Search Results for "Teenage Bottlerocket"

Album Review: Teenage Bottlerocket: “Teenage Bottlerocket vs. Human Robots”

What were you doing in your spare time in 7th Grade? I was desperately trying (and failing!) to learn blink-182 and My Chemical Romance songs on bass guitar, and wondering why all the cool kids wouldn’t be my friends on MySpace. I’m guessing most of you weren’t releasing your first split 7-inch on Fat Wreck Chords like Milo Carlisle has done. As the son of Teenage Bottlerocket’s Ray Carlisle, he’s already spent years being surrounded by the best teachers in punk rock, and boy does it show on these couple tracks.

The first two tracks on this split 7-inch will be familiar to big Bottlerocket fans. Track 1: “Olivia Goes to Bolivia” first appeared on a flexi-disk for New Noise Magazine in February 2019. Bassist Miguel Chen wrote the track about his baby daughter Olivia (who features on the track too – cute!). Track 2: “Everything to Me” appears on the bands’ newest album, Stay Rad. Both tracks are adorable odes to the band members’ offspring – fitting for the record – as well as super-catchy, punk anthems, as expected from Teenage Bottlerocket.

Let’s face it though, this record is all about Human Robots. As Ray said in the press release for the record, “It wasn’t hard getting his band together, because Milo plays all the instruments and sings on the two songs he wrote. I guess it’s a one-man band (yes, he has no friends).” Which is a pretty INSANE accolade for anyone, let alone a pre-teen in my opinion (the one-man band thing, not the no friends thing. Having no friends is an easy accomplishment, lemme tell you). 

“Step on ‘Em All” is 45-seconds of pure old-skool punk rawk rage. With thrashing guitars and angry AF lyrics, this track sounds like a cross between the Ramones and late 80s NYHC.  

“I Want to Hang Out With You” could be a Bottlerocket song. They probably wish it was a Bottlerocket song, but Milo got there first. It’s a simple, catchy memorable punk rock song with a chorus that’ll have you singing along as soon as you’ve heard it. Also, you can only imagine Ray’s face when he first heard his young son sing the “I wanna make out with you/ I wanna get expelled with you” lyrics of the chorus. 

It really is incredible that the little dude is so talented at a young age – these songs rock HARD. There should be a few Fat Wreck bands watching their backs right now – Milo has the potential to take over the genre in a few years.

You can buy the 7-inch in the Fat Wreck Chords store here, or stream/buy it on Bandcamp here. Best $5 you’ll have spent in a long time. 

5/5 Stars



DS Exclusive: Miguel Chen on his new book, “The Death Of You: A Book For Anyone Who Might Not Live Forever”

One of my favorite — and also I think one of the most important — lines in Miguel Chen’s new book, The Death Of You: A Book For Anyone Who Might Not Live Forever, comes right within the first small handful of pages. Chen, is obviously best known for his role as bass player for long-running punk band Teenage Bottlerocket but is also increasingly well-known for his yoga and meditation teachings and practices, and wrote a pretty successful book, I Wanna Be Well: How A Punk Found Peace And You Can Too that came out last year. Anyway, early on in The Death Of You, page eight to be exact, Chen asks and answers the question that you might be asking out loud when you hear that the bass player of a hard-working punk rock band has written a book on essentially how to come to terms with the concept of death in a way that allows you to lead a fulfilling life. That question, as you’ve probably deciphered by now, is “why is Miguel Chen qualified to write this book?” Chen’s answer? “I’m not. Well, at least not more than anyone else.”

It’s that tone of self-deprecation, of not taking himself all that seriously, that weaves its way through all of Chen’s written work – and all of Bottlerocket’s music for that matter – that makes it so compelling and relatable. However, it’s also, frankly, not exactly true. Chen, you see, has experienced what some might believe is more than his fair share of painful and untimely deaths in his life. As you probably know, Chen lost his mother to cancer when he was sixteen years old and lost his sister in a tragic car accident less than a year later. Then, as you definitely know, he lost his best friend and Teenage Bottlerocket brother-in-arms Brandon Carlisle four years ago. The bakers’ dozen years in between found checking most of the boxes on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance; sex, drugs, rebellion and rock and roll, followed by intense periods of yoga and meditation that have found him in a much, much different place by the time Carlisle’s death came around than he was in as a teenage.

