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Interview: Mean Jeans

Mean JeansThe Mean Jeans are no strangers to partying. In fact, the Portland three piece never stop and now with Tight New Dimension hitting the airwaves – I doubt they ever will.

We caught up with guitarist and vocalist Billy Jeans to discuss their unique way of approacing Fat Wreck Chords, the new album and the importance of having fun.

Read the interview here.

   
Flatliners - Vancouver

The Flatliners / Together Pangea / Youth Decay

Live in Vancouver (06/16/16)

The Cobalt - Vancouver, BC
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“Thanks for showing up early…ish” Stu Ross, guitarist for local punk upstarts Youth Decay joked to the crowd. They may have been the first band on the bill – but the ten o’clock start time for the Thursday night show was far from early. But that didn’t stop the crowd from coming in full force for the second Flatliners show in a row for what was billed as the kick off to Levitation Vancouver.

The sold out show was by far the most people I’ve ever seen at the Cobalt. People filled it wall to wall and the back bar was open for the first time in…ever. So to say people were excited would be an understatement. It had been a while since The Flatliners passed through town and it seemed as if Vancouverites were missing the Toronto foursome.

Kick starting the evening was, as mentioned, Youth Decay – a Vancouver punk rock supergroup with members of Daggermouth, Living With Lions and  Comeback Kid in its ranks playing in support of last year’s The Party Over. The skate punk bombardment worked well, whether singing about their hatred for bicyclists or their love of Winnipeg, the crowd ate it up and opened up in excited fury.

They made way for Los Angeles’ Together Pangea (not to be confused with Breaking Pangea) who – honestly – felt like an odd choice for a Flatliners tour-mate. Opening up with a country twang, Together Pangea were more jangly than fierce; a mixture of Underground Railroad To Candyland chaos alongside nerd rock conservativeness of Nerf  Herder but failing to hit the plateau of either band’s sound. It made for a set that was forgettable, you weren’t upset you were there but you’ll never go out of your way to listen to them again.

The same can’t be said for The Flatliners who – as they always do – slayed it.

Having only released the b-side compilation Division of Spoils since their last date in Vancouver, the band used the opportunity to play a smorgasbord of songs including a select few deep cuts from the rarities album (Fangs being among them).

Cresswell and company were in top form, tightening up their set in their time off ripping through Resuscitation Of The Year, Sew My Mouth Shut,  July!August! Reno!, Shithawks, Monumental, Eulogy, Birds of England and more. This was a set not to be missed, and the packed crowd jumped, moved and sang along to every tune.

The band joked during tuning sessions, were charismatic and expressive – honestly, you could watch bassist Jon Darbey all night and be fully entertained – and they played for themselves just as much as the crowd. So much so that their encore consisted of weird nineties rock covers from the likes of Sloan – if that’s not doing it for themselves, then I don’t know what is.

Contest: Win Tickets to See Chuck Ragan in Vancouver

Chuck RaganChuck Ragan is no stranger to the road. Having toured for years with Florida’s influential Hot Water Music, ten years ago he stripped it down and took his raspy voice on the solo route. He helped organize and headline the annual Revival Tour and has since expanded to have a full backing band supporting him.

As you’d come to expect from the touring troubadour, he’s back on the road in support of 2014’s Til Midnight

Friday night (June 10th) will see Chuck Ragan pass through Vancouver with Kris Orlowski and Ben Rogers at The Venue and the fine folks at Blueprint Live have given us a pair of tickets to give away to a lucky winner.

Enter to win below!

Read More…

   
Brand New - Live in Vancouver

Brand New

Live In Vancouver (06/01/16)

The Vogue - Vancouver, BC
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Brand New are an enigma. They’re a mystery wrapped in a cloud of secrecy. They float through the cracks, pulling at your emotions and then vanish without a trace. They don’t say anything, let the music do the talking and turn a cold shoulder at the idea of press.

This is a band that never does interviews. This is a band that didn’t even do a promo picture for over five years despite releasing two albums in the mean time. This is a band that abhors the spotlight.

So it makes sense that the band delivers their live show shrouded in mystery too -as their first date on their 2016 tour showed.

With the smell of incense burning throughout the building, the stage was covered in smoke before they even stepped up to the microphone and when they did, it was with no pomp or bravado. In fact, at first, Jesse Lacey almost just looked like a guitar tech before he cautiously started strumming Sealed To Me, the first of three brand new songs they played that night.

For the first half of the night, the band lived in the shadows. They were silhouettes with no front stage lights and blinding lights blaring from behind them. It was only when the back wall turned into a massive monitor with live camera feeds that you could see the band in full form. The lights were occasionally blinding, but added to the mystique and persona. Giving visual resonance to the sonic waves of The Archers Bows Have Broken,  Degausser, I Will Play  My Game Beneath The Spin Light and Luca among others.

Before the encore, they never spoke – only briefly saying “thanks” between two songs. Otherwise, Lacey and the gang looked down and focused on the instruments. It pulsed through and when the big songs –  Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t and Jesus for example – came on, everything simply erupted.

The encore itself consisted of two songs, Play Crack The Sky and the live debut of I Am A Nightmare and with a smashed guitar and a wave to the crowd, they were off.

The lights turned on and an upside down cross with the words “Brand New: 2000-2018” were projected on the stage. A cryptic message detailing the forecasted end of the band? Will they truly stay eighteen forever?

Who knows – and if we did, then it wouldn’t be Brand New.

   
Live Concert Review

So So Glos, The Dirty Nils, Low Levels

Live in Vancouver (05/29/16)

The Cobalt - Vancouver, BC
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The attraction to Sunday’s night show at The Cobalt wasn’t based on knowledge of the bands themselves. It wasn’t based on wanting to hear a certain song live. It wasn’t even based on the  desire for a concert as it was the third concert in three nights. No, Sunday’s attraction was based solely due to the classic reason of word of mouth, making me go to the show without ever hearing any recorded materials from any of the three bands for a night full of discovery.

The night consisted of:
 – Low Levels, a Vancouver based band that a few friends suggested I see.

The Drity Nil, a hyped-about Ontario based band that has been popping up online recently

– And The So So Glos, a Brooklyn punk band that I drunkenly saw in Florida at Pre-Fest and remembered enjoying enough to see them again.

I didn’t know what to expect, and the low turnout and fact that the show started thirty minutes late kicked off the evening negatively – but once the music started, the complaints soon vanished and the three bands showed the benefits of checking out unknown live shows.

Low Levels barreled out first and I knew why my friends recommended them. Heavy No-Idea Records meet Infinity Cat sound – the three piece were familiar yet fresh. Front man Al Boyle sounded like Chris Wollard growling into the microphone while bassist Emily Jayne offered complementing harmonies and screaming bridges. It was a wild, grungy punk vibe that would fit in the underground bars of Brooklyn more so than it does in Vancouver.

Ontario three piece The Dirty Nil were next and obviously the main draw of the night as several of the crowd members eagerly sang to every word. It was clear that the talk about Higher Power was more than just hype, these guys delivered on the expectations. They were spastic, moving in an almost Refused like manor – although with a Penske File punk rock sound instead.

By the time The So So Glos hit the stage, the crowd had returned to a rather sparse collection of attendees. Many had left after The Dirty Nil – but that didn’t mean  The So So Glos went through the motions. Instead they killed it, putting on a way better performance than the last time I saw them to a much fuller crowd.

