Live Concert Review

Rise Against

Live (May 13/14th, 2011)

Aragon Ballroom - Chicago, IL




Growing up in the Chicagoland area, Rise Against was always an important part of the scene. They played often, never put on a disappointing performance, members were in other influential bands such asThe Killing Tree and 88 Fingers Louie, and – perhaps most captivating – is the amazingly talented vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Tim Mcllarth. With his high energy, amazing chords, and unique ability to demand a crowd’s attention, there is never a dull moment at a Rise Against show; a legacy that has lasted true since the beginning. The band returned to Chicago with Four Year Strong and Bad Religionon May 13th and 14th at the Aragon Ballroom for two sold out shows in support of their latest record, Endgame.  
On the Friday evening of the show, Bad Religion played many songs off the Dissent of Man including Wrong Way Kids, Cyanide, and Won’t Somebody. For the Saturday show they took the stage withThe Day that the Earth Stalled, but only played one more off the new record the rest of the ight, with a set mostly consisted of old favorites. Three songs in, they played Recipe for Hate and from there it was a stream of great songs including You, Generator, A Walk, Fuck Armageddon, this is Hell, and Infected. For the 45 minute set, there were several pits, a few pogoing bodies scattered throughout the crowd, and a great opening act set list. Although most of the guys are in their mid-40s, they were energetic and kept members of the crowd, young and old, bobbing their heads and pushing their neighbors. It was apparent that many people were unfamiliar with Bad Religion, with only twenty-percent of the crowd singing along, but unfamiliarity was not enough to keep the crowd from digging Bad Religion’s infectious riffs as multiple pits broke out throughout the 4000 person capacity venue.
By the end of Bad Religion’s set, the Aragon Ballroom was radiating with body heat. There wasn’t a free spot on the floor, and the crowd was buzzing with excitement for their hometown boys. The lights dimmed with an ear piercing roar of cheering and Rise Against ran on stage. The backdrop had the bands’ old RISE logo along with the new heart and fist logo. Chamber the Cartridge began, everyone in the crowd was singing, and the floor erupted into a mess of flying, jumping, and pushing bodies.
Lead guitarist and backing vocalist, Zach Blair, ran back and forth across the stage, switching from stage left to right with bassist Joe Principe. Blair showed off karate-style kicks that could rival any can-can dancer’s.  Mcllarth would play guitar during some songs, then ditch his axe to get some high jumps and mobile singing in. 
Rise Against
 has always been good at captivating a crowd, and not much has changed except the size of their audience. Their over an hour long set list on Saturday consisted mostly of songs off Endgame, Appeal to Reason, and The Sufferer & the Witness, with no songs from their Fat years (they only played Heaven Knows off Revolutions Per Minute on Friday). This may be due to the fact that the last time Rise Against played in Chicago in 2009, they played an entire set dedicated to their first two albums on Fat. 

Although it was disappointing that they didn’t play anything from those releases, it was expected. In my opinion, those two records are heavier hitting on a personal level, but Rise is a politically fueled band with a lot of strong messages in their lyrics, and they are clearly taking advantage of their popularity to fuel a punk rock machine to spread a message to the masses. Not surprisingly, PETA and Iraq Veterans Against the War were present at the event, and Mcllarth took a few moments to discuss political issues between songs. 

Despite their rise in popularity, Rise Against will always hold a place in the heart of Chicagoans. It may be disappointing to the fan that saw the band at the Fireside many years ago and didn’t hear one song off their early records, but there was never a dull moment on stage. You can tell the band still has a great time playing, that they feel very strongly about the music they play, and as a fan, you can’t help but feel genuinely happy that they’re on top of the world right now. 

As they said their goodnights, and started their last song, Give It All, all the memories came rushing back and it was hard not get caught up in the moment. Mcllarth jumped into the crowd to sing that last song as the crowd went nuts. It was a perfect ending to their second sold out show in Chicago. For anyone who has been there since the beginning, to the kids that might have experienced their first Rise Against show, maybe even first concert that evening, Rise Against didn’t fail to deliver the amazing live performance that their legacy is all about. This Chicago band has come pretty far, and it was clear that their hometown is pretty proud of them.

Live Concert Review

NOFX, Anti-Flag, Old Man Markley, Brendan Kelly

Live (October 14 & 15, 2011)

House of Blues - Chicago, IL




This October, NoFX brought 2 nights of debauchery, booze, and don’t-give-a-fuck punk rock to the Chicago House of Blues. After almost 30 years of playing, the band—all in their mid-40s—can still sell out a venue (2 nights in a row, at that!), make a crowd laugh, and somehow perform while being out-of-their-mind drunk/high. Singer/bassist Fat Mike even made a daring, face-first stage dive onto the concrete floor the first night; ah hell, he’s even more punk than me… It just goes to show that after years of being professional punkers, NoFX is still relevant in today’s scene.  