And now with The Death Of You, Chen is trying to impart some of his immense and profound wisdom on the rest of us. The book finds Chen teaming up with the same writing partner (Rod Meade Sperry) and publisher (Wisdom Publications) as the first go around, which resulted in a much quicker turnaround this time than the few years that went in to I Wanna Be Well, even if he had this idea kicking around far in advance. “(Writing a book about death) was actually in the back of my mind for years and years,” explains Chen. “Before I came to these practices and this connection with myself, I really kind of felt like a victim of death, of these losses that I had faced. My mom died, my sister died, life was fucked, why was this happening to me?” Eventually, as chronicled in I Wanna Be Well and previously discussed in our last conversation here, Chen began practicing and ultimately instructing in both yoga and meditation, offering him a deeper perspective not only on death as a concept. “As I got to the other end of it through these practices and saw how different my life was because of those events,  I had to be honest with myself that it wasn’t all bad,” he says, adding “I mean yeah, it was heart-breaking and tragic and I wish I had those people back in my life, but because of what happened and when it happened, I was able to live a more free existence. It freed me up to be like, “well, this happened, and this is real, so what am I going to do with the time that I do have?” It really drove me to pursue the band and music, and to make a life for myself that I was happy with, you know?

Like with I Wanna Be Well before it, The Death Of You contains a mixture of first-person storytelling, education of the reader about certain concepts, and a handful of practices aimed at getting you and I to learn by doing. For it’s not just the idea of death that Chen wants us to be comfortable accepting; it’s how to deal with all varieties of deaths we might be presented with, up to and including our own eventual shuffling from off this mortal coil. This includes a meditation practice toward the end of the book that implores the reader to envision just what’ll happen to them when their time is up. “The status quo is to just never think about death at all, and just kind of move forward,” says Chen. “You counteract that with the extreme on the opposite end, right? So, we’re going to do the exact opposite. We’re going to fucking not only think about death, we’re going to think about our death and we’re going to think about it in explicit detail. And I think by then having explored both ends of the extreme, we come to find where our spot in the middle is.” It’s not for the faint of heart, but it can prove a fruitful experience nonetheless.

The Death Of You has an official release date of September 17th. You can pre-order it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Indiebound, or if you’re luck enough to live in one of these fine cities, you can pick it up at the Teenage Bottlerocket’s merch table on the Fat Wreck tour that’s going on now. Head below to check out our full Q&A!



Teenage Bottlerocket stream new music video for “I Wanna Be a Dog”

Last week Fat Wreck mainstays Teenage Bottlerocket released a music video for “I Wanna Be a Dog” off of their eighth studio album Stay Rad!, released back in March 2019. This track is Teenage Bottlerocket at their best: no-frills pop punk and lyrics that answer the question, “how much easier would life be as a dog?” Truly relatable content from one of the most enduring bands in punk rock. You can check out the video below.



Teenage Bottlerocket to release split 7-inch with Human Robots via Fat Wreck Chords

Guess what? Teenage Bottlerocket has a new release, and it’s called Teenage Bottlerocket vs. Human Robots! The split 7” comes out on September 6th via Fat Wreck Chords, and you can pre-order it here. Additionally, TBR will be tearing it up, headlining the FAT TOUR, which kicks off this month! Check out what Ray Bottlerocket had to say about the 7” and teaming up with his son Milo, below.

“Hello all! When Teenage Bottlerocket was at the Blasting Room working on “Stay Rad,” my son Milo came to the studio and recorded two songs with his band Human Robots. It wasn’t hard getting his band together, because Milo plays all the instruments and sings on the two songs he wrote. I guess it’s a one-man band (yes, he has no friends). His songs turned out great, and we somehow convinced Fat Wreck Chords to release a split 7” featuring the TBR songs “Olivia Goes to Bolivia” and “Everything To Me,” as well as the Human Robots songs “Step On Em All” and “I Want to Hang Out With You.” Chris Shary did the artwork, and it all turned out great. This is the best split since Taco Bell teamed up with KFC! I love sharing this rock n roll life with my son, Milo. Look out world; Human Robots are stoked to shred and ready to party!”

Speaking of party, the 2019 Fat Tour is just around the corner. Check out the dates and locations below.



Fat By The Gallon (ffo: Teenage Bottlerocket) announce European tour

Dallas punks, Fat By The Gallon have announced a 12-date springtime tour through Europe, with a few dates opening for Teenage Bottlerocket and a stop along the way at SBAM fest in Wels, Austria. Wave hi to the local boys for me!



Dying Scene Radio – Episode 13 – Band Spotlight: Wiretap Records Founder, Rob Castellon

You didn’t forget about us did you!?! Well, we would understand if you did, we’ve been a bit lazy lately. But never fret, dear listeners, we’re never more than a few weeks away at any given time. You’re not getting rid of us that easily! In Episode 13 of of Dying Scene Radio, Bobby meets up with founder of Wiretap Records, Rob Castellon to discuss the intricacies of running a successful indie music label. You scene nerds aren’t gonna want to miss this one! But wait, there’s more! The guys are also bringin’ you all of the noteworthy scene news that you were probably too lazy to read and slingin’ you some rad new tracks from emerging artists that you were probably too lazy to discover! Getcho’ peep on below! (ummmm…anyone know if we’re still using the term ‘peep?)



