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DS Photo Gallery: Lucero Family Block Party 2019 (w/Austin Lucas, Will Hoge, Ben Abney and Blackberry Smoke)

If you’re a fan and follower of Lucero, you’re no doubt aware that the chance for inclement weather surrounding the band’s Family Block Party, an annual day-long outdoor festival held at Minglewood Hall in their hometown of Memphis, Tennesee, is generally somewhere in the neighborhood of 100%. In fact, the trend dates back to pre-Block Party years, when they held a similarly themed Family Picnic in frontman Ben Nichols’ birthplace of Little Rock, Arkansas. And so it was no surprise when a daily check of the weather forecast last week devolved from “hey, this doesn’t look too bad,” to “oh well, bring a poncho” to “oh my god, we might get a tornado” in the lead-up to Saturday’s festivities. And while no tornadoes touched down in Memphis (the closest did, however, make a deadly appearance a couple hour drive down the road into Mississippi), Saturday did bring with it a deluge and thunderstorm of nearly Biblical proportions, causing more than a few game-time decisions, a bunch of mad merch-table dashes, and an altered venue and lineup that made for perhaps the most unique – and most classically-Lucero – Block Party to date.

Local musician Ben Abney and his band, The Hurts, were due to kick off festivities in the mid-afternoon on the stage set up in Minglewood Hall’s adjacent parking lot amidst the myriad merch tents and craft beer and food vendors, and they did just that to a crowd that was admittedly thin as a result of weather-phobic late arrivers that may or may not have included yours truly. It was from here that all hell proceeded to break proverbially loose, as the rain continued to fall harder and harder and was accompanied by frequent local thunder and lightning. There are rules surrounding lightning strikes and electrical equipment, and I’m not going to pretend to be enough of an electrical engineer to understand them. What I do know is that there was a stage full of instruments and backline equipment and the venue’s main PA and soundboard equipment were sitting in the middle of a parking lot that was rapidly turning into a pond. All of it, due to the severity of the storm, was untouchable. So as the vendors and merch crews broke down their displays and lugged everything inside at breakneck speed, the actual “show” people came to see had stalled out; more tickets had been sold than the 1600 capacity indoor venue could accommodate, and there was no real sound equipment from which to hear anybody anyway, so the next ninety-or-so minutes consisted of a club’s worth of people wondering what, exactly, would happen next.

What happened next could have been…well…ugly. The bars were open and the food was located outside and across the parking lot from the venue. Couple that with a lack of discernible information about how things were going to proceed and you had an equation that could have gone rather poorly. Slowly but surely, however, the night turned pretty special. The Mighty Souls Brass Band, who’d been slated to make a few between-set appearances strolling through the outdoor grounds, brought their New Orleans-via-Memphis brass sound indoors to help keep the crowd fired up on the music at hand. Finally, Austin Lucas, who’d been slated to play the outdoor stage next up, accompanied by a full band, grabbed an acoustic guitar, made his way to the front of the stage area in the main concert hall at Minglewood, and belted out a handful of tunes not only unplugged but un-mic’d, accompanied by only the crowd that had started to gather once they realized something was happening. It’s worth mentioning that Lucas had played a full-band show in the UK the night before, hopped a flight back to the States, and made it to Memphis about an hour before he was supposed to play. Had the show gone as planned, his performance would have been impressive; as it turned out given the circumstances, it was downright Herculean.

While Lucas was playing on the floor, the venue’s staff was plugging in mics and lights on the stage in an effort to make the best with what they had around them. Lucero’s lead guitar player Brian Venable took the stage and filled in the faithful that, while they still couldn’t access the sound equipment that was still outside the venue, there’d be stripped down sets from the shows performers on the big stage for the rest of the night. What would have been an outdoor Family Block Party was now going to be, essentially, an indoor Family Lock In. Lucero frontman Ben Nichols kicked things off by running through a few tracks on his own before calling Lucas back out where they shared vocal duties on the Lucas-requested Lucero track “Slow Dancing.” Lucas then played another of his own songs, the title track from his latest album Immortal Americans.

