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The Wonder Years/Mayday Parade Live Review @The Troxy, London UK 23/02/2019

The Wonder Years and Mayday Parade seem like a slightly strange pairing for a co-headline tour. Although from the same world, they occupy different spaces within punk and pop punk music. Over the past few years, The Wonder Years have steadily been moving away from the positive leaning pop punk they originally came up playing alongside contemporaries like Man Overboard and The Story So Far. More recent albums have seen The Wonder Years broadening their horizon and arguably following a similar musical path to Brand New (apologies for the unfortunate reference). Mayday Parade, on the other hand, are something of a poppier and cheesier version of Taking Back Sunday. To see these two bands headlining a tour together at this stage of their careers, is therefore something of a surprise.

This past Saturday The Wonder Years and Mayday Parade played The Troxy in East London, a step up for both bands in terms of venue size for a London headlining show. Along on this tour were also opening acts pronoun and Movements.

Given doors open at 6pm, pronoun have an earlier set time than they perhaps might have chosen. When they take the stage, the room is not yet half full. This is however to be expected for a band playing first on a four-band bill, and at least the front floor is more or less covered. Alyse Vellturo is the sole official member of pronoun, she takes the stage with her backing band in what look like mechanic jumpsuits. The atmosphere in the room suggests that not many of the crowd are familiar with Alyse and her music, and she seems humbled that some of the crowd have made the effort to catch the early set. Their second song ‘A Million Other Things’ (from the 2017’s EP ‘Use Passport To Choose A New Location’) is a great driving pop song in a major key that is reminiscent of The 1975. Much of the set continues in a similar vein and it makes for an enjoyable listen. The songs feel more indie-pop rather than punk, the guitars aren’t too heavy and there isn’t a palm muted verse in sight. By the second half of the set, the venue is beginning to look busier and pronoun have the attention of all who are there. The set finishes with two songs from the upcoming full-length ‘I’ll Show You Stronger’ (out in May). Whilst both songs are strong, the prominent backing track is somewhat distracting and takes away any energy the songs might have otherwise had live.

Next up are Caliifornia’s Movements. The room is filling more by the time they take the stage and jump straight into the opener which is textbook emo-tinged post-hardcore with driving palm-muting guitars. The four-piece look the part in their long-sleeved streetwear t shirts and chinos. One thing that iss immediately noticeable about their live sound is the significant amount of reverb on the vocals, this could have been dialed back somewhat. It’s obvious from the start that a lot of the crowd are here to see this band as a moshpit breaks out fairly quickly. The songs, however, feel like they’re missing the big choruses that would make the set a lot more entertaining. The band are also very static on stage, but one could argue that is often the style for many of these modern post-hardcore pop punk bands. Despite their lack of stage presence,some of the audience begin crowd-surfing a few songs in. It is difficult to share the enthusiasm of the fans at the front of the room, as Movements subject the crowd constantly to Nirvana-esque riffs and predictably dull choruses.

By 8pm, it was time for the first of tonight’s co-headliners. The Wonder Years take the stage and burst into the title track of last year’s ‘Sister Cities’. There is an abundance of energy with this opener and most of the crowd are singing along. The venue however, does not look particularly full, perhaps this due to the fact that 8pm is a comparatively early slot for a headliner. The band then jumps straight into ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ which sounds huge with the three guitars on stage and the Troxy is singing every word. The Wonder Years are not afraid of a bit of pogo-jumping (and rightly so) as they get the room jumping for ‘Dismantling Summer’ from 2013’s ‘The Greatest Generation’. This song also showcases the impressive harmonies the band are capable of, which appear to be more prominent with guitarist Matt Brasch seeming to add more vocals than he has done previously. ‘Raining In Kyoto’ is a strong song from their most recent record, and they execute this well with lead singer Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell grabbing a drum stick and hitting an extra crash cymbal. They continue mixing songs from their last three records well with the crowd enjoying them all equally. One problem with The Wonder Years, however, is how seriously they take themselves. Whilst of course it is a good thing to believe in your art, the pretentious tendencies of this band can sometimes feel a little bit uncomfortable. The more recent slow rock songs, whilst mostly well-written, feel like they are by band that ‘thinks’ they are writing a masterpiece. Also, Soupy’s interaction with the crowd sometimes feels cringe-worthy, he constantly speaks in a theatrical over-emotive voice that makes one think “just talk normally dammit!”. Soupy also takes a moment to say that the band are ‘bruised’ by being on tour and doing press. It’s understandable that tour can be grueling and hard work, but this sentiment feels slightly crass given they are co-headlining a big tour which is likely to not be paid poorly.

Despite these hang-ups, the Wonder Years remain engaging. They throw the crowd off guard by playing old classic ‘Don’t Let Me Cave In’ at what feels like twice the normal pace. It cannot be denied how many good songs they have written over the past few years as the room explodes for ‘Passing Through A Screen Door’ and ‘Cardinals’ reminds us how strong its chorus is. They finish up a primarily impressive set with fan favourite ‘Came Out Swinging’ which is delivered with lots of energy and is great fun, even though the lyrics feel a bit stale and dated eight years after its release.

