Search Results for "Photo Gallery"

DS Photo Gallery: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at The Regent Theater (Los Angeles, CA)

The best dressed band in punk rock graced the stage of The Regent Theater in Los Angeles nearly two weeks ago to play one of their most influential albums in its entirety. That’s right, friends, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, came to the West Coast to play Let’s Face It from front to back, in addition to a number of other classic tunes. The entire set clocked in at a little over 90 minutes – and it was 90 minutes full of infectious sing-alongs, camaraderie, and dancing. It was a night this crowd would not soon forget.

The opening bands, Buster Shuffle & Los Kung Fu Monkeys, brought a ton of energy and got the crowd ready for the main event. The Regent was packed full of fans, young and old alike, all waiting to hear all of the hits from one of the best ska-punk albums released in the 90s. The big surprise was original guitarist Nate Albert joining them on stage to play their biggest hit. If you’ve seen the Bosstones before, you know that “The Impression That I Get” is typically the closer – but on this night, the boys from Boston stayed true to the album order, making it the 4th song of the night. MMB came out swinging as they ripped through the track list, making this album feel as relevant today as it felt 20 years ago. Hearing Let’s Face It was worth the price of admission alone.

Lucky for us, they still had some tricks up their sleeves (suitcoats?). While their set at Punk Rock Bowling in May was pretty standard (lots of hits & crowd favorites, along with one new song), they took the opportunity to play a more eclectic set for this LA crowd, including a few tracks from their latest album, While We’re At It.

To sum it up, MMB never disappoint they put on an amazing show – the kind of show that makes you want to throw your arm around your neighbor at the show as you sing along at the top of your lungs. The Let’s Face It show in LA was no exception – I can’t wait for the next chance to be in the pit with them again!

Check out the full gallery from the show below!



DS Photo Gallery: Dave Hause and Northcote get classy at City Winery, Boston (6/5/18)

After what was, by all accounts, a pretty successful year on the road with a new band (The Mermaid) following the release of his latest solo album, the redemptive, triumphant Bury Me In Philly, Dave Hause had been planning on scaling things down a little bit for 2018, both to celebrate newly married life and to work on new material. As fate would have it, things don’t always go as plan. Hause and his band played a bunch of European shows with his longtime comrade Brian Fallon earlier this year, and he and his musical – and real-life – brother have played a handful of Canadian and, now, US shows alongside the likes of the Drew Thomson Foundation and, more recently, Northcote. The latter tour rolled through Boston’s somewhat newly-opened City Winery last Tuesday, where they plied their mostly-acoustic wares in front of a house that mostly packed the upscale venue in spite of relatively little advance fanfare.

If you’re not familiar with the City Winery concept, it can be a little bit of a shock to the system if you’re used to sweaty basement clubs or even mid-sized theater shows. To start, you take your seat at one of four rows of family-style tables run perpendicular to the spacious stage, and an ample, attentive waitstaff checks in with you regularly, ready to bring you everything to a $64 bottle of 2014 Pinot Noir from New Zealand to a variety of cheeses and charcuterie board served on an individual cutting board to, chicken coq au vin, the latter of which I thought existed only in places Anthony Bourdain traveled (rest in peace). In spite of the fact that you’re largely looking over your left or right shoulder depending on which side of the table you’re seated at, sight lines are pretty solid and the sound is crystal clear. This is not the rebirth of The Rat, my friends, but that’s okay, because sometimes you’re in your late-30s and have a day job and a kid and don’t want to get your ass kicked in a pit on a Tuesday night. (Plus, there’s perhaps some level of comedic value in seeing a room full of denin-jacketed punks eating roasted Brussles Sprouts singing along to “Dirty Fucker.”)

Anyway, the show’s promoters kept things lean. Northcote (Canadian singer/songwriter Matt Good – not to be confused Canadian singer/songwriter Matthew Good) kicked things off, appearing as a duo with the acoustic-wielding Good supported by longtime collaborator Steven McGillivray on the electric. Like many in the crowd (based on my informal poll), yours truly’s introduction to Northcote in a live setting was his opening slot on Hause’s 2014 tour in support of Devour, or the subsequent dates he played with Gaslight Anthem as they wound down the Get Hurt touring cycle. Good cuts an imposing figure, with the Viking-esque long red hair and beard to match somewhat offset by his denim-and-flannel attire. Good is a criminally underrated songwriter, having earned a good many stripes from a past life playing in punk and hardcore bands before branching out on his own. He’s also owner and operator of one of the premiere voices in all the scene, able to convey both tender sentiments and heart-breaking despair in a single bound. Case in point: Northcote closed his set with an ode to recently-departed Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison by covering the latter’s “My Backwards Walk.” The song is gut-wrenching in its original incarnation, but the gravity of the situation and the honesty in Good’s voice left barely a dry eye in the house.

The Brothers Hause followed, and dove right into a stripped-down rendition of Bury My In Philly‘s “Shaky Jesus.” We’ve obviously been pretty open about our love for Dave Hause’s post-Loved Ones career on these pages, but perhaps one of the most exciting, and unexpected, developments of the components there-in has been the emergence of his kid brother, Tim, as not only a perfect right-hand man, but a musical force in his own right. The same Tim that Dave reflected on wanting to spend more time with back on the 2011 track “Resolutions” has turned into a supremely talented guitar player (primarily adding electric textures to his brother’s acoustic rhythms), but split his time on the baby grand piano (told you it was a classy venue) and the mandolin as well, all while providing pitch perfect harmonies. Still riding the wave from their hometown Eagles’ Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots – on the eve of the now infamously canceled White House visit no less, the Hause brothers were in good, playful spirits for the duration of the set that drew not only from the elder Hause’s three solo albums, but his work with surf punk goofballs The All Brights and, of course, The Loved Ones. That good-nature was put to the test when a spontaneous, mid-set appearance by a background vacuum cleaner, ill-timed in the middle of perhaps Hause’s quietest stomach-punch of a song, “Bricks,” forced the consummate frontman to struggle to keep his composure. Once the vacuum cleaning portion of the evening’s festivities wound down, Hause also included an ode-to-a-departed-hero toward the end of his set, covering the late, great Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” though this one turned into a celebratory singalong as you might imagine.

Head below for our full photo gallery from the evening, and stay tuned for more from City Winery in the coming months, because we’re so fancy (you already know). But seriously; Cory Branan and Face To Face and Austin Lucas are playing in the near future, so we’ll be back for the Coq Au Vin soon!

 



DS Photo Gallery: Brian Fallon and the Howling Weather with Caitlin Rose at Royale in Boston (5/1/18)

When last we spoke with Brian Fallon (read that interview here), it was the morning after the first US tour date in support of his sophomore solo album, Sleepwalkers. With two full-length solo albums plus the Horrible Crowes catalog to draw from and backed by a retooled live band now known as The Howling Weather (longtime friend/collaborator Ian Perkins on guitar, Nick Salisbury on bass, Matt Olsson on drums), tour was off to a positive start. A month down the road, we caught the penultimate show of the Sleepwalkers US tour as it wound through Boston’s Royale nightclub last Tuesday night to finally take in the experience first-hand.

As she had for the last several weeks of the full-US tour, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Caitlin Rose kicked off the festivities on this particular evening. It’s probably not a stretch to assume that the bulk of the daily readers here at Dying Scene might not have Rose on their standard rotation, but we’re all also all about expanding musical horizons, so look her up. Backed by a three-piece band of her own, the silky-voiced Rose primarily plays a smooth blend of hypnotic alternative country and blues, like if Patsy Cline were fronting Mazzy Star. There’s a real soul to her voice when she opens up, giving tremendous depth to her forlorn stories.

Speaking of forlorn storytelling, Fallon kicked off his set with “Forget Me Not,” the lead single from Sleepwalkers. While the song – and the album in general – find Fallon in a more positive space than recent solo or even Gaslight work, there are still plenty of morbid undertones, the struggle against eternal pessimism. Ever the storyteller, Fallon spent a large chunk of time between the set’s second and third songs (“Red Lights” and “Come Wander With Me” polling the audience about a situation that was slated to come up the next night at the tour closer in New York City. Long story short; don’t bother sending Fallon direct messages through social media, and especially don’t propose to your significant other in a circle pit at a Fallon show.

