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[spunge]

Spunge (often typeset as [spunge] – lead singer Alex Copeland has joked that the brackets are in the name so that the letters do not fall out) are a ska punk band from Tewkesbury, England. Through many years of touring, Spunge have toured with or played alongside a number of UK bands; and several American bands such as Green Day, Dropkick Murphys and Reel Big Fish; and been supported on a UK tour by Bowling for Soup; the latter of whom contributed backing vocals to the song “Centerfold” on the That Should Cover It! album.

Bowling for Soup

Bowling for Soup (abbreviated as BFS) is an American rock band formed in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1994. The band is best known for its singles “Girl All the Bad Guys Want”, “1985”, “Almost” and “High School Never Ends”. The band is also known for performing the introduction to the Disney Channel TV show Phineas and Ferb and the vocal theme for Sonic Unleashed.

DS EP Review: Yellowcard – “Childhood Eyes”

Before we start the review…let me take you back to a venue in Copenhagen in 2015. We are in Pumpehuset, and Less Than Jake just left the stage. After a break, Yellowcard appears, and I’m fangirling as if it was 2004 (yes, I know Ocean Avenue was released in 2003… But I was 12 in […]

Before we start the review…let me take you back to a venue in Copenhagen in 2015. We are in Pumpehuset, and Less Than Jake just left the stage. After a break, Yellowcard appears, and I’m fangirling as if it was 2004 (yes, I know Ocean Avenue was released in 2003… But I was 12 in 2003. I didn’t get a computer until 2004.)
The friends I went with aren’t, to this day, Yellowcard fans. But hell, through breakups, reunions, and shitty albums, I stand by them. But that was the night Ryan Key informed us that Yellowcard was breaking up. In my world, eight years ago, that would be the first and last time I saw Yellowcard in action. I was in tears.
Eight. Years. Later. Guess who is taking pictures of Yellowcard in the photo pit at Slam Dunk? ME!! And that was a dream come true, and also the weekend that Dying Scene got me out of my retirement, so I’ll take pictures at your child, best friend, sister’s wedding. Guess who is seeing them live again, and in my opinion, better than ever? ME and my truly amazing friends.



That intro was a bit long, but let’s admit it. You come for my witty backstories and stay for my sassy opinions – and I will deliver. Just keep ready, babes.

CHILDHOOD EYES

Yellowcard returns – TODAY – with a new EP… And well, let’s start from the top.

“Three Minutes More” doesn’t exactly show Yellowcard‘s full potential. It’s not a bad song because Vic Fuentes from Pierce The Veil is on it… Will I be hanged for this comment? But this song was stronger than the whole The Jaws Of Life album. Vic, if you read this, pull the band in this direction.

“Childhood Eyes” brings in the full force of Yellowcard and what they are capable of. As someone who grew up with Yellowcard and has now become my own person, this song did hit a certain place in my heart. The lyrics are weak, but the delivery of them is actually flawless.

“Hiding in the Light” intro reminds me of early Yellowcard, and for a second, Ryan’s vocals took me back. I actually find this song to be the biggest stand-out on the EP. It reminds me of early Yellowcard, but not in a “we didn’t grow” way. No, no, it’s clear from the lyrics that they, in fact, have grown.

“Honest From The Jump” “WE WERE JUST DISTANT STARS…” tell me more; this song actually caught my son’s attention. Yes, I turned a seven-year-old into a Yellowcard fan. But he convinced me to give it a chance. And I want to say the chorus is definitely one of my favorites on the EP. I’ve screamed the lyrics 100 times. But Keys’ delivery makes me shiver and get goosebumps each time I hear it. And the violins break my heart each moment on this song… “You were not honest from the jump”… Shit.

“The Places We’ll Go (feat. Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional)“… the awful guitar intro… You know this song will pull teeth. I truly find this song annoying, and I get tired each time I hear it. Like, Yellowcard “wants to show they’ve grown,” but the fact this song lacks everything I need to be convinced… It sounds like some shit a guy from Nordsjælland (for those in America, just your average fuckboy. But we have them in one location) could tell me. I’m not into it. I’m actually over it.

Despite that one song… Yellowcard is back and I’m here for it, although this makes me tired because of that one song. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, I’m also hesitant about it, you know? Bring me something better than Ocean Avenue and I’ll admit defeat.

Friends…It’s new release day – let’s discuss this because I’m here for it!

  1. The Places We’ll Go is my favorite on this. Dashboard Confessional are amazing.

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DS Gallery: Chicago’s own pop punk outfit MEST play hometown show PLUS new album released!

MEST has had a busy year so far touring across Europe before stopping back home to Chicago…and they are not done yet! 115 Bourbon Street is a New Orleans-themed venue packed with multiple stages and on Friday, June 28th hosted MEST and a slew of other bands, including Rematch, NightCap and Highwire. MEST released the […]

MEST has had a busy year so far touring across Europe before stopping back home to Chicago…and they are not done yet!


115 Bourbon Street is a New Orleans-themed venue packed with multiple stages and on Friday, June 28th hosted MEST and a slew of other bands, including Rematch, NightCap and Highwire.


MEST released the new album ‘Youth‘ via SBÄM Records on June 21st. It features guest appearances by Jaret Reddick of Bowling For Soup and Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills.

Of the new LP, founding member and front man Tony Lovato says, “The drives to the studio were about an hour and 20 minutes long. A lot of my inspiration for this record was found on those drives. I would just listen to all the records that I grew up listening to. Which brought back a ton of memories. It would just put me in another state of mind. The majority of “Youth” was written up in the hills of Los Angeles where I recorded a bunch of our early records. I would get random flashbacks seeing spots I hadn’t seen in years. But as much as I love all the memories and stories of the past, I’m not one to think that the best days are over. I’m creating new core memories and living my life now, so that in 20 years I’ll look back fondly. The same as I do now. These songs are a cheers to the past with a here’s to the future.”


MEST released their seventh album, ‘Masquerade,’ in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. They toured extensively in 2019 with Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, and Millencolin. Looking ahead, MEST plans to release three new LPs, starting with ‘Youth,’ and has secured deals with Avex Records in Japan and SBAM Records in Europe.

