It probably goes without saying that the reemergence of The Falcon over the last year from their previously indefinite period of hibernation has been one of the coolest and most welcome bright spots over the course of the miserable year that was 2016. (Wait…do falcons hibernate? They don’t, do they? Should have thought that metaphor through.) Dave Hause was added to the already heavyweight lineup of Brendan Kelly, Dan Andriano and Neil Hennessy, and together they put together what’s easily one of the year’s best and most interesting albums (Gather Up The Chaps, Red Scare Industries). they also hit the road for the first ever Falcon tours, playing somewhere in the neighborhood of four-dozen shows across the country (and one at Groezrock) since April.
The Falcon might be the musical brainchild of the delightfully twisted Kelly, and it may have started all those years ago as a fun studio side project, but in a very real sense, they have morphed into a “band” on stage in surprisingly quick fashion. Dying Scene was lucky enough to be at the first show of the Gather Up The Chaps tour in Cambridge back in April, and to have been at one of the last shows for the foreseeable future in Providence last week. In some ways, both shows served as apropos bookends to what was a fun and disturbing train wreck of a year. The Providence gig, rather perfectly, took place at Firehouse 13, a 160-year-old former working firehouse that’s been repurposed as a bar/concert venue after a lying dormant in the middle of a sketchy neighborhood for roughly a quarter of a century. It’s a gritty, no-frills kind of space that, according to the locals, also used to house a swingers club upstairs. Now, what’s great about this apparent set-up is that the holes that used to surround the firepoles are now just plexiglass skylights, meaning that if you’re upstairs, you’ve got a clear view of the concert space below and vice versa. So…do the math in your head on this one, kids. Anyway, both on paper and in practice, it seemed the ideal setting for a band like The Falcon.
Over the span of a little more than an hour, the band ripped through the bulk of The Falcon’s recorded catalog, drawing equally from Gather… and from their Hause-less 2006 debut full-length, Unicornography. It’s a bit of a strange phenomenon when a band goes on its first real tour ten years into their history of making music, creating a situation where all of the fans present are hearing the music for the first time, meaning that decade-old songs like “The La-Z-Boy 500” and “Little Triggers” and “Blackout” appear woven into a setlist alongside newer tracks like “Sergio’s Here,” “Hasslehoff Cheeseburger,” and the deceptively powerful “Black Teeth.” I’ve mentioned on these pages before that drummer Neil Hennessy is one of the more vastly underrated drummers in the scene, and I’m not entirely sure that a Falcon set would operate as seamlessly as it does without Hennessy behind the kit, particularly with music that is as purposely flawed and angular as the subject matter here. If this run is, in fact, the last run for The Falcon for the foreseeable future, both live experiences Dying Scene has covered this year have been positive, fun evenings that left showgoers privileged to know that they had just witnessed something pretty effing cool.
Stand-up comic Kyle Kinane provided direct support on this leg of The Falcon’s tour. Kinane has collaborated with fellow Illinoisian Kelly in the past, and due in part to Kelly’s belief that The Falcon’s sound is left-of-center enough to not necessarily allow for a sonic perfect fit of a touring partner, now seemed the perfect opportunity to hit the road with each other. On paper, it might sound a little strange for a bill at a punk show to feature local openers and a national touring band before a stand-up comic would have the effect of driving down the energy level of the crowd, the exact opposite intended effect of an opening act. But Kyle Kinane is different. Having been in and around the punk scene for the last few decades (Google his set at SideOneDummy Storytellers to get that rundown, or, hell, just go here), Kinane has a grasp of not only what it means to be in front of a punk rock crowd, but what it means to be in the crowd itself, perfectly cognizant of both the sense of community and the searching for relief that so many of the rest of us are. Kinane’s fifty-ish minute set contained pitch-perfect bits about getting kicked out of Canada due to a years’ old DUI arrest in the States, his love of ghost-hunter shows (in spite of their logical fallacies), and perhaps most poignantly, a great and seemingly newly written topical riff about the Ku Klux Klan.
Arms Aloft, the Wisconsin-based four-piece whose Red Scare Industries released full length What A Time To Be Barely Alive is one of the best albums of this calendar year, also serve as touring support on this run. Led by passionate frontman Seth Gile, Arms Aloft play a fierce, emboldend version of punk rock that still maintains some hooky, poppy sensibilities, with boldly left-leaning lyrics that hearken to the core of what socially-conscious protest punk is all about. Like most of us Gile and the fellas are not only pissed off but seemingly legitimately scared about the direction the country took a couple of weeks ago, and while the knee-jerk reaction for many might be to run and hide (or move to Canada), they seem emboldened to fight on, to rail against racism and sexism and hatred and intolerance (not to mention the bullshit going on in Standing Rock), and that’s a really great thing. We’re going to need a few brazen torchbearers, and that’s exactly what Arms Aloft can be.
It’s probably no secret to anybody that checks Dying Scene on the regular that Boston-based punk band Rebuilder ranks pretty high up on my list of favorites. They served as the second local opener on this night and, even correcting for my personal feelings for the quintet, they always are more than deserving of the times that they get to share the stage with much bigger acts. Rebuilder live is a lesson in controlled intensity, as none of the five have much of a penchant for leaving anything on the stage (although, on this night, bassist Daniel Carswell would, in fact, leave the stage for a little bit, searching for a replacement four-string after a technical malfunction with his own). Co-frontmen Sal Medrano and Craig Stanton have an interesting stage relationship, having played together long enough that they push and pull against each other without managing to step on each other sonically in the process.
Rhode Island’s own Jenn Lombari served as local opener, kicking the evening off not long after doors opened at Firehouse 13. Normally one-third of the awesome pop-punk band Lucky United, Lombari took to the stage on this night armed with only an acoustic guitar and her dynamic voice as she scorched through a set that included songs from her own solo catalog and from her “day job” band. Lombari is passionate, and has a lyrical wheelhouse that deals with loss and unrequited love in a way that’s inspired by the high points (yes, you know there were some) of the emo heyday, without coming across as overly saccharine or sappy.
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