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1916

Hailing from upstate NY, Celtic rockers 1916 are an explosive concoction of the modern Irish Punk movement with an original mix of psychobilly which gives 1916 a sound that stands apart from other bands of the genre.

Starting as an acoustic duo in 2006, singer Billy Herring and original drummer Steve LaDue played the traditional Irish ballads of the Dubliners and Wolfe Tones in the local pubs in and around their home-town of Rochester, NY.  They decided to call themselves 1916 to get people interested in Irish history.  In 2010 they took the music to a new level with the addition of electric guitars, traditional instruments, and a full drum set.  Within a few months of trying their new sound, 1916 were opening for the likes of the Dropkick Murphys, 21 Pilots, and New Politics, among other national acts.

On St. Patrick’s Day of 2012, 1916 released their first studio album, A Drop of the Pure, to rave reviews.  That same year, 1916 became the first band from Rochester, NY to get their own Pandora station with the addition of their music to the Pandora genome project.  With their music now reaching a global audience, the boys would soon gain fans all over the world.

The following year, 1916 released their sophomore album, Stand Up & Fight.  This new album, featuring a collection of covers and originals, had a more polished sound than the raw punk feel of  A Drop of the Pure.  This new full length album also featured more traditional Irish instruments to give the new LP a fun and full sound.

As the band continued to evolve, they kept touring and playing as many shows as possible.  With bigger audiences came a larger fan base for 1916 to interact with.  The band has always enjoyed hanging out with the crowd both pre- and post- shows.

In November of 2014, the guys went back into the studio to begin recording their third album, Last Call for Heroes.  Released in December of 2015, Last Call for Heroes was met with great enthusiasm from critics.  Named one of the “best punk albums of 2016,” both home and abroad, the new album appeared to have given the band the momentum they needed to move forward.

Mandolin player Jon Kane joined the band in early 2016, just before the boys hit the road to join Flogging Molly on their Salty Dog Cruise.  After a whirlwind spring of touring through the Bahamas and Europe, Jon was just what the band needed as he brought his energetic and fun stage persona into the fold.

The sound had certainly become streamlined and unique, but it wasn’t until 2017 that upright bassist Ryan Hurley would join 1916 to give the band the final integral piece that gives the music its psychobilly flavor.  Ryan quickly found a new home in 1916 and the band now finds itself on the edge of yet another amazing year of recording and touring.

In 2019, the band welcomed the thundering drums of Tony Presutti to take over behind the kit. Soon after that, 1916 further expanded their sound by the addition of accordion player Sam Sarratori to the crew!

DS Festival Review: Slam Dunk Festival (North)

In 2001, I moved to the Northern English city of Leeds, in part because of the live music venue, The Cockpit. This small venue put on all my favourite bands of the time, and had a long history of putting on great live music. I worked in another venue in the city on weekends, so […]


In 2001, I moved to the Northern English city of Leeds, in part because of the live music venue, The Cockpit. This small venue put on all my favourite bands of the time, and had a long history of putting on great live music. I worked in another venue in the city on weekends, so Tuesday night was my big night out, and Tuesday nights were Slam Dunk at The Cockpit. A solid mix of ska punk, pop punk, emo, rock, metal and whatever else alternative kids were listening to in the early 2000’s. 

So here I am, 21 years later. The Cockpit has long since shut down and whilst the Slam Dunk Club Night plays on at its new home, the Key Club, it’s the festival that I am at today. Now held across two cities with more than 50 bands, across five stages, things have really grown from that two room sweaty Tuesday night under a railway arch.

The lineup covers a wide range of punk and alternative music, but because I’m old and stuck in my ways, I’m mostly staying at the Dickies stage, which is the main stage this year, hosting The Suicide Machines, The Bronx, Hot Water Music, The Vandals, Streetlight Manifesto, Pennywise, The Interrupters, The Dropkick Murphy’s and headliners Sum 41. 

I’d originally bought tickets on the basis that Rancid were headlining, but they pulled out for undisclosed reasons. Then support from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones collapsed along with the band. Things were looking bleak, and I actually looked into selling my ticket, only to have two of my close friends and original Slam Dunk allies to buy tickets, so it was to be a big day out for us old guys.

The venue for the festival is Temple Newsam House. For further personal historic links, this was the site of the first music festival I ever went to (V98), and a big part of my musical taste was formed in these park lands. The benefit of this location for me is that it is close to home, the downside is that it still takes an hour and a half to get in, as traffic is not well managed and everything is already getting expensive (£10 to park in a field, £10 for a bus), I’d planned to ride my bike to the event, but for three of us, that didn’t make much sense.

Inside the arena, the stages are far enough apart that there is little noise mix from bands and practicalities like bars, toilets and food concessions are plentiful, the addition of a separate “real ale” bar was a pleasant surprise, and I managed to spend an impressive amount in this tent after and before every band. The tent also provides some welcome shade from the unexpected sun that I was totally unprepared for!

So, on to the music…

Hot Water Music, a band that I’ve discovered backwards through Chuck Ragan’s solo work, come out impassioned and full of energy, although the crowd are a little flat with it being an early set. Despite this we get a solid effort from the band, though possibly things are held back a little by a lack of catchy hooks and sing along choruses in the songs performed. Finishing with “Trusty Chords” gets the crowd interested from hearing a song they know. Whether they know the song from Epitaph‘s Punk-o-Rama compilation, or it’s just a favourite is hard to say, but in a pre-internet world, compilations from Independent punk labels are how a lot of us discovered new bands, especially those that didn’t tour the small northern venues like the Cockpit!

A quick trip to the bar revealed the sound of Punk Rock Factory carrying on the wind from the Rock Sound Stage. I was familiar with the band from their Youtube videos of punked up, harmonized pop covers, and as a father of small children, I found myself singing along to “Let It Go”, whilst appropriately stood at a urinal. If I have to play Disney songs on long journeys, then at least they can have crushing guitars as well, and hopefully, like some kind of gateway drug, this leads my kids down the path of home made tattoos and living in a van (or some other punk cliché).

