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DS Photo Gallery: Riot Fest Chicago – Day 3 (Jawbreaker, Hot Water Music, The Flatliners, The Menzingers and more)

The weekend of September 15-17 saw the annual return of Riot Fest. Riot Fest 2017 was held for the 12th consecutive year in Chicago and for the third consecutive year in Douglas Park. Once again, Riot Fest saw an eclectic crowd turn out, including multiple generations of families. You can check out our coverage of day one here and our shots from day two here, but we, like Riot Fest organizers this year, certainly saved the best for last. 

While last year’s Riot Fest included a Danzig-led Misfits reunion that was noteworthy in its own right, this year’s headline reunion band felt somewhat bigger and more important in a lot of ways. There’s a giant faction of the punk rock scene that’s effectively been the House That Jawbreaker built, and that was certainly reflected in this particular day’s lineup. There’s a direct sonic and stylistic connection from newly-reformed trio, playing only their third show in over two decades, to bands like Hot Water Music to more recent torch-bearers like The Flatliners and The Menzingers. All of the above were on display on a hot and sweaty third-and-final day of Riot Fest 2017, marking a notable past, present and future that seemed to find each generation drawing inspiration from the others.

But wait, there was plenty of other punk rock history to go around! GWAR have kept on keeping on following the death of frontmonster Dave Brockie a few years ago, and have been Riot Fest regulars for years. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones made another stop on their Let’s Face It 20-year celebration shows that’ll wind down with this year’s Hometown Throwdown around Christmastime. Pennywise, who will be celebrating their thirtieth birthday as a band next year, played one of the weekend’s best-received sets. Check out our full photo rundown below!



DS Photo Gallery: Riot Fest Chicago – Day One (Nine Inch Nails, X, Buzzcocks and more)

The weekend of September 15-17 saw the annual return of Riot Fest. Riot Fest 2017 was held for the 12th consecutive year in Chicago and for the third consecutive year in Douglas Park. Riot Fest saw an eclectic crowd turn out, including multiple generations of families. There were too many young punk fans, some just a few months old with mohawks and iconic band tees, to count. 

Day 1, held on September 15th, saw, per usual, a wide variety of acts. As with every previous year, legends and veterans gained the headlining spots and the most attention. In this case, the top billed act for Day 1 of Riot Fest, was Nine Inch Nails

NIN also remains relevant for the prolific film and television scoring work that lead singer Trent Reznor and his collaborator Atticus Ross outside of the group. The duo won the 2011 Oscar for the Score for the film The Social Network. Their work for the currently being broadcast and critically acclaimed 10 part PBS documentary by Ken Burns/Lynn Novick “The Vietnam War” is receiving equal acclaim to the reception of the documentary itself.

The NIN set also demonstrated that the group is as electric as ever. Classics such as “Closer” and “Head Like a Hole” had the large crowd at a fever pitch. However, capping the set; and the night out with  “Hurt” was an emotional gut punch. It has always been a powerful song, but as covered by Johnny Cash, that emotional shot to the heart was upgraded several notches, especially as performed in the video accompanying it. Johnny would lose his beloved June Carter Cash just three months after the filming of the video, and he followed her 4 months later.  It seemed on this night that NIN was not merely playing one of their own best tunes, but rather, they were also singing it in tribute to one of our most beloved, acclaimed and greatest singer-songwriters. Again, an absolute emotional gut punch and shot to the heart. Not something many people would immediately associate with or expect from what started out as a punk rock festival, at least those with little knowledge of this music.

Also, per usual, several veteran acts played one of their albums in full. On day 1, X did the honors with their classic album, “Los Angeles.”  Singer Exene Cervanka wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with her surname on the back and the Los Angeles Dodger log on the front. But a good portion of the crowd (made up of both citizens of the Chicago area, as well as fans who traveled in from other states and other nations) surely appreciated it when she donned a black baseball cap (with a slightly altered color-wise version of) the iconic 4 stars from the City of Chicago flag. X also proved they still have the chops and the songs are still highly adored by their fans. 

One of the most powerful sets was that of Saul Williams. He repeatedly challenged the crowd to face truths about the turbulent times brought on in large part by the current occupiers of the White House and Congressional majority party. He made it known, though perhaps not stated outright, that he was about speaking truth to power; and that words of condemnation are not enough,. His message remains that music is meant to spark change. Williams also repeatedly sent out calls to action with his oft-repeated refrain of “Your punk ain’t punk if you don’t smash Fascists.”

Other day 1 acts demonstrated quite the contrary to Riot Fest’s official and self-deprecating motto “Riot Fest Sucks,”  They included legends such as Buzzcocks and Ministry; and newer groups: The Hotelier, Death From Above; and The Story So Far.

It may be popular to hate on musical fests, including Riot Fest; something as noted above, at which the organizers playful wink. However, perhaps the only thing that truly sucked about day 1 was the blazing heat. It reached into the at least the mid to high 80’s but felt even hotter for those making their ways from stage to stage and the carnival areas. Head below to see our full photo gallery from Day 1 of Riot Fest Chicago, and stay tuned for coverage from Days 2 and 3 soon!



DS Photo Gallery: The Bouncing Souls’ Stoked for the Summer (w/ Lucero, The Menzingers and more)

As has become an trend among long-running bands who’ve developed a particular affinity for their respective hometowns, groundbreaking New Jersey punks band The Bouncing Souls threw the latest installment in their “Stoked For The Summer” concert events last Friday at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and it may well have been the best of the bunch.

“Stoked For The Summer” technically takes place at the Stone Pony’s Summer Stage, the asphalt lot immediately adjacent to the legendary venue that turns into a 3000-capacity outdoor beachfront venue once the weather turns warm enough to allow. If there’s an idyllic setting for an outdoor summer punk rock throwdown, it may well be this one. But I digress.

For late August, the weather could not have been better; a warm-but-not-hot, sunny-but-not-overpowering. Timeshares kicked off the festivities in the late-afternoon with the venue still filling in with revelers who were able to pull themselves away from the picturesque setting of the beachfront boardwalk just steps away. The three-piece NY band (playing as a four-piece with the addition of Max Stern on guitar) kicked things off in good form, their uptempo half-hour set going over quite well with the Souls’ hometown crowd. Of particular note: the played played a couple of songs from their still-unannounced but nevertheless upcoming full-length that, if these tracks are any indication, promises to be a banger later this year.