New Video: Teenage Bottlerocket – “Everything To Me” from upcoming album, “Stay Rad”

Even more rad news from the Teenage Bottlerocket headquarters today. This time, it’s a brand new video for the track “Everything To Me.” The video, as you might imagine, is about the radness that is being a dad (dadness?!?) and how cool raising a kid can be. It features a pretty lengthy cameo from Ray Carlisle’s rad-as-hell son Milo, and even a few shots of Miguel Chen’s baby kiddo, Olivia. Check it out here!

“Everything To Me” is the latest track to be released in advance of TBR’s upcoming full-length, Stay Rad!, which is due out March 15th on Fat Wreck Chords. Pre-orders are still here. It marks the follow-up to March 2017’s Stealing The Covers, and their first studio full length of originals since 2015’s Tales From Wyoming.



Miguel Chen (Teenage Bottlerocket) Announces New Book, “The Death Of You: A Book For Anyone Who Might Not Live Forever”


Rad news from the Teenage Bottlerocket camp today. The band’s bass player and resident yogi announced details behind his sophomore book. It’s called The Death Of You: A Book For Anyone Who Might Not Live Forever, and it’s due out this coming September on Wisdom Publications. Here’s the book’s description:

DEATH.

Even the word itself probably makes you a little uncomfortable. Just look at it, sitting there, demanding to be acknowledged. It might even make you a lot uncomfortable.

We spend so much time trying to deny death, going on about our lives as if we and our loved ones are immune to it. Then, one day, its truth becomes undeniable. The Death of You doesn’t flinch in looking into this vital, urgent matter. Join Miguel for a wild ride where we get real about death—and even have a few laughs at its expense.

If you might someday die—or if you know someone who will—this book is for you. If you’re afraid of dying, this book is for you. If you’re excited about the Great Unknown, this book is for you. In plainspoken, kind, and encouraging language, Miguel will show you how to transform your relationship with death—and in doing so, you’ll get to know your life in a whole new way. Today is the perfect day to start. Don’t wait—you’re not gonna live forever.

We’re still big fan’s of Chen’s first book, I Wanna Be Well, and have referred back to it quite often since its release last February via Wisdom Publications. We’re sure this one will be much the same! Pre-order yours at Amazon right here while you’re still alive enough to do so!



New Music: Teenage Bottlerocket debut “I Wanna Be A Dog” from upcoming full-length, “Stay Rad!”

Get ready to get rad, boys and girls; new Teenage Bottlerocket is coming!

When last we heard from the Wyoming punks, they were holed up at the legendary Blasting Room in Ft. Collins, Colorado, to work on new music. That new music turned out to be a brand new full-length called Stay Rad!. It’s due out on March 15th via Fat Wreck Chords. Check out the lead single, “I Wanna Be A Dog,” right here, and while you’re at it, you can pre-order the new album here.

Stay Rad! marks the band’s first album since March 2017’s Stealing The Covers, and their first studio full length of originals since 2015’s Tales From Wyoming (Rise Records).



Teenage Bottlerocket recording new music

It’s official, Teenage Bottlerocket are in the studio recording new music. Here’s proof

Whatever they’re cooking up, it will be the first new music since their “Stealing The Covers” album was released in March, 2017.

We’ll keep you posted as more details are announced.



DS Exclusive: Miguel Chen (Teenage Bottlerocket) on his new book, “I Wanna Be Well: How a Punk Found Peace And You Can Too”

If you’ve willingly plucked your head out of the proverbial sand at any point in the last handful of years, you’ve no doubt become aware that in a macro sense, we’re living in a pretty divisive, unstable time. If you add personal issues and unrest to the pile, the result can swallow you whole, whether you want it to or not. As an outlet, people will turn to a variety of solutions to help stem the tide of negativity; music, the arts, exercise, writing for a small punk-centric website, etc. Some people unfortunately choose more self-destructive paths that they hopefully, someday, are able to make it through minimally scarred. For Miguel Chen, the path seemed dark for a while, but has slowly, steadily become lightened – and enlightened – as it’s gone.

If you’ve been even a casual Dying Scene reader over the years, you’re no doubt familiar with Chen from his role as the bass player for iconic Wyoming pop-punk band Teenage Bottlerocket for more than a decade. Like many bands in this scene, TBR developed a reputation for working hard and partying harder, touring seemingly endlessly and enjoying the experience to the fullest. The annals of rock music history are littered with similar stories, frequently ending in disastrous consequences. “On my own path,” explains Chen, “it (went) from ‘alright, we’re in our band, it’s fun! We’re touring, it’s fun! We’re putting out records, it’s fun! Holy shit, we’re on Fat Wreck Chords, it’s fun! We’re on the road with NOFX, it’s fun!’ And the whole time, it’s just like ‘party, party, party, party, party.” Eventually, you return home from the road, however, and something seems to be missing. “You get home from tour,” Chen explains, “(and it’s) ‘oh fuck, this is boring, I better party. Party, party, party, party, party.’ All of a sudden, years later, it’s like ‘fuck – am I a person who has to drink or do drugs? Is that me?‘.”