When asked to sum up 28 years of MEST, Tony replied, “I don’t know, I mean honestly it feels like we’re just getting started…”


Maintaining their blue-collar work ethic, MEST continues to earn fans through their grassroots approach and looks forward to performing their energetic live shows worldwide. The future looks promising as they prepare to release new music and hit the road again.

MEST will continue to keep the ball rolling with shows in Mexico this month, followed by some West Coast stops in September.

Check out more photos from the 115 Bourbon Street concert below in case you missed it!


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DS Introductions: Characters of Riot Fest 2023

One of my favorite quotes in photojournalism is from the legendary William Albert Allard. He famously said, “I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don’t find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges.“ It has long been a sort of mission statement for me in my career as […]

One of my favorite quotes in photojournalism is from the legendary William Albert Allard. He famously said,

I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don’t find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges.

It has long been a sort of mission statement for me in my career as a photographer. One I try to apply every time I have my camera with me. This year, I decided to forgo the photo pits and let my fellow DS Team Chicago member Mary handle those duties. First time since we started documenting Riot Fest I was not in the photo pit. I missed being in the photo scrum but being able to cover all the other wild, cool, fun and compelling parts of the festival was well worth it. A few of the following Characters of Riot Fest I knew already and am friends with some. But I also met so many more fantastic people. A few I’d like to introduce to you dear DS readers.


The Son also Rises

As Riot Fest’s main focus is music, let’s start with one of the great bands. Sludgeworth had the Rebel Stage with a time slot in competition with Foo Fighters. Yet, the Chicago band first founded in 1989, held its own. The band is comprised of singer Dan Schafer aka Dan Vapid, in the front, Brian McQuaid aka Brian Vermin, on drums in the back, and their bandmates, Adam White and Dave McClean on guitars, and Mike Hootenstrat on bass, long-time Sludgeworth fans were ecstatic. McQuaid, who was in Screeching Weasel prior to Sludgeworth, told me,

We played RF with Bad Brains back when it was at the Congress, but this time was just bigger and more exciting. It was an amazing experience to be part of such a massive production. +-This time was more special because the first time was a one off, and this time we’re gonna keep going.


The band returned this year earlier, taking the stage at Cobra Lounge and garnering newer fans and introducing a new part-time member, Brian McQuaid’s 13 year old son Max McQuaid. The younger McQuaid has been playing for 5 years but at Cobra, he made his live performance debut. It was fun to document that performance and see the warm welcome the young musician was given. Not just because his dad is in the band but because the kid has a legit talent with the sticks. Did not have to be a drummer to understand that when the Max smashed his way through “Anytime.”


“Max has played both Cobra and Riot Fest. He worked really hard and played like a pro both times, I can’t express how proud I am. He’s gonna go places I never have with his work ethic and indoctrination into this music scene.”


Riot Fest is the Pits

Another person making his Riot Fest debut its Kamran Khan. Rather than on the stage though, Khan was stationed near the stage, He worked as a member of the team regulating the photo pits. Among, the duties, making sure photographers in the pit had the proper credentials and providing instructions to the shooters as to the general protocols, as well as the individual mandates of the various bands. The team ensures that we photographers get the best images we can, at the same time making sure everyone stays safe. Khan was pretty confident he could handle the job.

I’d never worked a press pit before but I’ve been a bartender, a teacher, a bouncer, a real estate agent, a minister, a waiter at a Russian bath house, an editor/publisher, a ditch digger, a secretary, a babysitter, a writer, and I even lasted one day as a line cook. So, I figured he thought I’d have the skill set covered.

And his impressions?

Well, besides the fact I got to see some of the most badass musicians around performing at the top of their game from just several meters away, the best thing about it was meeting all the heroically hardworking and talented people that keep the Fest going that also happen not to be wearing artist wristbands. There’s so many moving parts to get this many acts going on in front of this many people smoothly, and so many people trying to do their best to make sure everybody’s safe and having a good time, and you gotta do that gig amongst the constant shifting demands and constraints of all the different emerging variables, pivoting and adapting on the fly. Working a fest is kinda like being Harrison Bergeron, (from that Kurt Vonnegut Jr story) trying to dance in a metal suit, and pulling it off.

But so many cool hardworking folks pull it off and it was great to have a killer weekend with them all. I also got a kick outa watching all the press do their work, the elegant yet clumsy dance of the “Where’s a damn angle where I can get a transcendent shot before I have to run across a city park dodging drunk grey bearded punk rockers between rain soaked lakes without twisting my ankle or breaking the strap on my camera (which can be fixed with a zip tie if it happens I learned) in order to hopefully get a shot that may or may not get cut depending on what somebody in an office 2000 miles away thinks. And getting to sit in the press tent and jaw with you about old pictures. That was a blast.

Describing his experience with vivid and poetic details is not surprising for a person whose Instagram handle is “Punks With Books”. And Khan’s last statement about pictures was actual a reference to 1970’s cinema. Khan, with headband and his style of facial hair, appears to be straight out of central casting for a Sidney Lumet or Alan J. Pakula directed film. It was a blast to be able to discuss, in general, cinema’s greatest decade, and specifically, Al Pacino. I need to go watch Dog Day Afternoon now. “Attica! Attica!”


Shoot to Thrill


One person who did not make his Riot Fest debut this year is photographer Mike “MXV” Vinikour. While a good portion of photographers, including myself for DS, have covered multiple Riot Fest, only Vinikour has wielded his camera and his vision at Riot Fest every year. The Downers Grove, IL-based photographer and Associate Game Developer at Stern Pinball runs his own site called The Punk Vault.

Vinikour described to me how he got started shooting Riot Fest, how it has changed over the years, and what it has meant to him.

Back in 2005 I saw a flier for this two day punk festival at the Congress Theater called Riot Fest. I saw the lineup of bands and it was full of all these great old punk rock bands I grew up with, some of them still mostly intact and some of them a fraction of what they were with different/new singers. I had only been shooting shows for about a year or so at that point and was still pretty green. I didn’t know who the promoter was at the time, but I had connections through a couple of bands that were on the bill. One of the days I think I got my passes from the Dead Kennedys’ publicist, and the other day I either got in through The Effigies or Channel 3.

