Today we get to show the other side of a songwriter we’ve championed on Dying Scene. Casey Keele of the band Wicked Bears (who’s latest album “Tuning Out” was in Dying Scene owner Dave Buck’s Top 10 of 2017) – has been writing songs and playing basement and living room shows as MCKC for almost a decade. Today we’re featuring his new song “Baker,” a folky, organ driven track off of his new EP “IS OK”, slated to be released on April 14th through Hidden Home.
Keele had this to say about the track:
“Baker is a solitary town located in the Mojave Desert of California. It’s one of the only cities you’ll pass as you drive from Barstow to Las Vegas. This song is an imagining of what it would be like to live there.”
Danielle Kolker of Brooklyn based folk-punk band Out of System Transfer had to turn down a gig with her other project, Funk Rust Brass Band, on Oct. 31 to tend to a religious obligation. That spiritual commitment was World/Inferno Friendship Society’s annual Halloween rowdy down Hallowmas at The Warsaw. As much as Kolker was half joking with her bandmates about why she had to miss the show, calling what transpired in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on All Hallow’s Eve a religious experience isn’t that far from the truth.
The chief pontificator of The Great Pumpkin Jack Terricloth lead his congregation of crusties, misfits, punks, and weirdos on a nearly two-hour long vision quest of intrigue and drama culminating in a rousing rendition of the old World/Inferno hymn “Pumpkin Time.” Terricloth is a cult unto himself and with his absurdly talented brood behind him, it’s hard not fall hook, line, and sinker for his silver-tongued sermons revolving around the aforementioned gourde, the history of WIFS, and the finer points of mischief-making.
It goes without saying that Halloween is a big night in New York City and even with the likes of Gwar and the Parliament Funkadelic putting on competing shows within the borders of the Big Apple WIFS loyal Infernites still made their way to the National Polish Home in Northwest Brooklyn to worship at the altar of the Great Pumpkin. For those who were counted, they were given a real treat of a show for the 20th annual Hallowmas.
On this special evening World/Inferno decided not to open with their usual score “Tattoos Fade” and went instead with “Ich Erinnere Mich An Die Weimarer Republik” and allowed the crowd to sing out the masterful lyrics “I’m a fag, I’m a Jew, how do you do? That’s Mr. Anarchist to you,” but really the whole evening was just one big singalong. The band went through tunes like “Politics of Passing Out,” “The Brother of the Mayor of Bridgewater,” “And Embarked on a Life of Poverty,” “American Mercurial” “Addicted to Bad Ideas,” “Your Younger Man,” and slew of others while the crowd sloshed along dancing, singing, and drinking. WIFS even had their opening act the Lowdown Brass Band jump on stage to add a few extra horns to certain numbers including the opener and “Pumpkin Time.”
With all the costume-clad dancers and the overall design of The Warsaw the whole event kind of felt like a school dance … if your school hired a band fronted by the twisted love child of Frank Sinatra and Elvira who was possibly baptized by satan. But that’s the real fun of Hallowmas, it’s a night to leave the pretension at home and just jump in the Moshpit dressed as Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan.
After 20-years of being one of New York City’s best kept Halloween secrets World/Inferno says they are ready for 20 more. Hell, when the fans who are now half the age of the band still come out in droves for the chance to party it up with the Pumpkin King it’s easy to see why Hallowmas is still one of the best punk events in NYC and by far the best yearly punk shows still kicking in the Volcano.
The Lowdown Brass Band and Of Death opened the evening. Lowdown captured the crowd with their marching band style tunes and high energy. While the crusties got to moshing to Of Deaths almost alt-country affectations.
Here’s hoping Travis James and the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists can open Hallowmas 21 and hats off to Terricloth and the gang for giving all the miscreants something to do on Halloween until the bars close and the real fun can begin.
If you’re not familiar with Coffee Project, let me give you a quick introduction. The duo hail from Gainesville and include Buddy from Less Than Jake and Jake who used to be in Rehasher. Imagine catchy and fast pop punk on an acoustic guitar, then add a trombone. Then imagine that every terrible band you’ve ever heard try something like this wasn’t terrible and were actually awesome. That’s basically Coffee Project. Their bandcamp says they “play upbeat catchy singalong acoustic songs that feel more like a punk rock show and less like a coffee shop gig” and that description is pretty accurate it seems.
That said, Coffee Project is truly one my favorite bands I feel I don’t hear enough from. Their new 7”, Wasted Love, which is out now on A-F Records (the label owned by Anti-Flag) comes off as a simple break up record upon seeing the artwork and hearing the title track. But I’m not sure that’s a fair analysis.
See, what I like about this record is that it reflects a breakup from multiple angles, not just the direct heartbreak and sad songs. It talks about frustration with social media, handling anxiety, and how the rest of the world may be perceived from someone who has just lost love, not just one’s inner feelings of grief.