They were also smart, turning down the house lights to make the venue feel smaller, as they ripped through a sixteen song set. Front man Alex Levine channeled Tim Armstrong but with a bit more movement. Levine did everything he could to engage the audience – and succeeded at it despite the small crowd. The band focused mainly on cuts from Kamikaze – playing the first five songs straight to from the start.

Unlike many sets, the band picked up energy as the set progressed – and the crowd did as well. They even got everybody crouching down on the floor for We Got The Days and exploded to cheers. Sadly, they should’ve let it die right there. It was a surprisingly memorable set but the decision to drag it on with a forced fake encore was just that – fake. It wasn’t necessary and the songs they selected seemed lackluster.

It was the perfect example of how writing an encore into the set can derail a show. Lucky, they ended it with Son of An American that most people in attendance seemed to know every word – and that one song made the encore worth it.

Picked up the energy, picked up the excitement and then bam, it ended and that was the way to end a show – just too bad it was the second ending of the night.

 

Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus / La Sera

Live In Vancouver (05/28/16)

The Biltmore Cabaret - Vancouver, BC
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Saturday was a gloomy day in Vancouver. Torrential rain poured from the gray, murky skies – eliminating any motivation to leave your house and venture outside. If, on the off chance, you took the plunge – you’d return soaked to the bone.

But those fair few who trudged through the rain and the wind to make it to The Biltmore Cabaret were rewarded with a rock and roll show that was well worth the trouble.

Opening the night was Los Angeles trio La Sera, who brought the crowd together with their infectious, jangly indie pop. Fronted by former The Vivian Girls bassist, Katy Goodman, La Sera (who are touring in support of their latest Polyvinyl Records release Music For Listening To Music To) could easily be described as cute. Not in a condescending, derogatory way ; but in an alluring and captivating way.

There was an innocence and excitement in their performance that just pulled you in. The banter between Goodman and her shredding guitarist Todd Wisenbaker were akin to Tegan And Sara void of the convoluted nonsensical stories. They bounced and jumped around, climbed on speakers, hopped into the crowd and even trapped Titus Andronicus front man Patrick Stickles in the bathroom hallway in midsong.

It was, simply put, fun.

Her vocals were spectacular too, like Waxahatchee or Girlpool and while they could’ve used an added guitar to fill out the sound on occasion – it’s safe to say that several jaws hit the floors as they watched Wisenbaker’s fingers fly up and down the neck of the guitar. The set ebbed and flowed in intensity and served as the perfect opener for Goodman’s highschool classmate Patrick Stickles and his band Titus Andronicus.

As has become the norm at a Titus show, the set began with Stickles carefully strumming the guitar and speaking into the microphone as he asked the crowd to stay respectful and preached the benefits of inclusivity. Saying “have a good time, but make sure your good time doesn’t come at the expense of someone else’s good time.” The speech received a cheer and was pretty much followed for the night, as no one got too crazy and wild and – for the first time in a long time – not a single crowd surfer!

That’s not to say the set wasn’t energetic, as it was and anyone who’ve seen Titus Andronicus before could attest to them putting on a solid performance.  Unlike their last stop here, this time saw them playing more songs from The Most Lamentable Tragedy concept album including Fatal Flaw, Dimed Out, and Mr. E Mann but they still kept their classics in the set, like In A Big City and A More Perfect Union.

Despite the lengthy opening statement, Stickle only stopped to speak to the crowd at one other moment throughout the evening. Instead, the band jammed as many songs into their hour and a half long set as possible. Eliminating the banter is necessary  when they’re trying to squeeze in the lengthy opuses of The Battle Of Hampton Roads and No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future.

And like that, it was over. No pomp, no encore – just some rocking good songs, thank you and good night. A good night well worth fighting the rain for.

Video: Lost Love – Scotch n’ Soda

Stomp RecordsLost Love have just released their video for their single Scotch n’Soda.

The track comes from their sophomore album ‘‘Comfortable Scars’‘ that was just released through Stomp Records.

The band is currently touring Europe in support of the album.

Read More…

Interview: Amnesia Rockfest

Alex Martel - Amnesia RockfestEleven years ago, Alex Martel wanted more bands to come through his small town of 900 people in Northern Quebec. What started with a handful of bands and five hundred attendees, has grown into one of the biggest rock festivals in the world.

From June 23rd to 26th this year, Montebello, Quebec will once again be hosting the annual Amnesia Rockfest with the likes of Blink 182, The Used, Limp Bizkit, Sum 41, Billy Talent, Rise Against, Korn, Ice Cube, A Day To Remember,Twisted Sister, Lamb Of God and NOFX among countless others. 

We recently caught up with the ambitious founder, Alex Martel, to see how far the festival has come over the years.

Read the interview here.

Alex Martel - Amnesia Rockfest

Amnesia Rockfest

Alex Martel


By on April 23, 2016 at Phone

 

 

Eleven years ago, Alex Martel wanted more bands to come through his small town of 900 people in Northern Quebec. What started with a handful of bands and five hundred attendees, has grown into one of the biggest rock festivals in the world.

From June 23rd to 26th this year, Montebello, Quebec will once again be hosting the annual Amnesia Rockfest with the likes of Blink 182, The Used, Limp Bizkit, Sum 41, Billy Talent, Rise Against, Korn, Ice Cube, A Day To Remember,Twisted Sister, Lamb Of God and NOFX among countless others. 

We recently caught up with the ambitious founder, Alex Martel, to see how far the festival has come over the years. Read More…

Interview: Wasted Potential

Wasted PotentialLondon, Ontario’s Wasted Potential are playing Montreal’s 6th annual Pouzza Fest later this month. I talked to lead singer Danny Kidd (who is quickly becoming one of my favourite people) to talk about what the fest means to the band.

Read the interview here.

   
Live Concert Review

Anti-Flag

Live In Vancouver (4/28/16)

The Venue - Vancouver, BC
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Before Anti-Flag hit the stage of The Venue Thursday night for their first show on the Make Canada Great Again tour, Russian Tim from CiTR’s Rocket From Russia and I discussed the everlasting appeal of the Pittsburgh  quartet. Was it the music? Was it the political content of their lyrics? The answer was clear: Anti-Flag have survived through their experience and confidence.

Punk rock is built off live shows. It is the bread and butter of the touring echelon and a good show for one person will ensure three come to the next.  You may be able to write a good hook or memorable chorus, but if the song ends and you’re just flat on stage – you’re swimming upstream.

Anti-Flag aren’t like that. Yes, their songs are good – some are fucking great – and at this point in their career, it’s safe to say they’ve made into the punk rock history books to be studied by new punks for generations to come. Yet the reason they continue to survive and strive is because their live show is so consistently solid.

The Make Canada Great Again tour seems to be one more stop on their never disappointing touring schedule. The band is tight, angry, fiery and fierce. Justin Sane and Chris #2 spit their lyrics out with venomous intensity and the sound echoed through the speaker perfectly balanced.

They rarely took a moment’s rest jumping from Cities Burn to This Machine Girls Fascists, I’d Tell You But… to Fabled World, Underground Network to Turncoat. When they did stop to talk, it was with passion and sincerity. Intensity and anger often reserved for singing, not for the in between song banter. They praise the crowd, the everlasting punk rock family with DBS in the crowd, and the punk rock ethos.

The set was fast and furious, only slowing it down for 1 Trillion Dollars, a much needed break after the chaos of Fuck Police Brutality. Their decision to pull out a cover of Fugazi‘s Waiting Room was a very welcome surprised near the tail of the end of the evening; but it was the final three songs of Brandenburg Gate, Die For Your Government and Drink Drank Punk that really stood out.