Brendan Kelly started off the evening with a half-hour set consisting of songs by The Lawrence Arms and The Falcon along with some new original tunes that will likely be on his upcoming solo record. The first night, a kid heckled Kelly for most of his set, calling him a pussy—probably because he thought acoustic guitar is not punk rock. Songs like “The Devil’s Takin’ Names” and “The Unicorn Odyssey” had a decent amount of concert-goers singing along. Kelly talked about how shitty all the music is in children shows his kids watch, so he decided to write his own kid’s song. Kelly’s take is more a depraved song about a dirty old men abducting people and chipping away at their bones, not your typical toddler fare. Kelly also performed a hardcore tune he claims he wrote when he was thirteen about dicks— it was a typical night with Brendan Kelly.

Old Man Markley was next; they’re a punk bluegrass band with 8 members including both male and female vocalists and instruments ranging from the mandolin, autoharp, banjo, fiddle and washboard. OMM was definitely the most energetic band of the evening, and had a huge dance pit going at the Friday night show. I know this is an awful comparison, but since I rarely see bands like this, I felt like I was watching the grown-up Disney Country Bear Jamboree, with much better songs of course. The band seemed to win the hearts of the crowd when they busted out a kazoo and encouraged circle pits. 

About ten years ago when I was 15 years old, I was a big fan of Anti-Flag. In fact, I could probably still sing you all the songs from New Kind of Army and Die for Your Government, but I would definitely consider them one of those bands that you kind of grow out of as you grow up. To my surprise, Anti-Flag is still as popular as ever, even with kids that are old enough to vote. They’re just as good live with the same amount of energy they had ten years ago.

Anti-Flag played a few songs off their major label records, but a good chunk of their set consisted of favorites like “Fuck Police Brutality,” “Underground Network,” along with a cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” which was a big hit. On Friday night during the last song, drummer Pat Thetic brought his bass drum into the crowd and played on the floor surrounded by fans—pretty fantastic. Overall, it is really impressive that they still look and play the way they did ten years ago; it must be because they avoid all those delicious animals and beers, being vegetarian/vegan and straight-edge.

NoFX played two completely different shows Friday and Saturday night. It might have something to do with Fat Mike’s admittedly drug-addicted, alcoholic lifestyle, but with as fucked up as he was Friday, it made for an entertaining show nonetheless. Friday, NoFX played all of their classics, including “Linoleum,” “Leave It Alone,” “Murder the Government,” “Stickin’ In My Eye,” and more. Great, great set list. The only problem was that Mike’s singing was not the best… and I guess there are a lot of words to remember in “Mattersville,” so who can blame him for forgetting a few lines? Their set also started at midnight on Friday, opposed to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, so not only had the band overindulged in drugs and alcohol, but the crowd had as well…at least with booze. The floor was violent—pits would pop up all over the place from one drunk-ass deciding he needed to start crashing into everyone around him. Needless to say, it was a mess and it’s doubtful anyone even noticed Mike was skipping a few words. The only event that made it apparent that Mike was at his crashing point was when he fell off the stage during their last song “Theme from a NoFX album.” One second he was singing onstage, the next he went falling face-first into the floor with mic and bass in hand. I have to applaud him for finishing the song from the floor of the House of Blues, though.

The next night, NoFX were much more composed at the early set time of 8:30. Fat Mike proclaimed, “8:30 isn’t punk time,” and launched into songs like “Dinosaurs Will Die,” “Quart in Session,” and “Fuck the Kids.” During the hour-and-a-half set, there was a decent amount of banter from Fat Mike, but still over an hour of songs, and they were even played well!

They left a few of their classics off the set, instead playing a few more songs off their latest release Coaster. There were Mexican and Jew jokes exchanged between El Jefe and Fat Mike, as well as a few slower jams like “Orphan Year” and “Kill All The White Man.” They even played their cover of Rancid’sRadio.” For anyone who paid to go both nights, the sets were pretty different, no joke was retold, and the stage presence was completely different from one night to the next; totally worth dedicating the weekend to NoFX.

Live Concert Review

Less Than Jake, Supervillains, Off With Their Heads, Dopamines

Live (Feb. 3rd, 2011)

Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL




In the midst of the 2011 Chicago snowpocalypse, despite unplowed roads and snowed in vehicles, Less than Jake still made the trek to the Bottom Lounge in Chicago, IL on Thursday, February 3 in support of the re-release of classic Less than Jake, and essential ska albums, 1996’s Losing Streak and 1998’sHello Rockview (set to be released March 1, 2011).

