For the first time in what I think was about five years, Swingin’ Utters played a headline show in Boston this past Sunday evening (their last two trips through this area were on a tour with Lagwagon three years ago and as part of the massive Fat Wreck 25th Anniversary tour the following summer). Though the lineup has changed AND it was an unseasonably cold mid-November night AND the Patriots were throttling the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football at the time, the old school punks came out in droves for the occasion and met the band with what seemed like a throwback vibe.
It was announced just prior to this tour that the Utters are putting out a sort of double-album greatest hits compilation, Drowning In The Sea, Rising With The Sun, on December 8th through Fat Wreck Chords, and the setlist on this particular night seemed to be culled from some of the earlier half of the band’s career. Sure “The Librarians Are Hiding Something” and “Alice” from their most recent couple of post-hiatus albums made welcome appearances, but this seemed like a night for the old guard. Luke Ray has served as a steady breath of fresh air behind the drum kit for the last couple years, and he’s now got his Sciatic Nerve bandmate Tony Teixeira (Nothington/Western Addiction/Cobra Skulls) as his rhythm section counterpart, having taken over for Miles Peck earlier this year. Jack Dalrymple also sat this particular run out, meaning longtime Utters partners Johnny Bonnel and Darius Koski and the new recruits are playing aggressive and lean as a four-piece. In spite of the moving parts throughout the years, the Bonnel and Koski and company remain one of the most esteemed bands in the scene and, truthfully, songs like “No Eager Men” and “Five Lessons Learned” and “Pills And Smoke” and, of course, “”Windspitting Punk” sound just as earnest as ever.
Western Settings are providing direct support on this run. The band have been on a steady climb over the last few years, and with good reason. Their 2015 album, Yes It Is, released digitally here at Dying Scene, remains high on my personal favorites list, and the band has only gotten better in the two years since. Boston can be a bit of a finicky place for out-of-town bands to play, but the four-piece San Diego-based Jawbreaker-meets-Replacements outfit did an admirable job on their first trip through the Bay State. If a band can obviously play with passion and intensity and works up a sweat on their own, dimes to dollars says they’ll win over a crowd that is obviously interested in the headliners, and that seemed the case on this night, as they were increasingly well-received as their 45-minute set moved forward.
Doing double duty on this tour, Swingin’ Utters guitarist and principal songwriter Darius Koski is also serving as support. It’s the first time he’s really hit the road as a solo artist, especially outside California, and he enlisted the help of fellow Utters Luke Ray on drums and Tony Teixeira on bass to fill out some of the instrumentation that appears on his two solo albums, 2015’s Sisu and this month’s stellar What Was Once Is By And Gone (both released on Fat Wreck) and that would have been missed were he playing strictly solo and acoustic. A personal highlight was the short set’s closer, “Another Man,” which appears as the last song on the newest album in stripped down acoustic format, but was given a revved up, electric reworking for this tour.
Boston’s own Duck & Cover were well-deserved local openers for this particular show. There’s been a bit of a garage rock undercurrent in the local scene for the last handful of years that bands like Duck & Cover and The Warning Shots and Michael Kane and the Morning Afters and even Continental and others have been a part of, and that’s been a welcome addition to a seen that has obviously had its fair share of ska-punk and “working class” Celtic punk bands over the last two decades. Made up of members that might look familiar from bands like The Black Cheers and the Acrobrats and Bang Camaro, bands like D&C show that mixing a little Guns & Roses with your Clash and Ramones records is not bad thing.
Head below for our full photo gallery from the evening!