Florida’s Mayday Parade have a had a steady career since their first EP in 2006. They have played increasingly bigger and bigger venues each time they have visited the UK, and the Troxy seems like a good step after they headlined The Forum in Kentish Town 18 months ago. Their sound of emo pop rock, whilst cheesy, is both charming and catchy if one accepts them for what they are. Tonight they open with ‘Never Sure’ from their 2018 album ‘Sunnyland’. This is a solid pop song with an excellent middle 8, but the crowd is yet to be grabbed in the same way they were instantly by The Wonder Years’ set. It’s when Mayday go into ‘Jersey’ from their 2007 album ‘A Lesson In Romantics’ that the audience really gets excited. The singalong this ignites is arguably more intense than anything The Wonder Years inspired. They continue the first half of the set by mostly interweaving songs from ‘Sunnyland’ and ‘A Lesson In Romantics’, this works well as the latter is their most popular album. Songs like ‘Black Cat’ are irresistible to those familiar with ‘A Lesson In Romantics’ and ‘Piece Of Your Heart’ was a well received single last year.

Before going into their biggest song ‘Jamie All Over’, Mayday Parade treat the crowd to a medley of songs by the likes of New Found Glory and Taking Back Sunday. They then follow with their cover of Gotye’s ‘Someone That I Used To Know’ and several songs from their self titled album, all of which are received enthusiastically by the crowd. The band leaves the stage before returning for their encore song ‘I’d Hate To Be You When People Find Out What This Song Is About’ to the delight of the audience.

Mayday Parade are a strange beast. To the eye, they seem to be stuck in 2009 with their long hair and ultra-skinny jeans (singer Derek Sanders looks overly-comfortable in bare feet!). They have music that can dismissed as ‘sappy’, but yet there is something wholly appealing about them and many of their songs. Whilst they may never reach the heights of some of their contemporaries, there is no reason why they cannot continue to build upon their rising career.

The Wonder Years seem set on continuing developing their musical sound and message. They have a huge, loyal following that will no doubt embrace whatever direction they take their band in the coming years. After watching their set, however, it is hard not to ignore the overheard sentiments of one American fan commenting midset “I get that they are an important band for this scene, but their shows can be annoying with the singer going on like he’s fucking Axel Rose”.



World/Inferno Gets Caliente At El Cortez In Bushwick, Brooklyn

All Photos by JeffSchaerMoses.com
Jack Terricloth of the World/Inferno Friendship Society at El Cortez Tuesday night.

Scenic Presents could hardly contain themselves when they announced they would have a mysterious headliner at Bushwick’s El Cortez Tuesday night and when news broke it would be the World/ Inferno Friendship Society word spread quickly. WIFS at El Cortez was a hot ticket that became a hot and sticky event as about 100 people crammed into the tiny Safari Room.

It was a packed room for the Brooklyn based 7-piece and they delivered by playing the hits with passion and vigor. WIFS was fresh from a show in Teaneck, New Jersey at Debonair Music Hall and after a show over the bridge, it showed they were happy to be back in New York City for the evening.

There were a few new faces playing with WIFS at El Cortez.

Songs mostly from Red Eyed Soul and This Packed Funeral dominated the setlist and World/Inferno’s stalwart leader Jack Terricloth kept the energy high in the room from beginning to end. It was a sweaty mess by midset with the entire crowd moshing along and Jack spraying the crowd with his own perspiration.

It was reallyinterestig seeing them in such an intimate environment in their home city seeing as they regularly play venue’s two and three times the size of the narrow hallway of a space at El Cortez. It must have been pretty interesting for Terricloth as well as he proclaimed loudly as soon as he hit the stage, “what the hell are we doing at El Cortez. But reguardless of venue size WIFS gave the crowd an unrelenting set worthy of Madison Square Garden.

Brooklyn punks Cop/Out who will be touring the West Coast in support of Leftover Crack next month went on right before WIFS and they are just about the clostest thing to a super group that the Brooklyn punk scene can produce. All 4 members play in other successful bands and all 4 members help produce New Yorks best punk festival every year, Punk Island.

Cop/Out is still in their infancy and they are already rocking rooms all over the city with a major tour on the horizon. They are definitely worth keeping an eye on. Pop-punkers Fat Heaven and two piece guitar and sax duo Flesh rounded out the evening.

Kate Hoos and Joey Steel of Cop/Out

 

 



Show Review: The Slackers celebrate the Holidays at Irving Plaza with War On Women and The Pandemics

The Slackers on stage at Irving Plaza. Text and photos by Kate Hoos

NYC Ska stalwarts The Slackers hit the stage a few days before Christmas for their annual holiday show at Irving Plaza in Manhattan where they were joined by fellow ska heads The Pandemics and feminist hardcore firebrands War On Women to make for a genre bending helluva good time holiday shindig!

Pics and review from the show below.



BK Punks THICK Release Video For “Lyfe”

Photo By Jeff Schaer-Moses Photogrpahy
THICK guitarist Nikki Crowdsurfing during their set at Brooklyn Bazaar on Dec, 8.

Brooklyn punks THICK released the video for their newest single “Lyfe” at Brooklyn Bazaar on December 8. I don’t want to overstate how good I think THICK is, so lets just put it this way …. get on that wave right now because THICK is the new religion and it’s not going anywhere but up from here.

THICK is already one of the most exciting bands in the BK and it’s only a matter of time before their infectious sound crosses the East River and spreads through The Big Apple like a plague of ass-kicking destruction. THICK may not be reinventing the wheel with their pop-punk tunes but what they are doing is bringing a whole new energy and attitude to the genre.