Cincinnati, OH’s The Dopamines, who received a lot of buzz the past year over their June 2010 release of Expect the Worst on Paper+Plastick ,kicked off the evening with some catchy pop-punk. The venue was filled with maybe 100 people when their set started at 6:30, but songs like “Public Domain” had plenty of concertgoers bopping their heads and singing. The three piece is sometimes joined by Mikey Erg on the stage, but this evening they were accompanied by Less Than Jake bassist and vocalist, Roger Manganelli on guitar. They powered through their half hour set full of energy and ended with seeming approval from the crowd. 

Next was Off With Their Heads from Minneapolis, MN. By this time the venue was starting to fill up and about a fourth of the crowd was familiar with their songs. After playing “Drive” off the 2010 release In Desolation, singer Ryan Young explained, “This is fun, let’s get rowdy!” The crowd started to jump around to “Their Own Medicine,” and a small pit broke out. The two vocalists harmonized well, but Young’s singing did not seem as growly as the recorded material. As the set progressed, songs like “Trying to Breath,” “I Am You,” and “Fuck This, I’m Out” had the place looking more alive, and even the kids unfamiliar with the songs were starting to jump into the pit and dance along.

The Supervillains from Orlando, FL made the transition from punk to a reggae/ska sound. The crowd mellowed out for them, but by this time the venue was nearly full. The band was fronted by drummer/vocalist, Dominic Maresco, who also acted as the band smartass. Faster songs, similar to the style ofStreetlight Manifesto, had the once mellow crowd skanking and pushing. 

Before starting “Johnny Too Bad,” Maresco said, “This song is a sing along, and if you can’t sing along, you’re fucking stupid!” As Maresco judged the crowds response, he concluded “Some of you guys did good, but some of you are fucking stupid!” After playing “20 Excuses,” Maresco decided that the people in the back were not doing their part singing and dancing along and said, “You guys are a bunch of pussies! Is that where all your moms and dads are?” Overall, the crowd seemed unfamiliar with the Supervillians and stayed relatively tame. 

People young and old braved the snow to make it out for Less than Jake’s Hello Rockview and Losing Streak re-issue tour, and it was well worth it with the blow away set list. The crowd ranged from youngsters with “I heart ska” t-shirts to adult men dressed in head-to-toe in checkered print, even Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved By the Bell) was there. 
Less than Jake started their set out with beloved songs like “Sugar in Your Gas Tank,” “Help Save the Youth of America from Exploding,” and “Look What Happened.” Even though the band has been around since 1992, they looked great and were more energetic than ever. The whole band was in good spirits, talking to the crowd and cracking jokes in-between songs, while the front half of the venue never stopped moving. Singer/guitarist Chris DeMakes determined that Chicago is full of “fucking resilient motherfuckers,” in reference to the packed room despite the snow. He joked that the people from their native state of Florida are a bunch of pussies when it comes to bad weather. 

The band stopped their set to pull three men from the crowd onto the stage to have a folicly challenged drinking contest. The prize, DeMakes said with a laugh, would be a copy of his solo cd that sold a few copies in Korea. The crowd laughed and DeMakes remarked, “If you call them bald again, I’ll fucking smack you, they’re folicly challenged!”

Less than Jake 
powered through more favorites such as “Great American Sharp Shooter,” “Dopeman,” and “Automatic.” The band pulled another fan onstage to scold her for texting during the show. When they asked who was so important that she needed to text them during the show and she responded a boy named Brian, the band replied, “Brian better have a ten inch cock and a big bank account, there’s no texting in rock and roll!”

After the texting queen dove into the crowd during “All My Best Friends are Metalheads,” more females started springing on stage to sing into the mic. As the girls jumped back off stage, they let themselves fall backwards into the front row of the crowd, opposed to catapulting across the room.  The guys started to get in on the action and show the girls how to get some air. 

A majority of the songs on the set list were from Hello Rockview and Losing Streak, but towards the end of the set, LTJ played some songs off their latest release, TV, which consists of covers of television theme songs. The played the theme to Anamanics and laughed about their relationship with Warner Brother Records Sire. They talked about more of their favorite cartoon shows, and poked fun at vocalist/bassist Roger Manganelli for watching Disney’s iCarly, to which he defended if your pants stay on during the show, its fine. They went onto play covers of Spongebob SquarepantsScooby Doo, and a song about Big Macs they said had McDonalds bought, would of blown “I’m lovin’ it” out of the water. 