Once the audience participation portion of the evening was over, Fallon and Co. got back to the rocking. The lion’s share of the set on the evening, as you’d imagine, was culled from Sleepwalkers and, to a lesser extent, its 2016 predecessor Painkillers, with a trifecta of songs (“Ladykiller,” “I Witnessed A Crime” and “Sugar”) from Fallon and Perkins’ 2011 The Horrible Crowes project thrown in for good measure. The set’s midway point featured a cover of the Derek And The Dominos classic “Bell Bottom Blues;” the song and its principal writer, Eric Clapton, have long been favorites of Fallon’s, so to hear him pull the song off live was a bit of a fanboy moment inside a fanboy moment. Going back to the Gaslight Anthem days, Fallon has typically opted to eschew encores, stating on numerous occasions that it seems like a waste of time and since you were going to play those songs anyway, just play those songs. As such, the remainder of the band left the stage after new, triumphant crowd favorite “Etta James,” leaving Fallon to man the piano for a solo version of “The ’59 Sound” that turned into an 1100-person singalong. Rose came back out and joined Fallon on a cover of the Dylan classic “Don’t Think Twice,” easily one of the saddest and yet razor-sharp post-relationship songs ever written, before Perkins, Salisbury and Olsson returned and brought the show to a rousing close with “If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven.” This leg of tour has now officially wrapped up and Fallon’s got a little bit of a break before he and the Howling Weather head back across the pond for European festival season. Oh, and there’s the issue of the Gaslight Anthem’s ’59 Sound tenth anniversary shows this summer as well. But hopefully we’ll get Sleepwalkers – Round Two this fall, because a night out at a Brian Fallon show is about as fun and cathartic as a rock and roll show gets.

Head below to check out our full photo gallery from the evening.

 



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

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

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

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

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

Head below for our full photo gallery!

 



DS Photo Gallery: Lucero Out-Heckle the Heckler in Hartford, CT (w/Jake La Botz)

After a couple of consecutive unfortunate show cancellations late last week, the good ship Lucero fired its well-traveled engines back up in Hartford, Connecticut, last Saturday, resuming a late winter tour that was initially paused on Thursday so that frontman Ben Nichols could fly to Arkansas for his grandmother’s funeral. The band had every intention of cancelling only that night’s show in Rhode Island and reconnecting in New Hampshire on Friday, only for Mother Nature to intervene in the form of a powerful winter storm that left Nichols unable to fly north and his bandmates rarely able to leave the confines of their tour bus for the better part of two days. The band finally reassembled as their full Voltron at the relatively new, 600-ish capacity Infinity Music Hall for what was by all accounts the band’s first headline gig in the capital of the Nutmeg State — we’re pretty sure they played Hartford on the Warped Tour in 2011 — which seems pretty remarkable for a band that’s spent twenty years earning a reputation as one of the hardest touring bands in the game. Much to the delight of all but one show-going knucklehead, the band seemed eager to get back into the swing of things as regularly as possible, making for a memorable, if slightly abridged, evening.

There was a time years ago when a Lucero show had the potential to go off the rails for a variety of reasons, many of which centered around the dysfunctional family dynamics that are present in any group of males working together, particularly when there’s alcohol involved. There’s less alcohol involved nowadays, meaning that a 2018-era Lucero live show has become less volatile but no less unpredictable for the band or the fans. No two sets are the same as Nichols calls shots that balance his instincts with feedback from an audience that’s generally rather lubricated in their own right, meaning his bandmates (Rick Steff on keys, John Stubblefield on bass, Brian Venable on guitar and Roy Berry on drums) have got to react on the fly. On this particular night, the Memphis-based quintet kicked their headline set off with crowd favorite “The Last Song” from their 2002 full-length, Tennessee. In this writer’s experience, this particular song has many times been reserved for later in the evening given the crescendo it builds to, so its early appearance was a welcome change of pace right off the bat. From there, things went in typical free-form fashion, with the band choosing to stick with the same album for the similarly crowd-pleasing singalong “Chain Link Fence” before taking the opportunity to showcase some brand new material. You see, Lucero have been hard at work on a follow-up to their last full-length, 2015’s All A Man Should Do, for a while now, and have slowly been working through some newer songs on stage in recent months (a trend that’s fallen by the wayside across the musical spectrum in the age of YouTube). Nichols’ pointing out that they were going to play a few new tracks, however, didn’t sit well with one particularly vocal gentleman at stage right who made his opinion rather well known early on.

The net result proved, for the young man, to be a fail of epic proportions, as a defiant Nichols led the band through four consecutive brand new songs – including the live debut of a song that seems to be called “Cover Me” which might be the strongest of an already strong bunch – until said young man made his way to the exit. The bulk of the crowd seemed mindful of the special nature of seeing so many new tracks played in order, heckler be damned. There seemed to be nary a hiccup, as the new tracks seem to fit naturally in the Lucero lexicon. I’ll shy away from specific spoilers except to say that “Cover Me” and “To My Dearest Wife” and “Everything Has Changed” sound like songs that were written by 2002 Lucero but performed by 2018 Lucero. Trust me, that’ll make sense when you hear them.

Most of the remainder of the set found the band calling on an ever-expanding number of audience favorites. “Texas & Tennessee,” “All Sewn Up,” “It Gets The Worst At Night,” “Nights Like These” and “On My Way Downtown” made requisite, raucous appearances. When he wasn’t at the mic, Nichols spent a greater-than-average amount of time pacing the stage, giving the impression of somebody who was working through a bit of a cathartic experience. Steff was his typically stoic, stabilizing self on stage left, and his stage-right bookend Venable’s understated leads seemed dialed in. I’ve said before on these pages that Berry is one of my favorite drummers to spend time watching, and that was still true on this evening. There’s in improvisational quality to his playing that’s in line with the rest of the set; just because you’ve heard him play “Tears Don’t Matter Much” a dozen times doesn’t mean you’ve ever heard him play it the same way more than once. Stubblefield left the stage at one point to get seasick over the side of the boat but somehow didn’t miss a beat holding down the low end (and that’s obviously not true, but it’s an inside joke that only he and probably mu wife will understand and I’m mostly just seeing if he’s reading this). The Nichols solo track “Loving,” penned for his filmmaker brother Mike’s film of the same name, seemed especially fitting as played on what happened to be the eve of an Oscars ceremony for which it was robed of even a nomination. “I Can’t Stand To Leave You” off 2012’s Women & Work was a personal favorite, as it’s the first time I’ve actually heard them play it.

But without question, no song was more poignant and heartfelt than “The War.” Accompanied my the multi-instrumentally talented Rick Steff on accordion, the song finds Nichols telling the stories of his World War II-veteran grandfather’s time as a member of the US Army. Many of those stories were told to Nichols over the years by the very grandmother whose funeral he had just returned from, giving the moment a special, albeit heavy, weight. Heckler aside, the only sour note of the evening was the venue’s hard 10:45pm curfew, meaning the band that’s capable of some fairly long sets had to cut things off at around 90 minutes or so. Nit-picking, I know.

Kicking the evening off at 8:00pm sharp was the mighty Jake La Botz. Very much the quintessential renaissance man, La Botz has been one of the more underrated folk-Americana songwriters in recent memory. He frequently tours solo, though this run opening for Lucero finds La Botz fronting a trio, with Brad Tucker (upright bass) and Phil Leone (drums) serving as the rhythm section, providing a bit of depth and foundation for La Botz’s soulful stories and imaginative guitar riffs to shine. If you’re not familiar with La Botz’s catalog, last year’s Sunnyside is as good a place as any to start, as the tracks featured were particularly well-received by the devout Lucero crowd.

Head below for our full photo gallery from the highly enjoyable evening!



DS Photo Gallery: Bundles Record Release Show w/Dan Webb +The Spiders, Birdwatching and Michael Kane + The Morning Afters

While those of us that make up your friendly neighborhood Dying Scene photography staff enjoy shooting punk rock shows of all shapes and sizes, there’s just something special about a bill at a small, cash-only club that’s stacked with kick ass local bands. Such was the case the weekend before last when one of our favorites, Bundles, celebrated the release of their debut full-length, Deaf Dogs. The album was released by Gunner Records earlier this month, just in time for the trio’s recent tour of Europe, and they threw themselves a barn-burner of a homecoming shindig at O’Brien’s in Boston’s legendary Allston neighborhood.

Kicking things off was Michael Kane & The Morning Afters. The foursome are based in Worcester, MA, which is roughly an hour from the city, but have long been staples of the local music scene in various capacities. When we last caught up with the foursome, they were on the big stage kicking off the third and final night of Street Dogs‘ annual Wreck The Halls festivities. While they might have axed the Bruce Springsteen cover from their set on this particular night, their unique blend of punk-infused rock-and-roll (think The Replacements) set the bar pretty high for what was to follow for the remainder of the evening. The infectious “Old Men Die In New Suits” from their 2017 Laughing At The Shape I’m In remains one of the catchier singalongs in the recent chapters of the local punk scene.

Birdwatching were up next, and are rather quickly becoming one of the most must-see bands in or around Boston. The threesome play a high-energy indie rock style that’s equal parts earnest and vulnerable. They dub themselves “nervous underdog pop,” and that seems to be pretty accurate, although perhaps not quite as accurate as how my ten-year-old sums up the sound of Birdwatching’s latest EP, Night Physics – “these guys are really good. They’re interesting, because they’re loud, but they’re not like RAH-RAH-RAH-RAH loud like a lot of other rock bands.”