While that part of the story might sound endlessly familiar to anyone that’s been in or around the music scene, Chen’s tale takes a bit of an atypical turn. Years of what he considered ultimately ineffective traditional treatment for mental health diagnoses that included bipolar disorder and anxiety – think psychotherapy and medications – led Chen to develop an increased involvement in the practice of sitting mediation. From there, the repeated insistence of friend then brought him into the world of yoga. “Finally I went and tried a class,” he explains, adding “I thought ‘what’s the worst that can happen? I’m going to sweat a bunch and it’s going to suck and I just won’t go back. So I went to my first yoga class, and then the next day I went to my second yoga class and then the next day I went to my third yoga class and I just never stopped.”

Chen went from practicing yoga to teaching at a studio in his hometown of Laramie, Wyoming, to eventually taking over the studio he’d been teaching at and opening a second studio in nearby Cheyenne, Wyoming. He continues to push himself in the punk rock world – Teenage Bottlerocket released a full-length album of covers and an EP of new original material last year – and the yoga world, having just returned from an intense training in Rishikesh, India, that lasted more than a month right before we talked. “It was one of those things where I said I’m just going to dedicate a month of my life to only complete practice,” explains Chen. “From waking up at 5:00 in the morning to start my practice, and I go to bed at 8:30 or 9:00pm, and that’s all my day is all day, every day. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Chen has also pushed himself positively in a new, creative way; published author. Released last week through Wisdom Publications, Chen teamed up with editor Rod Meade Sperry for the fun and insightful new read, I Wanna Be Well: How A Punk Found Peace And You Can Too. While we’re presently living in what seems to be the age of the memoir, I Wanna Be Well is not your standard rock star autobiography fare. “I knew I didn’t want to just write my story, because who gives a shit,” jokes Chen. “Everybody has a story, everybody can write a book about themselves. I wanted this book to offer something to the readers. I wanted it to be about the reader. So that’s kind of where the idea, including these practices, came into play. Obviously it’s my story – here are things from my life – but at the end of it, that’s pretty much just an anchor point.

Each of the twenty-five chapters that make up I Wanna Be Well is broken into three four parts. First, there’s the lesson, which sometimes contains autobiographical stories and sometimes contains brief teachings from Buddhism or the self-help community, for example. Then comes the “practice” section, in which Chen gives the reader something to learn. Sometimes it’s instructions on how to start basic sitting meditation, some times it’s the steps behind some basic yoga movies, sometimes it’s just tricks to improve your own mindfulness of where you fit in to the world around you. Finally, each chapter culminates in a “tl/dr” tidbit that boils down the practice to its most essential point. “Rod had this genius idea,” tells Chen,”that people have short attention spans, so why don’t we add this thing at the end of each chapter where here’s a practice in a sentence or two for when you don’t want to fucking read the whole thing.

Let it be known that you should read the whole thing, however. It’s a quick read that somehow covers the entire emotional spectrum pretty quickly, from dealing with the loss of his mother to cancer when he was a child to the sudden loss of his sister in an accident less than a year later, to being asked to join one of his favorite bands and to create music with some of his best friends in the world, one of whom (founding TBR drummer Brandon Carlisle) also passed away far too early several years ago. All the while, Chen explains how these incidents have made him who he is today, and how, good or bad, they’ve all served to keep him looking inward and growing outward. “The whole time I was writing this book,” says Chen, “I was thinking ‘man, if even one person really gets it, this whole thing was worth it.‘ I’m grateful to every single person that even thinks about reading it, I’m going to be thankful to every person who reads it, even the people that don’t like it. I’m really grateful to have had this chance and to help.”

Because this is 2018 and the traditional book tour circuit is becoming less and less of “a thing,” there are no formal dates where you can catch Chen promoting his tome just yet. But, as a constantly touring musician, he’s found a way around that. “Luckily I travel a lot anyway,” he explains. “My plan is to kinda keep doing that, except now I’ll bring some books along. I always leave it open when I’m on tour, like hey, this is where I’m going to be, if anyone wants to do yoga or do some medication, shoot me a message.” And occasionally I’ll do events, like I’ll do Yoga For Punks or whatever, and I think I’ll do the same with the book. Like, if you want to pick up the book or talk about it, I’m on tour, come hang out!”

Check out our chat with Chen below, and pick up your copy of I Wanna Be Well at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Target or your local bookstore if you’ve got one!



DS Show Review: FEST 16 Gainesville – Day 3

As I soaked in all of the sights, sounds and smells of FEST 16 in days 1 and 2, I purposely tried to keep day 3 out of my mind.  Day 3 had some great bands that I couldn’t wait to check out, but I knew that getting to day 3 meant that FEST was coming to a close.