Boston’s Mickey Rickshaw followed and kept the energy level high. We’ve seen the eight-piece Celtic punk swashbuckling crew on some of the smaller stages in the greater Boston area in the past, so it was fun to not only see them take over a massive outdoor stage, but to win over a sold-out crowd of out-of-towners in the process. If you haven’t jumped on their latest, vastly under-rated album yet (last year’s Behind The Eight Ball), you really should stop wasting your time. Check out video of the band’s Stoked For The Summer performance of the track “Not My Problem Now” here.

The Menzingers, who have pretty much retaken their claim as the “it” band of our scene again with the release of this year’s stellar full-length After The Party, occupied the third slot on the bill, taking the stage in the very early evening.  the four-piece from just down the I-95 corridor in Philadelphia could very well have headlined and sold out the venue on their own, lending credence to the strength of the event’s lineup. Their eagerly-anticipated twelve-song set kicked off with After The Party‘s opening track, “Telling Lies,” and had the crowd well whipped-up from the opening notes, inspiring the first member of what would turn out to be an at-times seemingly endless parade of crowd surfers. The bulk of the remainder of the set was a veritable sing-along, and included such crowd favorites as “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore,” “The Obituaries,” the Stone Pony-referencing “Your Wild Years” and set closer “Lookers.”

Lucero occupied the bill’s penultimate spot, hitting the stage as the last remaining vestiges of daylight were taking their leave. As has been the custom in recent years, the band split their set in half, leading off with a handful of acoustic tracks before kicking things up a notch as the set went on. “Texas & Tennessee,” which we’ve established on these pages in previous show reviews is one of the two or three saddest songs in a catalog chock full of sad songs, may be a curious choice for a song to kick off a set for an out of town band opening for a legendary punk rock act in their hometown, but this is Lucero we’re talking about —  one of the hardest working, genre-eschewing bands in the game with a penchant for keeping things, shall we say, interesting — so of course the song turned into a singalong. The set was a little bit close-to-the-vest in some regards; fans hoping for either obscure, rarely-played older tracks or hints as to what is to come on their upcoming full-length would have to wait. Still, Ben Nichols and company were in fine form, with lead guitarist Brian Venable adopting a Willie Nelson sort of visual vibe and bassist John Stubblefield adopting a sort of stone-cold, baddest mofo in the venue sort of visual vibe (seriously, check those shoes in the picture below – and he didn’t even get “seasick”). We’ve yet to see keyboardist/accordion player Rick Steff play a set that he didn’t seemingly enjoy the hell out of, and drummer Roy Berry somehow keeping the whole impromptu set anchored and heading in the same direction. Particular highlights included “Chain Link Fence,” “Tears Don’t Matter Much,” and Nichols’ a capella lullaby rendition of the title track from his Last Pale Light In The West solo EP.

A show that included only Timeshares, Mickey Rickshaw, The Menzingers and Lucero would have been quite a party in and of itself, but this was unmistakably, without question, The Bouncing Souls’ night. Hometown shows for legendary, beloved bands have a bit of a homecoming, high school reunion type of vibe to them, and even though yours truly traveled down from Boston (sadly not with Mickey or the Rickshaws) for the occasion, there was still very much the overwhelming sense that we were among friends and family (and not just because my wife and our daughter came along for the festivities). The band took to the stage surrounded by their own literal families en masse, teasing the first few notes of “Ole” before diving headlong into crowd-favorite “Hopeless Romantic.” From their followed nearly two dozen of the band’s most beloved tracks: “The Gold Song,” “That Song,” “East Coast! Fuck You!,” the ode to their long-time manager/den mother Katie Hiltz “Kate Is Great,” “Satellite,” “Manthem,” “Anchors Aweigh,” and on and on into the evening. They also played a rousing cover of the Avail classic “Simple Song,” an ode to their Chunksaah label brother Tim Barry whose own newest album is due out on that very label next week.

When Dying Scene caught the Souls in Boston in their opening slot at Frank turner’s show at the Agganis Arena, we noted how the band sounded tight but the sound seemed to get swallowed up in the cavernous environs. Yet on this late summer night, the high energy performance from the band and the crowd alike was more than enough to fill a setting that was bound in only by the horizon line. The obvious mutual reverence that the four-piece — founding trio Greg Attonito (vocals), Bryan Kienlen (bass) and Pete Steinkopf (guitar) now being anchored by Hot Water Music’s George Rebelo who seems like he’s been with them on drums forever now — have for each other and for their fans meant the gave the entire evening a positive, celebratory vibe that had people watching and dancing along from nearby rooftop and patio bars for blocks in either directions. A happy and well-deserved celebration of one of our scene’s — and New Jersey’s — beloved bands of brothers. Check out our full photo gallery below!



Show Review: From Ireland to New York City Leftover Crack Kills

All Photos by Jeff Schaer-Moses Photography
Leftover Crack made it from the stage in Dublin to the Stage in Brooklyn in less than 24-hours and looked damn good doing it .

Watching Leftover Crack frontman Scott Sturgeon perform in 2017 is somewhat akin to watching the film Logan. He’s getting old and a little beat up, but he’s still every bit as feisty as he was at 21. We even get to see him do battle with X-24 in the form of all the Crack Rock Steady imitators out there copping Stza’s swag — and just like in Logan, the original wins out.

At the ripe old age of 41, Stza finds a way to put on electric shows night after night and from nation to nation. I’m 29, and I don’t think I’d be able to play a show in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday night, then fly straight back to New York City for a 5 p.m. Sunday timeslot in Tompkins Square Park before taking the stage at 10 p.m. in Greenpoint.

But Stza does and he does it well; he brings the explosive performance of a much younger man and mixes it with skills acquired as a frontman over the past twenty years, making for one of the most engaging lead singers in punk. This was my first time seeing Leftover Crack, so I’d never seen Stza play without a guitar before, and the freedom of not having an instrument slung on his back all night really showed in his movement and stage presence.