Glass Slipper, Fat Heaven, and Whiner acted on support on THICKs big night in Greenpoint.



Leftover Crack Owns New York City

 

Scott Sturgeon of Leftover Crack
All Photos by Jeff Schaer-Moses Photography.

Leftover Crack put on a command performance for a sold-out crowd in their hometown on December, 3,  just a few short days after dropping a new record. Sturg and the gang rocked the hordes of Crack Rock Steady fans at Brooklyn Bazaar into a punk induced sweat laced frenzy touching on all the CRS hits. Stza Crack can be a bit of a prima donna at times but acting as the ringleader of a raucous punk rock circus like the one they put on in the BK, the Crack Daddy had no problem rising to the occasion.

Leftover Crack is being joined on tour by Midwest hardcore legends Negative Approach and New Jersey wildmen Crazy and the Brains, and also had Brooklyn’s Cop/Out and (A)Truth out as local support.

Check out the full show review below.



DS Photo Gallery: Jawbreaker, Naked Raygun; and Smoking Popes at Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL

Jawbreaker

Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom on the north side of the city played host to three heavy hitters Sunday November 4, 2018. The bill provided fans a bit of relief from near constant coverage running up to the midterm elections. There more than a few “I Voted” (early in those cases) wristbands, politically motivated t-shirts and buttons visible. But for the most part this show would promise a a time-out from the heavy 24 hours news cycle.

The crowd proved that they were among those undeterred by heavy rains. They were too interested in watching Jawbreaker, a beloved headliner returning to Chicago roughly a year after the city played host to the band’s reunion at Riot Fest 2017. There had been more than a little grumbling about the ticket prices for this show when it was first announced. However, it appeared those in attendance in short order decided that shelling out north of $40 was well worth it.  Surely seeing two groups of favorite sons, Naked Raygun and Smoking Popes from Chicago’s tight knit punk rock community helped.

Speaking of tight knit, this show did draw a strong representation of aforementioned community. Spotted in the crowd, but not a complete list by any means I’m sure, were members of Pegboy, The Bollweevils, Death and Memphis; and The Usuals.

Smoking Popes

The Smoking Popes launched into a set of both old tracks and new tunes from “Into The Agony,” the band’s first full length album in many years. Lead singer Josh Caterer dedicated “You Spoke To Me,” off their third album, 1997’s “Destination Failure,” to Jawbreaker, as the song was written about Blake Schwarzenbach himself. Caterer described how fortunate he felt to be on same bill as one of his musical inspirations.

Smoking Popes

 

Smoking Popes

 

Smoking Popes

 

Smoking Popes

 

Smoking Popes

 

Smoking Popes

 

Smoking Popes

Naked Raygun is routinely described as legendary. And despite any hesitation about that word from its founder and lead singer Jeff Pezzati, it is so frequently used one may come to believe that is actually part of the band’s name.

There had been rumors that due to heath and other concerns, this show would be Naked Raygun’s last live performance. Jeff Pezzati dispelled those rumors and assured me they will in fact continue playing live shows.

Naked Raygun

 

Jeff Pezzati of Naked Raygun

Bill Stephens, of Naked Raygun, in a lighthearted moment, sticks his tongue out at photographers shooting from the pit below.

Pierre Kezdy, Naked Raygun’s longest running bass player is presently battling cancer and was not in attendance on stage or in the crowd. But his spirit was nonetheless felt and it was seen, on one of the most popular items at Naked Raygun’s table: a t-shirt featuring a full-bodied portrait of Kezdy.

 

Naked Raygun                                                

 

Naked Raygun

 

Naked Raygun

 

Naked Raygun

 

 

Naked Raygun

Returning to Naked Raygun’s performance on this night, Pezzati’s bandmates, drummer Eric Spicer, Bill Stephens on guitar and bass player Fritz Doreza, in their respective roles matched Pezzati’s vocal strength and powered through almost two dozen songs. Highlights including “Home of the Brave, “Peacemaker,” “Vanilla Blue,” the perhaps fortuitously named “Treason,” on which Eli Caterer of The Smoking Popes guested on stage. And of course “Rat Patrol” with its frenzy inducing “Whoah oh oh oh oh oh.” 

Naked Raygun

Oh and a photographer’s note: After the first three songs were completed Pezzati glanced down into the photo pit when he noticed the security signaling for the shooters to leave the pit and indicated to them with “he stays, she stays…” and so on. When the security again signaled for us to leave, Pezzati once again took a moment to tells the security, “they stay.” This was not the first time, Pezzati has advised security that the photographers stay for the entire set. It’s always appreciated by those of us documenting the show.

Naked Raygun

 

Naked Raygun

 

Naked Raygun

 

Eli Caterer of Smoking Popes guests on a couple of Naked Raygun songs.

Jawbreaker’s reunion at Riot Fest 2017 whet their fans’ cravings for more shows. Headlining the annual festival weekend apparently also whet the band’s own appetite to play together more often. Jawbreaker kicked off its set with West Bay Invitational and filled it with some of its best songs, including “Jinx Removing,” “Chesterfield King,” “Kiss The Bottle,” and “Accident Prone.” Their energetic performance challenged the crowd to keep up.