As they did last year, Pat Thetic dismantled his drum kit for the final verse of Die For Your Government and set it back up on the floor in the middle of the pit. Chris #2 stepped onto the bass drum and together they finished the set as part of the crowd.

Then it was over. Lights came up. There was no encore. The band stayed and mingled with the crowd. They were done, and that was that: even the ending was done with confidence.

   
SuicideGirls

The Suicide Girls

Blackheart Burlesque - Live in Vancouver (04/26/16)

The Vogue - Vancouver, BC
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It’s been just over a year since The Suicide GirlsBlackheart Burlesque show made its way through Vancouver.  Last year was the first time I saw the touring nerd-gasm showcase and it – quite frankly – blew me away.  As soon as the announcement came through, I knew I’d be going again. How could I not?

The Blackheart Burlesque, is after all, a sight to see.

Ran by The Suicide Girls, an online website dedicated to an alternative take on the modelling industry, skewed towards the punk, emo and tattoo lifestyle; the burlesque tour encompasses all of that into almost two hours of choreographed dancing filled to the brim with pop culture references. It tours the world, rotating dancers and routines all the while maintaining the same ideology and entertainment.

The question, then, is simple: did the 2016 edition of the tour live up to the expectations set forth the year prior? The answer, honestly, is yes and no.

This year’s rendering saw a few returning Suicide Girls – Peneloppe, Sunny, Liryc – alongside newcomers Lucerne, Cookie and Katherine who took over MC duties from Sunny this year. For me, it was the addition of Vancouver’s very own Cheri Suicide  to the lineup that truly excited and ultimately disappointed me.  As one of my favourite Suicide Girls and one of the best stage dancers I’ve seen, I was excited to see what she’d bring to the Blackheart Burlesque pop-culture themed dances. Sadly, she focused her energy on DJing and never took the stage. While the music and cues are most definitely integral, I was eagerly anticipating seeing her dancing – a feat that never came.

Nevertheless, the six Suicide Girls who did grace the stage with their dance moves were far from a disappointment.  Switching between solo and group performances, there was rarely any downtime. A few new routines filtered into their set – The Simpsons meets Planet Of The Apes being a major highlight as was Katherine Suicide‘s Pokemon solo dance – but they kept going strong with their old classics too.

The Star Wars themed closer with all six dancers, the insanely sexy 50 Shades of Gray routine, a solo of Legend Of Zelda number by Liryc, a trio of Adventure Time characters, an energetic Beetlejuice performance and the classic burlesque number, Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Shot.  These were just some of their uniquely styled Burlesque dances. Frank – Donnie Darko’s famed rabbit – even made a scantily clad appearance to the soothing tunes of Mad World around the midway point.

Showing that they’re not all about dancing, Sunny Suicide stepped up to the stage near the end to sing a slightly re-worked version of The Little Mermaid‘s Part Of Your World  – but added the Suicide Girls spin with condom and dildo props.

Katherine Suicide was a spectacular host – and just like Sunny did last year, utilized a lot of crowd participation and subscription giveaways. It would’ve been nice to see them come up with a few new interactive contests – but you just can’t say no to a lap dance from Peneloppe Suicide (who, on a side note, absolutely stole the show all night).

The biggest thing to take from the evening’s event was the importance of setting and atmosphere at a Blackheart Burlesque show. At the Rickshaw, it was standing room. You could move around. Dance. Cheer. It was a more collaborative, jovial atmosphere. The Vogue is a gorgeous theatre, but planted seats took away the frivolity of it, eliminated some of the intimacy and make it a bit stuffier (if you could ever call watching half-naked models dance to Thriller stuffy). Plus, with seats its way harder to walk away from annoying drunk frat boys yelling moronic shit all night than it is with free flowing foot traffic.

Was it as good as last years? Maybe not, the seated atmosphere took something away from it. Was it fun? Hell yeah – and you can be sure I’ll be there again next year.

   

Contest: Win Anti-Flag Tickets in Vancouver

Anti-Flag Canada TourAnti-Flag are about to embark on their Canadian spring tour in an attempt to “Make Canada Great Again” – or so their tour poster claims. Joining them on the West Coast portion of the tour is Lee Corey Oswald with Black Lungs hoping on during the East Coast Dates.

To kick start their trip across the Great White North, the Pittsburgh quartet will be playing at The Venue in Vancouver, BC on April 28th. In celebration of the show, the fine folks at Blueprint Live have given us a pair of tickets to give away to a lucky winner.

Enter to win below!

Read More…

   

Exclusive Stream: Morning Glory – Accidental Suicide

Morning GloryJust over a year ago, Morning Glory released their critically acclaimed album, War Psalms, on Fat Wreck Chords. The album was an unrelenting tour-de-force, jamming thirteen songs of unique, anthemic punk together in a only that only the enigmatic Ezra Kire could go.

Of course, it’s kind of no surprise that those thirteen songs weren’t the only ones that were recorded during that session which brings us to where we are today.

Anxious And Angry (the new label/clothing/art project from Off With Their Heads‘ Ryan Young) has teamed up with Buyback Records (another new label founded by Morning Glory‘s very own guitar Heavy Metal Chris) to release a six-song ten inch EP called Post War Psalms featuring b-sides from the album. Young explained:

“When I first heard the demos from War Psalms, I couldn’t wait to hear how it was going to pan out. I was surprised that some of my favorite songs from what I had heard didn’t make the cut for the record. Thinking more about it though, I realized it had much less to do with “making the cut” than it did with the fact that Ezra is incredibly prolific with his output. These 6 songs make for a great cohesive release on it’s own. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I was asked to help release a record for a band that I love and respect so much.”

We are very pleased to give you a first look at the fifth track on the EP, Accidental Suicide, exclusively below.

Give it a listen and then head over to either Buyback Records or Anxious And Angry to pick up a copy of the release to add to your collection. Read More…

Live Concert Review

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Live in Vancouver (03/03/16)

Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC
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Frank Turner, like many bands, has evolved over the years. He’s no longer the solo acoustic troubadour playing parking lots and hotel rooms and he’s progressed from being the first opening act for Gaslight Anthem to the main event. In the eight years since I first saw Turner hit the stage, he’s swapped labels, released four full length albums, broke his back and continued to tour, got healthy again and brought his full backing band with him from across the pond.

These changes can be good – it’s great to see a favourite grow in popularity; but that growth occasionally comes with drawbacks, the biggest of which comes from the massive variation of fans in the crowds.

For this reason, partway through the set; my friends and I all thought to ourselves “so, this is a Frank Turner  show now?” It wasn’t Turner – he was good. He was alive, energetic,  and sweaty as he jumped and hopped around the stage singing Recovery, The Road, Mittens, Polaroid Pictures, The Next Storm, Try This At Home and more but the crowd seemed to be a mixture of personas. There were double dates where both parties tried to flirt all show, the boyfriend cages that fiercely elbowed anyone that came near their energetically singing girl, the people living behind their cell phones, those few clusters of pogo sticking jumpers. No one quite knew what to do and even Turner himself tried riling the crowd up by dividing them into competitive sections.

It was relatively quiet, oddly calm for a Turner show – so much so that even my all time favourite The Ballad Of Me and My Friends failed to give me the chills that it normally does.

The crowd seemed to be waiting for permission to explode, almost there but holding back and it wasn’t until Turner pulled up a fan holding the “Frank Turner Tour Flag” on stage that they felt they got it. The flag has been travelling to every show on the tour, being passed from enthusiastic fan to enthusiastic fan. This particular fan, named Matt, was pulled to the stage and crowd surfed from one end of the room, around two opposing pillars and back to the stage.

