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Band in the USA: The Bronx announce fall tour with The Chats

<p>We’re still kinda messed up over the fact that The Bronx’s forever unfuckwithable debut album turns 20 next year, and that this year actually marks the California hardcore punk band’s 20th anniversary of making noise. We’ve been hearing it loud and clear from Los Angeles to Boston since the early aughts, and now we’ll have another chance to hear it quite personally as The Bronx have announced a fall North American co-headlining tour with The Chats that wraps October 23 […]</p>
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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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DS Photo Gallery: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, The Bronx, Pet Needs in Nashville, TN 7.5.22

I have a confession to make. Although I am greatly ashamed, and I’m probably going to be shunned by all of the Dying Scene faithful, I must admit that this was my first time seeing Frank Turner. I know, I know, the guy tours nonstop and frequents Nashville and the surrounding cities. Not to mention […]

I have a confession to make. Although I am greatly ashamed, and I’m probably going to be shunned by all of the Dying Scene faithful, I must admit that this was my first time seeing Frank Turner. I know, I know, the guy tours nonstop and frequents Nashville and the surrounding cities. Not to mention that I have been knowingly committing punk rock sacrilege by not having attended at least once, but, excuses aside, I finally made it. And man did it live up to all the hype.

Pet Needs, traveling from across the pond to the US for the first time, was a phenomenal opener. The Bronx reminded me why they might very well be my favorite live band. And Frank Turner was, well… Frank Turner. The dude was a true professional and was as classy and entertaining as I had heard.

Like I said, Pet Needs was enjoying their first trip to the states, and as soon as they started their set, they made me a fan. They’ve got some catchy tunes, most notably ‘Tracey Emin’s Bed’ and ‘Punk Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Up for Sale’, and guitarist George Marriott can down-right shred. In a way, they reminded me of some of the early English punk acts that made their way over to the states: the Buzzcocks, The Clash, etc. After seeing them live, I could not have thought of a better opener for the king himself.

I’ve seen The Bronx a number of times and my love for them grows with every performance. These guys are about as professional as it gets and they throw one hell of a party. What made their set even more exciting for me was when I realized former Offspring and current Against Me drummer Adam ‘Atom’ Willard was behind the kit tearing things up, all with an ear-to-ear grin for the set’s entirety.

Seeing my favorite drummer absolutely kill it was just icing on the cake. Seeing the Bronx is always a treat, but this most recent show was long overdue.

There’s not a whole lot that I could write here that would be new to anybody reading this. This was Frank Turner‘s 26th show in the last 26 days (on the road to 50 shows in 50 days – editors note: you can see our coverage of the New Jersey show here and listen to our interview with Frank from just before tour was announced here) and show number 2653.

I haven’t been at this whole concert photography thing for too long, but I’m gonna go ahead and label Frank and the rest of The Sleeping Souls as the most photogenic group in punk. It was hard to get a bad picture of these guys, and that’s saying something for a guy who takes photos that are normally 90% complete shit. Thanks to these dudes, this was the most fun I’ve had watching a show in a long time

Down below is the full gallery from all three bands. Had a lot of fun with this one and it would be much appreciated if you took the time to check these out. Until next time, 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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The Bronx

The Bronx are an American punk rock band formed in 2002 in Los Angeles, California. To date, they’ve released six full-length albums.

Tours: The Bronx / The Chats / Drug Church / Scowl (US & CAN)

The Bronx and The Chats have announced a North American co-headlining tour for this October. Drug Church and Scowl will be joining them on all dates. Tickets go on sale Friday, August 5. The Bronx released Bronx VI in 2021. The Chats will be releasing GET FUCKED on August 19, will be touring Australia in September, and released High Risk Behaviour in 2020. Check out the dates below.