Jawbreaker

 

Jawbreaker 

 

Jawbreaker

 

Jawbreaker

 

Jawbreaker

 

Jawbreaker

 

Jawbreaker

 

Jawbreaker

 

Jawbreaker

 

Jawbreaker

By the end of the night, many the show attendees straggled out of the Uptown venue and up to the “L” red line platform just across the street, shoulders hunched with exhaustion and clothes soaking wet. But it was hard to tell if that was more due to the rain outside or sweat earned inside by leaning into a solid punk rock bill top to bottom, working to match the energy expelled by those on stage. Just your average Sunday night in Chicago, IL.

 

 



21 Years, The Best Halloween Party in New York City

The lights dim, the crowd quiets, and a chorus of “Tonight, we’re gonna, fuck shit up! Tonight, we’re gonna, fuck shit up, Tonight, we’re gonna, fuck shit up,” fills the cavernous Warsaw International Polish Home before the demonic despot Jack Terricloth hits the stage with his mischievous gang of rabble-rousers The World/Inferno Friendship Society.

It doesn’t take them long to break into their perennial opener “Tattoo’s Fade” and with its opening notes the clawed hands of the WIFS faithful reached for the heavens and moved toward their frenetic leader, the Pumpkin King. Their mere appearance on stage is a happening, but when the World/Inferno are on like they were for Hallowmas 21 they are one of the most powerful sonic forces on Earth

Hallowmas is so much more than a Halloween concert, it is a New York City underground tradition as important for its fun factor as it’s cultural significance. 21-years isn’t just a tradition, it’s an (and I apologize to Mr. Terricloth for using this word) an institution. It’s New York City’s officially unofficial punk-rock Halloween party.

Year after year WIFS pulls out all the stops for their flagship show and without fail they top themselves every time. The giant Jack puppet that performed the show’s overture was a fitting and creepy ode to Jack’s 1950’s aesthetic, while the addition of an LED screen and graphics added a more modern flair the often more vintage tones the World/Inferno are known for taking on.

Modernity aside The overall feel of the band remains that of the devil’s lounge act and what better night for them to show out than all hallows eve. The crowd full of familiar faces bounced around the room pushing and shoving and singing along because every World/Inferno show is a sing-along.

Through their extended set WIFS played a mix of the hits and the deep cuts and through the revere “Politics of Passing Out” sticks out as a complete highlight of the evening. As does their classic Halloween closer “Pumpkin Time” which when performed was accompanied by a stilt-walking great pumpkin who mid-song stripped out their orange costume into a bedazzled BDSM outfit.

But Hallowmas is about so much more than what songs World/Inferno played or which band’s open, Crazy and the Brains, and Gallows Bound as it were.

It’s about the fact that every year you know it’s going to happen. It’s about getting out there and mixing it up with the creatures of the night and it’s about throwing a New York City Halloween Party that’s meant for the weirdos.



Festival Review: A first timer’s Fest – Fest 17 @ Gainesville, FL (October 26-28, 2018)

Punk rock can mean a lot of things—a delivery method for progressive politics; deconstructivist rock ‘n roll; a space for self-expression. It represents itself through a multi-colored palette—street, hardcore, psychobilly, skate, pop, folk, crust, melodic, post, and more. What connects it is our most sacred tenet, one that stretches from our goofiest pop punk to our most somber hardcore, our number one deity: DIY.

In the quest to define what punk is, or what it’s become, DIY becomes the key, simply because: whatever this is—and this can be a a lot to unload—we did it ourselves. Punk rock is a necessarily nebulous catch-all for a slew of different outsiders with different wants and needs. But wherever they end up on punk’s spectrum, it’s assumed that they’re there to do something. Punk rock is as much music as it is a community—a place for people to come together.

For me, my brand of outsider status brings me to the corner of punk that features open-wound lyricism and singalongs. This is the stuff that makes you feel like an intruder on another’s thoughts. It’s like mainlining a connection. So, for a guy like me, who loves Hot Water Music, The Menzingers, Off With Their Heads, Leatherface, The Lawrence Arms, and Paint It Black—there’s a lot of labels you can throw at the wall and chances are a lot of them would stick. Orgcore, melodic punk, post-hardcore; but really, if there was one unifying label, the sort of catch-all you could drop in conversation, it’d be Fest.

The Fest in Florida is perhaps the most notorious, and most popular punk rock festival in the world. Every year, thousands of devotees make their yearly trip to Gainesville to see sets from hundreds of bands, meet old friends, and drink gallons of PBR. For many, Fest is punk rock. And this year, for the first time, I joined the many. For me, Fest was a sort of waking dream. There’s too much detail to capture it all accurately, and the minute you’re out of it, all but the broadest strokes remain. It was a blur, a beautiful, intense blur—but I’ll do my best to deliver the moments of clarity, all in the name of documenting my first, and maybe to convince a couple new acolytes.

I came in on a red eye flight, took a nap, then, for the rest of the first day, kept going like my life depended on it. Fest’s appeal is the sheer multitude of quality acts—all three days of the festival had a handful of bands I’d declare personal favorites. There is no waiting out openers for the band you came to see (but plenty of new to discover!). If worst comes to worst, and the venue you want to be in is at full capacity, well, there’s a lot more venues: and a Fest wristband and ID gets you into all of them. I started my maiden voyage at Bo Diddley Plaza, the large outdoor venue that houses a lot of Fest’s biggest names. Direct Hit! was the first heavy-hitter of the day, and the played a mix of new and old (including the Halloween-appropriate “Werewolf Shame”) in the pinks and oranges of sunset. They sounded great, they were clearly happy to be playing, and the new material was refreshingly different from their past catalog, while not feeling out of place in the setlist.