I don’t think I was the only one with the aforementioned sentiment, people were going after it hard Saturday night.  I could hear them outside singing and reveling into the wee hours.  I felt ok Sunday morning.  Got some food and coffee in me, and got ready to face the day.  T shirt game was not as important today as the forecast called for unseasonably cool temps.  High of 65 meant that I would don the only sweatshirt I brought.  It has the Chicago flag on the front of it, which prompted a shout of “Oh Calcutta!!” from an apparent Lawrence Arms fan.  After three nights of mayhem, we were delayed getting out the door.  I wanted to catch After the Fall, but we actually arrived too late for that and went straight to High Dive to catch Squirtgun doing a retrospective of all the bands they had been in.  If you don’t know Squirtgun, they are fronted by Mass Giorgini who is probably best known as owner and resident producer at Sonic Iguana.  Some major punk royalty has recorded at SI with Mass at the boards.  Squirtgun broke out some of those tunes in a solid set which included The Riverdales and Screeching Weasel.

Next we grabbed a bite at Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille.  We could’ve heard Apologies I have none, but it was too cold to sit outside.  Sitting in a chain restaurant on Sunday afternoon did not do much to lift me out of the depression of FEST coming to an end.  After lunch, we cruised over to Bo Diddley to catch The Movielife.  I’ve been following these guys for a while and I real wanted to see them at Riot Fest, but a conflict messed that up.  Although they played in a tough spot, Sunday, Outdoors, afternoon, cool day, they represented.  Not my standout set of the FEST, but not bad.

After Movielife, we had some tough conflicts.  Mean Jeans, Toyguitar, Hiccup, and Ray Rocket (Teenage Bottlerocket).  My wife wanted to catch Ray, so we cruised over to Big Lou’s pizza for the show.  I grabbed a couple of beers to perk us up and we sat on the patio there sipping our brews as Ray got set up.  I’m so glad we caught this show, because he conveyed the hungover depressed malaise that everyone was feeling.  Ray asked us to bear with him as he had spent the previous night going door to door at Holiday Inn with The Dopamines.  Paint your own picture there.  As the cool breeze blew through, Ray gave us a solid but chill set, the perfect cure to what ailed us.  He played “Do you wanna go to Tijuana,” dedicated to his twin brother Brandon who passed away in 2015, and covered The Ramones “Pet Sematary.”

The Ray Rocket set definitely perked us up.  We cruised over to Tall Paul’s and caught some of Makewar’s set.  We bellied up to the bar and threw down some of their brewed-in-house craft beer.  The habanero-spiced pale ale stole the show.  It brought the heat!!  We had to cut out of Makewar to get a good spot for Smoking Popes.  Being from Chicago, my wife and I are both big Popes fans.  The Popes never disappoint.  They’ve been around a long time and they know what people want to hear.  They bring the hits one after the other.  They played my fave “No More Smiles” as well as “Megan,” “Paul,” “Rubella.”  One of the many highlights of this set was their cover of MC5’s “Ramblin’ Rose.”  And of course they played “Need You Around.”  When it came to playing Bo Diddley, some bands sounded better than others, but the Popes really rocked this stage.  Safe to say, this set was up there in the top 5 of FEST.

Iron Chic hit the Bo Diddley stage next, so we hung around for that.  IC had a very lively crowd and their brand of punk rock really got the people moving and singing along.  You could tell people were amped for this band.  We watched the set from afar, but we already had tickets to see them in Chicago in December, so we cut out to check some other sets.  We caught Kamikaze Girls at the Wooly.  I have no recollection of it.  I remember bouncing across the street to The Atlantic where Machinist! was playing.  I only caught the last song, wish I had seen more.  This mad dash ended at Rockey’s where we caught the last few songs from The Raging Nathans.  We must’ve been in the right place as a few dignitaries were on hand such as OWTH’s Ryan Young.

One of the reasons I broke the bank and travelled down to FEST this year was Superchunk.  I’ve seen them a handful of times; the first time in 1993.  At one point I remember thinking to myself, “I’m going to buy every Superchunk album that ever comes out.”  Well who knew they would put out like 40 records!?!  I don’t have them all, but I have a lot of them.  So we trekked over to Bo Diddley to catch Sunday’s headliner, Superchunk.  For one, they sounded great.  I’ll give them that.  They didn’t play the full 90 minutes, which was a bit of a bummer.  They also threw in some random tunes like “Hello Hawk” and “I Got Cut.”  Deep cuts aside, they also dropped some fan favorites like: “Slack Motherfucker, Sick to Move, Driveway to Driveway, Hyper Enough, Precision Auto, and Seed Toss.”  The ‘Chunk brought the goods and sent the main stage out in grand fashion.