Will Hoge followed with his unique brand of rabble-rousing, country-tinged songwriter fair. Hoge is a Tennessee native who’s made a living challenging not only the status quo in Nashville, but challenging a series of long-held cultural beliefs about just what it means to be a white man living in the Bible Belt. Hoge has been called the “Tennessee Troublemaker” for good reason, making a career out of asking difficult and sometimes uncomfortable questions of his listeners. While he was also supposed to play with a full band on the big outdoor stage, getting the chance to see him on just acoustic guitar gave his handful of songs a little extra poignancy. Charlie Starr of Georgia rock band Blackberry Smoke followed. His band were due to be main support for this episode of the Lucero Family Block Party, but the above-mentioned circumstances found Starr also playing solo acoustic style on the indoor stage. While Blackberry Smoke’s normal sound is steeped in modern Allman Brothers/Skynyrd Southern grooves, hearing Starr play solo and unaccompanied gave more of a Laurel Canyon/Neil Young vibe to the festivities. Ben Abney also returned for a bit of an encore, getting the opportunity to play on a stage that was A) dry and B) in front of hundreds of people unlike his full-band, rain-soaked set earlier in the day. Abney has a punk rocker’s past, and as a solo artist has got a penchant for writing tear-jerking soul-filled folk songs, all of which were perfect for a Lucero crowd.

Introduced by Lucero bass player/”spirit animal” John C. Stubblefield, Ben Nichols took the stage again for what would be the event’s headline set, a bit of a seat-of-your-pants ninety-ish minute set that included both Nichols’ solo work and a bunch of Lucero staples. The set kicked off with Nichols accompanied by his trusty sidekick Rick Steff on accordion for songs like “Nights Like These,” “Davy Brown,” and the gut-wrenching “Darby’s Song,” the latter of which I don’t think I’d heard live before. Nichols brought out Mighty Souls’ Jason Yasinsky (trombone) and Jim Spake (saxophone) – the latter of who appeared as the centerpiece of Lucero’s horn section for a number of years – for a handful of tracks that included “Sixes & Sevens,” “On My Way Downtown” and “Can’t You Hear Them Howl.” Nichols leaned heavily on audience requests as the night progressed, and frequently made mention of his respect for the audience for hanging in there in spite of the less-than-ideal circumstances that the weather created. And so while those in attendance didn’t have the opportunity to catch some of their favorite full bands outside under the Memphis sky, those that stuck it out were eventual witness to an event that was uniquely special in its own right.

Check out our full photo rundown below!

 



Rough Dreams (Emo) announce tour dates

Rough Dreams (featuring members of Wolves x4 and Bad Idols) will be hitting the road for a handful of shows this spring to promote the release of their upcoming debut 7” on Coffin Curse Records.

Check the dates below.



Carousel Kings (pop punk) release new song ‘Lock Meowt’ and announce new album

Carousel Kings will put out their new studio album ‘Ultra’ via Victory Records on May 31st. Along with announcing the new record, they have also released a new single ‘Lock Meowt’. This will be their first release since ‘Charm City’ came out in 2017, also on Victory.

Guitarist Will Barovick believes that the single reflects where pop punk is heading in 2019. You can see if you agree by watching the video below.



The Dangerous Summer release video for new song ‘Way Down’

The Dangerous Summer have released another song from their new album ‘Mother Nature’ which is coming out summer 2019 on Hopeless Records. The band will be on tour in the US throughout May and June with Have Mercy and Modern Chemistry.

You can check out their website for tour dates and see the new video for ‘Way Down’ below.



The Jasons stream new song “Blood In The Streets”

Hockey masked, leather clad act The Jasons are streaming their new song, “Blood In The Streets,” which is the title track to their upcoming album that is due out on May 3rd.

You can give the song a listen below.