From that point on, it seemed that those who wanted to dance had defacto permission to go wild and thus, they did.

Photosynthesis, Plain Sailing Weather, Reasons Not To Be An Idiot, Glory Hallelujah, St. Christopher Is Coming Home and Long Live The Queen. The set list, to put it simply, was solid and when the crowd could finally dance, they did.  Whether he was full band – like on the raucous I Still Believe – or solo – like on Tattoo which he dedicated to his newly inked New Brunswick tattoo –  the crowd finally felt alive.

They danced along to Four Simple Words at the end of the night, just as the song instructed them to and finally it felt the way a Frank Turner show should feel. It just took half the show to get to that point.

   
Live Concert Review

Propagandhi

Live In Vancouver (02/06/16)

The Rickshaw Theatre - Vancouver, BC
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There are some bands you just need to see when they pass through town. Bands that tour so infrequently and have such a reverent fan base, that when they finally decide to stop by your hometown, you just go see them.  There’s no other option.

Winnipeg’s Propagandhi are one such band.

It’s been thirty years since guitarist Chris Hannah and drummer Jord Samolesk teamed up together in the little town of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba to create politically minded punk rock. Despite their ever constant presence in the Canadian and global punk scene, it’s been almost two decades since they’ve stopped in British Columbia. With such a long absence, it came as no surprised that both Vancouver shows at the Rickshaw Theatre were sold out, as punks – old and new but mostly old – filled the floor, the seats and the rafters with eager anticipation.

After solid opening sets from Vancouver’s Slip Ons and Albany, NY’s After The Fall (who played all of last year’s Dedication in honor of their founding member Brian  Peters who passed away in late 2013), the crowd was ready and roaring to go. 

With no pomp or bravado, the fearsome four piece took the stage. Bassist Todd Kowalski, sporting some dashing basketball shorts and fist pumps galore, energized the crowd before they even began – and once the opening notes to Night Letters ripped through the speaker, there was no stopping anyone.

The crowd was a frenzy of chaotic action. The band jumped, and pumped, and shredded like never before. And the sound, something The Rickshaw Theatre occasionally has problems with, was perfect. It was clean and raw, showcasing the band’s spectacular musicianship the way it deserves to be.

Newcomer Sulynn Hago held her own, adding in backup vocals and even the occasional in-between song banter, while shredding through song after song after song.  They jumped throughout their entire discography, playing the must have hits like Dear Coaches Corner, Supporting Caste, Failed States and Cognitive Suicide, but also some rarer cuts as a special treat for those dedicated fans who went both nights. I only went on Saturday and was treated to The Banger’s Embrace, Fuck The Border, Haillie Sellasse Up Your Ass and the rare Purina Hall of Fame. For their encore they even brought out members from The Rebel Spell to do a cover of I Am A Rifle! in memory of the late Todd Rebel.

This is a band that knows how to play a set. They may not tour as frequently as they once did, but this isn’t a gimmicky reunion tour. Propagandhi still command the full attention of the crowd, they shred non-stop and watching them on Saturday you knew why they weren’t just an important Canadian punk band, but an important punk band – no classifiers needed.

   

Interview: Medictation

MedictationSeveral years in the making, Medictation are a unique Trans-Atlantic project born from the ashes of Montreal’s The Sainte Catherines and Sunderland’s Leatherface. While both projects were laid to rest in 2012, the seeds of this musical combination began to sprout. Now, just over three years later, the fruits of that labour is finally available for general consumption through the fine folks at Paper + Plastick Records in the form of Warm Places.

We had a quick little conversation with Graeme Philliskirk and Hugo Mudie to discuss how this odd-ball collection of musicians formed Medictation.

Read the interview here.

   

Exclusive Song: Medictation – My Friends Will Call

MedictationWarm Places, the debut album from Medictation, has been a long time in the works. Featuring members from both sides of the pond, the band features three members from Montreal’s The Sainte Catherines’ alongside two members of Sunderland’s Leatherface – including the final works from the legendary Dickie Hammond who sadly passed away late last year at the age of fifty.

The seeds of the project began when the two toured North America together back in 2012 before both bands called it a day and tomorrow Paper + Plastick Records is pleased to finally put the songs out into the world.

In anticipation of the release, we are ecstatic to exclusively premiere the track My Friends Will Call, the eighth song from the album, below.

Read More…

   

Exclusive Premiere: Rock Eupora – I Wanna Be Alone

Rock EurphoraAfter putting to rest his rock and roll trio Wolf Cove, Clayton Waller began working on solo songs that would become the foundation of his project Rock Eupora and his first aolo album, Blanks

He’s now back with his sophomore album, Soon The Sun Will Come, recorded in his apartment-converted basement.

We’re pleased to offer an exclusive premiere of the song  I Wanna Be Alone below.

Read More…

   

ThePunkSite.com’s Best of 2015

Best-of-2015It’s that time of year again where we sit back, eat food, drink beer and reminisce about the past year’s best and worst, highlights and lowlights. The albums that forced us to sing our hearts out, the shows that struck a chord and the moments reverberated through our collected consciousnesses. We here at ThePunkSite.com, like everyone does this time of year, and looked back at our listening habits for the past 365 days and determined these the albums that truly left an impact with us.

Without further ado, select a contributor and see their year in review for 2015:

Bobby Gorman | Cole Faulkner | Steven Farkas Dustin Blumhagen | Tom Liveyns

   

2015: Year End Review by Bobby Gorman

ThePunkSite.com’s Best Of 2015

Best-of-2015It’s that time of year again where we sit back, eat food, drink beer and reminisce about the past year’s best and worst, highlights and lowlights. The albums that forced us to sing our hearts out, the shows that struck a chord and the moments reverberated through our collected consciousnesses. We here at ThePunkSite.com, like everyone does this time of year, and looked back at our listening habits for the past 365 days and determined these the albums that truly left an impact with us.

Without further ado, select a contributor and see their year in review for 2015:

Bobby Gorman | Cole Faulkner | Steven Farkas Dustin Blumhagen | Tom Liveyns


2015: Year End Review by Bobby Gorman

Here we are again. The tail end of December and that means it’s time for me to look back at the past year and pick out my favourite songs, albums, moments, and what have you from the past twelve months. As always, this time of year serves as a useful reminder of what came and went, what you missed and those albums that you loved but may have fallen to the wayside from when it was first released in January.

Nevertheless, it’s great to start looking back and seeing what the punk scene provided for us. There’s some gems you knew you loved that get the chance to be played over and over again and then there’s the odd few that you fall in love with then and there. As mentioned, it also helps point out to albums that you may have previously missed. Seriously, I had no idea The Hextalls or Darkbuster released new material this year, but now that I know – I’ve listened to both albums more than a dozen times.

2015 was a busy year, even with taking a two month holiday. Sadly, I also listened to less music than ever before but those albums that battled through to make it to my ear canals – well, there’s a reason they made it that far.

So without further ado, here’s my look back at the best releases of 2015.


Top 10 Albums Of The Year

These ten albums should really be listed in alphabetical order as there’s no reason to place one above the other. Each and every record has hit me in one way or another and should all be listened to for a unique reason. I mean, I could easily switched Jeff Rosenstock and Penske Files around and the list would still feel properly ordered; but alas, a top ten needs to be numbered – so here we go.

Red City Radio
  1. Red City Radio Self TitledStaple Records

If you like The Fest, you’ll like Red City Radio. If you don’t like The Fest, Red City Radio won’t be for you.