Lemuria was next, a band I stuck around for despite not knowing very well. They played well and had a pretty exuberant audience, one that with a little research I might join in the future. Piebald was another band I didn’t know, but they impressed me with their music and I could see a clear kinship between what they were doing and what I liked in my current lineup of favorites. It sounded like heartfelt pop punk with a hint of emo, and it won me over fast. But the band I had come to see at Bo Diddley was, of course, The Menzingers—quickly becoming my most seen band, as well as my default favorite. They were great, as always, and as per usual: I found myself in the hugging arms of new friends, screaming along to every word.

Next was to the High Dive—the venue, based on their killer lineups, most aligned with my tastes—here, there were two must-sees, one of which pushed the scale enough for me to fly from the opposite corner of the country to Florida. First, I had Dead Bars. I can’t say enough about the Seattle homeboys, but through reviews and interviews, I have certainly tried. Dead Bars is a gravel-voiced melodic punk band with rock ‘n roll aspirations; they sing about big things in the span of simple refrains and matter-of-fact storytelling. Their live show is like living out a daydream, complete with guitar melodies and singalongs. In Gainesville, they pulled the largest crowd I’ve seen for them, and there wasn’t a non-dreamer in the house.

Crusades is another band that has become a passion project of sorts for me. They’re intellectual and melancholy, oblique and heavy—all the while being both visceral and highly musical. Their songs are marked with crusty chord riffs dueling with ghostly vocal melodies. This Fest marked their end as a band, their last two shows, ever. The first show was all rock, no talk—an explosive display of all that they’ve built together. Live, Crusades’ heavy roots appear in full affect. The second night was a more heartfelt affair, with tearful goodbyes and a touching speech from frontman Dave Williams on what Crusades represents at its core. When the last chords were played, the band members embraced each other center stage, as the crowd cheered one final time. There were a lot of great sets at Fest this year, but Crusades’ farewell was the most emotional.

The second day ended with Crusades, but it started just as strong with a ridiculously packed High Dive set from Spanish Love Songs. Judging from the fan response, I am not the only one who loved Schmaltz. These guys are poised to be huge, and they kicked off a run of bands that deserve mention for exceptional sets. France’s Guerilla Poubelle are volcanic onstage—their venom communicated clear as day despite the language barrier. They engaged in charming and eloquent banter in between playing songs from their latest album (and Red Scare debut) La Nausee, ending with a duet featuring Arms Aloft. Worlds Scariest Police Chases also wowed me, having fallen in love with their last full-length, they were a band I had been dying to see for years. As expected, they were as funny, ridiculous, and hardcore as their albums suggest.

MakeWar played one of the most memorable sets of the weekend, releasing a fleet of inflatable killer whales into the pit. Soon, these PBR soaked monstrosities were bouncing off the ceilings, knocking out fixtures in their wake. It was, simply put, incredible. The songs were great as well, but anyone who’s listened to Developing a Theory of Integrity can tell you that.

I caught Wolf-Face (who one Fest-goer said, in an overheard conversation, were a must-see), whose gimmick was fun and weird (a Teen Wolf… band?), with good music to boot. They had us perplexed, laughing, and rocking out in equal measure. We popped over to Bo Diddley and saw part of the Lawrence Arms set, with a gravellier (or less than sober) performance from Brendan Kelly.

Being thwarted by an at-capacity Mom Jeans show (another band who is, apparently, huge), I leaned on my old reliable, the High Dive, and decided that if I didn’t know any of the bands playing right then, odds are that at least one was pretty good. The punk gods were smiling on me, and I managed to walk in right before Spells began to play. My memory jogged itself and I recalled this was one of Anxious and Angry’s latest signings.

I was about to find out why.

Spells were the hardest slap in the face I received all weekend. This was a band almost entirely off my radar, and here they were blowing my mind. They were uniformed in polos, one member on tambourine duties, all the while their frenzied lead singer spent the set’s entirety in the pit—grabbing, rubbing, antagonizing, and just generally messing with (me included) audience members. It was a sight to see. Hardcore, punk, pop punk, or some amalgam of—they played and screamed and fucked around with a sense of urgency only matched by their sense of fun.

Bong Mountain, Pkew Pkew Pkew, and Red City Radio formed the heavy-hitters lineup for the next day. The latter, in particular, sounding better than I’ve ever heard them before, with studio-quality vocal harmonies delivered live to a mid-day audience of true believers. It was a cathartic set, made all the more poignant for being the Fest’s final day. This was the end of a perfect weekend for a lot of people, and it was the final chance to go all out.

We took a break from bands to check out Fest Wrestling—an artform I had little to no acquaintance with, but was entirely intrigued by—and I am pleased to say it didn’t disappoint. I’d never watched wrestling in my life, but I was in awe of its unbridled insanity. Fest Wrestling is pure camp spectacle delivered via a stable of super-talented performers. It didn’t take long, even for a novice like myself, to get swept up by its energy. As some punk rock bonuses, we got cameos from Masked Intruder (who would play a fantastic set later in the evening) and the one and only Officer Bradford. For me, Fest Wrestling was a definite highlight of the weekend.