The Vandals took to the stage with a not too reassuring “We’ll do our best”, and whilst I appreciate their honesty and openness, first song “Café 405”, is out of time and out of tune. 

Three songs in, things are starting to tighten up, “People That Are Going To Hell” gets people moving a little, but on the whole, the crowd remain static. “And Now We Dance” raises the energy, “The New You” keeps it going, but there’s just not enough there to hold the attention of the majority of the crowd. My friends desert me to hit the real ale bar, I hate myself for giving up on the mighty Vandals, but cold beer and the Cancer Bats on the Jagermeister stage lure me away. I’m not massively familiar with the Cancer Bats, but the wall of noise, that I could feel through the ground and see vibrating through my pint has led me to listen to more of their back catalogue.

I had a dream the night before Slam Dunk that I took all my family to see Streetlight Manifesto, but instead of their usual set list, they played a really challenging, four hour Jazz set, stopping only to enjoy a sit down meal, where they served soup from tea pots. I was trying desperately to convince my family that really, they’re a great band, whilst simultaneously enjoying the weird spectacle. 

Fortunately, there’s no Jazz today as Streetlight Manifesto, a later addition to the bill, take to the stage. There’s a clear sense of excitement in the crowd as the eight piece tear through classic hits “We Will Fall Together” and “The Three Of Us” along with lesser known tracks with a level of energy normally reserved for headline shows. The crowd sings along, dances, moshes; it’s a perfect blend of everything you want on a summers day. The only slight letdown is Tomas Kalnoky shouting “this is the big finish!” and then promptly not playing “Keasbey Nights.” I get the reasons, and I support them in letting go of a song that doesn’t really represent the band, but for many in the crowd it’s the song they came to hear and there’s visible confusion as the band leave the stage, though encores aren’t really a thing at 16:30 on a festival stage are they?

I last saw Pennywise in 1999. So its been a while. Late last year I read Jim Lindberg’s book “Punk Rock Dad,” which renewed my interest in the band, so I’m excited to see this set, and if the number of Pennywise T-shirts I’m seeing are anything to go by, so are the crowd.

From the get go, the band are on full attack. There’s no sign of age in the band and the crowd are loving it. Covers of AC/DC’s “TNT” and “Breed” by Nirvana continues the energy. Early songs “Pennywise” and “Society” lead to Lindberg lamenting to having been “doing this for thirty years,” but it’s not slowing them down. 

The crowd holds middle fingers aloft for “Fuck Authority,” and whilst it feels cheesy, a load of middle aged men swearing at the sky, its kind of cathartic, and hey, it’s a great song! Who doesn’t enjoy feeling like an angry teenager (teenagers maybe?).

A cover of “Stand By Me,” which closed 1992 album Wild Card/ A Word From The ‘Wise surprised me, as I was certain it was Lagwagon, so I learned something important today if nothing else. 

Set closer “Bro-Hymn” has exactly the effect you’d expect. Huge “wooahs” from the crowd, that epic bass riff and impassioned singing along. Obviously it’s a great song, but I think it hits harder now, after the last few years and I think everyone can take some strength from this song and apply it to someone they’ve lost.

The Interrupters carry a strange position in my mind. I love their songs, they’re great live, but there’s just something not quite right. Something doesn’t sit right with me, and I hate myself for being so negative, but its all a bit too clean cut for me. Like it’s the soundtrack to Disney film where some hopelessly good looking, talented young people form a ska punk band and take over the world with a weird crusty mentor behind them (Called Tim?).

Opener “Take Back the Power” feels stronger than normal. Maybe its that they’re more established, or maybe my cynicism is fading? Either way I enjoy it for what it is, well polished, perfectly-performed ska pop-punk. 

Ignoring a weird segue about how they all used to bathe together… “She got arrested” gets a great crowd sing along, and is probably my favourite of their songs, not least as it was my introduction to the band back in 2017 and a great example of the quality story telling in the lyrics of some of their songs.

A cover medley of “Keep ‘Em Separated”/ “Linoleum”/ “Ruby Soho” gets the crowd going before surprise high point for me, a cover of Bad Religion‘s “Sorrow,” which goes down well with the crowd (For reference Bad Religion played Slam Dunk in 2019, as did the Interrupters).

The band finishes with “She’s Kerosene,” keeping the party going, the crowd moving and generally capturing the moment nicely. People are drunk, its sunny, the people want to dance and the Interrupters deliver.

The Dropkick Murphys take to a stage with a full length riser, done out to look like a stone wall, but there is a notable absence. Al Barr, it is announced, has stayed home to care for his sick mother. Ken Casey steps up for lead vocal duties and the evening begins with the sound of bagpipes on the cool evening breeze. 

“State of Massachusetts” gets the kind of crowd reaction you’d expect from a classic pop hit or a song about Yorkshire, such passion for such a challenging subject is strange, but hey, it’s a great song and the drunk, bouncy, dancey crowd are loving it.

“Barroom Hero” is introduced as the first song the band ever wrote, which is a bit of trivia I didn’t know, but I remember it from way back in the 90s, so I guess that makes sense. The crowd offer weak “Oi! Oi! Oi!” effort which is a disappointment, maybe the crowd aren’t as au fait with shouting Oi! as I’d like? Though I accept my drive to shout “Oi!” is probably higher than most.

The slip up begins with the instruction to sing along to the 1937 hit “I’ve Still Got Ninety-Nine” by the Monroe Brothers, which although an undeniably good song, probably isn’t too familiar to the crowd today. On the upside, we’re promised an acoustic album in September, which is one to look out for. Whether it’s new material or reimagined classics has not been confirmed, but hopefully there will be an associated tour.

“Rose Tattoo” brings the sing along from the crowd, but lacks the momentum to get the crowd moving. This is exacerbated by the big screen showing bored, static faces in the crowd for the first time. Fortunately, “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” brings the party back before the end of the set. I’ve never seen such passion for a missing wooden leg, as the crowd goes nuts, with crowd surfers from all directions riding above the waves of the crowd. All parties appear to have legs intact, so that’s good.

Headliners Sum-41 were a bit of a quandary for me. The first album was an important soundtrack to my late teens/ early 20s and I saw them play in Leeds twice in 2002, but I haven’t listened to their music since Does This Look Infected from the same year.