Less than Jake ended their set with songs off 2003’s Anthem, hitting the crowd with confetti and wrapping up with “Plastic Cup Politics.” They came back to play an encore of “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” and “The Ghost of You and Me,” coming in at just over 20 songs. The crowd never stopped moving, people young and old were smiling, singing, and dancing along, the set list was unbeatable, and you could tell Less than Jake still have a great time being a band. Look forward to those re-releases March 1 on LTJ’s own Sleep It Off Records with expanded packaging, new artwork, and a live DVD.

Live Concert Review

The English Beat

Live (March 29th, 2011)

Space - Evanstan, IL




The soft glow emitting from the spaceship shaped ceiling lights reflected off the many martini and wine glasses, along with the bedazzled table cloth lining the merch table. The drapery backing the one foot high stage was lit in pink and purple, and the feel of the room was more that of a trendy night club then a concert venue hosting a legendary ska band. I felt almost out of my realm, a feeling that solemnly hits me at a show, but tonight I was outnumber by yuppies and middle-aged mom and dad couples dressed to the nines in high heels and sweaters. Fear not though, “Jet Boy Jet Girl” by the Damned is playing on the sound system, and despite their snotty look, everyone is here looking to let loose and relive their 80’s two-tone days with Dave Wakeling and the English Beat. 

The English Beat reign supreme in early two-tone ska, releasing their first studio album in 1980. Although lead vocalist and guitarist, Dave Wakeling, is the only originally member touring in the band, he is backed up by a solid group of musicians on tour. Their songs are a mixture of soul, reggae, pop, and punk, but more importantly dance along tunes. The show this evening is catered to an older, slightly more sophisticated crowd, where the youngest crowd members appear to have been dragged along by mom and dad. 
The band took the stage at 8:30 to a nearly full room, and immediately things started to loosen up. People were swaying along, bopping their heads and even skanking a little. Only some concertgoers were singing along to a majority of the songs, but the whole crowd was digging the music. By the third song, “HandsOff… She’s Mine,” people had their hands in the air and the front of the venue had turned into a dance party. 

Wakeling may have been the oldest guy on stage, but he was on par with his younger band mates and sounded fantastic. Wakeling sang alongside Antonee, the energetic, fun to watch toaster of the band. They played a cover of “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers that led into the single, “I Confess.” At this point, it was moms gone wild on a Tuesday night as the crowd reacted with loud singing and explosive dance moves to Wakelings explanation to “get jiggy with it!” I couldn’t decide which was more enjoyable, the band or the crowd, as the woman in front of me busted out the Elaine dance moves and the guy behind me cracked jokes, asking me if I was even alive in the 80’s. 
The Beat played a varied set with slow, get out your Rasta hat songs, and then would speed it back up with heavier, punk influenced songs; there were even whistling solos. Wakeling would stop to talk to the crowd, but not enough to slow down the set; just cheerful, witty, fun comments to add to the appeal of the bands’ live show. Near the end of the set during “Tenderness,” a female intruder took the stage to show off her dance moves. Antonee joked that she had waited thirty years to dance with Dave Wakeling and the English Beat, and encouraged her to pull a friend on stage while they sang about two-tone ladies. 
After two hours of dancing, reminiscing about the 80’s, and laughing at the bands’ commentary, it was time to get home and pay the babysitter. Wakeling looks good, the band sounds great, and the crowd ranging from mid-20’s to upper-40’s (with a few young stragglers accompanying their parents) left behind their empty martini and craft beer glasses looking like this was the most fun they’ve had all year. 30 years later, the Beat is still spreading their positive vibes and bringing the masses together to groove.   

Live Concert Review

Dropkick Murphys, Against Me!, Off With Their Heads

Live (Feb. 26th, 2011)

Congress Theater- Chicago, IL




Plastic cups of Guinness are raised high in the air, if you are not wearing a green t-shirt, you are the minority my friend, the dude next to you has whiskey breath, and his wasted girlfriend is dancing like she’s Irish (for today at least); is it Saint Patrick’s Day? Not quite yet, but the Dropkick Murphys brought two nights of premature St. Patrick’s Day fun to unite the Irish, frat bros, punk rockers, and everyone else looking for a good time.

The Dropkick Murphys dropped into Chicago Saturday, February 26 and Sunday, 27 at the Congress Theater, a venue where the capacity is near 4,000 and a can (not a tallboy) of PBR will cost you 5 bucks a pop. That aside, the venue brings in a lot of great acts, including October’s Riot Fest. I was at the Sunday show which hosted Off With Their Heads, Against Me!, and The Murphys of course. The Saturday bill had the same line-up except Naked Raygun played instead of Against Me!.

Off With Our Heads (OWTH) did not give Chicago much time to miss them with just rolling through town with Less than Jake on February 3. Their 30-40 minute, almost 15 song set was a mix of tracks off In Desolation, From the Bottom, and 2 songs from Hospitals. The floor was packed and the front and center portion of the crowd embraced OWTH’s speedy return to town. Along with the decent sized pit that was in full force during songs like “Their Own Medicine,” “I Am You,” and “Terrorist Attack?,” there was plenty of fists pumping and scattered sing alongs amongst crowd members.