As Fest came to a close, I made it my mission to jump as many venues as I could, to do one last mad-dash to see as many bands as possible, keeping in mind that only one could serve as a proper ending to my first Fest. I jumped from The Get-Up Kids to Question the Mark; from Typesetter to Swiss Army; finally landing on the most Gainesville of Gainesville bands: Radon. For me, there was no more appropriate way to end my time at Fest. It was a sentiment shared by many of my fellow fest-goers, as I walked away from the Palomino, after finally hearing “Radon” live, complete with crowd-surfing and shouted “ba-da-da-das,” I overheard another punk explain Radon succinctly—“They’re Florida’s Jawbreaker… If Jawbreaker were from the south, they’d be Radon.”

The Fest is a monster of a festival. It removes the lines and borders we draw within the boundaries of punk rock and replace them with a singularity—Fest. It’s DIY, scrappy, and heartfelt and it includes a diverse group of both bands and audience members. The community becomes a spectacle in itself—punks make room for extras in each other’s Lyfts; veterans helps first-timers find venues; we all talk and hug and sing along, together. Despite this unity, the pleasure of Fest is that it is such a personal experience. My Fest highlights included The Menzingers, MakeWar, and Spells—yours very well could’ve been Mom Jeans, Lagwagon, and Hospital Job. At Fest, there’s room for a wide breadth of experience, but still, in the end, it’s all Fest.

So, If you haven’t made up your mind yet: go.

And if you’re already a true believer: see ‘ya next year.

 



Show Review: Remember the PiÑata Protest (with The Lash Outs, How’s My Driving?, and The Vatican Press)

Photos courtesy of Benjamin Oliver Hicks En La Calle Photographer.

It was Saturday night and I hadn’t made any plans. My wife, Maeghen, was off watching Adam Lazzara swing his microphone and I’d decided to pass, but my mom had already told me she’d watch the baby for a while, and I’d seen that a few of my buds were going to the Piñata Protest event on Facebook. I’d seen Piñata once before with Brujeria and The Casualties, and remembered their set being a lot of fun. They are like the Mexican Flogging Molly, and that night was a blast, so I decided to message my friend Cody and planned to meet up with him and Zooki at Lola’s Trailor Park in Fort Worth for the show. Read that story below.



DS Photo Gallery: The Dead Milkmen Curate Show at House of Vans Chicago

The Dead Milkmen

House of Vans in Chicago hosted another installment in their periodic House Party series a couple of Thursdays ago (July 12th, if we’re being specific). As always, the events are 18+ and free by RSVP, and this one in particular featured a lineup centered around none other than Dead Milkmen! This provided a chance for Punk Rock Girls of all ages (and Punk Rock Boys as well) to once again sing along with the Philly legends. It was a very laid back time in a space that also doubles as an indoor/outdoor skate park. Attendees were treated to free t-shirts with show’s logo, venue tote bags and buckets full of water bottles to stave off dehydration in what was promised to be and indeed delivered a sweaty good time.

The Dead Milkmen, as you’re undoubtedly aware, hail from Philadelphia, where they got their start in 1983. They have been together on and off since then with the current line up of Joe Jack Talcum (Joe Genaro), Rodney Anonymous (Rodney Linderman), Dandrew Stevens (Dan Stevens); and Dean Clean (Dean Sabatino) having been in operation since 2004. The band hit the stage strong, starting with what is arguably one of their two most popular tunes, “Punk Rock Girl” riling the crowd up to a frenzy. Besides “Punk Rock Girl,” another highlight was “Bitchin’ Camaro” (the other of the arguably most popular tunes), while the whole setlist really consisted of hits including crowd favorites, like “Big Lizard In My Backyard,” “V.F.W.,” and “Tiny Town.”

And as an aside: perhaps the offstage highlight for me was when Joe Genaro and I explained dangerous toys and the reasons us kids from the ’60’s and ’70’s should not be alive, to a younger photographer. I always find that subject slightly amusing. Per this discussion I offered Jarts, Joe brought up Shrinky Dinks. If you are not familiar with either, I recommend looking them up. It was just one example of the band’s co-leader singer and guitarist spending the majority of the evening whilst not on stage, among the crowd, watching the supporting acts and amiably engaging in conversations with fans.

Support acts for this show were curated by the headliners themselves, and featured sets by Los Angeles’ Youth Code, Madison, Wisconsin’s Caustic, and Chicago’s own San Andreas Fault. Per Youth Code’s Facebook, the duo is “raw, punishing, industrious electronics built from the seeds of hardcore and early Wax Trax. Ryan William George and Sara Taylor blend chaos with catchy dance undertones to create a sonic fury paralleled to none.” San Andreas Fault, meanwhile (per their Bandcamp) are described as follows: “The surf-noir instrumental and narrative stylings of the San Andreas Fault began in 1999 in a Chicago steel plant. Founders Robert Spain and Pete Machine cataloged the sound of heartbreak with the 2003 CD “Encantada” and reunited in 2013″

The Dead Milkmen’s last release was their Welcome To The End Of The World EP, which was released last year. You can check out info on their upcoming hometown-adjacent show in Ardmore, PA, here. You can also catch Genaro at a few of his “Joe Jack Talcum” solo shows on the East Coast through September. Check out the details here.



Festival Review: Punk Island 2018 (New York City)

All Photos courtesy of JeffSchaerMoses.com
Rael Griffin of I Against Eye proved himself to be one of the most dynamic performers at the entire festival.