On their third full length, the band has truly found themselves (it makes sense that this is what they decided to be their Self-Titled album). It’s a hold over until the new Nothington album, but that doesn’t mean it’s a knockoff. Distorted guitars, tension that ebbs and flows, and raspy vocals – Red City Radio never gets boring.

Must Listen: Whatch’a Got?, Two Out of Three Ain’t Rad, I Should Have Known

Bad Cop Bad Cop
  1. Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Not SorryFat Wreck Chords

Not Sorry starts off with an acapella greeting of “Hello!” before blasting into Nightmare and right away, you know Bad Cop/Bad Cop are set to deliver something memorable with their debut album. Produced by Fat Mike, the album is your quintessential Fat Wreck sound, a throw back to the likes of The Fight or Civet but with a bouncy, upbeat pop-punk delivery. Harmonies that get ingrained without you even realizing it, Not Sorry is unapologetically catchy and they carry that attitude into their live show too.

Must Listen: Like Seriously, Nightmare, Sugarcane

Jeff Rosenstock - We Cool?
  1. Jeff RosenstockWe Cool?Side One Dummy Records

Allow me to commit the greatest sin in the punk world: I don’t like Bomb The Music Industry!. I love their ideas, I love what Rosenstock has done with Quote UnQuote Records, I’ve seen them live and I have a few of their albums. But that band means nothing to me.

His first attempt at a proper solo album (with many members from Bomb serving as backing band), is finally an album where I see the genius that is Jeff Rosenstock. The album is frenzied, chaotic, loud and soft, harsh and harmonious, comical and serious, fun yet moving. Maybe I’ll have to give Bomb another chance.

Must Listen: Beers Alone Again, Darkness Records, Nausea

Millencolin - True Brew
  1. MillencolinTrew BrewEpitaph Records

To this date, Millencolin are one of three bands that I want to see live that I haven’t. Pennybridge Pioneers will forever be one of the best albums of all time in my mind and serves as a perfect example of skate pop-punk. Sadly, their last few albums lacked a certain attraction and were, simply, forgettable.

Trew Brew, however, is not. Trew Brew is a return to form for the Swedish quartet. Perfectly polished, raucous sing-alongs, slick guitar work and harmonies up the wazoo. This is punk. Pop-punk. Skate punk. The diary definition of EpiFat sound – whatever you wanna call it, Trew Brew serves as a shot of nostalgia transporting you back to when you first heard Millencolin and man, nothing gets better than that.

Must Listen: Trew Brew, Egocentric Man, Mr. Fake Believe

Home Street Home
  1. Fat Mike And FriendsHome Street Home (Original Songs From The Shit Musical)Fat Wreck Chords

Home Street Home deserves to be in a category of all its own. Serving as a sound track for a Broadway musical still in development, Fat Mike called on Tony Award winner Jeff Marx to craft 18 songs detailing the tale of a run-away who finds way to survive in the seedy underbelly of street-life. There’s definitely a NOFX vibe to it (they even cover The Agony of Victory), but Marx brings the more theatrical flair to it. Add in the fact that you have guest vocals from the likes of Frank Turner, Matt Skiba, Tony Sly, Bad Cop‘s Stacey Dee, and Dance Hall Crashers’ Karina Denike alongside musicians from Descendents, Lagwagon, Old Man Markley, Mad Caddies, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Aggrolites, The Living End, The Real McKenzies, and RKLHome Street Home is truly a musical of punk rock royalty.

Must Listen: High Achievers, Monsters, Safe Words, Another Bad Decision

Penske File
  1. Penske Files – Burn Into the Earth – Stomp Records

Burlington, ON’s three piece The Penske Files are more than just the Seinfeld reference that borne its name. They’re a raw pop-punk band that merges Junior Battles with Captain We’re Sinking. It’s like Bombs Over Providence are back playing underground dive bars again, but added in the occasional harmonica or if The Blacklist Royals gave up their Tennessee background.

Must Listen: Damned, Old Dogs, Dead Letters

Spraynard - Mable
  1. SpraynardMableJade Tree Records

Despite the seemingly comfortable dog, lazily laying asleep on the couch on the cover of the album, Mable is anything but cozy. It’s unrelenting, passionate and sincere. Emotional pop-punk that tears at your heart strings while inspiring you to throw your first up in the air with them.  A fast paced, boisterous concoction of pop-punk, with gruff vocals neatly buried in the mix, right on the verge of overwhelming everything but muddled enough to just soak in as well.

Nihilistic lyrics of self-reflection, introspection and the desire to find solace in the arms of friends and strangers. The songs are passionate connections of fleeting emotions that nearly pummels you into submission – and that’s a good thing.

Must Listen: Medicine, Applebee’s Bar, Lost Boys

Anti-Flag - American Spring
  1. Anti-Flag – American Spring – Spinefarm Records

I’ll be honest, I thought American Spring came out last year but when I realized this came out in May, I knew it would make it into my list. It would make it on the strength of Bradenburg Gate in and of itself, but there’s more to it than that.

For a band that’s been going for twenty odd years, Anti-Flag knows what works and what doesn’t and they solidify that on American Spring. Unapologetically anthemic, the band has upped the chorus filled anthems and limited their experimentations that hindered the likes of The Bright Lights of America. It’s a polished Anti-Flag, still political, still fierce, a tad cleaner, and much more competent musicianship. It’s an Anti-Flag album for Anti-Flag fans.

Must Listen: Bradenburg Gate, Song For Your Enemy, Without End

success-radio-recovery
  1. SuccessRadio RecoveryRed Scare Industries

The first time I saw Success, they were opening for Direct Hit at The Beat Kitchen in Chicago and I instantly bought all their albums. Radio Recovery just happens to be the latest effort and I can`t stop replaying it. Songs about growing up, finding yourself and the love of punk, Success are like Bouncing Souls for the modern times but with a West Coast flair. Rev has a distinct vocal style that is somehow new and instantly familiar all at once, and I can`t wait to see what else they come out with over the coming years.

Must Listen: Nowhere Kids, Revolution Schmevolution, Lives That We Deserve

beach slang the things we do to find people who feel like us
  1. Beach SlangThe Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like UsPolyvinyl

This is an album that needs to be experienced live to truly appreciate but when it hits you, it gives you shivers right through your core.

The album is ten love songs to the freaks, outcasts and the punks; detailing the joys of living life the way you want, with your friends and the unrelenting freeing sensation of music in a world where you feel out of place. Sonically, it`s like Jawbreaker meets The Replacements. It`s distorted and visceral, low-fi but technically profound – all without a care in the world.

Most importantly, this album is honest in its most simplistic form. There’s an almost animalistic connectivity to it that anybody who has ever sang arm in arm with a stranger in a dingy dive bar will relate to. After all, “The night is alive, it’s loud, and I’m drunk.”

Must Listen: Too Late To Die Young, Noisy Heaven, I Break Guitars

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order)

Briggs – 2015 EP – Self Released
Direct HitMore of the SameRed Scare Industries
Fire Next Time Cold HandsSTOMP Records
Good RiddancePeace In our TimesFat Wreck Chords
Great ApesGrey TapesSay10 Records
Max Levine EnsembleBacklash, BabyRumbletowne Records & Lame-O Records
Strung OutTransmission.Alpha.DeltaFat Wreck Chords
TimesharesAlready Dead – SideOneDummy Records
Wolf Face/ Teen-Agers –  SplitSay 10 Records
WorriersImaginary LifeDon Giovanni Records
Youth Decay – The Party’s OverNew Damage Records

 

Best Live Show

Andrew WKFest – Nov. 1st, 2015 – Gainesville, Florida

Words cannot describe how divine this performance was.  It was almost an out of body experience unparalleled to anything I’ve ever felt. Party Rocker Andrew WK headlined the main stage at The Fest on the final night and I had every intention of watching 15minutes and running to go catch High Dive and Rational Anthem, but that idea flew out the window immediately.