It’s not my favorite thing the band has ever done, but there’s not a ton for me to analyze with only four short songs. They do a good job, as usual, of combining folk elements with punk energy without sounding like a typical folk punk band. It doesn’t feel like a release I can compare to their others, it just sounds like a continuation of what Coffee Project does.
Regardless, I’m going to give this a 3.5/5, (can I give them a 75%? C?) but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I just wish it was longer and I had more to digest.
Go see Coffee Project at Fest this year, you won’t regret it. Listen to Wasted Lovebelow, and please consider supporting the band and label.
The same thing that makes a memorial show for Erik Petersen in Brooklyn more intimate and beautiful than one for someone like David Bowie or Lemmy also makes it far more heartbreaking. Far be it from me to say that all those who went out to dance for the Star Man or have a Jack and Coke for Lemmy were not experiencing a personal tragedy. But most of those people never shared a moment, a conversation, or a drink with their hero.
When it came to Mischief Brew’s poetic front-man, it seemed like every punk who showed up to pay tribute to him on Sunday night had had a more personal encounter with the folk punk icon.
“I absolutely hate the reason we are all here tonight” said Brook Pridemore, the evening’s third performer just before he began his set. Then after he’d broken just about half the strings on his guitar he told a story about a time he had spent at Erik and Denise Petersen’s home in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania when he saw Erik squeeze the poop out of one of the more seasoned of the Petersen’s beloved pugs. He followed that story with a singalong rendition of “Old Tyme Mem’ry.”
Before Pridemore, Early Riser, Cristy Road, and two members of Teenage Halloween had performed short somewhat somber solo acoustic sets. During this time the crowd was rather small and subdued, and when it shouted words at the stage they were encouraging. An audience member called out “But it’s beautiful!” to Road when she pointed out a slight mistake in her rendition of Mischief Brew classic “Every Town Will Celebrate.”
At no point did the show ever feel like anything but a celebration of an inspiring man’s life, but until Pridemore, things felt a bit more like a remembrance. After he flooded the stage with his energy and anger it started to feel like a party. The crowd started forming, the mosh pit opened up, and the evening’s pent-up frustration and rage rose to the surface.
Then Out of System Transfer took the stage, and while the Brooklynites definitely represented the more folk side of folk punk — which toward the latter part of their run Mischief Brew expressly shied away from — the people in attendance didn’t slam dance any more subtly for it. The trombone-toting four-piece played a few covers, and their lead singer waxed poetic about his and Petersen’s shared affinity for obscure folk tunes in a set that included tracks like “The Preacher and the Slave” by Joe Hill, “Pancho and Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt, and “Mary Ellen Carter” by Stan Rogers, a track Mischief Brew had released as a single. They also hit Mischief Brew’s “Lowly Carpenter” along with some Out of System Transfer originals.
By the time the folk punk collective Comrades took the stage the venue seemed so packed it was about to burst, and it wouldn’t have mattered whether it was the loud, angsty, and abrasive sounds of Comrades or another solo acoustic act getting on stage; the audience was ready to lose their minds. The melee ensued the moment Comrades struck their first note and the pushing and shoving didn’t end until after their last. Though Comrades didn’t play any Mischief Brew covers, their track “Give Me Coffee or Give Me Meth” is a clear homage to Mischief Brew’s “Gimme Coffee Or Death.”
It was during their set that the show really started to feel like the sort of shindig that Mischief Brew would have headlined. It felt as though at any second Erik might just come through the door from the merch booth or back from the bar after a glass of whisky.
But in the absence of ghosts, Israeli composer and musician Yula Beeri was no consolation prize. Her three-piece band was one of the most exciting and musically proficient acts of the evening; Yula spent most of their set on a stool and still managed to keep the crowd in a frenzy. She also split part of the set with World Inferno/Friendship Society frontman Jack Terricloth. They did two tracks together, one with Yula’s full band and the other a haunting rendition of “Friend to the Friendless.”
“It is one of life’s absurd jokes that I am playing a memorial for Mr. Petersen, rather than Mr. Petersen playing a memorial for me,” said Terricloth. “Comedy is part of the grieving process, take it from me,” he added before raising a toast to the fallen.
After the official performances wrapped up, Out of System Transfer led a rousing singalong of Mischief Brew songs — among others, “Roll Me Through the Gates of Hell” and “Thanks, Bastards” — before the stage was opened up to anyone who wished to jump up and sing a song in tribute to Erik Petersen.
While fans of Petersen’s took their turn on the mic and the crowd sang along, the real sadness of the event started to take hold of many in attendance. Terricloth stood stoic in the back of the venue surveying the thinning group, while others sat down on the concrete floor.
As people stumbled over lyrics and pulled out cell phones for quick refreshers on tunes, we all realized that this was it. Denise Petersen watched the clumsy, loving efforts to keep things going for one more song. “It’s a beautiful shit-show,” she said, “like my life.”