I, unfortunately, missed the Tompkins set because I had to be at my day job, but when I informed one of the contractors at work, he snuck off across the East River to catch the show. He reappeared with photos and fresh bruises from the mosh pit.

Bass player Alec Baille

In October 2016, Choking Victim played the Warsaw on the 30th and World/Inferno Friendship Society played their annual Hallowmas the following night. In August 2017, World/Inferno led the charge, playing Brooklyn Bazaar on the 5th while Stza rolled out his other mob, Leftover Crack, to close out the weekend on the 6th. Once again, Robert and Andrew over at Scenic Presents managed to attain a festival vibe without crazy high ticket prices (or even a festival).

Stza also let fly that Leftover Crack is working on new material. He said it might take them the better part of a decade to release it, but that it is on the way.



Theatrics and Poise: World/Inferno Friendship Society bring the house down at Brooklyn Bazaar

Photos by Jeff Schaer-Moses Photography
Jack Terricloth serenading one lucky fan at Brooklyn Bazaar.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society have really only been playing New York three or four times a year as of late, which makes every one of their hometown performances a must see. Their music is complex and beautiful, their sound is raw and powerful, and they bring a level of showmanship and theatricality to the stage that no other punk band on the planet does.

For their last hometown performance before their annual Hallowmas, Mr. Terricloth and his cohort invited Philly ska/punks Teenage Halloween up to the Big Apple to open the evening in Brooklyn Bazaar’s ballroom. They played well and announced that they would be dropping a new record soon on Philadelphia-based Fistolo Records.

Next on the bill was Slackers frontman Vic Ruggiero, who may just be the single most New York human being on the planet (under the age of 60 at least). Vic’s solo sets are like watching New York blues history unfold right before your eyes, and it’s really a thing of beauty. He’s an engaging storyteller, a tremendous guitarist, and a genuine guy.

Vic Ruggiero of The Slackers doing his solo thing.

It’s hard to fill up a stage like Brooklyn Bazaar’s as a solo act, but Vic actually made the room feel full with his electric guitar, a kick drum, a tambourine, and his chest-mounted harmonica. He played his solo stuff, took requests, and even workshopped a new song entitled “Garlic is the Sun” for his hometown crowd. Not all the requests were honored, however, as Vic pointed out to one fan that “if you wanna hear dat one, you’ll need to come to a Slackers show” in his droll New York accent.

As great as Vic was, the crowd was there for one reason and one reason only: to fuck shit up with World/Inferno. The room went bonkers with the first notes of “Tattoos Fade,” and Mr. Terricloth raised a full bottle of Coppola wine to toast the WIFS faithful. The crowd roared along to every lyric of World/Inferno’s opening score, and the ever friendly World/Inferno moshpit sprang into existence. There are punks to help you up in every pit, but something about the WIFS pit is just far more inviting than any other band’s.

Mr. Terricloth raising a toast to his World/Inferno faithful.

In a pre-show interview, Mr. Terricloth had said that Saturday night’s show would be “off the hook,” and he delivered on his word with a big-time performance. The group, which sometimes swells to more than thirteen members, was a lean eight-piece in Greenpoint, but they still packed a mighty punch when performing hits off of Red Eyed Soul like “The Velocity of Love,” “Your Younger Man,” and “Let’s Steal Everything,” among a slew of others.

They went through damn near half their catalogue in a performance that ran nearly two hours, and they did it all with panache. When they left the stage for their admittedly planned encore, the giant who was standing next to me in a denim vest (complete with Choking Victim patch on the back left and Grateful Dead patch on the front right pocket) lept onto the stage and led the crowd in a rousing chant of “tonight we’re gonna fuck shit up” until the band came back.

Ms. Malak

The encore opened with “Politics of Passing Out,” which required Mr. Terricloth to play a little acoustic guitar — in this case, one that he acquired from his old friend Sly Stone back when he was Sly’s driver — and closed with a tune I just don’t know the name of that was selected by WIFS bass player Ms. Malak.



DS Photo Gallery: The Flatliners, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Garrett Dale and Dan Webb and The Spiders (Cambridge, MA)

If you’ve read any of the online comment sections surrounding the release of Inviting Light, the latest full-length from The Flatlinersyou’re no doubt aware that critics of the band feel they lost a couple miles (or is it kilometers?) per hour off their collective fastball. Let this be yet another lesson to you as to why it is never, ever a good idea to read the comments; let it be known that The Flats still slay.

As the northeastern US leg of their Inviting Light tour wound down, the band found themselves headlining a sold-out Sunday night show at the legendary Middle East nightclub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The band kicked off their hour-plus set with “Mammals,” the slow burning lead track from Inviting Light, and seemed to have the capacity crowd hooked from the first notes. I’m not entirely certain if the band finds that reassuring, but I know that I do personally, given the amount of love I have for Inviting Light and the prevailing chatter about the band’s first non-Fat Wreck release in a decade. The quarters at upstairs at the Middle East are cramped and hot and sweaty when the venue is sold out, but the crowd was in high-energy motion by the time the crescendo built to the first chorus in “Mammals,” resulting in the first stage dive attempt of the night (albeit not an overly successful one).

The band tore through a seventeen-song main set that was pretty equally representative of their recent catalog, with four or five songs each from Inviting Light and it’s two immediate predecessors (2010’s Cavalcade and 2013’s Dead Language), though the two song encore consisting of “He Was A Jazzman” and “Shithawks” ultimately tipped the scales in Cavalcade‘s favor. Frontman Chris Cresswell’s voice sounds just as snarly and aggressive as ever when he wants it to, though he’s really pushed himself as a singer in more recent years. A lot of times in the live show of a rather dynamic band, you’ll find the bass player locked in to his spot at the drummer’s side allowing whoever is singing or playing guitar (or both) to roam and wander, both literally and musically. That’s not the case in The Flatliners, as the rhythm section of Paul Ramirez (drums) and Jon Darbey (bass) exhibit little in the way of interplay on stage yet remain more musically locked in the vast majority of their counterparts, making it look both infectiously fun and frustratingly easy in the process. Cresswell and lead guitarist Scott Brigham have grown immensely as guitar players over the years as their sonic palettes have expanded, and they too seem to bounce off each other in effortless, symbiotic ways. Much has been made of this being the year that not only do all the band’s members turn thirty (which boggles the mind) but the year that the band itself turns fifteen (which causes the mind to explode, Scanners-style), giving the band a well-earned reputation as valiant road warriors. If Sunday’s show — and specifically the crowd reaction — at the Middle East was any indication, they may actually just be hitting their stride now, which is a pretty inspiring thing.