Andrew WK, with a band full of Floridian musicians, played the landmark I Get Wet in its entirety with a few new songs like You Will Remember Tonight and everything worked together to make the night perfect. The weather was pristine. The sound top notch. The crowd was alive and electric (excluding the one guy who actually party till he puked in the last song). He changed I Love New York City to I Love Florida and finally hearing She Is Beautiful live after he skipped it the past few times I`ve seen him was surreal.

I stumbled to my next show barely able to walk, drenched in sweat, shaking in sheer ecstasy. I felt alive, and happy and no show since Rancid back to back in 2013 has left me with such elation and I imagine it`ll be several years before I hit that plateau again.

Runner Ups:

Beach Slang – Nov. 10, 2015 – Cobalt, Vancouver BC
Anti-Flag – March 13, 2015 – Venue – Vancouver, BC


Bobby Gorman is Founder and Editor of ThePunkSite.com 

Rocket From Russia Presents Vancouver Best of 2015 Party

Rocket From RussiaCITR’s Rocket From Russia are hosting Vancouver’s punk rock Christmas party tomorrow night, December 19th, at the Wise Hall Lounge. Billed as the “Best of 2015 Party”, the evening will be a celebratory event looking back at the past year’s best releases, shows and events.

Hosted by Russian Time, the show will feature Vancouver troubadour Jesse Lebourdais performing his final show of the year, a merch flea market and a panel discussion reflecting on the year’s releases. The panel will feature Hosehead Records‘ owner Patrick McEachnie, Music Director of CiTR Radio 101.9FM Andy Resto and ThePunkSite.com‘s very own Bobby Gorman (aka: me). It will be moderated by Russian Tim (Rocket From Russia, CiTR Radio 101.9FM).

More details can be found here.

Tours: Suicide Girls Blackheart Burlesque – Canada (Early Bird Tickets)

For the second year in a row, The Suicide Girls‘ Blackheart Burlesque will be taking their unique burlesque show across Canada this upcoming Spring.

Kicking off on April 25th in Victoria, BC at The Distrikt, the tour will wrap up on May 8th in London, Ontario. The show features a selection of Suicide Girls from around the globe doing dances to some pop-culture icons such as Clockwork Orange, Star Wars, Adventure Time, Harry Potter, Justice League, Tomb Raider and more.

In anticipation of the tour, Union Events are running a contest for your chance to win a VIP upgrade to one of their shows along with 3 hardcover Suicide Girl books just in time for Christmas. Anyone who purchases a ticket here from before December 11th will automatically entered to win.

The dates are below while our review of this year’s show can be read here. Read More…

   

Dropkick Murphy’s 20th Anniversary Tour

Dropkick MurphysBoston’s legendary Celtic punks Dropkick Murphys have announced dates for their 20 Year Anniversary Tour starting next year.

The North American tour kicks off February 18 at House Of Blues in Cleveland and wraps with the band’s traditional hometown run of Boston shows St. Patrick’s Day week (March 17-20, 2016). 

The tour will feature Tiger Army as opening act who will be touring behind their first new album in over seven years, along with Boston’s Darkbuster. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, November 27th.

The band’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day dates in Boston will be highlighted by a special 20 Year Anniversary Show at Boston University’s Agganis Arena on Saturday, March 19 that will also feature performances from a “very special surprise band”, plus Boston hardcore legends Slapshot, and The Fenian Sons. Doors open at 3:30 PM and music starts at 4:30 PM.

Following the Agganis Arena show, the band will host an official afterparty at House Of Blues on Lansdowne Street in Boston from 9:00 PM through 1:00 AM featuring pro boxing and “some musical surprises.” Read More…

Interview: Reel Big Fish

Reel Big FishReel Big Fish is one of those bands that appeal to large audiences, both within and outside of the punk rock community. They’re loved by die-hard fans, ska kids and punk rockers. Hell, you could play their songs in preschool and get the toddlers skanking.

The band got “mainstream big” with a few solid hits during the 90’s and early 00’s. That’s probably when  most of you reading this got to know Reel Big Fish. These days the band releases their material independently, “Candy Coated Fury” (2012) being the last studio album to have come out.

So when we  got the chance to sit down with Aaron Barrett, the face and only remaining founding member of the band, we finally got to ask him about being Sell Out‘s on MTV and about his favourite Beer. I even asked for some fashion advice.

Read the interview here.

   
Live Concert Review

Gogol Bordello

Live In Vancouver (11/21/15)

Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC
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Despite being around for several years beforehand, I – like many others – first discovered Gogol Bordello with their breakout 2005 album, Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. It was raw, chaotic and unlike anything else out there. A weird amalgamation of Eastern European traditional gypsy music, pumped up to the max and fronted by the charismatic Eugene Hutz.

It’s been ten years and three albums, but the New York by way of Brazil by way of Russia by way of Vancouver by way of Los Angeles band is back touring the ten year anniversary of Gypsy Punks and the album hasn’t lost its luster in the decade since its release.

Opening the night was Detroit’s Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas during their first show in Vancouver.  Playing a nearly headlining-sized set, Hernandez channeled Amy Winehouse amped up with energy. Hernandez stormed around the stage, dancing, flaying, running to and from the crowd while never letting her vocals waver. The songs were harsh love songs, a fresh take above and beyond the lovelorn pop ballads of the radio. Somehow you just can’t imagine hearing Carnie Threesome in the top 40 yet The Deltas were a breath of fresh air and an appropriate introduction to the main course of Gogol Bordello.

The nine piece band has the frenetic stage presence that one can only get from having that many members. No one stayed static. Drummers became singers. Guitarists faded into the background then jumped onto the monitors. Bassists floated around and took total dominance when the time called for it. Two members showed up during I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again to scream and dance with Eugene and continued to bounce on and off stage all night – continually coming on with new outfits and instruments. Sometimes it was washboards, sometimes it was trumpets, sometimes timpani drums and their general aura just added to the performance.

And it was a performance.

It was choreographed. Frenzied. Spastic. Eugene Hutz slowly lost more and more clothes as the night went on and bended and squirmed around like Iggy Pop only with scraggly hair covering his face. At times they had as many as four percussionists at once and Pedro Erazo almost matched Hutz in enthusiasm whenever he bounced up front to sing.

As promised, they played Gypsy Punk in its entirety – although slightly out of order. Like any regular set, they needed to put Start Wearing Purple later on in the set, but they generally kept the order on par to the album. Underground World Strike, Dogs Were Barking, Immigrant Punk, Think Locally Fuck Globally were some of the standouts.

For their encore they dove into the rest of their catalog, Wonderlust King, American Wedding, Alcohol, Pala Tute and more. It all made for a set that lasted for two hours, well into the early morning and one filled with dancing, sweating and singing by a band that who’s live energy can’t be matched.

Photos by Nick Dudar

[nggallery id=122 images=0]

The Fest 14

The Fest 14 and Pre-Fest 3

Live in Florida (Halloween Weekend 2015)

Ybor City, FL and Gainesville, FL
By

 
 

 

 

“It’s Friday night and I’m in the basement, 
Screaming out my lungs with my best friends. 
I hope when I die, I feel this alive. “
– Beach Slang, “American Girls and French Kisses”

Nicole Kibert is one of many photographers you see running around at Fest year after year after year. It’s weird, after a bit – you start recognizing the photographers. You know their styles, their color edits, the angles they favourite, even sometimes the lens choices they lean towards.