The Jasons last released Get Fucked in March 2016.



The Brass Action (Ska) stream new album “Brouhaha”

Vancouver ska-punks The Brass Action are streaming their new album, Brouhaha, which was released on April 13th.

You can give it a listen below.

The Brass Action last released a cover of The Scofflaws’ “In The Basement” in January 2019.



Assembly of Arsonists (Piano Punk, AZ) Stream Teaser Track from New Album “The End is Dear”

Piano-driven folk punkers Assembly of Arsonists are allowing fans to stream a track from their recently announced full-length album. The effort is titled The End is Dear and will be released on May 24 this year. It’s the first new music from the four-piece since their 2017 split with Diego Galvan, Hostility/Heartbreak.

For now, you can listen to “Learning at Both Ends” to get you in the mood for the album dropping next month below.



Album Review: LAGS – “Soon”

It’s great to hear a post-hardcore/punk blend out of Italy, especially when it’s as moreish as LAGS‘ latest Soon. The album, a followup to their previous full-length Pilot, hones in on a practiced and passionate sound with only a few sore spots along the way.

Kicking off the album, Knives and Wounds comes out of the gate hitting hard. A heavy and vivid track that gets things going extremely well. There are a decent few little sonic licks and vocal inflections on the album that stick in the mind, starting with the rolling ending for this first track as well as the cry out of “We are knives and wounds.”

The lyrics on the album have this melancholic flavor, with moments of great aggression, whilst the sonic side of things keeps up a rolling aggression at most times, but does dip and flow with the vocals. The post-hardcore side of the band seems to meld quite well with an almost old-school post-punk flavor they inject under the surface of some tracks, they’ve got this Fugazi-reminiscent air about their sound. There’s that anger prevalent in their sound, mixed with tinges of sadness. It’s not something all together new, but a very inviting take on the genres. A great example of this mix is the track “The Bait,” where the track has this desperate melancholy to it, but both guitar and cymbals burst in as Antonio screams out “It’s over now.”

There’s a bit of repetition on some tracks throughout the album, which is often used quite well, however some tracks feel as though they would have greatly benefited with being cut just a little shorter. Showdown, and Second Thoughts, in particular run a bit long with what’s provided. Not to say they’re bad tracks, they’re still solid outside of this. To contrast that are tracks like Echoes, which, true to its name, also repeats out a phrase “I’m kneeling, and it’s killing me off, everything in my days is just misread.” But with the atmosphere of the track and what surrounds these moments it comes across quite a lot more effectively.

Capping off the album is a bonus track titled Il Podista, an Italian jam with LAGS’ flair on it. It’s an interesting way to cap off the record, but it fits quite well and is a nice sign of the band’s roots and identity. Even with the dark focus of the album on a mixture of rebellion and loss, it’s a very enjoyable listen, and Il Podista at the end is a solid bonus to it.

“We started a war, then we made art,” a rather powerful and frankly quite beautiful idea presented on the track “What It Takes,” is sign of the rather detailed thought the band took in writing this album. It’s not always hits, some sections come across a little awkward or generic, but they’ve got some amazing diamonds scattered consistently throughout Soon. As I mentioned at the start of the review, it’s quite a moreish album, listening to one track leads you to the next, it’s an enjoyable listen and a sign of great things to come for the band. There’s still places to improve, and Soon isn’t without it’s faults, but it’s definitely worth your time.

Give a listen to Soon below!



New & Noteworthy: Stream new EP “Strike Back” by Milwaukee hardcore act Mud Dog

I’m not sure if it’s the vocals reminiscent of the original singer from UK punk act Drones, or very early days Davey Havok, but something about the new EP from Milwaukee hardcore act Mud Dog is really grabbing my attention. It might be the gang vocals on title track “Strike Back” or the change ups with secondary singers on a few of the songs. Or all of the above. The point is “Strike Back” is worth a listen for any hardcore punk fans, all the more so since it’s up for free download on bandcamp.