Dan Webb and the Spiders were up third, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’re no doubt aware that the foursome have long been one of our favorite local acts. DWatS and Bundles put out a split 12-inch on Gunner Records a couple years ago and shared a bill at that album’s record release show at this very same venue, and so it made perfect sense to have the two team up on this night as well given how complimentary the bands sounds are. IT can be a bit tough to encapsulate the Spiders’ garage rock-based sound, as they can pull off gritty aggression and almost Beatlesian melodies interchangeably. I keep saying they’re one of the most underappreciated bands in the area, and I’m nowhere near alone in that mindset.

Which, of course, brings us to the guests of honor, the trio known as Bundles. Much like Michael Kane & the Morning Afters, we last caught Bundles on the big stage across town at Sinclair where they were kicking off the recent Hot Water Music show. Don’t get us wrong; we love watching local buds get cool opportunities like that, especially when their set goes over well, and we’ll always continue to root for more and more of those experiences. But seeing bands like Bundles damn near melt on stage at venues like Obie’s will forever be one of the more comforting things in a local scene that, like so many others, is becoming increasingly gentrified. We’ve seen Bundles and their finely-tuned quads a bunch over the years, and this is probably the most involved and vocal we’ve seen a crowd at a Bundles show, with nearly non-stop vocal involvement from audience members from start to finish, in spite of how very recently released the stellar Deaf Dogs was. Yet another notch on the bedpost in support of Boston being one of the best places for local independent music.

Head below to check out our full photo gallery, and pick up Deaf Dogs here.



DS Exclusive: SPELLS checking in the Chicago area

SPELLS, a self-described “vacation rock” quintet from Denver, CO, hit the greater Chicago area for a double shot of frenzied fun over the first weekend in February. Night one, on February 2, took place at Brauerhouse in Lombard, IL. SPELLS took the stage after several stand up comedians (including SPELLS singer Ben Roy) started the evening’s events. They shared the bill this night with The Bollweevils and Off With Their Heads.

February 3, the second night of the weekend, at the smaller Liars Club on the north side of Chicago, was a benefit for a beloved member of the Chicago punk rock scene, photographer, Patti Hummel, who is presently battling cancer. Hummel’s daughter Ranae Hummel is the girlfriend of Off With Their Heads frontman Ryan Young. Young described to me how his friendship with the band and weekend bill with SPELLS came about:

Off With Their Heads plays Denver all the time. I met Ben through stand up comedy friends and interviewed him for Anxious and Angry. We hit it off and kept in touch. We played with SPELLS at a festival in Denver and I hit it off with the rest of the band as well. They have a vibe that’s great to set the tone for almost any show. I saw that and thought it would be cool to bring them on tour with OWTH and Iron Chic because I knew they would do just that: set the tone for a fun night. I had Ben come on the road with me for a week doing stand up on my last acoustic tour. Then I flew the whole band to Chicago to finish out the tour with us. I am helping them release a couple records in the near future as well, so I wanted to get them to Chicago so they could do their thing in front of some new people. Definitely one of my favorite bands.

To describe fans of the two more widely known bands, as impressed by the Denver quintet, would be more than a mild understatement. And there is good reason diehard fans of The Bollweevils immediately felt a connection to SPELLS. Both groups are fronted by singers who in perpetual motion and are simply unable to remain static or on the official stage space of whatever venue in which the bands are performing. (Daryl Wilson of The Bollweevils and Ben Roy aka “Little” Stevie Shithead of SPELLS). Instead, Roy spent the majority of his time on the floor. A few perilous moments involving the microphone cord snaking around the legs and more northerly body parts of the crowd members could slow down neither Roy, nor those in attendance. At some point, one begins to wonder about the viability of cordless microphones when it comes to performers like Wilson/Roy.

One particular new fan of the band, Arielle Cunnea, who as fiancee to Death and Memphis’ Steev MF Custer, is no novice in viewing rollicking frontmen, likened Roy’s performance style to an evangelist preacher having a seizure during a big tent revival. Roy’s reaction:

Hahahaha. I’ll definitely take that as a compliment. I’ve always believed that there is no fourth wall in performance. If you want to just hear something, stay home and listen to your records. You come to a show to be a part of something. To witness something. And, most definitely not, I will never match Doc’s jumping. But I have other attributes. For instance, I didn’t see Doc (Daryl Wilson) put his hands in anyone’s mouth. Huh? That’s something. He probably didn’t because he’s a doctor and he realizes how utterly unhealthy that is for both parties involved.”

But SPELLS, as with Bollweevils, is not a one-man band. Guitarist Chuck Coffey aka Charlie “Continental” Stimsell; Don Bersell aka Duke “Box” Standard on bass; Drummer Rob Burleson aka Peter “P” Bohner; and; Lauren Shugrue aka Ella Suga on backup vocals power the sets with nary a breather from any one of them.

Who is SPELLS? BTW, no, cap locks did not get stuck. The band, formed years before the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania moved to DC, presents their name in manner similar to some of the current President’s 3 am tweets. However, this is apparently where any similarities cease.

Singer Ben Roy and Guitarist Chuck Coffey took time to reflect on the weekend shows in Chicago and Lombard, the band’s history; and its future.
Chuck: “Although technically formed at the end of 2012 I tend to think of us as having started in 2013. Our first show was February 2013 with myself, Ben, Rob and Don. Lauren joined us by the fall of 2013.”

And while Roy is a well known within the standup comedy world, other bands members have varied occupations external to SPELLS.
Chuck: “Outside of the band I run a record label and DJ company called Snappy Little Numbers. It’s my little entertainment conglomerate! I also produce records and work part-time at a children’s hospital. Rob does graphic design, Don is an engineer and Lauren is a coder.

Though this weekend was SPELLS’ first time in Chicago as a group, Ben Roy had already developed an affection for the city, “I’ve been to Chicago quite a few times, but only for comedy. I’ve done Zanie’s a bunch of times. I love Chicago. Great city. Great people.” {Roy also performed stand up sets at both shows with fellow comedians as a part of Spare Parts West.}

Chuck Coffey,is well versed in the Second City’s storied punk rock history:
I know Chicago has a long and interesting history as far as punk and music in general goes. I’m a big fan of The Effigies, Articles Of Faith, Naked Raygun, Big Black, Pegboy, The Jesus Lizard, Shellac, The Bollweevils, 88 Fingers Louie, Slapstick, The Broadways. I could go on and on. Touch & Go stuff. I also really like some of the more recent bands like Negative Scanner, Heavy Times, Cococoma, Tyler Jon Tyler. I’m a HoZac and Trouble In Mind fan in general. Of course OWTH (duh! But maybe they’re from MN?). We’re also old friends with the gang in Planes Mistaken For Stars and Git Some. Most members at one point or another have called Chicago home and a few of them came from Peoria, which is just down the highway a few hours. I’m sure there are a million sub-scenes, etc. I first started coming here on tour in 1998. Did a few shows with various bands at the Fireside Bowl, some at The Needle House, then Ronny’s and now Liar’s Club.”

Ben: “I love it. I have a few friends that live here. Plus a number of my friends are from there. It’s always had such a great comedy and music scene. Probably because Ol’ Man Winter spends five months out of the year screwing you all over. Nothing better to do than create great art.

This weekend for SPELLS clearly left a deep and lasting impression.
Chuck: “Very aware of The Bollweevils. Definitely an all-time fave. It was so fun not just to see them, but get to know them a little bit as people. I feel like we hit it off and we’ll share the stage with them again fairly soon whether it’s in Denver or another trip to Chicago. As for Chicago, everyone we met this weekend was super nice and we had an excellent time. I’ve found that in our little world we gravitate towards people, bands, venues, spaces etc that support counter-culture whether it’s a big city like Chicago or a small town on the high plains. As a general impression, Chicago is still a great music town.
As a kicker, Coffey adds, “I’d also say the Comfort Suites in Schiller Park is a very nice place to take a nap!

Ben: “The weekend was so fucking great. We were all fans of The Bollweevils prior to this trip, so it was amazing getting to hang and chat with those dudes. Such a fun group of people. A similar energy to ours as well. Always up for a great time, easy going, all about bringing the show to the folks in the crowd. There’s nothing better than loving a band’s tunes and then finding out you love the people in it as much. Ditto Off With Their Heads. I got to know Ryan through his podcast ‘Anxious and Angry’, but I loved their albums before I even met them. So to get to know those guys and find out what great people they are behind the scenes is a blast. They’re like family to us now.”


Chuck Coffey and Ben Roy expressed praise for both Brauerhouse and Liar’s Club but note that the latter is perfectly suited to their particular performance style:

Chuck: “Brauerhouse was a lot of fun too, but Liar’s is more like the places we usually play. We’re just very fortunate to have some rad bands invite us to do some rad things.”