It was a really fun two days and there were so many great bands both old and new, though it was the old punk bands of my youth that got me to go to it.

After the fest I had posted my show review and photos on my site. I was the only photographer at that first Riot Fest. A few months later, Riot Mike [Michael “Riot Mike” Petryshyn, founder and owner of Riot Fest] came up to me at a show and thanked me for the nice review of his show and giving him some exposure and he liked my photos. He told me of his plans for the second Riot Fest and that got me really excited. He invited me to come shoot it again and that started a long relationship I’ve had with Riot Fest. I haven’t missed shooting a single one and Mike, Luba [Vasilik], Heather [West of Western Publicity], and everyone in the organization have been wonderful to me over the years. I can’t say enough good things about all of them.

I liked it when they were just in the Congress Theater because I loved shooting at that venue, and it had a lot of space. When they added that second stage in the lobby though it made navigating in and out of there more difficult. That club had great lighting and the barricade had enough room in there to drive a car inside of it. The rest of the place was falling apart though.

When they moved it to the different clubs, it really made it difficult to try and shoot multiple shows, and many times I had to make a difficult choice of what ones to do because as good as modern technology is, I was never able to clone myself to be in two places at once. Driving between the venues was difficult too, having to find parking, going through traffic if you had only a short window of time to get from one club to another, and some venues were harder to shoot in than others due to their size, lack of barricade, etc.

I was pretty happy when they moved past the multi-club thing (which was always an exhausting week) and moved it to the big outdoor festival. I was blown away at that first one at Humboldt Park with how massive it was and what a huge undertaking it was on Riot Fest’s part to do something that big, but it turned out awesome and to this day it’s the only outdoor festival I like or want to participate in. They adapted well over the years of being a huge fest to make the layout more user friendly and I think the last few years have been even better than ever with how they’ve managed it all.

It was kind of a neat parallel with how Riot Fest grew over the years and how I grew and honed my craft at photography. We both started close to the same time and have both gotten way better over the years. I definitely own a part of my growth as a concert photographer to Riot Fest.

I started taking photos around 2004 for my website The Punk Vault. I had been writing about music since 1985 when I started a fanzine called Spontaneous Combustion. That ran until 1997, then a few years later I did a web version of that which then morphed into The Punk Vault site that I’ve been doing the last 20 years.


RE: the way shooting bands has changed at the fest over the years: Well in the old Congress Days I was allowed to shoot the full sets of every band and had all access passes, so I had the full run of the place. I was pretty spoiled, and Mike made me feel really special and appreciated. When they became a big outdoor fest, I understood the logistics of that wouldn’t work anymore. I was just happy that when the fest became huge, they. never forgot me and told me that I’ll always be welcome to come shoot the fest as long as I want. It went from me being the only one there, to being in a pretty small group of photographers sharing the pit, to now being one of probably 100 that shoot the fest every year. It can be challenging at times being in there with so many people all vying for the same three spots to shoot though those giant speaker stacks that are blocking most of our view, but I’ve been so many awesome photographers over the years at the fest that it feels like a family. There’s a core group of us that have been shooting the outdoor fest for so many years now that it really has become the most fun weekend of shooting bands of the year and the one I look forward to the most. It’s like a brotherhood of photographers and we all laugh and have a great time.

Sometimes being crammed in there with so many people can be hard on me because I have anxiety and that can trigger me, but it’s always been manageable and in a way it’s good for me to challenge myself. Also, there’s been times where instead of 3 songs, we only get 1 due to them splitting us in groups, or certain bands may have restrictions that only let us do one song. That has made me a more efficient photographer so when those situations happen I can roll with it a lot easier than ever now.

I almost never just watch a band unless I’m shooting them. The enjoyment of shows for me is shooting photos, I won’t go to shows unless I’m shooting them. I’ve made exceptions at the fest for bands I really love that may not allow any photography, (The Misfits for example) but typically if a band won’t let me shoot them, I won’t stick around to watch them, and I’ll go shoot someone else.


Having a Senior Moment


AnnaBelle “Bee” Pant, is a 12th grader at what her mother Monica described to me as a “progressive-ish” high school in a small, conservative Michigan town. AnnaBelle wanted something a little different from the typical senior portraits she had seen with classes coming before hers,

I’m 17, and I live in southwest Michigan, which is basically just a bunch of cornfields. I wanted to get my senior pictures somewhere a little more “me.”


AnnaBelle and her parents – Ben & Monica Pant – and her 11th grader brother Trey, made it a family affair.

This is our third year at Riot Fest, and I’ve always loved going with my family seeing concerts. I know it’ll be some of my best memories with my parents.”

As for the family’s favorite sets? AnnaBelle spoke on behalf of the quartet,

For sure Bowling For Soup!! and The Used were awesome, we were camping at the barrier for both.”

Oh and the Pants also brought along a friend named Ryan, whom the Pant family befriended at the festival in 2021. Well, sort of. The actual Ryan was unable to attend this year so family carried “Flat Ryan,” inspired by the Flat Stanley travels the word idea. This is just one of the many long-lasting friendships formed at Riot Fest every year.


Maker of the Mosh


Nik Simmons describes himself this way,

Stay at home dad and drumming for Exegesis until Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press needs me.

But Simmons is also a man with an annual mission to organize the best Riot Fest mosh pits, or at least the most unique.

Over the years, it has become a Riot Fest tradition to have a gimmick pit. As soon as I read that Corey Feldman was playing, I knew he was the perfect act. 

Feldman became famous as a child actor, including in the classic 80’s films, Stand By Me, The Goonies, and The Lost Boys. During the past few decades he has concentrated on music but has never really been acclaimed for his musical talents.


Still, Feldman elicited both enthusiasm and snickers from a good number of fest attendees. Simmons told me,

His name stood out from the lineup so much that I had to see him perform. I’m sure many went for the irony. However, even those who went in with that attitude were soon won over by Corey Feldman’s performance.

Simmons, who cited The Lost Boys as his favorite Feldman film, didn’t get to meet the star but does believe the actor was aware of the pit,

I think he did. It was posted on one of his social media accounts.