On Saturday afternoon some of the best purveyors of punk in New York City got together to put on what had to have been one of the best punk festivals in the Big Apple this year. It was free, it was all-day, it was all-ages, and most importantly it was all inclusive. Punks of all shapes, sizes, colors, and gender identities got together to have one hell of a great time in a beautiful New York City Park on Randall’s Island. Check out the full write up and photos below.



Manchester Punk Festival 2018: Some Words and Pictures

Dying Scene were lucky enough to be invited to Manchester Punk Festival this year. You can read all about it below.

If you’re interested in attending the event next year, get your tickets sorted fast! It will definitely be another sell out.



Show Review: Hub City Stompers and Bigger Thomas (The Court Tavern in New Brunswick New Jersey)


It’s not often, nor are there many venues that host shows that are anywhere near as well organized and shall I say as professionally put together as the one I attended this past Friday at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick New Jersey, where I went to see home town heroes The Hub City Stompers perform with the legendary Ska outfit Bigger Thomas who are celebrating their 30th year this year.

The Court Tavern has gone through some changes over the last couple of decades from being a solid reputable venue for underground music to a weak non caring mismanaged shit hole. Now, once again The Court Tavern is under new management, and it appears that it is returning to its former glory as a very caring home for real music that seems to respect both the artists as well as the customers who come to attend it’s shows.

Upon arrival we heard the sounds of classic old school Ska filtering it’s way up the stairs from the lower level music room, this was being spun by one of two DJ’s –Selecter Judge Knott and DJ Chuck Dat of Steady Sound System who tag teamed one another with all vinyl sets of classic Ska throughout the night between band sets.

The first band to play was hardcore Oi act Damage Done, unfortunately we missed there set I’m sorry to say, but next up was a blistering and angry set by the local Oi band Dusters, who got some of the local crowd worked up and bouncing off one another in the mosh pit. Dusters have some promise, and the band was tight but the Front man was lacking in enthusiasm unfortunately giving their set the lack of the one two punch it needed to really carry the energy being delivered by the rest of the band.

Dusters set ended and more classic Ska was delivered by the DJ’s who did a really remarkable job of setting the mood for the evening.

Next to take the stage was Bigger Thomas, and by this point the room was approaching capacity as front man Roger Apollon who as always was dressed to kill, stepped up to the mic and began slaying us with all our favorite Bigger Thomas tunes getting the crowd skanking like crazy to BT classics like Ska In My Pocket and I Can’t Remember My Name by the end of this set the place was packed and the energy was high.

Hub City Stompers took the stage and kicked it off with a new song called Hub City Stomp which started off slow and cool then erupted into a full fun fast blast of horns and front man’s Reverend T. Sinisters unique vocal stylings, which immediately worked the crowd into a frenzy… after playing a couple more new ones off the bands upcoming 6th full length album Haters Dozen mixed in with many classic fan favorites they brought up Coolie Ranx of The Toasters and The Pilfers, who joined them for another new song entitled Distance Water which they dedicated to the late great Roy Radics of the Rudie Crew who also appears on the recorded version of the song, a couple more songs through the set and the band starts up a Ska cover of Fugazi’s Waiting Room, during which another Ska legend is announced to be in attendance, and who do they bring up on stage next? The Legendary King Django gets up, and Reverend Sinister hands the mic over to him and he spontaneously raps something fantastic that seemed to say something about him having a head cold and the only cure was attending a Hub City Stompers show and receiving some kind of Devine intervention from the good Reverend T. Sinister, at this point Coolie Ranx also returned to the stage and the three of them did a back and forth with one another, all during the constant beat of Waiting Room. This one song was reason enough to come to this amazing show and I am so happy I caught this trio in action.

The set ended with the bands signature Hub City Stompers which is actually an Inspector Seven song written by Sinister twenty years ago before forming HCS and taking the name. There was then the obligatory rush to the merch table as the bands all passed out their sweaty hugs to one another and shared a shot and a beer. Thus another great and forever memorable show night came to an end in New Jersey.

Thank you Court Tavern for being cool once again and putting on a truly memorable night of entertainment. We will return.



Show Review: Stza Crack Returns from Mexico for his First Hometown Show in 8 Months

All Photos by Jeff Schaer-Moses Photgraphy.
Scott Sturgeon of the Crack Rock Steady 7 at The El Cortez in Bushwick

If punk is dead than somebody forgot to tell Scenic Presents and the rest of the New York City punk scene. Because things got live as fuck in the Safari Room at El Cortez in Bushwick, Brooklyn on Sunday evening when Scott Sturgeon’s auxiliary band The Crack Rock Steady 7 swung through for a hoedown.

The room was packed to the gills from start to finish to see Rebelmatic, Skullcaster, Trashy, and late edition (literally added to the bill during the show) Cop/Out get down with the godfather of the Crack Rock Steady beat. But even though Stza was the main attraction the riotous punks in attendance made every band feel welcome by singing along to the lyrics and moshing along to the rhythms.

Left to right Alkatrraz, Creature, and Karnage of Rebelmatic.

Rebelmatic was first up and their drummer Ray Reed is an absolute punisher behind the kit. His ferociousness on the drums sets the entire tone for his bandmates lead singer Creature, guitarist Alkatraz, and bass player Karnage who all come together to drive home some of the most original punk music in The Big Apple.