Singer/guitarist Ryan Young admitted that they’ve been playing the same songs for a while, and played “I Just Want You to Know” and “ZZYZX,” two songs they did not play last time in Chicago. Overall, the band energy was felt more in the music than their on-stage presence. OWTH did not move around stage too much, but killed the songs. They packed as much music into their set as possible, without stopping to make chit-chat. The mixed crowd of old dudes with their flap caps, bros in green, girlfriends clenching onto said bros, and the everyday punk rock t-shirt 20-somes clapped with seeming approval as “Clear the Air” ended and Young explained, “Thanks Motherfuckers!”

After a quick twenty minute set change, a banner adorning Against Me!’s (AM!) latest release, White Crosses dropped while Tom Gabel and the gang took the stage. AM! pounded into “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong,” a fitting track for the Murphys direct support to start with. After this pot of gold, I figured my luck would disappear and the band would trek into lesser enjoyed and listened to tracks, but I was pleasantly surprised with a blow away set list.

AM! played nearly half of As the Eternal Cowboy, a personal favorite, with tracks I haven’t heard live in years. Everyone in the band had big smiles on their faces, bassist Andrew Seward was running back and forth on-stage throughout the set, and they sounded great. Gabel looked reminiscent of Tim McIlrath during the Fat years with his flowing, curly, near shoulder length hair. Gabel’s voice sounded great, he was rocking through the instrumental parts, and every song was dead on.

The front portion of the floor went crazy for songs like “From Her Lips to God’s Ears (The Energizer),” “Rice and Bread,” and “Walking is Still Honest.” A good portion of the crowd was familiar with the set and if not pogoing up and down, at least singing along. Songs like “Thrash Unreal” and “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” had more of the nearly full venue dancing around as their whiskey shots started to take toll. AM! stole the show as they played the shit out of their music, never stopped moving, and the a never ending positive-vibe they displayed on-stage. You could tell they were happy to be there, having the best time ever and really would rather be in-front of these people playing their songs than anywhere else.

The Dropkick Murphys (DKM) are currently touring in support of their new album, Going Out in Style, released March 1, 2011. Going Out in Style is the band’s seventh full-length studio album and the follow-up to 2007’s The Meanest of Times. DKM blend punk rock, Celtic folk, and American rock ‘n roll to create a style of music that draws in everyone from frat boys to punk rockers to teenage girls. The near capacity venue was no exception this evening, packed with people of all ages and styles.

The band took the stage with the cover of Going Out in Style in the background, an elaborate, elevated set-up where a back-up strings section sat, and green and red lights throughout the performance. Lead vocalist Al Barr moved back and forth the stage dressed from head-to-toe in black with black converse. His energy was matched by his six band members playing everything from the bagpipes to the mandolin and accordion.

The venue is big enough that several pits broke-out, but nothing got too crazy in the crowd. The audience mostly jumped around while pumping their fists in the air, and the pits were small and tame. In previous years I’ve seen the Murphys, the fans have been insane with huge Irish flags in the air and vicious pits. The crowd did however break the barricade, and had to stop the set for a bit to temporarily set up a replacement.

The energy did not die amongst the band as they played an impressive approximately 25 song set list. They played many songs from Going out in Style, receiving a positive response from tracks like “Going Out in Style,” “Memorial Day,” and “Hang ‘Em High.” Along with the newbies, they played fan favorites “Citizen C.I.A.,” “Bar Room Hero,” and “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced.”

The Murphy’s wrapped up their second night in Chicago with a phenomenal bill of opening of acts, and enough raw emotion and energy packed performances to last concertgoers until next time Congress barricade needs a good breaking.

Live Concert Review

The Bouncing Souls

Live (May 9th to May 12th, 2011)

Reggie's Rock Club - Chicago, IL




Ass tattoos, fist bumps, cute girl in her undergarments, killer openers, stagediving, crowd surfing, and the ultimate sing-along (forever!); sounds like the best weekend ever – and it was pretty close. The Bouncing Souls came to Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago to play all of their unheard tracks for a 4-night stint that covered their entire discography from May 9-12, and they did not disappoint.

The band started with The Good, The Bad, and the Argyle on Thursday, and ended with Ghosts on the Boardwalk on Sunday. Every night the band was supported by great opening acts such as The Flatliners, The Arrivals, The Falcon, and The Copyrights. After more than 20 years together, the Souls were still able to pack the house every night. Saturday evening was sold out, and even though Sunday was the least crowded night, the room was still filled to the back bar.