More importantly, the crowd seemed to enjoy it as Simmons described the result, 

Excellent. A bunch of people had a great time.

This was not Simmons’ first such experience as he informed me,

Yes, there was a wall of death for The Village People, corn dog pit for Sincere Engineer, and a pit for Devo. I’ve made a sign for each of those mosh pits too.

Looking forward to witnessing what Nik Simmons comes up with at Riot Fest 2024. 


Board with Riot Fest


Cooper Greenslade, 13, caught air and grabbed attention as he flew high above the Riot Pop! skate ramp set up against the Riot Fest Devil. Greenslade shared with me, via instagram, his first Riot Fest experience.

Yes, this was my first time at RF, and as far as the experience it totally exceeded my expectations honestly. I didn’t really know how kool it was gonna be till I walked through the gates and saw all the people and heard the insane music I was immediately stoked about being there. I have not skated any other music fests but I definitely intend on going to more in my life.

I have been skating 5 1/2 years not pro (yet) but hopefully one day. I am sponsored by Character Skateboards, GROM USA, Static Hardware, Fargo. I would say my overall experience with RF is the bands were amazing and the stages were close enough to get to see a lot of bands quickly, and the people watching was amazing.

I always get super stoked riding with older dudes cause they have a lot of experience and all of them are super kool and they are always giving me tips and advice to get better, the Chicago skate scene is very positive and motivated. I’m super excited to have so many good influences around me.

Yes, I would love to make this a full time career, but for now I’m having a ton of fun and meeting a lot of amazing skaters all over the US. I’m just gonna keep hustling and see where it takes me.


Punk Rock Nuptials


The wedding party wore t-shirts emblazoned with Cards Against Humanity style references to past (“Throwing Meat at Morrissey“) and present (Dave P., a Dave Grohl doppelgänger, wore a shirt with the Foo Fighters singers’ name on it) Riot Fests and the group’s all too often reaction whilst watching Chicago Bears games (“Shit Got Fucked”). The Bride and Groom wore t-shirts where the traditional “til death due us part” was wrapped around corpse hands, and Old Skool Vans with their initials and the wedding date printed on the heel. The corsage was made out of Riot Fest lineup cards, and there was a swarm of (fake) adorable bumblebees. For Angela Vetrovec-Schiller & Aaron Schiller, there was no doubt the chapel they would head to would be the Riot Fest Chapel.

Riot Fest means so much to me. Music is a huge part of my life. I’ve been going to Riot Fest since the start. It’s basically a holiday weekend for me and my friends. Moving away from Chicago was a hard decision for me. Riot Fest has now turned into a yearly reunion. The random run ins are one of my favorite parts. I met my husband at a show, fell in love with him at a fest, he proposed to me at another fest, so getting married at Riot Fest was the perfect way to do in front of all of our best friends. I love being at Riot Fest, I love the people of Riot Fest, I love our scene. 


Punks Care


Punk Rock Saves Lives and Riot Fest have combined to save lives for years. PRSL founder Rob “Rover” Rushing explained why Riot Fest is so meaningful to him, his wife and board member Tina Rushing, and all involved in the beloved nonprofit.

“PRSL was formed in November 2019. As a continuation of the work that we did with the Love, Hope, Strength, Foundation. It Is my dream and my wife’s and quite a few others’ dream to use the positivity of the punk scene to make incremental differences in our lives every day.”

As LHS or as PRSL, I believe Since 2013, possibly before, and that includes all of the Denver ones as well, we were invited by Sean (McKeough), the co-owner of Riot Fest as a kind of a personal mission because he had beat cancer before his untimely death from a brain aneurysm. We’ve swabbed close to 400 every single year we’ve been at Riot Fest, if not more. Considering 1 in 100 matches to save a life, and 1 in 1000 of those make it to the donation, Riot Fest is way above normal averages for saving lives. Something about Riot Fest is just special because people not only come to have an absolute blast but seem to care. 

Seems like that is the community and it’s even with, you know, years where it’s more punk rock, or it’s more rock or it’s more rap, it doesn’t change. The community of Riot Fest is pretty amazing. 

One of my favorite moments of Riot Fest ever, and it’s kind of sad to say it this way, but the year Sean passed away. They went forth, obviously. Very, very sad. But also, they had his Gator, his golf cart type thing. And they brought it, and they displayed it as a memorial for him. And they came and got me at my booth. When I got there to set up, they drove by and took me to the Gator and had me put a sticker on the Gator because they knew how much our charity meant to him.  

That just proves that the people of Riot Fest, it’s not only a business and obviously it’s that, but it’s also a community and they believe in it and seeing, you know seeing Mike’s article this year, where he came out as on the spectrum, it was a very inspirational and awesome article. So that’s just some of the cool things about Riot Fest. That makes it special to me and I will always, always be there as long as we exist.

“Going into it, I obviously thought it was more rock-centric than it had been in the past. But it ended up being just so widespread that I didn’t even realize that. It was so cool. And you know, having The Dresden Dolls on the main stage…luckily Amanda gave us an amazing shout out for the charity. And because of her, we probably signed up an extra 90 to 95 people within the next 15 minutes at our little pop-up booth, as well as people going into the booth.

“Mr. Bungle doing thrash, which was incredible too. Learning about a whole bunch of new bands and just the community and the people embracing what we do. It just warms my heart, you know? It’s incredible. So, Punkers do give a fuck. That’s one of our slogans, punks give a fuck. And it’s true, right? Riot Fest is proof.


Please check out more sights from Riot Fest 2023! Thanks and Cheers!


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DS Photo Gallery: Less Than Jake, Bowling for Soup in Nashville, TN 7.25.22

If you saw my last gallery on Frank Turner, The Bronx and Pet Needs, I was quoted as saying, “[The Bronx] may very well be my favorite live band”. Well I lied … kind of. I forgot about a group of ska-loving punk rockers from Gainesville that played a pivotal role in my musical upbringing. […]

If you saw my last gallery on Frank Turner, The Bronx and Pet Needs, I was quoted as saying, “[The Bronx] may very well be my favorite live band”. Well I lied … kind of. I forgot about a group of ska-loving punk rockers from Gainesville that played a pivotal role in my musical upbringing. I’m not gonna say that the Less Than Jake dudes’ performance topped that of the LA guys in the Bronx, but I’m content having a two-way tie for first on the list of ‘Nathan’s Favorite Live Bands’.