Direct support on this entire tour was provided by Pkew Pkew Pkew and Red City Radio‘s Garrett Dale, the latter doing the solo troubadour thing. We’ve been big fans of the four handsome Torontonian Pkew fellas since their self-titled debut album was initially released a year ago on Royal Mountain Records a year ago, so news not only of their spot opening for the Flatliners but the more recent announcement of their having signed with SideOneDummy Records has made for pretty exciting times. The band’s live show is just as fun and high energy and handsome (did we mention handsome?) as their album is, and even though a lot of the songs might be straight-forward jams about hanging out and drinking beers, don’t let that fool you; these dudes can really, seriously play. There’s a camaraderie between not only the individual band’s members but really between all the members of this two-week East Coast jaunt, with the Flats, Pkew Pkew Pkew and Garrett Dale making frequent references to the good times they’ve been having on this trip. Dale is another classic example of not letting the occasionally straight-forward nature of the songwriting fool you; in the solo format, he’s got a gravelly voice that is full of the kind of heartbreaking soul guys like Chuck Ragan and Tom Waits have made their hallmarks, and it forces you to take notice whether he’s singing about lost love or seeing a dead body or, well, the devil’s weed.

Local support on this show came by way of Dan Webb and The Spiders.  DWaTS are one of those local bands that I’m sure most scenes might have that really should be bigger than they are. The four-piece rock-and-roll band plays hard and fast, a not-quite-punk-rock but also not-quite-90’s-alternative vibe that cuts across genres and makes them a perfect fit on a fairly wide range of bills, especially on one as varied as this particular show. One of these days, DWaTS…one of these days…

Check out our full photo gallery below. While you’re at it, the Flatties recently announced a set of West Coast tour dates around the US and Canada. They will be accompanied by The Smith Street Band, up until It’s Not Dead Fest. They are also adding a few dates to the end of July, in Canada, supporting Sum 41Check out all the dates here



DS Photo Gallery: Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Barb Wire Dolls and The Ataris at Vans Warped Tour in Mansfield

There are a lot of descriptors you can use to help quantify the experience that is the Vans Warped Tour circa 2017, but perhaps the most accurate — and non-judgmental — is “total sensory overload.” Now in its 23rd year and counting, the annual touring punk rock summer camp has morphed into a monster: ten hours and seven stages spread across numerous acres playing host to seventy-ish hard and loud and fast bands, each with their own brightly colored merchandise tent selling the entire gamut of logo-adorned paraphernalia (t-shirts and hats and shoes and belt buckles and skateboard decks and flags and rubber ducks and on and on and on), and that’s before you factor in the food vendors and the independent merchandise vendors and the gigantic Slip ‘N Slide. All of the above is also before you account for the weather, which typically qualifies as hot and steamy but on occasions like last week in Mansfield, Massachusetts, consisted of rain that was certifiably torrential.

The rains came early and often with the sky opening up almost exactly as the gates to the Xfinity Centre  amphitheater grounds did the same. Thunder and lightening made repeat appearances as well, causing a few temporary shutdowns in the action, pushing set times back for most of the day. While bottled water is typically one of the most sought-after commodities at Warped Tour stops, on this particular day it was $5 plastic rain ponchos, though any expectation that they were going to keep their users completely dry was obviously a mistake. Still, it was something, especially if you weren’t one of the masses lucky enough to be in attendance primarily for bands playing under the covered portion of the venue and were relegated to the side stages in the parking lot areas. As you can probably surmise from this discussion, we were there for the parking lot stages.

Having focused on some of the older school bands last weekend in Hartford, we turned our attention elsewhere during the deluge in Mansfield, namely to Bad Cop/Bad Cop. We had missed the Fat Wreck Chords foursome at the Connecticut stop due to the timing of their pre-noontime set, so we made it a point to be present this time. The band filled their eight-song set with tracks from their two full-length albums (2015’s Not Sorry and last month’s stellar Warriors) and played with such a blistering pace that they were able to squeeze a ninth song (“Asshole,” from their 2014 Boss Lady EP) into their scheduled twenty-five-minute set. Say what you will about the concept of divine intervention, but clearly something was at play, as shortly after the band took the stage, the rain not only stopped, but the sky cleared up enough to allow the sun to make a welcome appearance that lasted, all told, about an hour, a welcome mid-afternoon respite for sure.

The weather conditions made photography more than a little bit of a difficult proposition for our lowly-trained camera jockey (read as: me). Still, after having just kinda given in to the rain at one point, we were able to catch all or part of super enjoyable sets from Alestorm (a pirate-themed enjoyably gimmicky schtick band), the mighty Valient Thorr, Municipal Waste, Sonic Boom Six and The White Noise. We also shot…and maybe fell in love with…five-piece Greek rock and roll band Barb Wire Dolls. Frontwoman Isis Queen is one of the more enigmatic, quintessentially “rock star” performers we caught during our two Warped Tour stops, with a five-piece band (rounded out by bassist Iriel Blaque, Pyn Doll and Remmington on guitar and Krash Doll on drums) that remained especially tight and high energy in spite of the conditions.

We also caught a spirited set by The Ataris. We’ll be honest; aside from founding frontman Kris Roe, we can’t honestly say we know who’s actually, officially, in The Ataris at this point in 2017. They’ve sorta become Goldfinger or the touring version of MxPx in that regard. But they’re good; they’re real good. The band’s set, particularly tracks like “Your Boyfriend” and, of course, their set-closing cover of “The Boys of Summer” was well received by the soggy masses, and Roe and company promised to play a much longer, higher energy set when they return to the area with The Queers later this summer.

Check out our full photo gallery below.