The main stage might have been done, but we were not!  We popped over to The Wooly, grabbed a brew and caught Meat Wave.  Their new album, “The Incessant” is on my list of the best of 2017.  These guys rock the 3 piece like Alkaline Trio or Husker Du; although their sound is more like Big Black.  I’m definitely going to catch these guys again.  After MW, I made a fatal error.  I decided we should hit Durty Nelly’s to catch Dingus.  For one, I had the complete wrong band.  I guess there are two Dingus’s (Dingi?).  Unfortunately, the one I planned to see was recording an album in Belgium at the time.  I sat there for about a half hour completely confused.  When we came to our senses, I looked my wife in the eye and I could tell she was done.  40 shows over 3 days will tend to wear you out.  I was running on fumes as well.  We decided to call it quits.  I had hoped to catch Night Witch, Teen Agers, and Tiltwheel; but I will have to wait for them to come to town.

We survived FEST 16, and had an amazing time!  One thing is for sure, we will be marking our calendars for the lineup announcement for FEST 17.  We will be back!



FEST 16 Gainsesville Day 2

Read my review of Day 1 here.

Woke up on Day 2 of the FEST feeling pretty good.  Got fueled up on coffee and complimentary pastries and was ready to hit it.  My T-shirt game was on point.  I had my Broadways T set aside and didn’t have any reservations about it.  Without much fanfare, we bailed the hotel.  The weather was perfect, 80 and sunny, which worked out nicely as many of the acts on our list were playing outside at Bo Diddley Plaza.

We arrived at Bo Diddley just in time to grab a couple of drinks and see The Dirty Nil.  I’m a fan of TDN, I know their music tends more to the pop side of punk and they’ve had issues with people calling them punk.  Call it what you will, I like it.  They brought it in their set.  Maybe they lacked a little energy and that could be due to playing at 2pm.  After Dirty Nil, we caught the second Teenage Bottlerocket set, this time conveniently at Bo Diddley.  Catching them outside didn’t compare to the High Dive show, but it was still amazing.  These guys are pros and they lay it down no matter the time or place.

Off With Their Heads came out next.  Once again at Bo Diddley.  Ryan was in rare form.  He paid some guy in the crowd $20 to dress up as Sully from Avatar.  The guy skulked around the stage for a few songs and then Ryan assisted him into the crowd.  For the rest of the show, the wig was flying through the air like a hairy hawk.  Wish we could have seen more of OWTH as they were in rare form, but we had to cut out because I really wanted to catch Grade.  When I saw that Grade was playing FEST, I had it circled and underlined.  I loved these guys back in 2000, and they pretty much fell completely off my radar.  I gained a new appreciation for their catalog during my fest preparation.  The downside, they were playing at 8 Seconds.  There’s just something about that place that’s a little depressing.  I don’t know if it’s just the way it looks like a typical college campus meat market, whether it’s too dark, whether it’s the shitty sound, or all of the above.  Throw in the fact that not as many other FESTers were as amped as I was for the Grade reunion, and you have the makings of a downer set.  From what I could tell, Grade sounded good, but everything sounds like mud at 8 Seconds, so for these guys, it was just a big mushpile.  We hung out upstairs where a roof blocks the sound even further, making for a quieter muddied mess.

Getting out into the open air really raised our spirits.  We basked in the sun as we headed back to Bo Diddley for Beach Slang.  Whenever BS comes on the ipod, I’m like “Who is this” (good thing) and I had hoped seeing them live would drive that home.  They brought it, the singer has a cool 1980s ruffled tuxedo happening, they busted out a Replacements cover, but it just didn’t make me want to buy all their records.  The next band on the list, Extinction AD, would hopefully get us to the next level with their brand of Pantera-esque metal.  Kudos to E AD, they did their best in a tough venue (8 secs).  They had only about 20 people watching.  They still blew the place away.  The face-melting shredding that usually emits from the lead guitar unfortunately got lost in the muddied 8 Secs reverb that completely drowns out higher registers.

We decided to head over to High Dive to catch the Flatliners.  On the way, we bumped into Mike Felumlee.  We had a quick chat about what bands we were going to see.  I had City of Caterpillar circled and underlined.  Their post-punk, screamo concoction really resonated with me and I had the album on heavy rotation prior to the fest.  Mike said that we should try to catch the Penske File.  He was adamant that it would be one of the best sets of the fest.  Interest piqued.  We waited for like 20 minutes to get in to see the Flatliners.  Caught about 20 minutes of the set.  They were playing The Great Awake front to back.  I don’t have the album.  I have it on my list now though.