Ben: “Both kicked ass for different reasons. Staff was awesome at Brauerhouse. Lots of people. That’s always fun. But Liar’s Club as Chuck said is more our speed.

Coffey and Roy traced back for me their affinity for the cozier confines of Liar’s Club (about which Roy’s fellow comedian Bill Burr affection describes his night there in one of his monologues. Burr also named an episode of his animated series F is for Family “Liar’s Club.” The “reality” show Ghost Hunters also did an episode on Liar’s Club but perhaps better to leave that for another time).

Chuck: “The first few shows we played in Denver either had no stage or a single step-up stage. When we booked our first show at a venue with a taller stage, Rob figured Ben wasn’t gonna stay on the stage so why should the rest of us? It’s so fun being on the floor and having more of an interaction with our friends and the people that are nice enough to come see us. It’s just become our thing in Denver. On the road, that’s more difficult to control. I think we approach every show the same way in that we totally try to blow the roof off the joint, but audience proximity does make a difference. There’s such a shared energy when playing on the floor or small stage in a small room. That’s what I felt at Liar’s and I think we all felt that.”

Ben: ”Flat out, I don’t like being on big stages. I want everyone to be a part of the show in one way or another. Plus they point the lights directly into your face. I want to feel people’s sweat and breath and shit. Once the attention is turned to them, I want to see the fear in their eyes change to a smile or anger or intensity or whatever. That means they’re present. It’s easy to become complacent as an audience member when a band is separated from you.

Daryl Wilson, a veteran in the punk rock scene, was not completely unfamiliar with Ben Roy prior to sharing the bill recently. “Those who can’t is brilliant! Even has my buddy Kyle Kinane. Perfect!

Taking a brief detour from SPELLS to note, “Those Who Can’t,” on truTV, is awaiting the airing of its 3rd season. The show, which has received strong reviews and a bit of a cult following, centers on three less than fully inspirational teachers at fictional Denver, CO school, Smoot High. Ben Roy, is one of the creators of the show with Andrew Orvedahl and Adam Cayton-Holland, his fellow founding members of Denver Comedy troupe The Grawlix. Roy portrays Billy Shoemaker, a terminally angry yet somewhat idealist history teacher with full sleeves of ink and a punk rock past. In avoiding a lazy trope, Shoemaker is not considered the cool teacher. Or rather the cooler of the teachers to the extent that any of them are considered at all cool. Spoiler for those yet unfamiliar with the show, the only member of the trio considered at all cool, is Spanish teacher Loren Payton, and only from the perspective of their boss, the always trying to look on the bright side, Principal Geoffrey Quinn (Rory Scovel).

Reflecting on the weekend with SPELLS, and in particular fellow frontman Ben Roy, Daryl Wilson told me:
Ben is a guy after my own heart! I had a great time watching him performing and experiencing the fun, in your face, raw energy of his presence. He is funny as funny can be, and I loved chatting and laughing with him.”
Wilson elaborates, “Playing with SPELLS was like hanging with our brothers and sisters in arms. They know how to have fun and truly enjoy the experience of playing live. They know that a show is about putting on a show, not just playing great music. And they play some catchy fucking tunes!

Speaking of tunes: “Catchy fucking tunes” is a solid descriptor. But whilst the music sounds upbeat, inducing both toe-tapping and head-bopping, the lyrics often, in a great tradition of punk rock, belie something a bit darker:
One example can be heard in the lyrics to a song that can easily be adopted as a fist-pumping anthem or a mission statement of sorts, “80% is Good Enough.”

“Now I live my life by a certain set
Of principles, they aren’t hard to get
I only work till I’m certain you’re pleased
And leave the rest for all the “get-aheads
……
Lying awake and I’m racing fast
Cause I worked so hard that they own me
8 out of 10, and I gave enough
Why fill mine up when it’s clear your cup is constantly overflowing?
80% seems good enough…”

Asked to describe the genesis of this particular song:
Chuck, “We were adamantly against perfectionism, mostly because people don’t notice so why drive ourselves crazy trying to be perfect? Don would just casually say “80%” whenever completing a task. Fast-forward to SPELLS and it was something Don and I still rolled with. I asked Ben to write lyrics to the title “If 80% Is Good Enough For Me, Then It’s Definitely Good Enough For You” which then got shortened to “80% Is Good Enough” and it became our band mantra. We’re all on board with it. There are times when 110% is called for and times when 0% is called for. It all balances out to 80% being good enough most of the time.”

Coffey continues: “Pick Me Up”, “Bustin’ Out” and “I Don’t Feel At All” are some of my more serious lyrics and “Pick Me Up” happens to be one of our poppiest songs. I like the balance we seem to have between light and dark lyrically. We even have some darker sounding songs musically, but they don’t seem to stay in the set too long. They’re still fun to play though.

SPELLS’songwriting,however, is collaborative:
Chuck: “The typical approach to songwriting in SPELLS is for me to come up with the music first on guitar. I might have an idea for vocals, I might not. I’ll usually record a demo and send it off to Ben for vocals. He comes up with most of the lyrics but I pitch in here and there. While that’s happening, I jam on the tune with Rob. Although I often have a structure in mind I’m never opposed to trying different things. Sometimes I’ll skip the initial demo in favor of working a song out with Rob first. Once Rob and I have the song down, we do another demo to send back to Ben so he can finalize his vocals. Don and Lauren then come in and learn the song. It has to pass Don’s final edit, he has a good ear for the little things we miss. Lauren and I lock down our final spots for additional vocals and then the song is done. It takes the whole band to make the song what it becomes. Ben has also written some music lately and some of our newer tunes have more room for Lauren to sing. I’d like to think the band keeps evolving, even if we’re not inventing anything groundbreaking…As for the content of our songs, Ben is actually a pretty serious lyricist. He tackles a variety of topics and I think he does it well. “Forget About Virginia,” “Asphalt Navajo,” I’ll Leave Before June;”and “Deceiver” are some examples. Although he’s written a couple sets of upbeat lyrics, most of the tongue-in-cheek lyrics come from me. “Jet Set,” “Big Boring Meeting; and “She Wants To Die Before I Do” come to mind. I’ve done a couple sets of serious lyrics, but by and large I’m not too serious a person. Sometimes I’ll just have a song title I like, a line I like, or a chant I’ve spelled out and Ben will run with it. That’s how “S-P-E-L-L-S Spells SPELLS (SPELLS Rules)” came about. I just enjoy creating and sharing.”

Ben: “I definitely tend to write more serious content. But I’ve always done that. I started playing in my first band at fourteen or fifteen, and it was always an outlet for whatever dogshit I was going through. I’ve never lost it. This was the first band I’ve been in that had this laid back, party type vibe to it. But I just kept doing what I’ve always been doing and mixing that with Chuck’s aesthetic. Although, don’t let Chuck fool you. Chuck writes a bunch of horrifically sad songs. See “Pick Me Up” and “Bustin’ Out”.

Roy’s description of “laid back party vibes” as well as one of the group’s mainstays: coordinated outfits worn by members (more on that in short order) leads to wondering if there is concern that SPELLS might be written off as another band with another schtick, Coffey expresses no reservations.

Being described as a party band doesn’t bother me. I think it just means we’re fun. We’re having fun when we’re playing and if it’s fun for other people in the room that’s awesome. I’m really not worried about people understanding us one way or the other. I have no expectations. I think if someone gets anything from our music that’s cool. It could be a fun vibe, it could be relating to a lyric, whatever. I’d like to think we’re all pretty independent, progressive people and it shows in how we live our lives more than the kind of band we are.

Now to the fashion “statement” from the band:

Chuck: “Rob and I decided from day one we wanted to have matching outfits. We were heavily influenced by 50’s & 60’srock ‘n’ roll and R & B acts. So many classic groups had matching outfits, especially the girl groups of Motown. We also happen to love Rocket From The Crypt so that’s a more recent example. Ben and Don were cool with the idea. We were a little haphazard with our outfits to start with, but once Lauren hopped on board we got more coordinated. We do wear Loudmouth clothing during most of our shows. They have fun patterns that offer more than just matching by a single color or cut. It’s technically golf-wear, but we don’t care… Lauren, Rob and Ben watch for sales and send links out to everyone. Once we agree, we order our sizes and that’s that.

Coffey muses that Loudmouth might have reason to offer a sponsorship deal: “They have yet to sponsor us which is too bad. They would totally have the small-band-no-one-has-ever-heard-of market locked up with us.

Ben: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I’m not quite sure how that pertains to this question or our band for that matter, but you’ll figure it out. Make it work or something.“

So, what are some of the immediate plans for SPELLS?