Highlights of the weekend included the Friday and Saturday set which consisted of Self Titled and Hopeless Romantic on Friday, and How I Spent My Summer Vacation and Anchors Aweigh on Saturday. The crowd looked tame enough throughout the openers, where little movement occurred throughout the room; with the exception of Saturday where a decent amount of people danced, pushed, and sang along to the Chicago bands the Night Brigade and the Falcon. It was clear that the Souls were the reason everyone was there, and the club became more packed as the evening progressed.

Whenever the Bouncing Souls took the stage for a new album, a pretty girl in her underwear and bra would come onstage holding a big picture of the album cover to the background noise of Rocky music, and an announcer spitting out facts about each Souls release. As soon as the band would take the stage, the crowd exploded into a huge pit, and bodies started lunging into the air, and onto the stage of a venue that holds a pretty stiff no stagediving/crowdsurfing policy. In fact, when security would try to pull a crowdsurfer to the ground, there were instances where the crowd would pull the other end of the person to keep them away from security and up in the air.

Both Thursday and Sunday also had a very positive response, although the Sunday crowd was much tamer, potentially because they had been there all weekend. A few times over the course of the weekend, singer, Greg Attonito, would walk across stage to fist bump crowd members, and extend the mic out to the enthusiastic fans. There was also some fun fan features where a fan got to play trombone with the band, and they someone was choosen to reenact the back-and-forth conversation in Shark Attack. One die hard person came onstage to moon the crowd his combo “hopeless romantic” and Bouncing Souls logo butt tattoo.

Some opener headlights include the Falcon, who played with Derek Grant (the drummer of Alkaline Trio) on bass. Brendan Kelly’s shotgun of an entire Old Style Tallboy in mere seconds kept the fans enthusiastic, and overall their performance was fun and energetic for a band Brendan Kelly claims isn’t really a real band. Another shining opener was The Copyrights, who played many new songs off their upcoming Red Scare release. The new songs sounded really good and the record is due to be released later this summer.

The Bouncing Souls never disappoint, their fans are really dedicated, and it was a really unique, incredible experience to hear all of their albums live. To see all of the songs you don’t expect to ever hear live all in the span of one weekend is indescribable. Hopefully we keep seeing these guys tour year after year, will get some new material to check out soon, and it is apparent that their fans, the true believers, will indeed be singing along forever; even if they do only go on tours so they can eat other people’s food.

Dwarves - Born Again

The Dwarves

Born Again

Music Video Distributors

Rating: 3/5




25 years in the making; sex, drugs, and violence still lie at the core of The Dwarves existence. After all these years, the band continues to write catchy, offensive, and maybe even relatable songs; they just have the balls to say what you’re thinking of doing to all the pretty women in the world. Born Again, The Dwarves follow-up to 2004’s The Dwarves Must Die, features past members with a classic Dwarves sound.

Born Again kicks off with “The Dwarves Are Still the Best Band Ever,” a song that lists off some things that can be done to make the world a better place, and well, what the Dwarves are doing day-to-day. “Let’s just get high and fuck some sluts, do what we will, not what we must,” vocalist Blag Dahlia sings along to the catchy, clap-along beat. With each song clocking in around 2 minutes, they’re fast, fun, and combine hardcore, pop, and punk.

The Dwarves cover all bases of their offensive nature with “Looking Out for Number One” about killing a past lover, “Your Girl’s Mom,” about doing the nasty with a mom, it’s a “Wonderful Life of Sin” with a sound byte of a crying girl, and “Stop Me,” where Blag challenges “stop me, before I fuck again,” and “I am the Jesus Christ of sin and vice, so stop me!

The album encompasses everything that makes a good Dwarves album; offensive lyrics, nutty phone messages, and really catchy riffs. Although this album seems less experimental than the last (ie: the hip-hop element), Born Again still mixes all the musical styles the Dwarves are known for without sounding too redundant or similar to past releases.

Overall, Born Again is no Come Clean or The Dwarves or Young and Good Looking, but it’s more solid than their last release, damn catchy, and worth picking up. They go back to a more traditionalDwarves sound with a mixture of many styles of music mashed up with violent, controversial lyrical content.

As an added bonus, Born Again comes with a free DVD that’s guaranteed to offend and disgust. You’ve only been waiting six years for a new Dwarves album, there’s no reason to not check out the band that wouldn’t die. Songs like “Happy Birthday Suicide” and “Working Class Hole” will have you hooked on songs that almost make you feel filthy to love.