One set that stood out as a can’t miss for FEST 16, Against Me doing Reinventing Axl Rose.  After Flatliners, we cruised over to Bo Diddley, grabbed a PBR and staked out a spot.  AM really had great energy, they definitely drew the biggest crowd of the FEST, Bo Diddley was packed.  Instead of opening with Axl, they opened with a retrospective greatest hits set.  They started with “Haunting, Haunted, Haunts” then followed with “333,” “True Trans Soul Rebel,” “Black Me Out,” “I was a teenage anarchist,” and “Thrash Unreal.”  Tough conflicts, but I really wanted to see City of Caterpillar, so we cut out of Bo Diddley.

City of Caterpillar was playing at 8 Seconds.  They had a decent crowd considering they shared the same slot as Against Me.  These guys bring the post punk noise and sludge.  The perfect marriage with 8 Secs reverberating sound system.  The cacophony these guys brought almost blew the roof off of the place.  We were digging CofC, but Mike F’s recommendation was gnawing at us.  So we cut out to see Penske File.

After taking a circuitous route and bumping our way through a restaurant full of people enjoying a late meal, we went through a back alley and finally found the venue.  They played the Boca Fiesta/Palomino, which appeared to be a Mexican Restaurant by day, I guess they push the taco and salad bars out of the way to host shows.  Safe to say that making our way to the Penske File paid off.  These guys reminded us of why we got into this music in the first place.  They brought pure raw energy to the stage.  The singer told a story of how one of their original members passed away, and they almost called it quits.  They carried on, and redoubled their efforts.  They thanked the crowd and then broke into “Damned.”  The place lost it.  People stormed the stage and sang along.  Others dove out into the crowd.  These guys had a loyal and rabid group of supporters.  Definitely one of the top 5 sets of FEST.

At this point our schedule had gotten jumbled around.  The Civic Media Center was close by and Typesetter was doing an acoustic set there, so we checked it out.  We only caught the tail end, but they did play a cover of The Replacements “Can’t Hardly Wait.”  I know I wasn’t abducted by aliens during this time frame, but I do have some lost time in here.  We caught The Copyrights at High Dive.  I remember thinking they sounded better than the last time I saw them and that I need to check out their new stuff.  I remember Iron Reagan vividly as they ripped the roof off of 8 Seconds with their inspired brand of Thrash Metal.  The image of IR forever seared into my brain involves the lead singer and the two guitarists swinging their hair in circles to the chugga chugga guitars.

We next found ourselves at High Dive.  Our anticipation of the FEST favorites, The Dopamines, had caused us to arrive early and catch some of Clown Sounds.  Once again, no recollection other than the fact we were there.  One of the toughest conflicts of FEST involved HUM and The Dopamines.  I had HUM firmly on my radar, my wife wanted to see the Dopamines.  We had never seen the Dopamines, so what the heck!  Glad we went.   For one, High Dive is a great place to see a show.  Great sound.  Perfect setting.  They get it.  I have to say after seeing The Dopamines, hearing their stage banter, including their bravado in the fact that “The Copyrights opened for us.  Thanks Copyrights, for opening for us.”  They’re just awesome.  Everything that punk rock should be, a non-stop party.  At one point the crowd pelted them with ice, cups, cans; they didn’t miss a beat.

We did make it over to 8 Secs to see the end of the HUM set.  They played Stars and something I didn’t know.  When you find a good routine that works for you, you stick with it.  So after Hum, we bailed town and hit Taco Bell on the way to our hotel.  Once again, it hit the spot.  I got some sleep, even though a fairly raucous group serenaded us outside doing a singalong at around 3am.  I was too tired to figure out what was going on.  Maybe Laura Jane Grace dropped in for an impromptu set.



DS Show Review: FEST 16 Gainesville Day One

The night before the Fest, my wife and I sat out on the patio at the Wyndham Gainesville and enjoyed the delicious brews we grabbed at HourGlass Brewing on our way up. We sipped wistfully and gazed into the trees. I broke the silence, “Honey, tomorrow there are going to be people swinging in those trees, and running naked in the courtyard.” Obviously I had a slightly exaggerated sense of the debauchery that was to ensue, but only slightly.

I think we rolled out of bed on Friday morning around 10. We grabbed some coffee and got ourselves moving. Other than the bands that we wanted to see, we really didn’t have much of a plan or any idea what to expect. The first crisis of the day arose as I was getting dressed. I had decided to wear my The Spits shirt because I thought it was appropriately obscure and it’s yellow which would help keep the sun off of me on what was supposed to be a warm day. As I went through my luggage, I couldn’t find the shirt! I didn’t pack it!! Now what? Noise by numbers? Might give me some Chicago cred but too obscure. Desaparecidos? Naw. The Appleseed Cast. A band I like and have seen? Check. Obscure? I guess. Old shirt? Check. So I went with it.