All by stalking their photo albums after the Fest.

(Creepy. I know.)

Kibert was one of many artists (including my very talented friend Kaitlyn Laurel McGann) who took over Anthem Tattoo this year for a Fest Art show featuring photos and artwork documenting our little punk rock scene in the 21st century. On top of capturing the performances that everyone is there to see, Kibert turns her camera onto the audience themselves for her annual “Why Do You Fest?” feature.

In it, she gets Fest attendees to write on a blank piece of paper a few things: name, hometown, how many fests they’ve been to and why they fest. It’s a fascinating look at the appeal of the festival, as it shows a direct insight to the audience’s mind better than any story or promotional item ever could.

Each year I see Kibert doing this and I want to join – but unlike most of her subjects, I’m at a loss of words for what to say. Why do I Fest? I don’t know. It’s a paralysing question due to its overwhelming nature. There’s so many reasons why I fest, why I’ve flown across the continent for the past five years, why I forgo sleep for a week straight and survive on PBR and the odd slice of Five-Star or Flacos. A month in advance I accept the fact that immune system will be shot and I’ll be sick for weeks afterwards – and I’m okay with that.

Why?

Because it’s Fest.

There’s nothing more to say.

Fest is a holiday. A pilgrimage. A reunion. An escape from reality.

It’s home three thousand miles away from home with an adopted family full of indecipherable accents – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Today Will Be Over And Done With A Sunrise
But The Way That You Feel Will Be Frozen Forever In Time
You’ll Forget Yesterday
You’ll Forget All The Fears In Your Old Life
[…]
Until The End Of Your Days
When You Remember Your Life
You Will Remember Tonight”
– Andrew WK, “You Will Remember Tonight”

BigPrefest 3Unlike every other year I’ve been, Fest 14 didn’t feature a “must-see” headliner. Conor Oberst’s Desaparecidos seemed to have been a big talking point but cancelled at the last minute due to laryngitis. But even with them, there wasn’t a Hot Water Music 20th anniversary show in their hometown, or a rare Descendents show. The Lawrence Arms weren’t there and Dillinger Four were never scheduled to play Gainesville in Gainesville.

There wasn’t a single band that every person and their dog was excited for; and while that made it difficult to hype it to my non-punk friends – the lack of the so-called headliner didn’t hinder this year’s festivities.

It was still packed – showing that, unlike most festivals, The Fest‘s attraction isn’t a few bands but all the bands. You’re not there to say I saw this band or that band but to simply see bands.

Without that anchor point, schedules for this year were much more fluid. Talking to countless friends and strangers alike, most people had the same mentality: this year, I’m just going to go with the flow. Hang out with friends and see what happens.

Of course, that go with the flow attitude makes for some mixups. I missed Wolf-Face at Fest (but caught their Screeching Weasel cover set in Tampa), Blacklist Royals’ acoustic and full band sets both eluded me, Rational Anthem conflicted in both cities, I straight out forgot Success were playing until it was too late, Empty Lungs couldn’t pull me away from Chumped‘s final show and running into friends on the street saw me miss the final minutes of Protagonist.

But when you can easily rattle off a handful of bands you wanted to see and missed, just imagine who you did see.

For me, it was 84 bands in five days – which isn’t too bad if I do say so myself.

There were bands I had to see, The Menzingers slayed all three sets including their hour and a half  set on the first day of Fest and their acoustic show at the next day’s pineapple party hosted by Jason Guy Smiley. The Copyrights played Mutiny Pop front to back – who could say no to that? Bigwig haven’t toured in how long? So you could be damn sure I’d be at Cowboys (which will always live in my heart as 8 Seconds) when they took the stage.

Cayetana could barely contain their excitement as everyone sang their lyrics back at them and Jeff Rosenstock was, like always, hilarious and the perfect showman for his solo act and Antartigo Vespucci. Defiance, Ohio kicked off Sunday beautifully if you were unable to wake up in time for Punk Rock Trivia hosted by the venerable Russian Tim and the entire Fat Wreck showcase at Lot 10 on Saturday was a treat (including Bad Cop Bad Cop dressed up as Ninja Turtles with Splinter throwing candy into the crowd).

Then you also had Spraynard, Address, Dollyrots, So So Glows, Great Cynics, Mustard Plug, Underground Railroad To Candyland,  Sidekicks, The Penske File, Jabber and countless others. It was a packed scheduled.

Amongst the big names, Pennsylvania’s Beach Slang were easily the most hotly anticipated set of the weekend. Just like Pup last year and Direct Hit the year before: they were the band you couldn’t afford to miss and if you were lucky enough to get into their set at Tequila’s or Cowboys, you left sweaty and smiling.

In fact, going by word of mouth was sometimes a good thing to do and helped with the whole “go with the flow” style of things. After all, it was how I discovered Caskitt, by far the biggest surprise of the weekend; and it was only because I heard the name thrown around so often that I finally decided to check out Personal Best.

But no matter how good those unknown discoveries are – and Ducking Punches are damn good – there’s still a certain joy in seeing those few bands you hold near and dear. Those bands where you can sing along with every word. Off With Their Heads, Nothington, Tim Barry, Captain We’re Sinking – these are bands that make Fest for me; and out of all the bands I saw and sang along to – it was, somehow, Andrew WK that stole the party.

For The Fest is a party.

A booze-filled, chaotic mess of a party full of friends and strangers alike; where you stay up till seven in the morning singing bad cover songs on an ukulele as you lay down in the Holiday Inn parking lot. There’s a spirit of randomness, excitement, and unbridled energy. It’s where society’s anchors flourish and feel at home. It’s a party that you’ll never forget, or one where you drink too much to ever remember. But the sensation lives on. The spirit, the positivity, the love for one another that you can’t find anywhere else.

And, despite being so far off from the generic Fest band sound – Andrew WK personifies that spirit and excitement. Just look at the lyrics above – I’d be hard pressed to find a better descriptor of the feeling of Fest.

It’s something you don’t forget and his set, which featured basically all of I Get Wet being played with a full band, was just one example of yet another unforgettable Fest moment.

Not only was it the best set of the weekend but possibly the best set I’ve seen all year. The energy was palpable, the crowd alive, and turning I Love New York City into I Love Florida just felt right.

“And we drank and talked shit and I was happy. 
And we drank and talked shit and I was happy. 
And we drank and talked shit and I was happy.”
 – Chumped, “Name That Thing”

It wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies though, there were a few moments that tugged at the heartstrings; but those moments of sadness brought you back to life as well.

Amongst the joy and jubilations, a few bands were prepping to bid farewell. Banquets, who’s front man was dealing with the passing of his grandmother, played their final Fest show as part of their farewell tour and maybe it was knowing that, but their set seemed tighter and stronger than I’ve ever seen them before.

The Fest 14Direct Hit! created a bump in the evening’s events as a serious knee injury caused the show to be put on hold and await medical care. It was tough to see, but handled professionally by the band, venue and festival.

Throughout it all though, the most emotional set and the one that made you realized you were witnessing something special was Chumped at The Wooly. Announced the day before, whispers that this was going to be Chumped‘s final show before an indefinite hiatus floated through the festival and the line-up wrapped around the block and back by the time the show came to be.

Front woman Anika Pyle held back tears the entire evening as they told stories, thanked their friends and drank more shots than one should while on stage.