Chuck: “We just released a new 7” EP called “Big Boring Meeting”. In July we’ll be releasing an LP called “Loose Change, Vol. 1”. It will have our out-of-print cassettes and digital-only releases on vinyl for the first time and all the songs have been remastered. It’s sort of a time capsule of our first two years as a band. Nobody asked for it, but they’re gonna get it anyways.”

Coffey also provided further information on Snappy Little Numbers which he started in 2011 and of which he lists his title as “Head Honcho”. They are presently working on several releases, “the latest of which will be our 37th and counting. We are distributed exclusively by Recess Ops.

Ben: “We’re going to be doing some sporadic shows all over the place this year. Keep an eye out on our web page {https://www.spellsrules.com/ } for it.”

Chuck: “SPELLS is playing Denver in March, May and July. Nothing planned after that but that will change. Rob and I are the rhythm section for Andy Thomas’ Dust Heart and play the occasional show with him. I play bass with some buds in a band called Bad Year too. I’ll be producing albums for Friends Of Cesar Romero and Cheap Perfume this spring and summer respectively while continuing to release records through Snappy Little Numbers. Gonna do some DJing too. Rob is going to Mexico soon, Don is going to DC for the summer and Lauren just bought a house.

Ben: “Bunch of stand up. Follow me on Twitter (@benroy00) and Facebook to follow.

SPELLS music can be found spellsrules.com, spellsrules.bandcamp.com, snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com, snappylittlenumbers.storenvy.com, snappylittlenumbers.blogspot.com.


Returning back around to “Those Who Can’t.” I was actually aware of this show for about a year prior to see SPELLS at Liars, having stumbled upon it while it streamed on HULU in addition to its home of truTV.
In addition to what was already noted above, I would be remiss if I did not ask Ben Roy about any similarities which may exist between himself and Billy Shoemaker.

Ben: “I would say my character on “Those Who Can’t” is a very cartoonish version of my real self. I tend to be a pandora’s box of emotions. I’m not that extreme, but I’ve been known to oscillate between angry, crying, laughing, and calm in far too short of time frames. I’m just an emotional person and that comes out in that character. And that’s already happening, even while I’m in a band. At least for my family. I never played organized sports or anything, so I don’t have tales of glory from the playing field. So I torture my wife and son with stories of shows I played; over and over and over again.
“Those Who Can’t” Season 3 air date on truTV is yet to be announced but the first two seasons can be found at truTV.com in addition to various cable providers’ OnDemand packages as well as at ITunes, Amazon; and Sling.

SPELLS left in their wake in Chicago, many new fans of both their music and new fans of “Those Who Can’t;” as well as numerous new friends.

And both SPELLS and The Bollweevils are taking away from the weekend an excitement for sharing future bills. So when might SPELLS return to the Windy City?

Chuck: “Whenever Ryan Young or Daryl Wilson tells us we’re coming back.

Ben: “Or Pegboy!!! Or any other rad Chicago band. But I’ll be back soon to tell jokes. I love coming there to make the funny.”

The two men also describe what makes their music scene in Denver so special and encourage some of their new Chicago fans and friends to soon visit the Mile High City. They also have plenty of recommendations for first timers to Denver:

Chuck: “Denver is large enough to have a few different punk scenes. There are dive bars, all ages clubs and DIY spaces for all sorts of different sounds and people. It’s not uncommon for some bands to span scenes, but by and large people and bands tend to move towards one scene more than the others. We’re in more of the dive bar scene as far as being a band goes. We play and will continue to play in other venues, but we’re most at home in the dive bars. If you’re a first time visitor to Denver and you like punk (or other forms of independent music) you could see shows at the Hi-Dive, Three Kings and Larimer Lounge (bars); The Marquis (all ages club); Club Scum and 1010 Workshop (DIY spaces). You could check out records at Wax Trax, Mutiny, Black & Read and Chain Reaction. Mutiny is also a great place for coffee and books. There are a bunch of other places, but those would be my personal starting points.”

Ben: “Check out these kick-ass Denver bands: Dirty Few, Bud Bronson and the Good Timers, Cheap Perfume, Allot Helter, Colfax Speed Queen, Fathers, Native Daughters, Pale Horse/Pale Rider, The Velveteers, Dressy Bessy, Itchy-O, Plastic Daggers, Lawsuit Models, Black Dots… Man, I could go on and on and on. So much amazing music in the scene. Come party with us.

Wilson: “I felt like we knew these guys forever. Just naturally drawn to them all and had easy conversation. Can’t wait to hang with them again and destroy some stages. Pure fun.”



DS Exclusive: My Year in Photos 2017 (Meredith Goldberg)

2017 provided me many great opportunities to document the punk rock scene. Most especially, the punk rock scene in my adopted city of Chicago. For my compilation of my favorite images of 2017, I am including a mix of my faves from both veterans bands well known nationally and even internationally; and upstart groups grinding out their place in the punk rock world. I also am including images both published here, heretofore not featured in any online or hard copy publications. These were exciting and compelling shows. If you see any of these bands (hover over pictures in the gallery to catch the names) coming through your city, town; or general area I suggest checking them out! Check out the full gallery below!



DS Exclusive: 2017 A Year in Pictures (AnarchoPunk – Los Angeles)

2017 was an awfully busy year for me! I shot four festivals and an uncountable amount of local shows here in The City of Angeles. But for as frantic as it was there was also some pretty big payoffs. My year was filled with multiple life goals like getting to shoot Rancid, Bad Religion and Propagandhi all for the first time. And through it all, I got to meet tons of great folks, all of which deserve thanks in one way or another but would take too much time to acknowledge here. So, I’ll instead just say thanks to the incredible bands that allowed me to take their pictures while most likely being uncomfortably close to them! Keep up all of the great work and I can’t wait to see you all again in 2018! Check out my personal favorite shots from almost every set I shot this year, below!

*For more pics, follow Dying Scene and my personal page over at Instagram!



DS Photo Gallery: Night Two of Street Dogs Wreck The Halls 2017 (w/Pinkerton Thugs and The Abductors)

Last weekend marked the twelfth installment of Boston street punk veterans Street Dogs‘ annual Wreck The Halls festivities. The shows have taken a variety of shapes and sizes over the years, but remain one of the annual occasions where all of the old punks and skins and hardcore kids get together for a few debaucherous nights to celebrate the holidays and the music and the scene (oh, and to raise money and toys for a few good causes). This year, Wreck The Halls took place in a new spot, Sinclair in Cambridge, and spanned three overwhelmingly successful nights. Street Dogs guitarist Lenny Lashley’s other main project, The New Darkbuster, opened the first night (Thursday) alongside Boston hardcore act Taxi Driver, though sadly, we weren’t in the house for that night. We were, however, in the house for nights two and three and somehow lived to tell the tale!

The Abductors got things off to a flying start on night number two (Friday). The Connecticut based outfit have spent most of their eight-year history as a four piece, but they’ve recently added none other than Ritchie Bruiser of the seminal New Hampshire hardcore band The Bruisers on second guitar, beefing up their already beefy, high-powered Oi!-infused street punk sound.

Continuing the throwback New England-centered punk rock theme of the weekend, next up to bat were none other than The Pinkerton Thugs. The four-piece have been on-again and more typically off-again over the years, but have been newly reformed around Paul Russo and recently released their final LP, 2000’s End Of An Era, on vinyl for the first time. The Pinkerton Thugs came of age in the mid-to-late 1990s, the last real formative golden era for the Boston area punk music scene, and yet somehow, according to the spreadsheet I keep from all my show-going years, I don’t think I’d ever seen them before (even though a kid I went to high school with played drums for the Thugs for a while). It took 21 years, but another one off the old time bucket list!

Which brings us to Street Dogs. After an interlude that consisted of a live rendition Bruce Springsteen covering timeless Woody Guthrie classic “This Land Is Your Land” proudly leading the show-goers in a singalong, the band came flying out of the gate with “Savin Hill,” the ode to frontman Mike McColgan’s formative stomping grounds. The Street Dogs lineup has varied a little over the years, but I’ll be damned if the roster we’ve been graced with the last four or five years (McColgan and longtime bassist Johnny Rioux backed by Pete Sosa on drums and Lenny Lashley and Matt Pruitt on guitar) isn’t the tightest and most powerful edition to date. The band obviously earned their stripes as a true blue collar, working-class punk rock band and have the pedigree to back it up, but they are also underrated as a straight-up rock-and-roll band. Sure McColgan spends a fair amount of the set at the barricade, surrounded by fans singing in unison and not only invites but takes part in crowd surfing and making old-fashioned circle pits, but there are also equal shades of Roger Daltrey and Keith Richards and Brad Delp in the way he struts and jives and belts out primal-level screams when necessary.