A bit of pre-show research suggested they have had seven further releases, including 2019s Order In Decline, but in the spirit of openness, I’ve not felt inspired to check these out.

The band come out to a stage with blood-soaked Marshall speaker cabinets, a giant skull, jets of fire and “Motivation” from the first album, All Killer, No Filler. More people than I expected are really into it, though competition with Deaf Havana and the Nova Twins is limited and the other stages have closed.

The stage is set for a night of big rock and I’d like to say I invested more effort into rediscovering Sum 41, but too much sun, too much beer and a designated driver who wanted to beat the traffic meant we made an early exit.

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Jasons

DS Photo Gallery & Show Review: The Jasons / Latecomer / Jerk! / Bottle Rat (Cattivo – Pittsburgh, PA 5/6/2022)

This review is better late than never… don’t blame me, blame Dying Scene for being on “vacation”… Anyway, with MC5 playing down the street, and The Chats, Mean Jeans, and Thick playing a few towns over, I didn’t know what to expect as far as a turnout on this rainy Friday in Pittsburgh. To make things […]

This review is better late than never… don’t blame me, blame Dying Scene for being on “vacation”… Anyway, with MC5 playing down the street, and The Chats, Mean Jeans, and Thick playing a few towns over, I didn’t know what to expect as far as a turnout on this rainy Friday in Pittsburgh. To make things more uncertain, it was my first time at this venue, which didn’t exist before I started a decade of living in NYC and New Jersey.  One thing was clear that night: people show up for The Jasons. It helped that the bill was also pretty stacked with pop punk vets, Latecomer, Jerk! (on tour from Las Vegas) and Bottle Rat, whose members have been doing the punk thing for what feels like decades.

Cattivo, in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh wasn’t at all what I expected. I expected a small – medium sized bar venue that might have a stage, or might not. I was way wrong. This is a dual-level venue that had The Jasons show being held downstairs. The room and stage were a decent size and there was a cash bar serving drinks. The room offered plenty of standing room, a lot of space for band merch, and the bathroom was acceptable.  Venues like this aren’t uncommon, but it had been a while since I’ve been to one like this. Aside from the shiny curtain in the back of the stage creating the backdrop, there isn’t really anything memorable about this place. You could say the focus is on the bands, which is always a good thing.

Bottle Rat

The first band up was Bottle Rat.  If you’ve been in the Pittsburgh punk scene in the last twenty years you’ve definitely seen these dudes in one band or another.  There’s something about Bottle Rat that takes me back ten years or so to what I remember loving about the Pittsburgh punk sound. The best way to describe that Pittsburgh sound and Bottle Rat is an energetic, growly, anthemic, blue collar street punk style. Every song is a toe tapper, some songs are even hand clappers, and there’s just something about these guys that leaves you wanting more. This performance was no exception. You can bet I’ll be seeing these guys a lot in the future and I’ve given their album, All My Friends Are Animals a few spins since the show.


Jerk!

Next was Jerk!, on tour from Las Vegas, NV. I’ve been following this band since I first heard about them through Mom’s Basement Records and was immediately intrigued. Jerk! plays a sort of pop punk / ramonescore hybrid with a drummer that reminds me of Bill Stevenson both in looks and style of playing. Their set was a lot of fun and featured a ton of upbeat and poppy songs. The only album I’ve ever heard from them is “Panic Attack” and they made sure to hit a ton of songs on that album.  They also performed their version of the Screeching Weasel song, “Guest List” which is always a crowd pleaser. There’s no telling when Jerk! will be back in the ‘Burgh again, but when they are I’ll be there!


Latecomer

The last opener of the night was Latecomer. I’ve known Zach and Pete since they were in their first band, Shuttlecocks, over a decade ago and I’ve had the pleasure of playing shows with this latest band.  These guys have been killing it for years and every time they take the stage, it gets more and more polished.  They dish out a brand of catchy as hell sing-along songs that never disappoint and remind me of bands like the Jetty Boys, Dopamines, older Menzingers, and an edgier Green Day. They have a few releases at this point and made sure to play songs from all of them during their set. The crowd started to really fill in around this time and everyone knew their songs and provided plenty of crowd participation. Always a great sign for a band. It was really nice to hear some of my favorite songs like “All My Friends” and “Refrigerator” live again.  Latecomer has always been very active, so if you’re in the Pittsburgh area and they’re playing, be sure to check them out!


Jasons

The headliner for the night were The Jasons from Crystal Lake, NJ! Boy do these dudes have a following.  What’s great about them is while they play a ramonescore style pop punk, you’ll see people from all different subgenres of punk coming out to support them! I’ve seen them a few times at this point and the show keeps getting better. Mainly because The Jasons have everything… a uniformed look, between song banter, great stage presence, and a great stage show… oh yeah, the songs are also catchy too. As soon as the first note rang out, the pit opened up, fists went into the air, and the excitement started.  The Jasons went on to rip through classics like, “Blood in the Streets”, “Get Fucked”, “I Wanna Be An Asshole”, “Dead Fuck”, and “J.J. Was a Headbanger”.  Overall, the set was flawless, right down to the smoke machines being in sync with the music, and after a quick (and forced) encore, the set was over and so was the show.


It had been a minute since I’ve attended a show where I truly dug all the bands on the lineup. It was also nice to see a ton of familiar Pittsburgh faces and I look forward to more of these types of shows to come. Thanks to all the bands, Cattivo, and the promoter Some Die Nameless!


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DS Photo Gallery: Mercy Union “White Tiger” record release w/Lenny Lashley, Early Riser and Felons (Crossroads, Garwood NJ – 8/5/22)

If you read our review of Mercy Union‘s dynamite sophomore album, White Tiger, last week, it should probably come as no surprise that even though I live in Massachusetts and the official record release show occurred on a Friday in New Jersey, I was going to be there. And I was! My “forever-plus-one” and I […]

If you read our review of Mercy Union‘s dynamite sophomore album, White Tiger, last week, it should probably come as no surprise that even though I live in Massachusetts and the official record release show occurred on a Friday in New Jersey, I was going to be there. And I was! My “forever-plus-one” and I hopped in the car, dropped our teenager off at her grandparents’ house, and made our way to Crossroads in Garwood, NJ, a club that has become a sort of home-away-from-home for us the last half-dozen years or so. (Really, if you live in the greater NYC area, you should make it a point to go to Crossroads for dinner and a show. You won’t regret it.)

