall Green Grass,” his own personal Born To Run, “Survivor Blues”) and a handful of tracks from his as-yet-publicly-untitled studio full length, due out next March on Bloodshot Records. Seriously…wait til you hear the song about his dad…

Check out our full photo gallery from the evening below, with a massive mea culpa to Branan for not having been properly in place at the start of his set. I blame New York City… You can still read our ode to the band’s debut album, Lucero, here, and our follow-up ode to the band with help from Dave Hause, Frank Turner and Sal Medrano right here.



DS Photo Gallery: Descendents electrify a sold out Boston crowd (w/Beach Slang)

I’m going to abandon most rules of journalistic integrity for this particular review, because it’s about one of the most influential bands in the history of our scene and what can I say…I’m a bit of a fanboy. Given the somewhat part-time nature of the band since their third (forth??) reformation a few years back, I’ll honestly say that I was a bit more excited when I thought I’d be when news of their eighth studio album, Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph Records), broke earlier this year. Still, I was a tad reluctant to think that the band would A) hit the road with any regularity and B) would actually trek to the New England area for the first real time in close to two decades (save for a free, Converse-sponsored show they played in Cambridge last year).

And yet, just prior to Hypercaffium‘s release came news of a few dozen US tour dates that would find the legendary quartet taking up residence at the 1000 capacity Royale nightclub in Boston. It may be just urban legend, but it seems fairly accurate that once tickets when on sale, they sold out in mere minutes, a testament to just how important the band and its legacy remain as we have passed the 35 year mark since the inimitable Milo Aukerman joined up with Bill Stevenson, Frank Navetta and Tony Lombardo to lay the groundwork for one of the most influential sounds of the last two or three generations.

To say that the band lived up to the expectations bestowed upon them is more than an understatement. From the moment that the band took the stage and ripped in to the opening notes of “Everything Sux,” little doubt was left as to just why this event was such a big deal. Anchored by the lock tight rhythm section of Stevenson and Karl Alvarez, the band plowed full bore through a setlist that crammed twenty-nine songs into a main set that lasted a little more than an hour. If Stevenson and Alvarez function as the gas pedal that keeps the band charging forward, guitarist Stephen Egerton serves as its super-charged engine, his trademark Music Man Stingray providing the rapid-fire riff springboard. And there’s of course very little to say about Aukerman that hasn’t been said. While he took the stage imploring the audience to refrain from voting for a certain orange-faced Presidential candidate, he did little else in the way of between-song banter, letting the classic music speak for itself.

And speak for itself the music did. The eight songs Hypercaffium Spazzinate songs that appeared in the set (34 songs, including not one but two encores) not only fit right in alongside the half-dozen songs from Everything Sucks and Milo Goes To College, but they seemed to illicit just as energetic a response from the crowd that seemed to have three generations represented (including a totally awesome teal-haired seven-year-old who hung out in the photo pit and hung on every word). With any luck, it won’t take nearly two decades to convince one of the founding bands of this very scene to return to the area! (Editor’s note: yes, I know that’s just lame journalistic hyperbole, but whatever. Though, it would be cool to see them again in their early 70s, wouldn’t it?)

Beach Slang provided direct support on this particular night. The four-piece Philly act seemed mindful of the fact that the bulk of the crowd was biding their collective time, waiting for the guests of honor, to the extent that frontman James Alex pointed out that he was going to be much less talkative between songs than normal so that even he and his band could take in the Descendents. Boston has a pretty well-worn history of  appreciating those who don’t take themselves too seriously and who are seen as playing with passion and conviction (and that’s true whether we’re talking music or sports), and Alex’s comments seemed to engage what could have been an understandably passive crowd. Beach Slang’s thirteen song set included a steady dose of songs from their latest release, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, which at least thematically accompanied some of the headliners’ earlier works. Fat Wreck Chords darlings Night Birds served as the evening’s opening act, though a traffic-related disaster resulted in yours truly (and I’d guess about half the eventually capacity crowd) from catching the vast majority of their set. Me culpa, boys…next time!

Check out our full photo gallery from the evening below!



DS Photo Gallery: Riot Fest Chicago 2016 – Day 1 (NOFX, Refused, Off With Their Heads, The Specials and more)

We know you’ve been waiting patiently, boys and girls, but the wait is finally over!

Dying Scene was lucky enough to have boots on the ground at the Chicago installment of this year’s Riot Fest. We covered as much ground as we could, and chronicled some pretty intense performances throughout the course of the epic three-day festival. Today, we bring you coverage of day one, which included NOFX, The Specials, Refused, Off With Their Heads, and Dillinger Escape Plan. Check out our full gallery below, and stay tuned for coverage of days two and three in the very near future!