Album Review: Bars Of Gold – “Shelters”

Evolving from the seminal Bear vs Shark and Wildcatting, Bars Of Gold have been quietly building up a following since their debut “Of Gold” was released in 2010, and they follow up their excellent 2013 LP “Wheels” with “Shelters”; the first album they’ve issued exclusively through Equal Vision (despite reissuing their back catalogue through the label recently).

Here, the band perfect the light work they’ve made in the past of throwing genres in a blender, crafting an urgent, accomplished sound across a nine track album that rarely hands over a track that clocks in at less than four minutes. Despite taking heavy influence from jazz and post rock, “Shelter” is a punk album at heart, with versatile, accomplished instrumentation cycloning around the fits and starts of sonic anxiety from Marc Paffi’s elastic vocal.

Bars Of Gold are yet to etch out the same cult status of the members’ former outfits, but here they proves they deserve all of the same plaudits. From the frantics of “Madonna” and “$20”, to the delicacies of “Montana” and “G”, the band have created a varied, complex collection of meandering twists and sharp turns, surpassing and building on everything they’ve put together to date.

“Shelter” is an album that’s been well worth waiting six years for. It’s a pleasure to listen to and a marvel to explore at greater depth, and there’s should be little doubt that it’ll introduce Bars Of Gold and their back catalogue to a sea of new listeners. For those that enjoy their music off-the-wall, raw and passionate; this is for you.

4/5 Stars



Showoff (pop punk) singer Chris Messer tells stories from late 90s and early 2000s on podcast

The latest guest on The Wasting Time Podcast is Chris Messer, singer of Chicago pop punk band Showoff and owner of Dodgeball Records. He goes into detail about Showoff’s early days and how they became the first band to record with mega producer John Feldmann. He tells the story of their sophomore effort recorded with Mark Trombino and the crazy reasons it never saw the light of day. Chris also candidly tells about the disgraceful behaviour of a certain band (Everclear) that were huge in the 90s. He talks about his years in other bands including The Get Go, and why he wasn’t keen on joining Fall Out Boy when he had the chance.

This can be found on all the usual podcast platforms or their website.

 



Stage times announced for Slam Dunk Festival

For anyone heading to Slam Dunk Festival in the UK at the end of May, the stage times have been announced. There’ll be some tough decisions to make as this is one of the most impressive lineups the festival has had in it’s relatively short history. Slam Dunk Festival will take place in Leeds, UK on May 25 and Hatfield (near London) UK on May 26.

Here are clash finders in regards to stage times for Leeds and Hatfield.

 



Punk Rock Bowling makes more club show tickets available

Punk Rock Bowling has announced that they have moved some club shows around and made more tickets available to give everyone a chance to catch their favorite acts in the club settings.  You can see all the details of what was moved around below, and get your tickets for those still available here.



Dead Neck (Melodic Hardcore, UK) Announce UK and Europe Tour Dates

Three-piece melodic hardcore unit Dead Neck have announced that they will be hitting the road this spring. The band will be performing a run of 15 dates across the UK and mainland Europe during April and May. You can check out the entire tour schedule below on the attached poster. Supports for these dates are still to be confirmed.

During the tour, Dead Neck’s latest musical offering is penned for release – a split with Italian progressive punks, ActionmenDefections is due out on April 30 via Germany’s Mudcake Records.



Four Bands Unite on Split, “Bridging Oceans” Feat. Music from Shames, Nerdlinger, Down Memory Lane, and Bare Teeth

Four bands from around the world have teamed up to release a split EP. Bridging Oceans will feature three tracks from France’s Bare Teeth, Canada’s Down Memory Lane, Shames from Japan, and Aussie punks Nerdlinger.

Helping with the release will be an equally global roster of labels – Attractive Records, Thousand Islands Records, Disconnect Disconnect Records, and Pee Records. The full EP will be available from April 26.

For now, however, you can check out one track from each of the contributing bands Bridging Oceans below.