Felons were the first band out of the gate on this evening. Astute followers of the New Jersey music scene will no doubt remember Zak Ferentz from Ferentz and the Felons. The Hudson County street folker retooled his band during quarantine lockdown. Now known simply as Felons, the band still features Ferentz on acoustic guitar and vocals, but he’s backed by a bass player and, well, I don’t have nearly enough knowledge of electronic music to have even the foggiest idea to know what Plantcham was playing on stage right, but I know that it combined for a really cool and weird and interesting sound. Sort of acoustic folk punk meets drone synth with all sorts of samples in the mix. Ferentz at one point introduced a song as being “about doing too many psychadelics” and I’d say that sounds about right. Check the video for “Sheep’s Wool” here for a pretty accurate example.


Brooklyn’s Early Riser were next up, and I have to say, I’m really, really glad I finally got the chance to see them. For the uninitiated, it’s safe to say that Early Riser continue the evening’s theme of bands that are tough to confine to a specific genre box. The sound is centered around Kiri Oliver’s playful vocals and small body Martin acoustic with additional texture provided by Heidi Vanderlee on cello and Nicole Nussbaum on bass. Drums are handled by none other than Mikey Erg, and all members provide harmonies. It’s like posi folk punk power-pop and it inspired a random and unexpected dance break in the crowd!


Much like yours truly, Lenny Lashley made the trip down from Massachusetts. Accompanied by frequent collaborator, the multi-talented Cody Nilsen on pedal steel, Lenny occupied the night’s direct support slot. I think Lenny is the artist I’ve seen most since Covid started a couple years ago because I tend not to wander too far away from home now, so it was fun to actually see him play a road game. Lashley bounced between acoustic (a 1937 Martin reissue, I believe) and electric (a tele-style Nacho Guitar if you’re into that sort of thing) and, while he’s got a massive catalog, stuck to songs mostly from his solo repertoire, including a few tracks from his upcoming album Five Great Egrets (more on that later). Lashley and Mercy Union frontman Jared Hart go back to the days when the former welcomed the latter’s old band, The Scandals, to Boston many years ago, so it’s been fun to watch the connection continue across state lines well over a decade later.

Which brings us, of course, to the Mercy Union portion of the evening. Hart and the gang (Rocky Catanese on guitar and occasional lead vocals, Nick Jorgensen on bass and backing vocals, recent recruit byt familiar face Matt Olsson on drums) fired up the margarita machine and fired straight into “1988,” “The Void” and lead single “Prussian Blue,” the three tracks that open White Tiger and set its sonic tone. The new material was, naturally, pretty well received from the home crowd, most of whom had clearly been listening to the album on repeat for at least the duration of release day if not, in some special cases, considerably longer. The 16-song set was heavy on White Tiger, naturally, with a few songs from their debut album, The Quarry, a couple reworked Hart solo songs, and a completely on-brand singalong cover of Goo Goo Dolls classic “Black Balloon” for good measure.


It was apparent from the earliest notes of their set that the band wore not only loaded for bear, but were having fun in the process. It is obviously a bit of a daunting task to put out an album on your own label two-and-a-half years into a global pandemic, and then to host a record release show at a well-respected club in your backyard (a club that, coincidentally, yours truly traveled to for a Scandals record release show a bunch of years ago). The night was full of smiles and gratitude and shoutouts and guest appearances on gang vocals, proving that while the sound may have branched out from traditional punk rock, the vibe and the ethos once you’re inside the four walls of a sweaty club remains every bit the same.


Look below for photo slideshows from each set of the night. You can still order Mercy Union’s White Tiger here or get it wherever you buy your digital music!


MERCY UNION

LENNY LASHLEY (W/CODY NILSEN)

EARLY RISER

FELONS

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DS Show Review and Gallery: Signals Midwest, Into It. Over It, Downhaul, Mush (Chicago, IL – 7/21/22)

Story and Photography by Meredith Goldberg Signals Midwest, from Cleveland, OH, returned to Chicago, supported by Mush, Downhaul, and Into It. Over It. Its performance at Subterranean – aka SubT – was a fun one. The members seemed especially grateful that their friends in Into It, Over It were able to join them. Signals Midwest […]

Story and Photography by Meredith Goldberg

Signals Midwest, from Cleveland, OH, returned to Chicago, supported by Mush, Downhaul, and Into It. Over It.

Its performance at Subterranean – aka SubT – was a fun one. The members seemed especially grateful that their friends in Into It, Over It were able to join them. Signals Midwest lead singer/guitarist Maxwell Stern expressed the sentiment that they should be supporting Into It. Over It instead of the reverse.

Signals Midwest played to what appeared to be an almost capacity crowd in the warm club on a hot night. Said crowd was vastly mellower than most of the shows we cover here in Chicago, with virtually no circle pit, and many fans watched from a second level. Nonetheless, the crowd members were very vocal as they repeatedly shouted their approval.

Signals Midwest performed 7 of the 12 tracks on their new LP “Dent,” which was released in April 2022. The set opener, “I Used To Draw,” was one of those seven. Other “Dent” tracks performed included consecutively “Tommy Takes A Picture,” “Gold In The Grey,” “Sure of It “ and “All Good Things.” The band also performed “Your New Old Apartment,” though without the song’s featured performer, Sincere Engineer. Signals Midwest closed its set with “Alchemy Hour,” from the album, “At This Age” (2016).


Chicago’s own Into It.Over It ripped through its set, performing songs from a cross-section of its albums. These included, among others, “Discretion and Depressing People”, and “Fortunate Friends” from the album Proper; “Spinning Thread”, and “Upstate Blues,” from, Intersections; “Brenham, TX,” and “Augusta GA,” from 12 Towns; and “Heartificial” and 22 Syllables” from 52 Weeks.