It was emotional, raw and moving and was capped off with a wedding proposal between my new Aussie friend Mikaela and Typesetter‘s Alex Palermo. Standing amongst her friends and hearing the cheer go up is yet another unforgettable memory.

While for many, an engagement in front of a room full of strangers may seem odd – it’s a family at Fest and has become a norm. On top of the Chumped proposal there was another engagement on the main stage at Masked Intruder, a full blown wedding ceremony in the middle of The Decline‘s set and another proposal that I only heard stories off. A year doesn’t go by without at least one engagement.

The bands are also family which is why The Fest is ripped for band amalgamation and incestuous crossovers. Lou Hanman played a solo Caves set after her bandmate was turned away at the border but also played alongside Worriers, Personal Best and Mikey Erg. Erg himself was also in Worriers, The Unloveables (which also had members of Jabber and Boys doing back-up vocals), Fuck Its Pronounced Shit and probably a dozen other bands. For its part, Fuck Its Pronounced Shit hosts Direct Hit!‘s Devon Kay and The Murderburger‘s Fraser Murderburger. Pears‘ Brian Pretus joined Off With Their Heads for Clear The Air, Coffee Project were joined by Kim from Whiskey & Co.; Jason Guy Smiley hopped on stage with Captain We’re Sinking and Mixtapes‘ Maura Weaver joined Masked Intruder for Heart Shape Guitar. France’s Guerilla Poubelle had Arms Aloft help them cover Taylor Swift‘s Shake It Off. Pup went the hard route with Jeff Rosenstock jumping in on a Beasties Boy cover while Mustard Plug‘s  Rick Johnson did sound for numerous bands and shared the stage with Dan Potthast for the hilarious Sharkanoid set.

I can’t think of any other festival where bands float from stage to stage so easily, creating one-off performances that are impossible to find anywhere else.

It’s doable because it’s a family affair.

And that, if I think about it, may be the reason why I Fest.

I Fest to eat pizza at five in the morning with friends from New Jersey.
I Fest to bang on the back of my Omaha brother during Andrew WK.
I Fest to watch the sunrise day after day after day, and get up to do it again.
I Fest to lay in the parking lot and talk nonsense.
I Fest to power through six hours of alcohol induced vomiting and go again.
I Fest to see my all time favourite bands.
I Fest to see bands I’ve never even heard off before.
I Fest to hang with Americans, Aussies, Irish men and friends who flew in from all over Asia.
I Fest to make memories.
I Fest for so many reasons, but I’ll paraphrase the Beach Slang lyric at the top of this article:
I Fest To Feel Alive.

Maybe next year I’ll write it down for Nicole and smile for a photo.

“The punks are wired and these records feel tough.
It’s loud and wild, but I swear it feels soft.
Yeah, it’s always enough. 
It’s always been enough.

There’s honesty in these neon lights.
We’re animals, drunk and alive
I swear, right now I’m alright.”
– Beach Slang,” Too Late To Die Young”

A Selection of Photos fro Nicole Kibert’s “Why I Fest” Portrait  Series

   

Interview: The Nils

The NilsFormed in 1978, Montreal’s The Nils have been around the block a few times. They grew up in the punk scene, helped mold it, define it and become a staple in the Canadian punk history textbooks.

Despite their lengthy career, that doesn’t mean they’re anywhere close to slowing down. No, The Nils are still going strong. Touring, releasing new material and helping promote the punk rock ethos. Front man Carlos Soria gives us the lowdown on the band’s history, the evolution of the style that he loves and holds so dear to his heart and tells us exactly what the band has coming down the pipeline.

Read the interview here.

   
Live Concert Review

Good Riddance / Off With Their Heads / Fire Next Time

Live In Vancouver (10/17/15)

The Rickshaw Theatre - Vancouver, BC
By

 
 

 

 

As much as I’m loathe to admit it – I’m old enough now that nostalgia plays a roll in my concert going activities. I still see new bands, but there’s a certain charm from seeing an old favourite live and that’s what happened at the Rickshaw Theatre Saturday night.

First was Fire Next Time – for most, an unknown entity; but for me, nothing will ever be more nostalgic than Fire Next Time and Audio/Rocketry. Those two Edmonton bands defined my Edmonton local punk youth as I watched them play week after week in small venues with sweaty friends.

Now I’m lucky if I see them once a year but when I do, it’s a blessing.

With a new record out on Stomp Records, the folk-punk band is picking up their game, touring more and garnering more fans – and, rightfully so. Fronted by the rough and road weary James Renton – who’s vocals could easily be compared to an amalgamation of Tim Barry and Ben Nichols with an angsty scream – Fire Next Time regaled the theatre with songs about my old hometown. While it would’ve been nice to hear River City Blues one more time, singing along with Red Lion Rampant and Rosewood Jesus just felt right.

Following them was Minnesota’s gruff punks Off With Their Heads who are, sadly, sometimes hit and miss live. Luckily for those in attendance, Ryan Young and company were in top form – barrelling through a non-stop set of self-deprecating, angsty, angry punk. Young only stopped once to condemn beer being thrown at him and otherwise kept his head down low and blasted through their bass-heavy tunes. Staring with I Hope You Know the band played through The Eyes of Death, Start Walking, Nightlife, Focus On your Own Family, Altar Boy (which they dedicated to all those who hate organized religion), Janie and Don’t Make Me Go.

The set was cathartic; a reprieve for any pent up anger as people crowded to the front to sing along to a band that will surely go down in the annals of punk history. Therefore it makes sense that Good Riddance – a band that is already in the punk history books – ended the night.

Having not toured through Vancouver since around 2003 (partly because they broke up between 2007 and 2012), Good Riddance fans were salivating at the prospect of a nostalgic kick and that’s what they got: A pure, unaltered, punk rock show.

Russ Rankin sounded spot on, spitting screaming vocals overtop Luke Pabich’s crunching guitar and Chuck Platt’s pulsating bass lines. Platt’s vocals were shot thanks to a bad sound set up the night before and you could hear it in his harmonies; a tad disappointing, but then again, punk was never about perfect harmonies.

So fists were thrust into the air. Beers were drunk. Circles were created and ran; and punk fans lost themselves in the moment. Whether it was Grace and Virtue or Mother Superior or even Weight of The World, the crowd enthusiastically sang back with Good Riddance.

Always marginally political, the band continually encouraged the crowd to vote in the upcoming election and seemed genuinely excited about the outcome.

Whether you voted or not, it was a shot of nostalgia for fans who waited a dozen years to see the band live again.

It still just blows my mind that I’ve been seeing shows for twelve years. I am old, but damn it still feels good.

Exclusive Stream: Gentleman Surfer – T The T

Gentleman SurferToday we’re ecstatic to being the second single from Bay-Area hyper-noise punks Gentleman Surfer‘s new album, Gold Man.

The track, T The T, opens the album with a frenzied burst of chaotic surf punk.  A cacophony explosion of unbridled excitement and energy, the song follows September’s maniacal “Beef Peddler” while both songs are set to appear on Gold Man when it gets released on November 6th.

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Interview: Night Birds

Night BirdsNew Jersey’s Night Birds have been making a name for themselves over the last year with their Fat Wreck Chords debut album, Mutiny At Muscle Beach. Right now they’re in the middle of a tour with label mates Dillinger Four and they show absolutely no sign of slowing down.

We caught up with front man Brian Gorsegner earlier this month to learn how the tour is going, what his own personal escape is and what Night Birds have in the works over the next couple months.

Read the interview here.