Skullcaster is fast and heavy just like front man Joey Steele’s other project All Torn Up,

Upstarts Skullcaster, a band that Stza himself claims to have helped name, got up second next and their brand of hardcore punk got the crowd going really good. A little too good in fact and frontman Joey Steele had to banish some crowd destroying bros to the back of the room mid-set. The group shares two members with All Torn Upin Steele, and guitarist Jay Tancer (also of The Crack Rock Steady 7) so they come with a built-in fan base in the City That Never Sleeps and they delivered for their devotees.

Katie Hoos of Cop/Out is an organizer of New York City’s Punk Island along with their bandmates.

Third up was Cop/Out, sort of an all-star team of the New York City politico/punks all of whom help organize Punk Island, an event which they called “the biggest free DIY punk music festival in New York City.” The group didn’t know they were going to be playing until just before the set and the group shares Steele with his other projects as lead singer. He admitted he may have left a little too much on stage opening with Skullcaster but still managed to dial in a more than competent performance that came off as much more tongue in cheek than his other projects.

TransCore darlings Trashy took the slot right before CS7 and even with a singer/guitarist Al working double duty in Cop/Out they put on a tremendous set. To start the set off the group invited anyone was queer, short, or brown to the front of the stage to catch the show.

Santos, bass, and Jayne, drums of Trashy.

They have a much more melodic/poppy sound than the two bands that came before and deliver them in a much more upbeat way than Skullcaster and Cop/Out. Don’t get me wrong, the doom and gloom of anti-capitalism is important … but it’s okay to smile every once in a while too. Some of Trashy’s subject matter may be pretty heavy, but they still deliver it in a fun and relatable way.

Scott Sturgeon and his Crack Rock Steady 7 were really more of a Crack Rock Steady three and a half in the Safari Room on Sunday. Sturg was joined by Tancer on bass and a drummer as well as Enoch on guitar on some songs. Before getting into the set Sturgeon let the crowd know this was his first New York City show in 8-months, which is the longest he had gone without a hometown throwdown in quite some time.

Scott Sturgeon, left, and Jay Tancer headlining as The Crack Rock Steady 7.

The group opened with two Choking Victims tunes and then moved in to “3,000 Miles” by the Star fucking Hipsters before “Fucked Reality,” and “Zombie Christ,” which lead into renditions of “500 Channels” and “Crack Rock Steady.” Stza also unveiled a brand new tune known only as “Metal Banger” for now, which he claims could be the first tune on Leftover Crack’s next record.

Things got pretty choppy when Stza and Tancer switched instruments to go into what they were referring to as:”the extended cut” of “Ya Can’t Go Home.” The bass gave out on Stza multiple times before he decided to take the strap off and throw a mic to the ground and head off stage. Sturgeon’s tantrum lasted about 10-minutes but he did return to the stage once the tech was working again. As a Kanye fan, I was way into the idea of one of my favorite artists leaving the stage a refusing to come back due to tech issues, especially so many songs in. But heaving Stza re-enter and finish out strong wasn’t a bad way to go either.

Crowd surfers abound all night at The El Cortez.

After the intermission it was a few more songs including “Money Change,” and “Born To Die,” and The Crack Rock Steady 7 closing out strong. Frankly, it was a lot like watching a rehearsal, but when it’s Crack Daddy Caine himself playing the tunes and a familiar New York punk audience that ain’t so bad.



Show Review: The Split Seconds and Riverside Odds (Connie’s Ric Rac Philadelphia, 3/31/18)

This past Saturday I took a trip down to one of my favorite punk rock dive bars Connie’s Ric Rac which resides in one of my favorite party cities Philadelphia Pennsylvania to catch one of my favorite newer bands The Split Seconds who I had missed at their New Jersey date on Thursday due to work and wasn’t up for the trip to Brooklyn the next night so we hoped in the car and headed down to Philly for a cheesesteak at Pat’s, some beers and some killer punk rock.
I am sorry and a bit ashamed to say I missed the opening act because I hate to be that girl who only shows up for the headliner, and I am also sorry to say the second band on the bill was so weak and unforgettable that I won’t tarnish their name in this review in case they’re still new, and turn out to be great in a year or two. But I will rave, yes rave about the direct support for this show. A new band (For me anyway) who call themselves Riverside Odds.

Riverside Odds killed it, they absolutely killed it with a nonstop barrage of fast aggressive punk tinged rock and roll that would have made Lemmy Kilmister jump to his feet and yell for more. Riverside Odds do Rock & Roll fast and hard with lots of back up whoa oh’s and fist pumping singalongs about drinking, and brawling in their great hometown of Philadelphia. I can’t wait to see these guys again and if you get the chance I say don’t miss it.

Next up was the band we had come for. Washington D.C.s The Split Seconds who I am also happy to say absolutely killed it, which is good because they had a tough act to follow, but follow them they did with an amazing 40 plus minute set of 70’s style raw power, the only glitch was getting the vocals right during the first song but Connie’s sound man was on point and had them sounding sweet before the start of the rest of the set where they played most of our favorites off of last year’s release “Center Of Attention” plus several new songs off this Summers upcoming release, “Counterfeit Reality” and as usual front man Drew Champion looked almost as good as they sounded in his polished boots and button down shirt.

Yes the Split Seconds brought the noise and made the hour plus long drive well worth the trip, and hearing their new songs being previewed at this show was a real treat for us and left me dying to get my hands on the new album out sometime this Summer I believe.

The Split Seconds will be touring with the final cross country Warped Tour this Summer.

New full length Counterfeit Reality will be released on June 8th.