The band members also made it absolutely clear their opinions on the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Joe George Shadid, has a sticker on his guitar stating, “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology.” Evan Thomas Weiss echoed the message posted on the band’s Facebook page. Whilst promoting a t-shirt to raise money for abortionfunds.org, Into It. Over It declares, “this band aids and abets abortion. it is our belief that abortion is a human right and we’ll continue to do what we can to fight for the human rights of US citizens.peace and love.”


For the band Downhaul, from Richmond VA, the SubT show marked the furthest from home the group has performed. Gordon Phillips, singer and guitarist for the group said it was during the middle of the tour so they were feeling pretty comfortable with their sets at that point. He did admit they might have been a bit nervous because they usually play venues much smaller than SubT. However, Downhaul received a very warm welcome and Phillips and the rest of his bandmates were very happy to have numerous good friends in the crowd. This group of friends included members of the Atlanta based band Worlds Greatest Dad, who were in the city on a night off from their own tour. They were also accompanied by Signals Midwest’s Max Stern on lap guitar. Up next for Downhaul? The members are finalizing, for release, some new songs they recorded in June and playing Fest for the first time ever. Needless to say, the band is very excited about its future.

Mush, the 5-member group from Chicago and Grand Rapids MI, was the first band to play. The band’s spirited set launched an enjoyable evening in the Bucktown/Wicker Park area of Chicago.


Please see below for more photos!

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DS Show Review and Photo Gallery: Camp Cope Live at Union Transfer (2022-07-22)

Camp Cope has long considered Philadelphia to be their home away from home, so when lead singer Georgia Maq greeted the crowd at Union Transfer on Friday night with the exclamation, “It feels so good to be in my favorite city in the entire world!” it wasn’t hard to believe that she was being totally […]

Camp Cope has long considered Philadelphia to be their home away from home, so when lead singer Georgia Maq greeted the crowd at Union Transfer on Friday night with the exclamation, “It feels so good to be in my favorite city in the entire world!” it wasn’t hard to believe that she was being totally sincere.  The Australian group was accepted as one of Philly’s own going back to their debut in the City of Brotherly Love at the old Balcony Bar just about 5 years ago to the day.  Philly’s vibrant and accepting indie/punk scene is extremely female/LGBTQ-centric and Camp Cope has always been considered one of the gang. It’s with this in mind that I am always willing to make the hour and a half drive down the NJ Turnpike from NY to catch them in Philly. 

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since I last saw Camp Cope at The Church (AKA First Unitarian  Church) back in 2019.  With that in mind, the current version of the band which graced the stage at Union Transfer was somewhat different from what we last saw 3 years ago. They released a new album earlier in the year and Running With The Hurricane is somewhat of a departure for the band.  Of course there’s still precocious Georgia and the backbone of the group, Sarah (Thom Thom) Thompson behind the drum kit but for the album, they added a second guitar and for this tour they’ve added Jenny Aslett to the mix.  And then there’s the absence of Kelly-Dawn Helmrich on bass who couldn’t make this trip due to her expecting her firstborn relatively soon.  Kelly’s role as bass player extraordinaire is being filled by UK ex-pat and current Philadelphia denizen, Lou Hanman of All Away Lou (amongst a multitude of other bands).

Having seen their show a couple of days earlier at Webster Hall in NYC, I already knew what would be in store as far as the new lineup was concerned.  Their set started off with an early single, “Keep Growing” which the band would eventually include on a 4 song split they did with the now disbanded Philly group, Cayetana.  With the lyrics:

I’ll keep growing my hair out

It’s not for you

Oh no, it’s not for you

No, it’s not for you

While the song might have been at the time a direct response to a romance gone wrong, it seems that on this tour, Georgia and Camp Cope are doing their own thing, they’re not the same group from 5 years ago and these imminent and obvious changes aren’t for the public but instead for them. They’re growing as a group (both literally and figuratively) because they need to. The need to avoid inertia and stagnation is first and foremost a priority for the group.

Next up was “Jealous” from the new album.  This one started out pretty slow with Georgia singing almost dirge-like over Lou’s rolling bassline riffs. That is until the chorus where Georgia’s vocals  take off. After experiencing vocal issues a couple of years ago and subsequently having surgery to repair the problem, her voice is back better than ever.  With a range much more diverse than before, she is now hitting notes and killing them…killing them in a very good way.

The third song of the evening was another older one, “How To Socialize and Make Friends”, the title track from their incredible sophomore album.  A bouncing rocker and crowd favorite, this one would have the crowd swaying and dancing and singing right along with Maq as she danced and swirled all over the stage in not much more than a t-shirt and sandals, eventually kicking off her shoes saying “shoes…they’re so fucking stupid”.

We then got a stretch of new songs from Hurricane to which the crowd was already quite familiar, singing and dancing throughout.  At some point during this set of new material, Georgia expressed how sorry she and the band were for the “fucked up things your country is putting you through”.  Going on she explained how they were raising money on this tour for reproductive and female rights.  This would be an ongoing topic throughout the evening, not at all surprisingly.

Two of the new songs which stood out during this section of the show were “Caroline” and the album’s first single “Blue”.  On the album, “Caroline” is sung quite slowly but here Georgia took the bouncy, yet subtle bass riff that plays throughout and interpreted the lyrics with that same bounce, picking up the pace of the song, making it much more of a jaunt than what we hear on the album.

As far “Blue” is concerned, they played it pretty straight up relative to the recorded version.  But what struck me was the vocal work on the song.  As I’ve said already, Georgia’s voice is sounding superb on this tour and on this song particularly she gets to show it off glowingly.  Furthermore, we are treated to something we’ve never had before as far as live Camp Cope is concerned, background vocals.  With the addition of Jenny and Lou, the extra vocals only accentuate the power and beauty of Georgia’s pipes.

I guess this might be as good a place as any to mention the unbridled triumph which Lou Hanman is on bass. Kelly’s style of playing bass as almost a lead instrument rather than a rhythm instrument is not at all typical. Matter of factly, off the top of my head, the only other player who does it is Peter Hook of Joy Division/New Order fame. Well, Lou has managed to step into the band and absolutely nail it. While I’m not at all surprised she was able to fill Kelly’s role, but the ease and comfort to which she’s accomplished it blows my mind.