The setlist on this particular night was probably the deepest I’ve seen them play in this lineup, ranging from a fairly obscure early demo (“Locked and Loaded” which, I must point out, was predicted by my good friend Nick Gold in a pre-show chat) to a brand-new song, “Stand For Something.” The latter is slated to appear on the band’s forthcoming full-length, which is slated for release probably early in the springtime via Century Media, and is destined to be an instant classic, as evidenced by the volume of the people that had heard the song the previous night and were chanting the song’s singalong chorus in unison already. CJ Ramone hopped on stage to assume lead vocal duties for a rousing rendition of the Ramones’ classic “53rd & 3rd,” during the encore, and half the crowd (including the same luchador-masked crowd surfer I mentioned in the Bouncing Souls show review a couple weeks ago) hopped on stage for the set-closing “Borstal Breakout,” originally penned by Sham 69 and adapted for the Boston scene by the Street Dogs themselves years ago.

Head below to see our photo gallery, and stay tuned for our shots from the Wreck The Halls finale, featuring Michael Kane and the Morning Afters and A Wilhelm Scream! Oh…and we’ll also have more to say about that coming Street Dogs full-length coming down the ‘pike very soon!



Turkey, Pumpkin Pie, and Punk Rock – Pegboy, Bollweevils and more in Chicago

“Thanksgiving Eve” and the extended holiday weekend in Chicago had the city hopping with terrific shows. I covered a few of them.

Thanksgiving Eve at First Ward ChopShop was headlined Pegboy, The Bollweevils pretty much co-headliners; with Airstream Futures out of St. Louis; and Breakmouth Annie also on the bill.

It was Pegboy’s first show back in their hometown after terrific receptions at two recent festivals, the most recent being in Brazil. This was first international trip for “Skinny” Mike Thompson and he described it to me as “incredible.”
Pegboy, in recent years has rarely left the state of Illinois to perform. To their beloved hometown crowd they brought their classics, including lead singer and guitarist Larry Damore’s classic uniform of white t-shirt and blue jeans. In the crowd, the team #WeAreLarry #CultofDamore, a small group of big Pegboy fan whom also happen to be close friends with the band members, also sported that same uniform.

Damore himself made fun of his usual hitting the floor with exhaustion. However, he impressively lasted nearly an hour before lying down on the job. Damore punching the air throughout the set and leaving the stage as he crowd surfed, caused a frenzy in full measure with Pegboy bandmates, lead guitarist John Haggerty, the gold standard of punk rock guitarists; John’s brother Joe Haggerty powering through on drums, and bass player “Skinny” Mike Thompson roaming the stage and cranking up the intensity. Thompson, appeared not to just playing his bass but the bass seemed to be another of his limbs as he folded himself over time and time again. At times it became difficult to distinguish the instrument from the player of said instrument.

Pegboy started their set with “Not What I Want,” and jammed through 15 songs including classics “Superstar,” “DangerMare,” “Strong Reaction,” “Revolver” (their great cover of Mission of Burma’s “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” and the song Damore has routinely described as making him financially independent) and “Through My Fingers.”

Their classic and moving “Strong Reaction,” which has been covered live numerous times by well known artists, has been getting renewed attention, in big part due to Chuck Ragan speaking publicly about how Pegboy has inspired him. Ragan and his Hot Water Music bandmates pay homage to the tune in the first line of the song “Never Going Back” from their new album Light It Up— “Had a strong reaction waking up.”

Full Disclosure and personal note: I am friends with the band members, especially Skinny Mike and Larry. Larry and I had actually discussed “Strong Reaction” and what it meant to me less than a week earlier when we hung out a Liar’s Club show. So this show was a first for me: It was the first time I ever joined the lead singer on the mic, informally and spontaneous as it was. Whilst shooting the show, I had to sit partly on the stage to work amidst the chaos and Larry came over and put his arm around me and I helped him sing that tune. This was truly a verklempt-inducing moment for me.

However, I am glad no footage of that has surfaced as of yet, because as a singer, I am a great photographer.

Still, just another example of how punk rock is about more than just getting rowdy, the connections between those who write the songs and those who find meaning in them cannot be underestimated. One just need to listen to few of the lyrics to “Strong reaction” – “ I walk alone through the sleet and snow and pouring rain to…Get my heart broken, forever ever lost inside of…I walk along to slip and fall on strong reactions…Keep my heart broken, never ever amend myself…That’s all right and that’s okay” — whatever Damore’s personal motivation or his own story behind his writing, no doubt many people can take those lyrics and relate to them in some measure.

However, the crowd was not filled with just locals. Karring Moan flew in from his present home in the Twin Cities of for this show. Moan is a long time fan of both bands, “I try to go to most Pegboy shows actually. My first punk show ever was Pegboy at Fireside Bowl in the mid ’90s, and it was just one of those moments that changed my musical taste — or at least what I wanted to experience in music. And the fact the Bollweevils were playing too meant that it was a no brainer of a show. I still have the flyer from that first Pegboy show…”

The Bollweevils were the penultimate set and they too spend some time rocking on the international fest set. This past August, they played Rebellion in Blackpool. Dr. Daryl Wilson, aka the Punk Rock Doc, punctuated the space above the stage with numerous high jumps that makes one wonder if he competed in the track part of the track and field as a high schooler. Surely the combination of his 6’5″ frame and ability to grab massive air would have served him well in several events.

As it was Wilson did not spend his entire time on stage. He often ventured into the crowd where he shared the mic with the enthusiastic crowd and diehard Bollweevils fan. The 14 song set list started off with “Honesty Isn’t so Simple,” and included “Fencesitter,” “Bottomless Pit”, “Peggy Sue”, “Galt’s Gulch”, “John Doe”, “Altered States” “999-Stoney” and of course their call to fun,“Bollweevils Anthem.”

Wilson is one of the subjects in the documentary, “Men: the Series.” The film tells the stories of four African-American men, one of whom is Dr. Daryl Wilson. Wilson is by day is EMS Medical Director at Edward Hospital in Naperville, IL.

Remaining on the stage but providing just as much power for the Bollweevils are the two Petes: Peter Mittler on bass, and Pete Mumford on drums. Mumford seems to always have a smile on his face, look of pure joy as he smashes the skins. What is going through his mind as he plays? This is how Mumford described it to me recently: “I normally don’t really think of anything at all when I’m playing. When I’m on stage, I like to look at the people in the crowd acting like idiots and having fun…that always makes me smile. I like to make stupid faces at the people I know too. So yeah, not thinking much…just trying to have as much fun as I can.”

Mittler said this about playing in The Bollweevils: “I love playing in this band with guys I love and have so much in common with. I also think that it’s the heaviest drinking band I’ve ever been in.”
This is a sentiment shared by his bandmate, guitarist Ken Fitzner. Fitzner is arguably the Chicago Public School system’s coolest elementary school principal. Fitzner brings the serious chops, and the communal bottle of Makers Mark. He also seconds Mittler’s description of the allure of playing in The Bollweevils: “yes hardest drinking band.”

As for some of The Bollweevils most diehard and long time fans? Patrick Lancor of Chicago remembers his first show: “I was the kid on Fullerton at the Fireside with a 40oz of Big Bear standing at the corner fucking with the red laces. Then a giant showed up, like 6′ 5″ or some shit. His name was Daryl, and he had a 3-liter of RC Cola in hand.”

As I noted above, for all intents and purposes Pegboy and The Bollweevils were co-headliners, no matter that Pegboy’s name was at the very top of the bill.

Daryl Wilson joined Larry Damore at the mics. Though they joked about Ebony and Ivory,”” the song closing out the night was Pegboy’s “Hardlight.” And they left the crowd smiling…and exhausted. Which is exactly how one should feel at the end of a great night punk rock.

In addition to the veteran groups co-headlining the show, first two bands on the bill, Breakmouth Annie out of St. Louis; and Chicago’s Airstream Futures provided far more than just a warm up. Both groups got the crowd moving and rowdy.

But terrific music this weekend also happened at least twice at Liar’s (likely three times but I was on site twice).




Friday was a night to recover from any family drama and over-eating that might have occurred on Thanksgiving. It was also a night to celebrate the birthday of lifelong skateboarder Abe Linders who turned… well a bit over 21 and let’s leave it at that. While he pulled no tricks on the cozy stage indicating that he was too old for that well we know how the line goes. His band Fastplants, out of Waukegan, needed no tricks to provide fast-moving punk rock. Linders described the origin of the band name, “We’re all skateboarders none pro. A fastplant is a skateboarding trick that none of us are able to do.”

Stomping Grounds is American Oi!/punk band formed a decade ago and members describe the band as product of the tough working class culture found on the streets of Chicago’s south side and Northwest Indiana. Lead singer/guitarist Marcus is a Chicago Fireman, His twin, E.J. commands the drums and is also a writer; Matt on rhythm guitar is a member of the Indiana Teachers Union; Dmitri on bass wears his blue-collar proudly as well.