The Descendents


Bill Stevenson and Milo Aukerman

Fat Wreck Chords
By on October 8th, 2011 at Congress Theater - Chicago, IL



The Descendents are one of the most beloved bands of their kind. They’re often cited as a major influence by other bands, their records have stood timeless to fans old and new, their recent return to playing live shows has resulted in thousands of tickets sold and sold out gigs, and they have shown you can grow up without necessarily growing old. ThePunkSite had the great pleasure of speaking with vocalist Milo Aukerman and drummer Bill Stevenson before their performance at the 4,000 person capacity venue, Congress Theater, during Riot Fest Chicago. Milo and Bill discussed playing in a band with grownup responsibilities, battling a brain tumor, what the future holds, and what a gnarly trip this past year has been. Read More…


Dan Andriano in The Emergency Room

Dan Andriano

Asian Man Records
By on September 24, 2011 at Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL



The Emergency Room, the place you go after one too many beers and decide you can ride a skateboard. Dan Andriano, the bassist and ½ of the singing in Alkaline Trio. When you combine the two, you end up with Dan’s solo powerhouse. Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room released his first solo record this past August, Hurricane Season. We caught up with Dan at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago to discuss dealing with hurricane season in St. Augustine, Florida, the lack of a band to jam with onstage, what is going on with Alkaline Trio, and if will Slapstick ever return.     Read More…

The Dwarves

The Dwarves

Blag Dahlia

Music Video Distribution
By on August 20th, 2011 at Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL



Recognize the Dwarves, slut! It has been 25 years of naked women, naked men in Luche Libre masks, violent live performances, and perfectly crafted albums.

The Dwarves are currently on tour in the United States and heading to Europe in November in celebration of their 25 years of sluts, drugs, and violence. Blag Dahlia, the charming front man of the Dwarves, sat down with Amy Meyer to talk about what makes the Dwarves better than most punk bands, reissues in the works, getting past members back together to make the new record, and how he stays so good looking.  Read More…

The Copyrights

The Copyrights

Adam Fletcher

Red Scare Industries
By on August 6th, 2011 at Underground Lounge - Chicago, IL



What is there in Illinois besides Chicago and the surrounding suburbs? I don’t know, corn maybe, aren’t there some colleges, didn’t Abraham Lincoln come from there…oh, the Simpsons live in Springfield too, right? Illinois is not accredited for much down South, let alone a thriving music scene. The Copyrights from the small college town of Carbondale, IL are the exception and have been killing it with their catchy punk rock tunes; let’s not call it pop-punk…it’s more like buzzpop.

The Copyrights have made a name for themselves without the assistance of big city living and have a lot in-store for this year with relentless touring, including playing fests all around the United States. Earlier this month, The Copyrights released their latest blend of catchy sing-along choruses, hooks, and witty lyrics with North Sentinel Island. Singer and bassist, Adam Fletcher met up with at their record release show to talk about making it as a band from Southern Illinois, the new album, and what the Copyrights and Dear Landlord (2/4 of The Copyrights play in that band too) are up to this year. 

All photos by Ryan Holloway. Read More…

The Smoking Popes

Smoking Popes

Josh Caterer

By on August 1st, 2011 at The Metro - Chicago



Before the world was screaming infidelities, the Smoking Popes were mixing their sensitive lyrics and crooner vocals with power chords and catchy melodies. They released a new concept album on Asian Man this year following the life of a fictional high school teenager, and embarked on a tour marking their 15 year anniversary.  Lead singer and guitarist Josh Caterer kindly sat down with on night one of their two night stint with Alkaline Trio at the Metro in Chicago to discuss being in a punk band, touring, and the new record. 

All photos by Katie Hovland. Read More…

Dead To Me

Dead To Me


Fat Wreck Chords
By on July 21st, 2011 at Subterranean - Chicago, IL



Over the past eight years, San Francisco’s Dead to Me have released two full-lengths on Fat Wreck Chords, toured relentlessly, have undergone two line-up changes, including the loss of a singer and a span of time as a three-piece, and have never let anything slow them down. The band recently spent some time in Chicago recording their newest full-length with Matt Allison at Atlas Studios and couldn’t be happier with the experience. Shortly thereafter, Dead to Me returned to Chicago with Off With Their Heads and Riverboat Gamblers, and bassist/singer Chicken sat down with ThePunkSite to discuss switching line-ups, recording as a four piece again, and spill some details on the new record.  