This was a fun show. It’d been almost five years since my last LTJ show, that one being across town at the Mercy Lounge with the Red City Radio boys. This was my first encounter with Doll Skin and Cliff Diver (both of which I mentally labeled as ‘will see again’), and although I am very familiar with Bowling for Soup from my early days of investigating pop-punk, I had never caught a live show of theirs either. So other than reacquainting myself with Less Than Jake’s live set, this was an evening of firsts.

What stuck out most from Doll Skin‘s performance was the sheer chaos and havoc that lead singer Sydney Dolezal rendered during their set. The images here do little justice as an accurate portrayal of the set’s intensity. They are one of few opening bands that I’ve seen that achieve this level of crowd engagement and attentiveness, which speaks volumes about this band’s live show.

Cliff Diver was an excellent opener for the two headliners because their style was a mix of what drew fans of both headliners to the show. They had the early 2000s pop-punk sound that fans of BFS would love. On the other hand, at times they also had a more traditional ska-punk sound that those who came for LTJ could appreciate.

And one other thing … man, can Briana Wright sing!

There seemed a clear division among those attending that I somewhat alluded to earlier. You had those attending for Less Than Jake (the crowd I would lump myself in with), and those who came for Bowling for Soup, and there was not much overlap between the two groups. Between LTJ’s set and BFS’s, the crowd huddled up near the stage was an entire new set of faces.

Although BFS’s glory days may seem to be in the past, these dudes can still hold their own and there’s still a pretty large group of followers who all still have the same question: Are they bowling in order to earn soup, or on behalf of soup?

There’s not much I can write here other than if you haven’t caught the Less Than Jake guys live, you’re probably in the minority of readers of this site, and you need to see them immediately. I’ve seen bands where their stage antics are gimmicky and their humor distasteful, but what could possibly be gimmicky about a damn toilet paper cannon?

In all truthfulness, you could see the sincerity of the performance from each and every member on stage. They were all genuinely having the time of their life up there.

As always, your time and attention here are very much appreciated. Check out all these rad bands, and I’ll have more galleries up in the coming weeks. Until next time, cheers!

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DS Record Radar: This Week in Punk Vinyl (Pulley, 30footfall, Mustard Plug, Nancy Vandal & More!)

Greetings, and welcome to the Dying Scene Record Radar. If it’s your first time here, thank you for joining us! This is the weekly* column where we cover all things punk rock vinyl; new releases, reissues… you name it, we’ve probably got it. Kick off your shoes, pull up a chair, crack open a cold […]

Greetings, and welcome to the Dying Scene Record Radar. If it’s your first time here, thank you for joining us! This is the weekly* column where we cover all things punk rock vinyl; new releases, reissues… you name it, we’ve probably got it. Kick off your shoes, pull up a chair, crack open a cold one, and break out those wallets, because it’s go time and this week’s Record Radar is, once again, fucking yuuuuuuge. Let’s get into it!

Check out the video edition of this week’s Record Radar, presented by our friends at Punk Rock Radar:

Two Pulley EPs are back in print, thanks to SBÄM and Double Helix Records. Time-Insensitive Material and The Long and Short of It are being reissued, each limited to 300 copies on three different color variants. You may recall these were just repackaged as part of the Encore 2xLP a few years ago, but this is the first time in over a decade either of these has been reissued as a standalone release. If you’re in the US, you can grab your copies here; if you’re in Europe, you’ll want to go here. These should start shipping in late April.

Another Record Radar, another sold out Fat Wreck release. Perhaps I should start doing those one-off Record Radar posts if a big release is announced in the middle of the week? Anyway! It’s NOFX. It’s The Decline. It’s the 25th Anniversary reissue. It’s sold out. Womp womp.

30footfall! They’ve got a new EP coming out later this month on People of Punk Rock Records. It’s their first new record in like a bagillion years! The 12″ EP titled National Treasure …And Other LaForgeries features 6 songs that were in the works before 30footfall guitarist Chris Laforge unfortunately passed in 2017. Pre-order the record here.

People of Punk Rock Records have a few more awesome new releases you should add to your cart while you’re grabbing that 30footfall record. Exhibit A: Montreal skate punk band Down Memory Lane‘s new Breathing Space LP. If you’re a fan of all things fast, melodic & awesome, don’t sleep on this. Shit’s a banger. Buy the record and while yer at it buy their last one, too.

Exhibit B: Hurry Up and Wait, the new album from Toronto melodic punk band Wasting Time. This one’s due out on April 12th and (spoiler alert) your friends at Dying Scene are exclusively premiering the album’s lead single tomorrow! Yes, that’s right. 9am eastern standard time, be there or be square. Also, pre-order the record!

Last week (I guess it was two weeks ago technically), I told you about a bunch of Aquabats reissues. Well there’s more Aquabats on tap this week because they announced their new album Finally!. Pre-orders are available here. You can get the double LP for $39.99, or if you’re a fucking idiot you can pay $119.99 for an autographed copy. LMAO

The Adolescents have a new 2xLP live record due out May 17th on Concrete Jungle Records. As its title suggests, The Rob Ritter Tapes – Live At Starwood 1980/1981 is a collection of recently unearthed recordings from Adolescents shows at Hollywood’s Starwood Nightclub in the early 80’s. For 32 euros* (plus value-added tax and shipping), you get two – count ’em, two – 180g LPs on red and blue wax AND two CDs! It’s an unbeatable value, folks. Pre-order the record here.

Let’s talk some ska, shall we? Albany three piece Girth Conrol‘s new record Life’s Too Short For Girth Control is the first of five(!) ska records I’m boutta tell you about. These guys are awesome, this record’s awesome. It’s out now. You should listen to it. You should buy it.