DS Photo Gallery: Pegboy, The Crombies and The Beer Nuts at Chicago’s Motoblot 2017

Motoblot 2017 was held at Cobra Lounge/All Rise Brewing again this year, June 23-25th. This is the 4th year since the event evolved from the decade long Mods vs Rockers Chicago. Motoblot celebrates motorculture, especially inspired by that of 1960’s Great Britain, per festival assistant Nick Goodwin, a self-described petrol-head. Co-Founder Lawrence R. Fletcher estimated the total weekend attendance at 12,000. He told me it was their biggest year to date. “The weather was fabulous and I am sure Sean (McKeough) something to do with it.”

Sean McKeough, who joined founders Fletcher and Martin Cimek, as a partner the 2nd year of Motoblot, and was also the co-founder of Riot Fest and owner of Cobra Lounge, passed away last November.This year’s event was another chance to celebrate his life. A patch reading “McQ,” as McKeough was affectionally known, adorned Motoblot shirts worn by organizers and staffers. Saturday evening, before that night’s headliners kicked off their set, a group of bagpipers played, as friends and family gathered around and revved McKeough’s collection of motorcycles for what was described as one last time.

The music was the centerpiece of the festival. Saturday’s lineup included, among others, three Chicago based bands with varied styles and devoted following inside the city and out: The Crombies; The Beer Nuts; and Pegboy. The Crombies’ performed mostly covers of 2 Tone classics with a few originals sprinkled in. Their rollicking set transformed the parking lot in front of the stage into a dance floor. Among the highlights were “English Civil War” (The Clash); “Lip Up Fatty” (Bad Manners ) and “Monkey Man” (Maytals via The Specials); The Crombies’ original “It’s Not You”; and a reworked version of “Mad at the World” originally written by lead singer Mike Park for his former band Deal’s Gone Bad. The set also included: “Plastic Gangsters” by The 4-Skins; “Hooligans” by the Wailers “Hey, Little Rich Girl” by Roddie Radiation and The Specials, “Wash Wash” by Prince Buster, Gangsters by The Specials; “It’s You” by Toots and the Maytals, “Blood and Fire” by Niney the Observer; “Little Bitch” by the Specials.

The Beer Nuts is described in their Facebook fan page as “Chicago’s most notorious party band.” and advises fans to “Bring a raincoat and Silly String for a night of maximum rock and roll and random sex with strangers.” The band’s mission statement could read simply, “fun” but the group is composed of veterans of Chicago’s punk scene, including: Joe Kelly (Ministry), Herb Rosen (Rights of the Accused; as well as the founder and owner of Chicago’s Liar’s Club), Leanne Murray (Pig Face), Louis Svitek (Ministry), Mike O’Connell (ROTA). At Motoblot, official members of Beer Nuts were joined by others including Vee Sonnets (The Crombies; The Sonnets); Dave Simon (Deal’s Gone Bad; The Crombies; Anger); and Scott Lucas (Local H; Scott Lucas and the Married Men). Beer Nuts shows consist of such songs as “Who’s Got The Yea Yo,” “Blow Me For Beer,” “Woke Up Tied Up” and “Pro Vag.” If you’re interested in neither having fun nor getting doused from flying cups of brew, and continuously flowing bongs, it’s best you head to the rear of the venue or festival grounds to wait for party’s end. And if you are documenting the show or for any other reasons have gear, take cue from the sight of the plastic covered speakers on stage and protect your equipment.

Headliner/Chicago legends, Pegboy gave what seemed to be one of their most highly energetic shows of late. Lead singer Larry Damore, dispensed with the guessing game familiar to Pegboy fans in recent years— at which song would he sit down on stage (and on occasion take his own pulse)? At about the second song he joked to the crowd that they would just get it over with. Damore would return to that position throughout the set, at times dangling his legs over the side of the stage, or lying flat on his back. However, he also repeatedly jumped off, or, slid himself off, the stage to pace in and sing from the photo pit. Numerous times he returned to the makeshift barricade to sing at and within the crowd and, on at least one occasion, surf above it. The barricade held Damore, the photographers scrambling for shots; and the crowd, though it was in continuous sway throughout the set.

“Skinny” Mike Thompson roamed furiously over much of the stage, slinging his bass up and bowing low, in seeming perpetual motion. His bass work; and Joe Haggerty’s ferocious drumming, along with Joe’s brother,  guitarist John Haggerty’s propulsive playing provided the hyperdrive heartbeat to Damore’s gritty and growling vocals.Their setlist did not disappoint, including “Strong Reaction” near the start and closing out with “Hardlight.” The group propelled through others such as “Superstar”, “Through My Fingers,” “Field of Darkness”; and the song Damore joked was responsible for making him independently wealthy, that is, “Revolver,” Pegboy’s driving cover of the Mission of Burma classic “That’s When I reach for my Revolver.” The rest of the set included: “Still Uneasy,” “Not What I Want,” “Locomotivelung,” “Witnessed,” “Fade Away,” “Time Again,” “Never A Question,” “Dangermare,” “Walk On By,” and “Line Up.”

Full Gallery Below!



DS Photo Gallery: Lucero return to Boston! On a Boat! With Banditos! (6/26/17)

Longtime Boston-area fans of Lucero likely remember back to the band playing aboard a Boston Harbor cruise boat nearly a decade ago. By all accounts (yours truly was not in attendance), it was a bit of disaster, noteworthy in all the wrong reasons, not the least of which were a combination of space issues, technical difficulties, and Mother Nature not being in a particularly good mood. Fast-forward to this past Monday night and they band gave it another shot, this time aboard the larger Provincetown II. The net result could not have been more polar opposite from the 2008 show, giving both the band and the crowd a show that was equally noteworthy but for all the right reasons.

In areas like Boston (and New York and probably other places but I have a horrible East Coast bias), boat cruise shows have become a bit more of a popular option for at least two-and-a-half seasons a year, as soaring real estate costs, liquor licenses, etc., have culminated in a virtual drying up of small- and mid-sized venues. The Provincetown II is an older ship that docks in Boston’s Seaport District and typically spends most of its summer evenings running three-hour booze cruises around the Harbor (that is, when it’s not running as a shuttle between the city and Cape Cod). The minimally-lit stage (which is really not much more than a twelve-by-twelve-foot square set maybe a foot off the floor) is set at the rear of the three-tiered ship’s top deck, meaning that as the opening band takes the stage and the ship pulls away from the dock, you’re not only watching the band play, but watching the city skyline become smaller and smaller in the last few minutes of sunlight.