Paulie Think brought his unique brand of Hip Hop Folk-Punk to Liars. This time on stage fronting Shots Fired Shots Fired, he sounded out on the President Trump and his administration. Needless to say, he is apparently is not a fan of the 45th President of the United States.

Sunday brought the 5th annual Punksgiving Food Drive and Benefit. Among the acts featured this night were the Anti-Trumpz and Squared Off. The Anti-Trumpz may be one of the first punk bands founded and focused completely on protesting President Donald Trump. They classify themselves as protest punk and their mission statement on Facebook is: “Playing loud music, Fighting the powers that be, Corrupting the corrupt system, Speaking the truth, Empowering the people, Sticking up for the downtrodden.” The founding date of the band is listed as November 8, 2016, as in the date of the presidential election. With a set list including: “Trump Nation,” “Thanx for makin’ me a Target”, “China is comin’ fo Texas”, “Uncle Sam’s a Peepin’ Tom”,“Up to Us”, “Do the Pussy Grab”, “Dump Trump,” and they are about neither political subtlety nor apathy. This is their punk rock version of right of the redress of grievances provided in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Chicago blue-collar stalwarts Squared Off are veterans of the stage at Liar’s Club and never fail to stir the crowd to full on chaos. Sunday night was another example of this as they performed a set including, “Haymarket Riots,”“ My World,” “As one”,“Instigator,” “The rail,” “B.C. Boys”; and “Blue Collar Cry.”

The night was a success in raising almost $200 and a many bags full of non-perishable food donations for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. It was also a terrific way to close out his holiday weekend. But hey, in a few weeks, there will be Christmas shows followed in quick succession by New Years’ to keep the holidays rocking.



DS Photo Gallery: OC45 Boston Homecoming Show, with Diablogato and On The Cinder

One of these days, one of the Boston-area bands that’s spent the last handful of years plying their wares in local divey establishments like O’Brien’s and the Midway Cafe and Koto is going to break through to the next level and usher in a new golden era of Boston punk rock. Maybe it’ll be Rebuilder, or perhaps Choke Up, or even Save Ends or The Hotelier. But if it’s going to be the hardest-working band in the scene to break through, that title would have to go to none other than OC45. In addition to a handful of late summer East Coast dates with Teenage Bottlerocket, the foursome spent the better part of two months on the road in the States earlier this year and headed across the pond for the first time, playing two weeks worth of shows. Upon their return, it was right back on the Stateside roads where they closed another four weeks on tour with a homecoming show at Boston’s Great Scott on Sunday night.

In some ways, OC45 are a throwback to an era in Boston history that’s fallen by the wayside. There was a time when the city was not only renowned for being a tough, gritty place to live and work, but wore that reputation like a badge of honor and spawned a tough, gritty, hard-working music scene as a result. But the Boston of the last fifteen years or so is a different, increasingly safe and gentrified and tech-savvy place to be, and I can’t quite put my finger on what the music scene even is nowadays (check out the lineups of the last few years of the Bosotn Calling Music Festival and you’ll note a lack of anything resembling “grit”). OC45 are loud, brash, high-energy, snotty, dirty and booze-infused, and seem to genuinely take pride in their community and on working their asses off. Last Sunday night was no exception, as the fellas were welcomed home to a loud, vocal crowd that was worked into a circle pit and a seemingly never-ending stream of stage-invaders from the opening notes.

Local band Diablogato provided direct support on the evening. Trying to affix a label to Diablogato is a bit difficult, but they were a refreshing change of pace wedged between two street punk bands. “Rockabilly” is probably the default label most people would affix to them, but that’s not quite right. They’re not quite psychobilly, not quite Stray Cat strutters, not quite a soul-infused rock band, and yet they’re all of those things at the same time. Regardless, they’re a bunch of scene veterans who’ve been in myriad bands over the years who combine like a sort of devilbilly Voltron and, as a result, fit in with a slew of different genres while carving out a sound that’s strictly theirs. Wait, is devilbilly a thing? It is now!

On The Cinder opened the show, as they’d been tourmates with OC45 for the last week. The Buffalo-based trio share a lot in common with their Boston-bred tour buddies stylistically and sonically, which was much appreciated by the crossover crowd, many of whom seemed almost as familiar with the out-of-towners as they were with the home team.

Head below for our full photo gallery of the evening. Oh, and serious props to whoever booked a three-band bill on a Sunday night. Maybe I’m showing my age here, but five or six bands on a bill is tedious and some of us have to work in the morning, damnit. Nice work, Great Scott!



DS Photo Gallery: Hot Water Music with Big Jesus and Bundles, Cambridge, MA

Hot Water Music made their long-awaited return to the Boston area last Friday night, playing to a packed house at the Sinclair in Cambridge that sold out long before the show actually took place. Touring in support of their most recent studio album, Light It Up (released September 15th via Rise Records), the genre-defining four-piece were playing down a man, with Chris Wollard sitting out this run of shows to focus on taking care of anxiety and stress-related issues. However, just like they did at Fest last month, they called on the help of a pretty well-respected friend to fill Wollard’s shoes. That, of course, was none other than Flatliners frontman Chris Cresswell.

If Cresswell had the pre-game jutters that might be expected when filling in on the sold-out first night of a run with a highly influential band fifteen years his senior, he didn’t show them. The show’s twenty-one song setlist did steer more heavily toward the Chuck Ragan sung end of the catalog, and Ragan took over lead vocal duties on the new track, “Vultures,” but Cresswell did Wollard justice on such staples as “A Flight and A Crash,” “Paper Thin,” and, of course, “Trusty Chords.” Ragan, who sounded as solid and high-energy as he ever has, seemed on more than one occasion to look on in proud admiration at his new stage-left counterpart. For their part they rhythm section core of Jason Black (bass) and George Rebelo (drums) were a lock-tight gas pedal, which, while they’ve been playing together for the better part of a quarter-century, is not necessarily an easy task given that it was the first night of a brief three-day tour for a band that doesn’t live on the road nearly the way they did earlier in their respective careers. Rebelo’s recent turn behind the drumkit with Bouncing Souls has provided his playing with a little bit of an added, uptempo spark, which seems to play right into the nimble-fingered Black’s wheelhouse. It may not have been the traditional Hot Water Music lineup that has been so long-revered in this scene, but goddamn it still felt pretty special.

Big Jesus provided direct support on all three shows on this run. Trying to narrow down the sound of Big Jesus to one definable genre is a bit on the difficult side, but they’ve got a sludgy, swampy metal guitar attack that’s offset by bassist/vocalist Spencer Ussery’s airy, melodic vocals that have drawn comparisons to Smashing Pumpkins but are really more like Silversun Pickups-meets-Clutch. They were apparently “discovered” and subsequently managed by the Madden brothers, though you’d honestly never guess that from their sound or their look. 

Local three-piece Bundles, who’ve become increasingly beloved around these parts, were added to the bill to kick off the show only about a week or so ago, after it was announced that Strike Anywhere wouldn’t be on this particular date. We’ve caught the trio on longer bills at various smaller bars in Boston, so to get the chance to see them on the larger stage (editor’s note: we’re pretty sure O’Brien’s in Allston would fit on the stage at Sinclair, but we digress) was a bit of a proud moment that the band seemed to revel in. There’s is an updated, stripped down version of the sound pioneered by bands like Hot Water Music twenty-five years ago, but with lyrics that draw as much inspiration from classic literature as they do from personal pain and struggle. Fun opportunity for the band and it was awesome to see them as being up to the task.

Check out our full photo gallery below, and stay tuned for our sit-down with Hot Water Music’s Jason Black in the next few days!



DS Photo Gallery: Barb Wire Dolls, Svetlanas, 57 and The Devil’s Twins – Somerville, MA

So an interesting and noteworthy thing happened last Thursday night at a club called Thunder Road in Somerville, Massachusetts, the traditionally working-class city located immediately north of Boston. However, an evening that we thought, at the time was noteworthy for good reasons became noteworthy for negative reasons in the span of about twenty-four hours. I’ll explain…

Thursday night in Somerville should have marked the halfway turnaround point for one of the most internationally-diverse touring bills we’ve had come through this way in quite some time, which is compelling enough given the current sociopolitical environment but especially given the brazenness with which some members of the, shall we say ‘less culturally sensitive’ members of our society have been emboldened and empowered in displaying their less culturally sensitive ideas under the current administration. (Nazis, folks…we’re talking about Nazis.) Barb Wire Dolls hail originally from the Greek Island of Crete, and kicked off what should have been an impressive span of forty-one shows on October 6th in Laguna Niguel, California, that all featured support from controversial, in-your-face ex-Russian punks Svetlanas and South Korean alt-rock duo 57. The trio of bands should have wound their way clockwise through the lower 48 before coming to rest in Los Angeles on November 25th and it should have been a triumphant feat to behold. The road to hell is paved in good intentions, though, and tour date #22 in Somerville turned out to be the last. Because Nazis. New Hampshire Nazis.