Less Than Jake and Bowling For Soup just toured the UK together and released a 7″ where they cover one of each other’s songs. LTJ does “High School Never Ends”, BFS does “The Science of Selling Yourself Short”. SBAM Records has this up for pre-order, only on their EU store for some reason. People of Punk Rock Records has some copies on their store for the North American crowd. Limited to 125 copies on Pink Splatter & 125 copies on Clear Splatter colored wax.

22 years after its original release Mustard Plug‘s Yellow #5 is finally getting a reissue. There are two variants for this one; the Smartpunk Exclusive Purple w/ Yellow & White Splatter is limited to 200 hand numbered copies, and Hopeless Records doesn’t say how many copies they pressed of the White w/ Purple & Green Splatter variant. Links to all the places you can buy are here.

Orange County (California, not Florida) ska band Half Past Two has signed to Bad Time Records for the release of their new album Talk is Killing Me, which is due out on April 19th. Check out the lead single below and pre-order the record here.

And last up in the ska segment of this week’s Record Radar we have The Kilograms, a new band with an all star lineup including Joe Gittleman of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Sammy Kay, former Bouncing Souls Drummer Michael Mcdermott & J Duckworth from Newport Secret Six. The first pressing of their self-titled debut EP sold out almost instantly a few weeks ago, but the good news is Asbestos Records has already issued a second pressing of 300 copies on “Olive Drab” colored vinyl. Listen to the EP below and grab the 12″ here.

Bayside has a new album coming out on May 10th. It’s called There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive and so far three variants have been announced. The Smartpunk Exclusive clear(?) variant was limited to 300 copies and is already sold out, the splatter variant is sold out on Hopeless Records‘ US store but is still in stock on the EU store, and the translucent purple retail variant is in stock everywhere.

TSOL‘s new album A-Side Graffiti is out now on Kitten Robot Records. It features a mix of new original songs and covers. Check out my favorite song off the record below and get it on “colored vinyl” here (they don’t specify the color on the label’s store, but Rough Trade has it listed as “Red/White/Blue Blended”).

A few weeks ago we premiered the first of many tracks from our friends at Coffin Curse Records‘ upcoming NOFX tribute album I Heard They Broke Up!!. Since then, the 3xLP comp featuring 62(!) NOFX covers went up for pre-order and that shit is already soul doubt! If you missed out that sucks, but you can still get it on CD and hey, maybe there will be a 2nd pressing? Perchance.

Speaking of awesome shit we’ve done premieres for recently, let’s talk about Middle-Out! These guys are from Detroit and they kick fuckin’ ass. They’ve got a new record coming May 24th on Punkerton Records and it, too, is going to kick fuckin’ ass. Check out the latest single below and pre-order the LP on one of five variants (or just buy all five, why not?) by clicking this hyperlink.

The friendly people at Thousand Islands Records are flexing their might with a new label sampler comp! The Sauce Vol. 1 features 17 tracks from great bands like Belvedere, Chaser (they’ve got a new album on the way, too – that shit’s gonna be awesome), Straightline, Counterpunch & more. You can get it on green and/or purple colored wax here.

28 years after its original release on compact disc (otherwise known as CD by those not in the trade), Aussie punk veterans Nancy Vandal‘s 1996 album The Debriefing Room is getting its first-ever vinyl release thanks to Endless Detention Records. Limited to 200 copies on “Oh Yes, You’re Beautiful Splatter” (Purple w/ Green Splatter) and 50 copies on “Gladiator Green” (Translucent Green) colored vinyl. These are selling fast; get your copy here. Fun fact: Jay from Frenzal Rhomb was in the band and is on this record. It’s a great record!

Ceremony’s Rohnert Park LP gets its 10th pressing from Bridge Nine Records, with four new color variants. These are what they are, how many there are, and where you can get them:

– Red/White/Blue vinyl (300 copies, only available at Hollywood Palladium show on 2/29/24)
– Orange vinyl (300, Hard Times)
– Yellow vinyl (500, Revelation Records)
– Pink vinyl (1000, Bridge Nine store)

Cock Sparrer announced their new album Hand on Heart will be released on April 5th. Pirates Press Records (US) has some exclusive color variants up on their store, some of which have already sold out. Cherry Red Records (UK) has an exclusive variant of their own on red & black splatter, which also has alternate cover art – you can get that right here. Both labels have a picture disc as well, but why would you want that?

And last up this week, keeping it in the UK, we’ve got Snuff! Their new album Off on the Charabanc is due out March 22nd (or maybe it’s April 5th, I’m seeing both dates listed in different places) on SBAM Records. Two variants will be available to pre-order from the band’s webstore very soon – Red/Black and Grey/Black Marble. Three tracks are already streaming on YouTube as well, though I haven’t seen any mention of it on the band/label’s social media:

To wrap things up, I wanna give a quick shoutout to Planet Retro Records, a local record store I’d probably frequent if I wasn’t too fucking lazy to make the 30 minute intra-county pilgrimage from Clearwater to St. Petersburg, Florida. I stopped in this weekend and they’ve got all kinds of awesome shit – the “punk section” takes up half the store! I picked up one of my favorite Honest Don’s Records releases, Big In Japan’s Destroy the New Rock, for $9! Also Dead To Me’s Moscow Penny Ante, another record I’d been hunting for a while, for $18! I also scored a copy of Glue Gun’s The Scene is Not for Sale, an “import” (wink wink nudge nudge) copy of AFI’s Crash Love, and records from some St. Pete locals in No Loves and Awkward Age. If you find yourself in Pinellas County and you’re a punk record collector, be sure to hit up Planet Retro.

Well, that’s all, folks. Another Record Radar in the books. As always, thank you for tuning in. If there’s anything we missed (highly likely), or if you want to let everyone know about a new/upcoming vinyl release you’re excited about, leave us a comment below, or send us a message on Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll look into it. Enjoy your weekend, and don’t blow too much money on spinny discs (or do, I’m not your father). Until next time…

Wanna catch up on all of our Record Radar posts? Click here and you’ll be taken to a page with all the past entries in the column. Magic!

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DS Review: Karina Goes To Slam Dunk (The Menzingers, Spanish Love Songs, Sincere Engineer, Bowling For Soup and more!)