Boston’s port and harbor remain fairly active and are bordered to the immediate north by Logan International Airport, so tour-opener Banditos (a six-piece Southern-fried rock band from Alabama) started playing in the waning early Summer daylight surrounded by smaller cruise ships, fleets of tanker ships, returning fishing vessels and a string of departing planes taking off immediately overhead. The band were pretty well received, and seemed to think that the experience was just as cool and, in the literal sense, “awesome” on their end as it was on ours. The band’s high-energy forty-minute-ish set seemed to pass particularly quick, probably due in gigantic part to the borderline sensory overload of the experience. It can be tough to pick a perfect opening act for a band like Lucero, but Banditos are a pretty solid fit, their trummed-down Southern jams and three-headed vocal monster seeming to work pretty well on a beer company-sponsored outdoor Summer booze cruise. Their set-closing cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” (popularized by Nina Simone or Creedence Clearwater Revival, depending on your perspective) damn near stole the show as Mary Beth Richardson belted out the lead vocals from the center of the crowd.

The sun had officially set by the time Lucero took the stage.As has frequently been the case recently, the band started with a sort of mini acoustic set, kicked off by “Can’t You Hear Them Howl” from their last full-length, 2015’s All A Man Should Do. While that moment may have been scripted (frontman Ben Nichols joked that he “likes to start with that song because (he) likes it and nobody ever requests it”), the remainder of the twenty-one song (by my count, certainly not official) setlist was largely improvisational and wide-ranging. “Texas & Tennessee,” perhaps one of the two or three saddest songs in a catalog that’s chock full of sad songs, made in early appearance as it generally does, followed quickly by crowd favorite “My Best Girl.”

From there, a few twists and turns popped up, as the bulk of the set seemed to be culled mostly from the wishes of the audience who, for their own parts, were loud and engaged all night. Because of the unique setup of the ship’s upper deck, the crowd essentially filled in around the entirety of the stage, making it seem like the band were playing a theater on the round. “Hey Darlin’ Do You Gamble,” “Wasted” and “Hold Fast” were particular favorites for yours truly, if only because I’d not seen them live before. “Chain Link Fence” sounds more raw and intense than it did when it debuted fifteen years ago, and the band, now a five-piece again after losing the horn section that had joined them through three albums and their accompanying touring cycles, seem to have figured out how to accommodate for some of that lack of brightness and depth on songs like “Women & Work” and “On My Way Downtown.”

As the ship had turned around and headed back for port, Nichols played a few stripped down songs, starting with “Loving,” a song written for his filmmaker brother Jeff’s 2016 movie of the same name. He kept things stripped down for “Mom” and was joined by keyboard player/accordionist extraordinaire Rick Steff on “The War” and took on an a capella rendition of his solo track “Last Pale Light In The West,” which he jokingly referred to as the only sort of lullabies he can sing to his infant daughter, before being rejoined by the band for most of the rest of the set. Drummer Roy Berry’s unique playing style has long been one of my favorite things to watch, and he seemed steady as ever despite playing on a boat in an active harbor (guitarist Brian Venable commented after the show that it putting a stage on a boat is like trying to play on a piece of plywood inside a bouncy house, if that gives you a little perspective). Venable’s growling lead guitar playing does not always take center stage in a band like Lucero (particularly in the early years where the leads were more noodling riffs than true leads), but when called upon, he continues to shine on tracks like “Tears Don’t Matter Much” and “Last Night In Town.”

Special note should probably be paid to bassist John C. Stubblefield, who disappeared from the stage at one point toward the mid-point of a particularly raucous rendition of “Tears Don’t Matter Much” to partake of the festivities from the audience’s perspective and did so while missing nary a beat in the process before rejoining his bandmates on the stage in stride. Closer to the end of the evening, Stubblefield eventually raised a red wine-inspired toast to the “best night ever,” before the band wrapped up their set and the ship docked and, while maybe a tad hyperbolic, he wasn’t far off from the truth.

Check out Lucero’s upcoming tour dates here, and our full photo album below.



DS Photo Gallery: JFA returns to Chicago (w/The Dwarves, The Bollweevils, I Attack, and Decent Criminal)

JFA returned to Chicago for their first Windy City show in more than 2 decades

Skate punk legends, with origins in Phoenix, AZ, and Southern CA, JFA (Jodie Foster’s Army) return to Chicago for the first time in more than two decades.  The Dwarves put on a great set as for first time live they ripped though their classic album “The Dwarves are Young + Good Looking,”and then rumbled through other songs as well as the night’s headliner. Local punks The Bollweevils got a rowdy summer send off; I Attack, another local punk band, attacked ferociously; Decent Criminal played a set far more than merely decent.

Taking nothing away from The Dwarves and their terrific set; however, it was JFA that appeared to garner the most excitement and whip the crowd into their most frenzied. And not just from fans in the crowd, but numerous fans in the bands sharing the bill as well. Some other musicians expressing that JFA was THE inspiration for them to get into the punk rock game.

Brian Brannon shares the mic with a fan.

JFA lead singer Brian Brannon frenetically covered most of the stage, dancing and jumping on every bit of stopping only for the briefest of moments here and there to catch his breath, this allowed band mates, Don Redondo on guitar, Corey Stretz on bass; and drummer Carter Blitch to shine in their own moments. The set was dominated by classics from their early days. JFA was officially (according to their cited history) formed just 10 days prior to the attempted but failed assassination of former President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. Hinckley Jr.  famously admitted the reasoning for attempting to kill Reagan was to impress actress Jodie Foster. Guitarist Don Redondo explained that they were partially inspired by the Dead Kennedys’ political tweaking in choosing a band name.  Redondo also added that the climate of increased political and social division also inspired a new track on their as of yet scheduled upcoming release. They played the new track “N/Tolerance” on Friday, with the simple credo of “Just Don’t Be A Dick.”

