If you somehow waited until 2017 to cross “The Menzingers” off your own personal “bands I haven’t seen yet” list, you find yourself in what is, in all likelihood, a bit of a timely, fortunate place. The four-piece Pennsylvania-based punks recently released their fifth — and best — album, After The Party (February 3rd, Epitaph Records) and wrapped up the first of what will undoubtedly be many month-long runs in support of the album. The penultimate date on said tour took place at Boston’s Royale nightclub. Not only was the show at the 1000-capacity venue sold out well it advance, it marked one of roughly a dozen sold-out shows on the jaunt (including a night at the 2500-capacity Fillmore in their home town of Philadelphia). The band have long been critical darlings, and if this particular night was any indication, the band’s increasing — and intensely rabid — fan base will have the quartet’s trajectory continuing to trend exponentially higher and higher.
Upon taking the stage for their headlining spot promptly at 8:30pm (the venue turns into a dance club on Saturday nights, making for an interesting crossover of patrons that perhaps I’ll expound upon some other time but to paint a small picture, just know that there was a guy in a full-sized, furry grey mouse costume waiting to get in as the Menzos show let out), the band ripped into After The Party‘s opening track, “Tellin’ Lies,” and it’s quintessential show-opening guitar riff, dripping with stadium rock swagger. Larger venues like Royale can be a little impersonal and, frankly, awkwardly sterile locales to host punk shows, but that was not the case right from the word “go” on this night. The Menzingers have long had a “home away from home” sort of symbiotic connection with Boston punk community (an idea denoted more than once in the band’s lyrical content over the years), and the band and crowd combined to make a theater feel as intense and intimate as a sweaty basement thanks in part to the seemingly endless barrage of crowd surfers throughout the duration of the 90-ish minute singalong set.
The effectively inimitable Jeff Rosenstock provided direct support on this night, as he did for the duration of the tour. Still touring in support of his stellar full-length album WORRY. (released October 14th on SideOneDummy), Rosenstock has amassed almost as rabid and devout a fanbase as The Menzingers, as his own full-band fourteen song set was also a raucous singalong from start-to-finish, just on a slightly smaller scale. The punk scene is full of enigmatic performers, of course, and the somewhat physically unassuming Rosenstock ranks in the upper echelon of those who seem to genuinely…and generally…REALLY enjoy the hell out of playing and performing in front of an audience night in and night out. Case in point: Rosenstock’s set concluded with an extended version of “You, In Weird Cities” that found the frontman trading his guitar for a saxophone (that had previously been manned by criminally talented touring multi-instrumentalist Dan Potthast), making his way to the back of the venue and assuming a perch atop a table to play along to the song’s singalong outro.
Opening duties were handled by West Virginia’s Rozwell Kid, a high-energy four-piece who, like Rosenstock after them, are a bit difficult to pigeon-hole into a singular genre or subgenre or whatever we’re calling them now, but they’re somewhere in the area of power pop/indie noise with more than a little bit of 70’s rock back-bending, don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously swagger thrown in the mix for good measure. The band have got a full-length, Precious Art, that’s due out June 23rd on SideOneDummy, and is sure to be one of the catchier releases of the summer; put it on your list.
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