Dear Diary, I’ve returned from England. And damn, let’s talk about Slam Dunk and maybe talk about some of the things that need improving for next year. But first, we should thank Slam Dunk for getting me accredited this year. It was awesome. The weather was terrific; it was sunny and bright, which many English […]

Dear Diary,

I’ve returned from England. And damn, let’s talk about Slam Dunk and maybe talk about some of the things that need improving for next year.
But first, we should thank Slam Dunk for getting me accredited this year. It was awesome. The weather was terrific; it was sunny and bright, which many English people didn’t expect – so towards the evening, as the sun was going down, there were a lot of sunburnt backs and faces. Even I, the ginger that lathers in sunblock, had a bit of red, but it disappeared. Amazing company! Okay, before I get into how I loved sharing important bands with some of my favorite people…the cell reception sucked and we lost a friend somewhere and didn’t find each other until the end of The Offspring and Enter Shikari’s set. Goddamn! But she was still there. But yes, they are amazing people to watch some of my favorite artists with and share some memories with, even on the shuttle to the afterparty. So, you know, we lost one friend, but a different team of Danes was there as well, and we also spent some of the day trying to find each other. This is ironic because we spent most of the time at the same stage. BUT, happy ending, y’all, and weird moment during Slam Dunk, we all found each other on the same shuttle bus. Friends, all ended well. As for what could be worked on for next year? Well…let’s begin our review of Slam Dunk ’23! Be ready.

Sincere Engineer

So, Sincere Engineer came up at 11:30 in Kerrang! Tent Right Stage. Zand and The Tyne played in different tents, so the crowd wasn’t huge. But it was awesome enough because those who were there were there to see Sincere Engineer in action. Like me, because let’s be honest, this band will be playing big venues in due time. So, starting with no difficulties on the stage, Sincere Engineer played a bit for everyone in those 30 minutes, which I discovered for myself wasn’t enough time. But they did manage to play the bangers, of course. The setlist included, which is not in a particular order, “Overbite,” “Fireplace,” “Trust Me” and “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7.” They even played the new single, which I didn’t get the name of!

But overall, the best band to kick off Slam Dunk ’23 for me.

girlfriends

Hehe, my biggest guilty pleasure band was on site! And to be honest, I was super excited to see them. I might have been even more excited to interview them after their set, hear who they were excited to see at Slam Dunk, and find out if they’ll ever visit Copenhagen, Denmark. So, what did Travis Mills and Nick Gross say to me after their set? Well, we’ll get to that, but first, let us discuss their set.

And, huge thanks to my friends for watching them with me even though they aren’t fans.

Their set was good. The set list was excellent and varied, mixing their first record and newest EP. They have much energy and could’ve benefited from being placed on the Kerrang! Stage, but that’s my opinion. The fact is, they came and served. Now let’s get to the interview because that was a true highlight of my trip, and as a bonus, I’ve added a nice picture of me and the lads below. And yes, my dear DyingScene readers, I am forcing pop-punk on you.

When I asked Travis and Nick about their tour with Avril Lavigne during her EU tour, Travis said, “It was mindblowing, a dream come true, and she’s the best.” Following up with the question that they started the band two years ago, Travis corrected me and replied, “Two and a half years ago”, leading me to the following questions, what they did before this and how they met; “I had a solo project, and Nick has been in bands since he was a teenager. He played drums for one show for my solo project, and we never played music again. And then we started girlfriends.” Travis told me. I asked Nick which bands he was a part of and boy, we know him. “girlfriends, and Goldfinger” but if you google him, his CV is more impressive than mine. I complimented the chemistry between Travis and Nick, as it genuinely seems they’ve been playing together their whole lives. The boys cracked some jokes about dating, and that’s why the band is called girlfriends, and that’s fine with me.

So, who were they going to watch at Slam Dunk? Travis had the following answer when I asked: “to no surprise, it’s the homies The Maine, The Hunna, we definitely gotta watch JXDN, Sueco, we’re just trying to catch all our homies”. To my curiosity, where was the name, Charlotte Sands? Well, that’s their girl, so no doubt they would catch her set. As lovely as I am, I’m also extremely cheeky in that I may have asked if they knew who DyingScene.com was, but they didn’t. But now they did, and it’s MEEE. So I asked what they had to say to fans.
“One, thank you for listening and giving our band a chance. Two, there’s a revival going around (on the scene), as in the early days when bands had friendships and real relationships. And that’s what the scene was missing, and it’s cool to see it come back around” and while some of you readers will disagree, please remember to have a friendly tone about it. Aaaaand to end the interview in the best way possible, I hope this can give the Danish fanbase some hope for some time. I did ask if they had any plans on coming to Copenhagen – but in my defense, I didn’t ask when. But here’s what girlfriends had to say. “We must come to Copenhagen. This isn’t even a question. We must do it, Copenhagen here we come.”

Spanish Love Songs

…. Words can’t describe this set. But it’s fair to admit that I am a massive fan of Spanish Love Songs. As soon as the first note from “Routine Pain” started, I started crying. But not sad tears. Okay, both happy and sad tears, but seriously this band is fantastic.
They also played “Haunted” from their upcoming album No Joy. Eight songs played, and off the stage they went. Along with The Menzingers – but we’ll get to them, their set was probably the one that seemed like it flew by the most.

Fireworks

I may have forgotten that Fireworks also had a set and actually randomly stumbled upon them outside. So this was an impromptu show between Spanish Love Songs, interviewing girlfriends, and catching Charlotte Sands. It was a good show, and it was just a shame that the microphone seemed to be a bit too low. But overall, I didn’t leave disappointed. I’d like to see them again. And people in the crowd were talking about how they looked forward to seeing Fireworks and how they liked the album they released this year.

Charlotte Sands

“I’m throwin’ a tantrum, coming in so chaotic…” and that is precisely what she did! Okay, the sound could’ve been better. But she isn’t the sound tech, so it’s not her fault. But damn, her pipes came and conquered! When I describe her to people who haven’t heard about her, I call her Michelle Branch if MB is emo. But in reality, Charlotte Sands is much more than that. And I think her performance at Slam Dunk was good; the mistakes that happened were out of her control. But her performance is so energetic, and her talent did shine through.