After slamming a pineapple drink by the pool to the not-so-smooth sounds of Jason Guy Smiley, we decided to head over to the Holiday Inn and get our wristbands. The combination of people, confined space, and flea market atmosphere overwhelmed my senses and although I wanted to shop around, my agoraphobic side told me to get back out in the open air. We managed to fight though the cars and people. Made it to a parking structure and dumped the car. We lucked out with the parking situation. Not too expensive and close enough to the action to drop off any shirts, records, etc. that we accumulated.

The absolute best thing about the fest is the proximity of the different venues. You are never more than a five minute walk from any show. After grabbing a bite, we decided to check out A Wilhelm Scream. We beat the rush. Got our first of about 40 wrist bands, and looked to grab a beer. Eventually I would succumb to the masses and drink the more reasonably-priced PBR, but I started with the Swamphead IPA, which was actually pretty good. Caught a little A Wilhelm Scream and then cut for one of the first Mystery Shows of the weekend. Teenage Bottlerocket at High Dive doing Total in its entirety.

I’ll spare you the suspense. TB crushed it. High Dive is a great venue and I would recommend to future FESTers to see as many shows there as you can. If the choice is between High Dive and 8 Seconds, definitely take the Dive! After catching all 3 TB sets at FEST, I have to say I love these guys. Total was amazing!! They dropped “Skate or Die” and a few others to close out the set. Oddly enough, this was our second set of the fest and it stole the show. We wouldn’t know that until 40 bands later.

I wrote a piece about how to do the FEST, which was odd, because I’d never done it before. Still I had a philosophy in place, and that was to see as many bands as possible. We often had to make tough decisions and cut out early on some good sets, but I wanted to be on the move. So that explains how we hit The Flatliners, caught a bit of DAGS! (bought their record), saw some of Ratboys (not enough), and then hightailed it over to The Wooly to catch Tartar Control. These guys are awesome, the act is hilarious, and they just bring it 100%.

Next we hit Durty Nelly’s to catch The Bigger Empty. This is Mike Felumlee’s (Smoking Popes) other band, where he gets to come out from behind the kit and show off his boyish good looks. Great set from these guys. We moved on to catch Ghouls at Rockey’s where we hung on to catch the beginning of Sinai Vessel. My wife is a bad person and she really wanted to see The Lillingtons at 8 Seconds. We were worried that at one point people would just pick a spot and we wouldn’t be able to get into certain venues. So we cruised out of Sinai Vessel (very sad about that) and went to Pegboy at 8 Seconds.

Certainly Pegboy can turn your mood right around. They sounded great and hearing the songs off of “Strong Reaction” really brought back some mems. But 8 Seconds wasn’t full, and our fears of being shut out were unfounded, so we cruised back to Rockeys to catch Typesetter. Great set by them and afterward I got to catch up with Caleb Cordes of Sinai Vessel. I should mention that I had yet to get a shout out on my shirt and was questioning my choice to wear it. Then I met Caleb and he said “nice shirt.” I told him that SV reminded me of Appleseed Cast. He told me that he worked with Chris from AC on Brokenlegged. That totally blew my mind. The shirt was vindicated!!

FEST has a magic quality, maybe it’s the music, or something in the PBR that acts as the fountain of youth. At this point in the evening, we needed all the energy we could get. We were determined to catch The Lillingtons, so we went back to 8 Seconds and grabbed a couple of PBRs to pep us up. We arrived to the sounds of 88 Fingers Louie. I heard mixed reviews on their sound, but they definitely overcame the limitations of 8 Seconds better than most. I thought they sounded great. I could listen to Mr. Precision play all day. After we drained our PBRs, The Lillingtons came on. We hung on as long as we could, but had to cut out early. I don’t think they played our fave tune “All I hear is Static” so at least we didn’t miss that. We got some much-needed sustenance at the local Taco Bell, and then retired to our room for the evening, pretty amped to crash out so we could get up and do it all over again.



Miguel Chen (Teenage Bottlerocket) to release new book, “I Wanna Be Well: How A Punk Found Peace and You Can To”

If you’ve gotten to know Miguel Chen over the years, either in person or via social media, you’re no doubt aware that in addition to being a proud Wyomingite and, more importantly, bass player for Teenage Bottlerocket, he’s also a pretty devout yoga practitioner. This coming February, he’ll add another title to that list: published author!

With an assist from Rob Meade Sperry, Miguel has written a book entitled I Wanna Be Well: How A Punk Found Piece And You Can Too. Dubbed “a self-help book for people who hate self-help books,” the book tackles how Miguel was able to begin walking a spiritual path after years of running from his problems. And while books of a spiritual nature can take on a bit of a heady tone, don’t worry: each chapter contains a TL:DR summation in the form of a takeaway point. This is 2017, after all.

I Wanna Be Well is due out February 18th via Wisdom Publications, a leading publisher of Buddhist and mindfulness literature. Pre-orders are available on Amazon right here already. Check it out, and stay tuned for more on this over the next couple months!