Last weekend, the punks and skins came from far and wide, descending upon Boston’s Brighton Music Hall for the 13th installment of Street Dogs‘ annual Wreck The Halls festivities. The hometown working class heroes have been riding high this year, primarily due to the release of Stand For Something Or Die For Nothing, their first full-length in eight years. As the band’s members – and fans – spread far and wide, it can be hard to get all the moving parts in one place at the same time, making events like the three-day Wreck The Halls blowout all the more special.
Nights two and three of this year’s Wreck The Halls featured opening performances from Slapshot, Dori Cameron and the Invisible Monsters, Ramallah and 1916. Dying Scene made it out to the first night, particularly to get the chance to see Street Dogs take the stage with a couple bands that we’ve been fired up to finally see live: Noi!se and Art Thieves, and boy are we glad we did.
Fresh off the release of their own stellar full length, Russian Rats (State Line Records), Art Thieves kicked off the long weekend of Wreck The Halls shenanigans in fine fashion. The three-piece local band play a no-frills style of street punk that’s been the calling card of the local scene for a long time. They’ve sort of perfected the fuck-the-government calls to arms from a past generation and morphed it with the melodic sensibilities of the newer school. If there’s a local band to carry the torch that Street Dogs have been brandishing for the better part of the last couple decades once they decide to hang it up, it may well be Art Thieves.
Noi!se followed up in one of the most eagerly-awaited sets I’ve seen in quite a while. The Tacoma-based quartet has been around for seven-ish years now, but had yet to make it to this side of the Mississippi River. And yet, in many ways, Noi!se’s 45-minute set had the feel of a hometown show of their own, as a solid majority of the 435-strong capacity crowd was well versed in the band’s entire catalog. “Rank And File,” from the band’s 2012 Pushing On full-length (and previously from the This Is Who We Are 7-inch) kicked things off, and from their the band mixed in a dozen other tracks from across the last half decade. The first real pit of the night – and the first in a seemingly endless barrage of crowd-surface – fired itself up by the time fan-favorite “How We Made It Through” made its way into the set at the halfway point, pushing the gas pedal on an energy level that wouldn’t let up for the remainder of the evening. It was one of those times where the event actually exceeds lofty expectations, and where the symbiotic relationship between a band and a crowd is truly palpable.
It can be tough to come up with new phrases or adjectives to describe the live performance of a band that’s long been a stalwart of the scene. Still, the recent Boston Music Award winners for Best Punk/Hardcore act seem to find new ways to mix things up and keep them fresh, perhaps now more so than ever. The band ripped through “Stand For Something Or Die For Nothing,” the title track and lead single from their latest album, as they took the stage (well…after the rocking out to a few minutes of Boston’s “Foreplay” as the instrument-wielding 4/5th of the band took the stage anyway) before proceeding to dig deeper into the back catalog than I’ve seen them do in recent memory. “Pull The Pin” and “You Alone” and “Katie Bar The Door” were welcome additions to the setlist that I can’t recall having seen in the last handful of SD shows. The band played without a barrier (and, as a result, without a photo pit, which is something I’ve become apparently waaaaaaay too comfortable with in my old age), meaning that a band that already gets up close and personal with its fans anyway was able to raise that bar even further. There were guest appearances from Big Truth of American War Machine (I think) and the legendary CJ Ramone, the latter of whom took on vocal duties for a cover of his namesake band’s classic track “Blitzkrieg Bop.” It was a raucous first night for both band and crowd — many of whom were in attendance for two or three nights — and set the stage brilliantly for what was to come.
Head below for our full photo rundown.