Corey Stretz of JFA

As noted, perhaps the biggest admirers were in the other bands on the bill, and Redondo spent much of the evening offstage engaged in conversation with drummer Pete Mumford. Mumford is a member of the legendary Chicago punk outfit, The Bollweevils, which lit the stage on fire once again immediately prior to JFA. Redondo and Mumford had a continuing dialogue about the best drummers and bass players in rock history, or at least their favorites (which included drummers Keith Moon, Neil Peart and John Bonham; and bass player John Entwistle.)  Redondo spoke of his belief in the best way to craft a new band, “Start with a great drummer and a great bass player and build from there.”

Don Redondo also spoke of the reasons for the long absence from Chicago: busy lives, other jobs (including Brannon’s other career, as Senior Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy Reserve), families; and added that while the band is not changing its name from Jodie Foster’s Army, its motto as of late could be  thought of as Jodie Foster’s National Guard. That is, “one weekend once a month.”Judging from the reception they received at Reggies Rock Club, the crowd may be asking for far more than that, but were ecstatic and grateful for the band’s return.

As mentioned, The Dwarves and The Bollweevils both lit up the stage as expected. And in the case of Daryl Wilson, the lead singer for beloved Chicago legends The Bollweevils (and namesakes of a 2016 IPA  collaboration with 350 Brewing, “Weevil Wobble”) lit most of the area off stage on fire as well He repeatedly threw his 6′ 5″ frame into the welcoming arms of the crowd.

The Bollweevils are not scheduled to play again in their home region until they return from their journey to Blackpool, United Kingdom. They are confirmed for Rebellion Festival 2017, taking place in early August, along with their friend sin another Chicago favorite, 88 Fingers Louie.

Decent Criminal

Decent Criminal, from Northern California,  started the night off strong fashion with straightforward punk, proving that a show can be solid and rowdy from first note by the opening band to last note from the headliners.

Rob V. of I Attack

I Attack, led by the one man wrecking crew of Rob V. “Jak,” may have been be the cause of the most colorization of the crowd members, as in ending up black and blue; and purple.  Many showing their colorful souvenirs from the set seemed to have smiles on their faces, accompanied by expressions of half disbelief. If there was a Richter Scale equivalent in Circle Pits, the pure rowdiness whipped up by I Attack might, conservatively speaking, hit the 7 plus to 8 range.

This show had a bit of everything for from start to finish and may very well have thrown down the gauntlet for top to bottom billed, non-fest punk shows this summer. It is s summer is still in its infancy with many promising such events on tap, but judging from this night, it will hopefully be long and hot in the very best ways. Head below to check out our full photo gallery from the intense evening!



Show Review & Photo Gallery: Punk Rock Bowling Club Show – Cock Sparrer / Giuda / Drakulas / True Rivals (Backstage Bar and Billiards 5/28/2017

Billed as a Mystery Show the headliner for this Day Two Club Show was listed only as “Special Guests” along with the named opening acts Giuda, True Rivals and Drakulas. Despite knowing some of the people playing the show, I was never able to get anyone to spill the beans, so I was still in the lurch even after getting inside the poorly lit venue. Shortly after taking my seat in the corner, all was revealed by a slightly inebriated oracle who was sitting next to me as I got my camera ready for the shoot. “Did you hear who the special guest was yet? ” I asked doing my best to awkwardly make small talk. “Hell yea!” he retorted ecstatically. “Fucking Cock Sparrer!!! Woooo-hoooo!!! Want a beer?!?” Gotta love Punk Rock Bowling! Check out the show review along with an awesome photo gallery of all of the incredible acts below!



DS Photo Gallery: The Scandals’ “Lucky Seven” Record Release Show w/Gates, Dead Swords, Nine Eighteen and D’Arcy – Garwood, NJ

The Scandals

When we caught up with Jared Hart, frontman for New Jersey punk band The Scandals, about a year-and-a-half ago, one of the things we chatted about was that the band’s then-long-finished EP was finally hopefully due for release in the upcoming months. As should be readily apparent given the tone of that run-on first sentence, the slow-moving wheels of an increasingly bogged-down music industry had other plans for the Bayonne-based quartet. At long last, the Brian Fallon-produced five-song EP, entitled Lucky Seven, officially found itself with an April 28, 2017, street date, a split release from the good folks at New Jersey’s Panic State Records and Richmond, Virginia’s Say-10 Records. The following day brought the official record release show, an Andy Diamond-booked barn-burner of an affair at The Crossroads in Garwood that was equal parts party and punk show. The night’s heavy emphasis on the unity and the camaraderie in the North Jersey scene was palpable, so much so that other scenes should take note.

The Scandals

The Scandals had a bit of a tumultuous go of it a handful of years ago (maybe someone will tell that story someday in greater detail), but with founding member Hart at the helm, the current lineup (Sean Carney on bass/vocals, Anthony Iarossi on guitar, Paulie Yaremko on drums) has been in tact for somewhere around four or five years now, and the band have never sounded better live. The band’s hour-long headlining set was high-energy from the word “go.” With the addition of his solo career and his more recent spot as a member of Brian Fallon’s touring band The Crowes, Hart has been on a bit of an upward trajectory of late. Still, The Scandals have long been Hart’s baby, and he repeatedly displayed his appreciation for the names and faces that have helped and supported the music along the way. The crowd seemed to reciprocate that appreciation as an endless barrage of crowd surfers made their respective ways toward the stage, met on multiple occasions by Hart himself mid stage-dive. There may have been a couple of technical malfunctions along the way — not the least of which was the untimely demise met by the on-stage margarita machine — but that did little to hamper the positive, extended-family-like vibe that was present really from the time the doors opened.

Nine Eighteen

The support lineup on this show was deep and very much Jersey-centric. d’arcy and Nine Eighteen kicked things off in that order, each one a high-energy trio offering a slightly different but no less uptempo and throwback sort of sound. The former band play a feedback-heavy brand of rock heavily influenced by the good parts of the alternative scene two decades ago (think Smashing Pumpkins before Billy Corgan became…well…Billy Corgan). As a native of the greater Boston area, I couldn’t help but notice sonic similarities between Nine Eighteen and another band of The Scandals’ frequent showmates (from my neck of the woods) Burning Streets. Scandals’ bassist Carney joined the trio on stage for a well-received, and pitch perfect, cover of the Hot Water Music staple “Wayfarer” (pictured above).