All photos by Katie Hovland. Read More…

Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish

Johnny Christmas, Matt Appleton, Aaron Barrett

Rock Ridge Music
By on July 19th, 2011 at Chicago House Of Blues



It’s been almost 15 years since we were “selling out” with Reel Big Fish. In fact, with new generations getting into RBF each year, most fans are unaware Sell Out used to play on the radio. With RBF’s catchy, fun ska songs and lively, entertaining live show – they manage to tour six to eight months out of the year and still sell out shows. The band is currently touring on their new Best of Us for The Rest of Us album featuring covers, classics, and skacoustic songs. Self-proclaimed trumpet player, back-up singer, interpretive dancer, and show mime Johnny Christmas, and sax player Matt Appleton (who was also in Goldfinger) answered a few questions for The Punk Site before their set in Chicago. We were later joined by lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter Aaron Barrett, who’s comedic, sarcastic attitude shines as well off-stage as it does on.   Read More…



Chris McCaughan

Red Scare Industries
By on July 9th, 2011 at Volcano Room - Chicago, IL



It’s Saturday night and the Volcano Room in Chicago is buzzing with the clink of pint glasses, pinball machines, and fans ecstatic to get their hands on a vinyl copy of the Sundowner album Four One Five Two. It’s been more than four years since Four One Five Two was initially released on Red Scare Industries, and the vinyl is finally set to release August 9, 2011. Tonight, however, Sundowner is playing a vinyl release party and selling the vinyl early to lucky attendees. Before he had the entire room singing along to his songs, Sundowner (better known as Chris McCaughan) sat down with us to tell us what he has been up to. Read More…

Chuck Ragan

Chuck Ragan

Chuck Ragan

SideOneDummy Records
By on May 7th, 2011 at The Rave - Milwaukee, WI



The author of a great song is not just someone who writes good music, it’s also someone who lives by the words they sing. The reason why Chuck Ragan is such a great musician may be accredited to the fact that he feels he has no other choice than to write; he lives by the pen, and delivers great songs. Chuck met up with thepunksite to discuss the future of the Revival tour, his crazy touring schedule, and what’s in the works for Chuck Ragan and Hot Water Music. Read More…

Strung out

Strung Out

Jake Kiley

Fat Wreck Chords
By on May 5th, 2011 at Bottom Lounge- Chicago, IL



Strung Out has been packing rooms since the early 90’s when they started out as a headspinningly fast skate punk band. As the band gears up for their 20 year anniversary (some of you may have celebrated a few years premature), they continue to put out material, tour vigorously, and draw fans from all over the music spectrum. Guitarist Jake Kiley took some time at their sold out show in Chicago to discuss what endures people to Strung Out, how hovering under the mainstream has kept from destroying the band, and the new album that will feature 23 remastered tracks along with three new sick tunes and more. Read More…

The Lawrence Arms

The Lawrence Arms

Brendan Kelly

Fat Wreck Chords
By on April 3rd, 2011 at Beat Kitchen - Chicago, IL



Not only is Brendan Kelly one of the singers and bassist for Chicago’s beloved The Lawrence Arms, in his spare time he writes an insightful, humorous blog called the Bad Sandwich Chronicles. While fan boys of his band read his blog in attempt to fill the void of not getting a new full-length Arms album in over 5 years, the blog is also enjoyed by those who have never even listened to the Lawrence Arms. I got a chance to catch up with Brendan on April 3 at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago to discuss how his kickass writing has let him slip by as a subpar musician, a movie he’s working on, and new music he’s working on, not for the Lawrence Arms.

Photos by Katie Hovland. Read More…

The Reaganomics

The Reaganomics

Nick Mclenighan

Red Scare Industries
By on March 18th, 2011 at The Beat Kitchen - Chicago, IL



An evening with the Reaganomics will likely consist of talk of the Exorcist’s Regan, Robocop, whiskey, and maybe Scott Stapp – if they’re drunk enough. They also always play with really good bands. I mean shit, their next show is with the Dead Milkmen and the Lawrence Arms, followed with an opening slot with The Copyrights and The Bouncing Souls. I attempted an interview after a late night Cobra Skulls set, and successfully got a lot of laughs, but not necessarily the most informative and clear interview. Bassist and vocalist, Nick Mclenighan, was kind enough to sit down a second time at their headlining show at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago on March 18. Read More…

Cobra Skulls

Cobra Skulls

Devin Peralta

Fat Wreck Chords
By on Feb. 12th, 2011 at The Beat Kitchen - Chicago, IL



How could you not be charmed by the Cobra? The Reno, NV three piece tours constantly, writes politically fueled punk rock, puts on a powerful sing-along live performance, and their singer has a badass hairstyle. The Skulls have been busy lately: they signed to Fat Wreck Chords last year, and since January they’ve released new EP and Fat debut “Bringing Home the War,” opened up for NoFX and The Bouncing Souls, and just wrapped up a stint of headlining shows.

We got the chance to catch up with vocalist/bassist Devin Peralta at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago on February 12 to discuss Taking Back Wednesday, Stella the deer Chihuahua, and working with producer Fat Mike on the new record.    Read More…