57 kicked off this evening’s festivities and did what I imagine they did over the first three weeks of tour: caught a room full of unassuming Americans completely off guard. The duo (Jun plays guitar and sings, Snow plays drums) hail from Seoul, South Korea. They’ve been plying their wears throughout Asia and Europe for the last three years as a band, and and brought their show across The Pond for the first time for this tour. And what a show it is. Dynamic is the first word that came to mind, as the band have perfected the sort of loudQUIETloud sound originated by the Pixies a few decades ago, only if that sound were completely fuzzed out a la Sonic Youth and, of course, produced by only two people. The crowd was slow to arrive on this night (it never did really “fill out” in the traditional sense, leading a friend who was working the venue to make note of the seeming 1-to-1 press/photographer to crowd member ratio), meaning that the limited few of us in attendance were treated to a special, memorable performance. I have absolutely no prior knowledge of the South Korean music scene — K-Pop notwithstanding — but I will say that 57 deserve to be big no matter where they play.

Boston’s own The Devil’s Twins followed, providing local support for the evening. The band have been slowly, steadily making their way up the ranks of the local music scene, culminating in a few recent Boston Music Awards nominations. If you’re not from around here, the band have themselves billed as an “American Noir” band, and I’d say that is pretty accurate; there’s sort of a goth surf rock vibe combined with a black-and-white, throwback stage vibe that evokes images of a haunted Salem graveyard.

Which brings us to Svetlanas. Frontwoman Olga Svetlanas is all of five-foot-nothing and yet brings an intense stage presence that has earned her — and her band — a reputation as one of the most intense and powerful figures in our scene. Her band — Diste on drums, JJ on guitar and Steve Armeli on bass — plays loud, tight and fast, combining to create the effect of sweeping the show-goer up in a hard core punk rock cyclone. Those who complain that punk rock has become too safe or too tame in recent years would be well served to take in a Svetlanas show to regain their bearings. It’s brash; it’s aggressive; it’s political; it’s confrontational — Svetlanas are the real deal. You don’t have a choice but to pay attention when Olga and crew are playing; they bring the show right directly into the crowd. On this particular night, the crowd was trended largely male and largely of the “over-30” age bracket, yet was just as engaged and involved in the show as many a crowd half is age might be, not scared off but instead reveling in the politically controversial whirling dervish in their midst. As is usually the case when Svetlanas play, they more than stole the show, even if their set was cut a few songs short due to Diste’s obliteration of the kick drum!

Barb Wire Dolls closed the show out with an extensive, nay exhaustive, set that didn’t wrap up til the wee hours of Friday morning. By now the story of the Barb Wire Dolls and their having been signed personally by Lemmy Kilmister has been told far and wide. Co-founders Isis Queen (vocals) and Pyn Doll (guitar) have been touring endlessly for the better part of seven years with bit of a rotating cast behind them that currently (bassist Iriel Blaque, drummer Crash Doll and new rhythm guitar player Xtine Reckless) sounds and plays as tight as ever. The sound was a little thinner than might be expected with twin guitar attack, though that may have been a PA issue more than anything else. For a band with an international make-up, Barb Wire Dolls are a quintessentially Los Angeles rock and roll act; clad in leather and lace and oozing sweat and sex appeal through a chorus that owes as much to Nirvana as it does to The Clash (sometimes those musical comparisons are a little too close for comfort, but that’s a story for another day). Barb Wire Dolls seemed to be right at home on the larger stages afforded by their stint on the Warped Tour this past summer and their stage show more than fills the smaller confines of a club show; as evidenced above, Isis Queen and the gang left it all on stage (and, in fact, off the stage as well after she took an unplanned tumble off a wobbly monitor early in the set only to escape seemingly unscathed).

Sadly, as it turns out, this would mark the last night this trio of touring bands would appear on a bill together in the States. The following night in Manchester, NH, brought with it an incident in which an individual in Nazi paraphernalia showed up at the show. Threats were made (and continue to be made), safety was jeopardized, and ultimately, Svetlanas refused to play that particular show. In the day that followed and in a story that’s still developing, both Svetlanas and 57 have dropped what should have been a triumphant “fuck you” to the xenophobic members of the power structure and the rank and file it supports.

Check out our full gallery from the evening below.



DS Photo Galley: Racquet Club and Mercy Union, Cambridge, MA (10/16/17)

 

For those that were paying attention, a fun bit of punk scene history took place just under the radar upstairs at the legendary Middle East nightclub in Cambridge, MA, a couple of nights ago. The centerpiece of the evening’s festivities was the East Coast debut of Racquet Club, the latest brainchild of Blair Shahan and Sergie Loobkoff, the latter obviously of Samiam fame. Racquet Club became a thing only recently after the reunion shows that Shahan and Loobkoff’s previous band, Knapsack, played a handful of years ago after what had been a decade-and-a-half absence. After the demise of Knapsack, Shahan went on to front The Jealous Sound for a number of years, and recruited that band’s last drummer, Bob Penn, to join him when the new, post-Knapsack project with Loobkoff started. The rhythm section on the new project would be rounded out by Ian Smith, who previously played bass in a band called Mercy Beat with Sam from The Bravery (remember them, kids??). Put ’em all together and what’ve you got? Racquet Club!

The foursome put out their self-titled full-length debut album three weeks ago via Rise Records and headed out on their first headlining tour this week, stopping in Chicago before making their way down the East Coast. Cambridge marked only their third headlining show, though you wouldn’t necessarily know that by watching them. Penn and Smith were a thunderously tight anchor, keeping the low end rocking hard and heavy to drumstick-shattering results. Their dynamic playing provided reliable foundation for Shehan and Loobkoff to build and soar off. Given the songwriting parts involved, there is an element of familiarity to the melodies, though Shahan’s tone is a bit more hopeful than from the Jealous Sound/Knapsack days. Loobkoff’s trademark SG-divebombs are as angular and textured as ever, even if he snapped his high E string halfway through the set and forged ahead as a five-string player for the duration of the set, that included the band’s entire album in reordered fashion. The crowd was a tad thinner than some (read as: me) had hoped, though it was a Monday night for sure. Still, those in attendance were legit fans, many singing along for the duration of the set.

Opening this week-long stretch of the Racquet Sound East Coast trek is four-piece New Jersey band Mercy Union, whom you probably think you’ve not heard of and yet whom you’ve most definitely heard of. I’ll explain. A handful of years ago, Jared Hart, frontman for Bayonne, New Jersey street punk band The Scandals, started performing solo acoustic-style during Scandals downtime. With the help of a few local friends, he put out a full-length solo album, Past Lives and Pass Lines, a couple years ago on Say-10 Records and continued to alternate between solo shows and Scandals shows (as well as a stint in Brian Fallon’s backing band, The Crowes). Hart put together a full backing band for a few shows earlier this year, and used them to record what was slated to be the second Jared Hart solo album but what in actuality turned out to be its own thing, and for good reason. The aforementioned “backing band” includes Nick Jorgensen on bass, Rocky Catanese of Let Me Run (one of the first bands I discovered and subsequently fell in love with through Dying Scene) on guitar/backing vocals, and Benny Horowitz of The Gaslight Anthem on drums. They decided on a name — Mercy Union — only a few days before this run with Racquet Club (they had previously been billed as Jared Hart – Full Band shows), and since Cambridge was the first night of tour, that meant it was also their first show as a unified item.

The band’s set consisted of a mix of reworked songs from Past Lives & Pass Lines interspersed with new tracks from their upcoming full-length debut (more on that in the coming months). Hart’s projects, whether solo or The Scandals, have always been well received in Boston, which has become a bit of an adopted home-away-from-home for him, and that was certainly true on this night as well, if a bit more subdued than in previous shows (Boston…seriously…if you like a set of musicians enough to pay money to go to their shows and sing along and enjoy yourself in the process, what’s with the invisible semi-circular perimeter in front of the stage that people dare not tred in. Particularly upstairs at the Middle East, it’s a phenomenon I’ve never been able to explain. But I digress.) The sound, particularly on the new songs, is very much rock-and-roll (not surprising given their so so Jersey pedigree) but doesn’t quite sound exactly like the sum of the aforementioned parts would. There’s a really cool upbeat groove to a couple of the tracks (I won’t pretend to have written the names down). Even though the band collectively have several decades in the game as touring musicians, there’s a bit of unfamiliarity as they learn to play with each other. That said, the rhythm was pretty tight, Catanese provided noticeably solid harmonies to Hart’s trademark rask, and the added guitar tone provided plenty of depth to Hart’s pre-existing body of work; all clear signs that this was only night one of what should be — and deserves to be — many more to come. And don’t worry Scandals fans; both projects will co-exist!

Check out our full photo gallery below, and stay tuned for more on these pages from Racquet Club and Mercy Union going forward!