The Menzingers

No hello, The Menzies come out and pop things off with “Charlie’s Army,” which is one of my favorite songs by them. And, uh, what a set. They performed the goodies like “Good Things,” “America (You’re Freaking Me Out),” “After The Party,” “Midwestern States,” “House on Fire,” oh fricking hell…they spoiled us with a new song from their upcoming album! The song was called “There’s No Place In This World For Me” and I wasn’t expecting anything new, so my head exploded! I cried a bit, but let’s face it…this wouldn’t be the last time I cried a bit during Slam Dunk. The Menzingers were flawless, but now I need that new album!

The Academy Is…

“My eyes can’t believe what they have seen…” as William Beckett jumps around like he hasn’t aged. Sure, the brown locks have a hint of grey in them. But to be honest, I’m okay with that. As a few might have read, TAI does have a special place in my heart, an inside joke between my deceased uncle and I kept going up until last year. And now I saw them, which was emotional and overwhelming at best. Sadly I didn’t return home with a TAI tattoo, but I did return home with bragging rights that I’ve shot concert pictures AND screamed along to their songs. Can we all agree that they were exceptional?! Hands down, one of the best performances on Kerrang! Left stage.

Bowling For Soup

Did you know that next year BFS turns 30? Yeah, I did not. I thought they came around in ’98, but it was ’94. Oh well! It looks like Dying Scene will again be finding its way to the UK to celebrate that anniversary.
So, what can I say about the show? It was fun! This took place at the Dickies Stage, and what a turnout it was. They played the hits and had fun on stage. I enjoyed being in the photo pit, singing along to the bangers, and dancing. Most of all, let’s be honest – this band is a bit iconic to us that grew up in the ’00s. Being from ’92, they had their fair share of love from me during my early years. So I was genuinely excited to see them (finally). As a bonus, here is a private photo of me and Jar. See you in Feb, fellas.

Yellowcard

Second time seeing Yellowcard perform live; I’ll admit that the first time wasn’t as good as this time. Maybe because it was in 2015, and those I went with weren’t big Yellowcard fans. But this band was entertaining on stage, and the photo pit was exceptionally crowded. Hence, it was hard to move around without stepping each other over the toes, meeting the hands of fans tapping your shoulder, or nearly assaulting security with the front of your camera. Okay, the last part was a joke, but honestly, having a band that size in the Kerrang! Tent was just silly planning from Slam Dunk. But oh well, it didn’t change the fact that they, once again, blew me away. Damn, I regret I didn’t get any of their merch. Let’s move on to the last bands. Yes, bands.

The Offspring / Enter Shikari

So, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of The Offspring. Hm, thanks for that, guys. But I did manage to go listen to four songs before they decided to… disappoint a little bit. Firstly, I DON’T MIND THE NEW ALBUM. But I love the old with this band; they served all the good shit at the end. Next time fellas. And please, no bloody cover songs?

But I do not like having my time wasted, so my friend and I decided to go see watch Enter Shikari was up to. And that was… Actually fun, but the volume was a bit low. And actually, can we just take a minute? This is my formal complaint.
Dear Enter Shikari, a 2023 updated version of “Sorry, You’re Not A Winner” is not acceptable. Let’s try again another day. But hell yeah, they were a party.

I’m lowkey alright about catching the first half of The Offspring and the last half of Enter Shikari. Overall they all sounded good. I had a great time. So, same time next year?

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DS Slam Dunk Edition: Karina’s Must See

For years I’ve wanted to go to Slam Dunk because year after year, the festival has managed to get some of my favorite bands. Due to life sometimes happening, it wasn’t something on the cards for me in the past. But this year is the year; Hatfield May 27th. Even though, looking at Clashfinder, I […]

For years I’ve wanted to go to Slam Dunk because year after year, the festival has managed to get some of my favorite bands. Due to life sometimes happening, it wasn’t something on the cards for me in the past. But this year is the year; Hatfield May 27th. Even though, looking at Clashfinder, I might need to bring my running shoes.

So, what bands am I even looking forward to seeing? Well, read on and find out. And comment if you’re going and which bands you look forward to seeing.

The Offspring
There’s no denying that this band has had a wild period of bangers. Their last album might not have made my AOTY list when it came out, but I return to it. So I’m excited to hear them and the bangers, new and old (hopefully)

Bowling For Soup

Come on, a timeless band with a great list of bangers aged like fine wine. I can’t wait to scream 1985 from the top of my lungs and dance. Oh! And they released a new album with covers!

Less Than Jake
It’s been a few years since I saw them last in Copenhagen with Yellowcard. However, that concert was fun, and they still get me moving.

The Menzingers
Oh, come on, there’s no way in hell I’d miss this band. Because I always find out they are playing in Europe AFTER they’ve played in Europe. So, now it’s time.

Yellowcard
Again, been a minute since I saw them last. And that was an experience I still remember, even though my friends hated every minute I made them stay for their show. But this year, I get to see them with new friends that are as excited as I am.

The Academy Is…
Will I ever grow out of TAI? NO. I fondly remember visiting my ma and pa in Australia and my uncle taking me to a music store where I bought Almost Here. He made fun of me in our special way, so this one is for you, Bob. <3
There’s a 75 percent chance I’ll come home with a TAI tattoo.

Real Friends
Let’s forgive them for the previous two albums because their newest album is great, and I hope they play Strangers.

Boston Manor
So, a bit unusual. But their album Datura made its mark on me, and I hope to hear a few songs from the album and some of their previous albums.

Trophy Eyes
AUSTRALIAAAAAAA, nothing more to say. Stoked for this band tho’

Sincere Engineer
Music for some downtime between sets. No, I’m kidding. Sincere Engineer has made her way to my heart with Rhombithian.

Charlotte Sands
After discovering her when she released Every Guy Ever. I have been hooked on her, I find her talented and fresh.

Spanish Love Songs
I can’t get enough of this band. Even though they are performing at The Lexington on the 26th, I’ll still try to find my way to their stage.


Some of you might be scratching your heads and asking where a few bands on the lineup are on my list. It’s not that I’m not excited to see them. But the bands mentioned above, are definitely those I’m a bit more excited about. Nothing personal 🙂

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