Dead Swords

Dead Swords followed and served as a compelling change of pace, albeit one that may have seemed a bit confusing to the more mainstream punks in attendance. The duo is comprised of Alex Rosamilia (The Gaslight Anthem/Brian Fallon and the Crowes)  and Corey Perez (Bottomfeeder, ex-I Am The Avalance and Let Me Run), and they were making their first US appearance on this particular evening. Rosamilia handles main vocal duties in the band, with Perez providing the occasional backing harmony, but the real emphasis in Dead Swords is, as you might imagine, guitars. Heavy guitars. Loopy, distorted, swirling, gloom-and-doomy, plodding guitars. The set featured minimal stage lighting, allowing even more of the focus to be on the sludgy sonic experience. They aren’t really like anything I’ve seen live, at least not in a long time, though there are moments that are vaguely reminiscent of Face To Face bass player Scott Shiflett’s side project, Viva Death, at least in my frame of reference.

Gates

Gates proved direct support and, if you’re not overly familiar with Gates’s live show (as I’ll admit, rather embarassingly enough, I wasn’t) and you have a chance to catch them live in a club like Crossroads…get off your ass and go! The five-piece are difficult to pigeon-hole into even a small handful of genres. They’re a dynamic rock band that plays and performs to the very back of the room, and are more than capable of filling rooms many times larger with their sonic landscapes. They’re at times delicate, at times swirling, at times explosive and at times, frankly, beautiful. Seriously, check out their summer tour dates here and make it a point to go.

While you’re at it, pick up Lucky Seven here, and check out our full photo gallery below.



DS Photo Gallery: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (w/ Masked Intruder and PEARS), Boston, MA

America’s favorite punk rock lounge act supergroup coverband, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, brought the East Coast leg of their tour in support of their greatest hits album, Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits (April 7th, Fat Wreck Chords), through Boston late last week, their first area appearance in close to seven years. The touring lineup of the Gimmes has been a bit of an ongoing, evolving thing over the years, and honestly that’s one of the things that keeps the band fun and compelling as a live act. On this particular run, founding Gimmes Spike Slawson (vocals, occasional uke hunter), Joey Cape (guitar) and Dave Raun (drums) were joined by longtime touring Gimme Scott Shiflett all but taking over his kid brother Chris’s spot on lead guitar and Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley manning Fat Mike’s bass player battle station.

The Gimmes are always a fun time, and this particular night was no exception. One could imagine a situation in which a revolving cast of punk rock characters in their third decade as a recording and touring cover band (side note: the “Denver” 7-inch came out in 1995 and that doesn’t seem real) would have the occasion to go through the proverbial motions, but that hasn’t been the case. Bentley and Shiflett especially displayed an awful lot of playful stage interplay throughout the set, the latter using the opportunity to flex his mighty, mighty lead guitar skills that obviously get overlooked in his normal role as Face To Face’s bass player for the last few decades. Spike Slawson has long since outwardly embraced the role of schticky, occasionally raunchy lounge act crooner, so much so that you sometimes lose sight of the fact that the guy can actually, really, genuinely sing to a degree that he’s made a handful of other people’s songs sound like his own. The ukulele-led rendition of Madonna’s “Crazy For You” from 2014’s Are We Not Men? We Are DIVA! is a perfect example, though it’s worth noting that Madonna didn’t actually write the song either, so at this point it’s just as much Slawson’s as hers. But I digress. Long story short, Boston can be a bit of a notoriously finicky place for punk bands to play. On this particular night, Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s haven’t put out a new studio album (Greatestest Hits notwithstanding) in three years and still headlined in front of more Bostonians at the packed-to-the-rafters 1100-ish capacity Royale nighclub than they have played for in any of their past headlining gigs here in at least a decade, and that’s a pretty awesome thing.

Masked Intruder and PEARS provided direct and opening support in that order. The crowd at Royale turned out in larger capacity for PEARS than I have ever really seen at that particular venue, notorious for their early start times (can’t keep the EDM crowd waiting…), which was inspiring for a band that’s got a more raw, aggressive, throwback punk rock sound than many of their peers. Frontman Zach Quinn performs as though he’s from a bygone era, his banshee-like wailing and shirtless, sweat-covered pacing around the stage creating the impression of a caged animal chomping at the bit to be released.

Masked Intruder seem to be a perfect fit for any lineup that includes Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s. They might have a schtick of their own going, but it’s a really, really good one. Intruder Red was not behind the drum kit on this particular run — he’s in jail, naturally — but the band seemed to miss nary a beat with Lipstick Homicide’s Luke Ferguson taking up drum duties. Masked Intruder are a fun band who seem to take their role as a “fun band” seriously, without taking themselves too seriously. Blue and Green lead most of the high energy charge, having perfected personas as pseudo-New York tough guy common street criminals, at least until roughly the set’s halfway point, when Officer Bradford gradually loosens up and strips down, at which time the whole thing has the potential to devolve completely. Again, it’s schtick, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s all very well done.

Check out our full photo gallery below, and check out upcoming Gimmes dates here.

 



DS Photo Gallery & Show Review: Nothington / The Bombpops / Western Settings (The Hi Hat – Los Angeles 3/29/2017)

Jay Northington of Nothington

We imagine that Wednesday night shows are hit or miss in most places, but in Los Angeles, the prospects are even more bleak. However, every once in awhile, there comes a lineup so good that even Humpday can’t put a damper on the turn out. This was one of those shows, drawing an impressively sized crowd that even drew fellow punk artists, with members of Get Dead and True Rivals among the audience. Hell, Dying Scene even had two staffers in the bouse for this one! Read the review and check out the photo gallery (nearly a month after the show…really, AP?) from this incredible mid-week performance below!



DS Photo Gallery & Show Review: Musink Fest 2017 – Day Three (Costa Mesa, CA 3/19)

Day Three was reserved for the most “mature” roster of the weekend with stalwarts like Unwritten Law and Swingin’ Utters sharing the stage alongside genre defining bands like Pennywise and Bad Religion. 125 cumulative years of punk rock history performing on the same day, all in one place equated to an enormous turnout. So for the last time, we dragged Anarchopunk, kicking and screaming, back across the county line to Costa Mesa to cover this, the final day of Musink 2017. Check it out below!