Finishing off the evening’s set were two absolute gems. First, was the title track from the new one, “Running With The Hurricane”, a rollicking freewheeling song that reaches anthemic levels as Georgia pranced throughout the stage shouting the title and main lyric.

And to close things out, the band jumped into what might be one of the most scathing FU songs of all time. Part jilted lover breakup song and part I’m so sick of the patriarchal music biz bullshit, the song oozes with male loathing.  And on Friday night Georgia spewed that loathing with an absolute vengeance. The beauty of it all, however, was and is that here was Camp Cope, having just gotten back from a triumphant set at Pitchfork, here was Camp Cope playing Union Transfer in Philly, a steady upward progression from The Balcony Bar to Philly MOCA to The Church and now UT.  

Camp Cope killed it in Philly and continues to kill it almost everywhere they go despite all those naysayers who told them along the way to book a smaller venue.

Swipe through below to see more pictures from the triumphant event!


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DS Show Review and Photo Gallery: Punk Rock Tacos: A DIY 4th on the 3rd (Chicago, IL)

Story and Photos by Meredith Goldberg Noah Corona just needed to find a place to eat within a block or two of his home in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park, IL. It was the first day of the Covid lockdown. Lacking groceries and concerned that driving to get food might lead to him being […]

Story and Photos by Meredith Goldberg

Noah Corona just needed to find a place to eat within a block or two of his home in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park, IL. It was the first day of the Covid lockdown. Lacking groceries and concerned that driving to get food might lead to him being arrested, he walked around the corner from his home and came upon Cemitas Poblanas. The restaurant offered a $9.00 burrito meal, so it instantly became Corona’s daily spot during the pandemic. It also led to friendships with the staff and owners, “Mauro and Jennifer, a couple who had come from NYC in November ‘19 to start their new business. They are both originally from Puebla, Mexico, and spent 18 years in NYC, and worked in restaurants for a lot of that time,” says Corona (whose surname surely caused a few of his friends to tease him in 2020).

Cemitas Poblanas also has a small stage, which planted the seeds in Corona’s mind, of an idea he would work to fruition over the following year. Thus, was born “Punk Rock Tacos,” a monthly Friday nights DIY (do it yourself) event.  

Corona’s DIY ethos was inspired by the late Mark “Monk” Hubbard. The visionary Seattleite Hubbard created the famous Burnside Skatepark Project in Portland, OR. Hubbard also founded Grindline, a company which designed over 400 skatepark across the United States and elsewhere. Corona met Hubbard, a DIY inspiration to many across the world, one month prior to Hubbard’s June 2018 death. Hubbard’s band Grindline, named after his company, was playing in Oakland, CA at a skateboarding event, the P-Stone Invitational. Corona says that during Grindline’s set “He [Hubbard] stared so intensely into my soul as he performed 5 ft in front of me.”

It was a life-changing moment for Corona and would lead directly to his passion project: Punk Rock Tacos (PRT). This is the first of many ideas Corona has for PRT. One he hopes to tackle next is building skateboarding bowl behind the restaurant.

The first PRT Sunday edition led to some patrons being disgruntled by the rowdy punk rock music, so these special showcases take place in a small exterior area behind the restaurant.   

Looking forward to the Fourth of July this year, Corona organized an event to take place on the Sunday the 3rd.  As a nod to Independence Day, the 13-band showcase featured two American flags adorned to the back of an old Army flatbed truck. Said truck, which Corona purchased for the event, also served as the stage. 

Although this was a Fourth of July event, it was hardly a day for shouting “Murica” and chanting USA USA USA. 

Instead, there was a strong diversity of band and crowd members, more than a few Anti-Fascist and Anti-Nazi patches on clothing, call-outs for change and fighting back by the musicians, Pride t-shirts spotted, in addition to feminist statements made. One singer received roaring applause to his declaration that men who lay hands (violently) on women are trash. In many ways, Punk Rock Tacos Fourth on the Third represented what should be the ideals of this experiment in democracy. Oh, and rocking the pit harder than anyone else in attendance were a four-year-old named Lucas and an Australian cattle dog named Max. 

Of course, the main reason for the event wasn’t to focus on the disturbing events of the last several years, and especially the past few months. 

For Punk Rock Tacos founder Noah Corona, this was event was not about politics or division. Rather, it was about release and people having an out outlet to express themselves. Corona reflected on the event a day after the Highland Park mass shooting. He has also been shaken by a fatal motorcycle accident just blocks away from the event which Corona informed me occurred “while we were partying.”  Per Corona, “Life is too shitty to not have a good time, and if people don’t have their outlets a whole lot more death would be upon us.” 

What an outlet it was. Among the thirteen bands were No Dead HeroesThe RustixWAYDSBQuantumThe ThrowawaysShitizen, and Real Bad Real Fast

No Dead Heroes’ mission statement is, “We’re here to fuck shit up.” Shit did not actually get fucked up but the band tore through its 30-minute set much to the delight of the attendees. Those in lawn chairs and car seats removed from their vehicles to be used as lawn chairs, as well as those who stood both near and away from the stage. Frank Lombardo propelled the band both in voice and on the drums. Whether it was the heat of the bright afternoon or his physical efforts, Lombardo’s reddened face painted a portrait of punk rock intensity. 

Milwaukee’s The Rustix don’t consider themselves a political band according to its social media. However, per a Facebook post from June 25, 2022, “Rustix and the Midwest Hardcore Punx scene stand in solidarity with people that have uteruses. If you don’t, don’t come to our shows, you aren’t welcome.” For the band members some issues transcend politics and The Rustix brought a set that was as tight and strong as that message.

WAYDSB states on its website: “We want to share our perspectives with you, and maybe our music will help you understand and feel what it is we’re expressing.” The band demonstrated this motto during its banger of a set. Drummer Liam Cavanaugh was clad in a (LGBQT+) “Pride” shirt and rainbow tie dye style cap, while guitarist James McFadden wore a t-shirt sporting the name of satirical 2016 U.S. Presidential candidate Deez Nutz. 

Quantum, out of Crystal Lake, brought the fun. With a combo multi-bongo and just enough cowbells set up, how could it not? There was Bass player Shawn Belletynee draped in an American flag as a cape, a brand-new song entitled Planet B.S., and blood. Well, blood on the bongos at least. Lead singer Zac Dawson decided it was a good sign and queried “Blood on the bongos, isn’t that a Bob Dylan album?”

Noah Corona’s own band, The Throwaways, elicited loud cheers and clapping for both the music and for his creation of Punk Rock Tacos and this event. It was obvious by his constant smile throughout the day, how grateful Corona was for that appreciation and the joy his hard work has brought him. The Throwaways, as a band, honored his hard work with its rollicking set. Immediately after the set Corona was back on the ground making sure the rest of the evening went off without a hitch. 

Ah Shitizen. With all due respect to, and respect is most definitely owed to them, Josh on drums, Elliot on bass, and Jerm on guitar, it is lead singer Claudia Guajardo who steals the most focus at every Shitizen show. With her hyperkinetic energy and charisma, she is the very definition a band’s front person. As is the case at every Shitizen show, Guajardo refused to stick only to the stage. But this being on the back of a truck, she did accept an assist from her boyfriend Adam Kreutzer (lead singer for Kreutzer and the newly joined drummer for Knoxious.) who helped her in and out of the high up flatbed stage. She scaled the truck herself before the set and after, but Kreutzer’s help allowed her the continuity of singing, microphone in hand. It’s a blast to watch Guajardo in frenzied action. The band is also a model of DIY as they finished up making their band shirts and merch themselves the morning of the event. 

Metro Chicago’s Real Bad Real Fast was formed in 5 or 6 years ago. They invited friends and family to this event on Facebook with a sentiment presently shared by a good portion of the USA: “Come celebrate Freedom (cough)” adding “At least freedom enough for us to rock your socks off!!” As the gloaming set in, lights were installed on the already too confined stage before knocking off of socks began.

Corona described the event as epic and credited his second in command organizer Matthew “Cactus Matt” Durica and sound engineer Steve Anthony for much of the success of the event and PRT, and told everyone involved that he was “proud of all of us.”

A few days after the event Corona stated, “I am happier than shit right now, and all I can think is, what’s next?”

More Photos from The Fourth on the Third below!

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DS Show Review and Photos: The Beths, SASAMI & Charlotte Cornfield Live At BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn

I will be the first to admit that my main (aka only) interest in venturing over to Prospect Park on a hot & humid Friday night was to see New Zealand’s one and only The Beths. I knew next to nothing about the 2 opening acts, Charlotte Cornfield and SASAMI. I can only say now […]

I will be the first to admit that my main (aka only) interest in venturing over to Prospect Park on a hot & humid Friday night was to see New Zealand’s one and only The Beths. I knew next to nothing about the 2 opening acts, Charlotte Cornfield and SASAMI. I can only say now that am I REALLY glad I got to The Lena Horne bandshell early enough to witness one of these sets.

Cornfield took the stage promptly at 7 PM and proceeded to treat the crowd to a steady and competent set of rather quiet and subdued indie folk to which the NPR types in the crowd thoroughly enjoyed. For my ears, however her set just didn’t resonate all that much with me and after the 3 song photo allotment was met I found myself chatting with some of the other photogs in attendance for what seemed like a rather long time considering Charlotte was an opener on a three-band bill at an outdoor show that had a strict New York City mandated 10 PM curfew. Before I go any further, to be clear, Cornfield’s set did seem to be quite good but it just wasn’t my thing and I just kind of lost interest. That’s not to say that she didn’t make a lot of those in attendance very pleased with her set.


Next up was SASAMI who hit the stage shortly after 8 PM.  Truth be told, I had given SASAMI a bit of a listen on Spotify prior to the show and was merely lukewarm about what I had heard. Their first (self-titled) album released in 2019, was a quite polished indie pop album which while very listenable, didn’t exactly get my juices flowing.  And then there is this year’s second full-length LP, Squeeze which hit the shelves back in February. You’d have to do some serious searching in order to find a sophomore LP which takes as strong a departure from its predecessor as does Squeeze

The set started off with Sasami Ashworth’s “The Greatest” off the new album. And while the song on the album is rather subdued, the band came out and raged. They took what already sounded like a homage or at least a response to Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Gift Of All” and turned it into Whitney’s Greatest Gift from an alternative (much less hospitable) dimension.  From here the set only got darker, darker in a heavy metal kind of way with thundering bass lines and loud abrasive guitar chords coming from both Ashworth’s axe as well as the other guitarist who’s name I did not get. To say the least I was almost completely shocked. From here the band ripped through song after song with a fiery electric vengeance which I for one was 100% unprepared for. 


SASAMI

Sticking with a setlist comprised entirely of titles off the new one, SASAMI’s set was absolutely mesmerizing. The energy set forth by Ashworth and the rest of the band was transfixing. A combination metal hell fest combined with an almost performance art presentation made for a show to which I (and virtually every other photographer in the pit) was paralyzed to stop clicking the shutter button. Every moment following every moment felt like something that needed to be captured.  

SASAMI’s set lasted roughly 40-45 minutes yet it flew by in a flash. I for one felt winded after witnessing the whirlwind of a set which they had treated us all to. My initial reaction when it was done was, “I can’t believe it’s over so soon”.  Looking at their other setlists online however, it looks like we got pretty much their entire show.

Which brings me to the headliner, The Beths. It wasn’t all that long ago, you read from me that they were the only real impetus for me being at Prospect Park in the first place. And now as I stood and waited for them to take the stage, I couldn’t help but ponder, “How the hell are they going to top THAT?!?”  Having seen the band make a steady progression from DIY venue, Alphaville to 400-person Music Hall Of Williamsburg to 1000-person capacity Webster Hall, they were now faced with the unenviable task of playing (BY FAR) their most high-profile show ever in New York at the 5000 to 7000 person capacity Lena Horne Bandshell AND having to do that following an absolutely blistering set from the opener, not to mention their backs against the wall relative to a 10 PM curfew.


With it already being after 9, it appeared that we were most likely going to get a truncated set.  The band came on about 9:15, opening with “I’m Not Getting Excited” but clearly they were because they came out answering the call.  Despite what appeared to be some lighting irritations, Liz Stokes was exactly that, STOKED. She, along with guitarist, Jonathan Pierce, bassist, Ben Sinclair and Tristan Deck on drums hit the stage running. Barreling through stalwarts ” Happy, Unhappy” and “Out Of Sight” before offering up the lead single and title track to the upcoming album, “Expert In A Dying Field” due to drop in mid-September.


It was right about here in the set that it dawned on me that the band had figured out how they were going to get their entire set done in roughly three-quarters the normal length of the set. They were speeding everything up and HOLY SHIT, it was working masterfully!  I mean they were almost approaching Ramones kind of tempos and the songs and the vibes and the atmosphere were just perfect.

After “Dying Field” we got three more older songs before they cracked open another new one called “Knees Deep”, a bright sun-shiney rocker (come to think of it a Beth’s song and sun-shiney is just redundant…aren’t they all like that?)

Attacking each upcoming song at a breakneck pace which seemed different yet also quite right.  “Jump Rope Gazers” into “Uptown Girl” into “A Real Thing”, all done fast but not quite furious.

When all was said and done, The Beths managed to come out of the evening having sleighed the dragon. They overcame the adversity which faced them and finished the evening around 10:10 after a two-song encore of “You Are A Beam of Light” and “Little Death” to the delight of all. Liz and crew put on a masterful show which while certainly sped up, never felt rushed. As a matter of fact it appeared that the band had as much fun as the packed crowd. The normally stoic Jon on guitar was flashing a big grin much of the evening. Liz showed off a little Chuck Berry-esque duck walk and the rhythm section of Tristen and Ben were amazing keeping the sped up pace at bay and even keeled.

When all was said and done, all I could possibly say was, “What a night!”

NOTE:  For those in the NY/NJ area The Beths will be at The Asbury Lanes on August 26th and for those in or around western MA, they will be at Courtney Barnett’s Here and There Festival at MassMoca in North Adams on August 13th.

  • SASAMI
  • The Beths

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Dying Scene Album Review: Chicago’s Counterpunch is back with their new album “Rewire”

The last two years have been taxing on us all mentally, physically and emotionally. An unfortunate and dire situation the world remains in but it seems there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As much pain, confusion, stress, frustration and adversity we’ve had to overcome, one thing keeps us going. The music […]


The last two years have been taxing on us all mentally, physically and emotionally. An unfortunate and dire situation the world remains in but it seems there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

As much pain, confusion, stress, frustration and adversity we’ve had to overcome, one thing keeps us going. The music has never stopped. A lot of bands have taken advantage of this time to release new music and convey their feelings through songs.

For Counterpunch, a punk rock band from Chicago, this is an opportunity for the world to hear what they’ve been working on for these past two years. It has certainly been well worth the wait. Their new album Rewire is out now.

The last full length album, Bruises was released in 2014, and was a solid album full of melodic and upbeat skate punk tunes. This new album Rewire not only picks up where Bruises left off, but it carves out some new paths the band is taking with their music.

Rather than use the cliche idea that a band “matures” with a new release, Counterpunch has made an album that displays their signature melodic hardcore/skate punk sound (as evident in tracks like “Waiting in the Wings,” “Collateral Damage,” and “Avarice”) and exploring some different territory (“Judgment Day,” “Rewire” and “The Pendulum”).

Rewire is proof that this band has worked extremely hard to make some fantastic music. Each track brings its own sound and each track leaves the listener wanting more. The excitement of hearing some of these songs live is definitely building. This album will be the soundtrack of the summer.

Rewire is out now via Thousand Island Records. Buy it here!

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Dying Scene Album Review: Florida Men record killer punk album

Florida men are usually in the news for all the wrong reasons. Whether they’re getting high on bath salts and eating a homeless person’s face off, being arrested for drunk driving on a Segway, or stealing a cop car while butt-ass naked, Florida men are always up to something. Their latest venture? Joining forces to […]

Florida men are usually in the news for all the wrong reasons. Whether they’re getting high on bath salts and eating a homeless person’s face off, being arrested for drunk driving on a Segway, or stealing a cop car while butt-ass naked, Florida men are always up to something. Their latest venture? Joining forces to start a band and release a fucking awesome album of loud, fast, snotty, pop-tinged punk rock. One small caveat: these guys aren’t actually from the Sunshine State, they’re Dutchmen. But, as a native Floridian, I accept them as one of my own.

Florida Men (the band) features members of Sun-0-Bathers and Drunktank, among others. Their twelve song debut album clocks in at under 20 minutes, delivering really fun, short bursts of melodic pop-punk, fueled by a barrage of Johnny Ramone style buzzsaw downstrokes. There’s a liberal application of the earwormy “nursery rhyme” style lead guitar parts popularized in the 90’s by The Queers and Screeching Weasel, paired with the frantic pace of bands like DeeCracks, Teenage Bottlerocket, and The Manges.

All of the songs are great, but some of my favorites include “Better Safe than Sober”, “Tiki Bar”, “Greatest of All Time”, and “No Fit”. The subject matter ranges from getting cheated on by your trailer trash girlfriend who has face tattoos and a tramp stamp, to getting drunk at a Tiki bar after nobody came to your band’s show. I must say, for a bunch of Dutchmen, these guys sure know a lot about… Florida stuff.

For old school pop-punk fans, I’d consider this “easy listening”. It’s a quick blast of fun, catchy songs. All the hallmarks of the genre are here, but these guys do “pop-punk by the numbers” way better than a lot of other bands. The singing, playing, and production are all on point. Florida Men made a really, really good album that would serve as the perfect soundtrack to any felonious acts you may want to commit.

It’s a fuckin’ bargain, too! Morning Wood Records is selling the digital version for just two bucks, and the CD can be had for the low price of five freedom dollars. Shipping to the United States (more specifically Florida) is another issue, but it’s still quite reasonable. Buy, buy, buy!!!

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