Armalite (Members of Paint It Black, Atom and His Package) Live in Philadelphia (5/24/14)

armaliteband
When Armalite announced that they were playing on the already sold out show opening for Spraynard at the First Unitarian Church, I was pissed.  I didn’t have a ticket, nor did I plan on getting one because I’m not really a fan of any of the other bands playing the show besides Armalite.  However, when I went to the facebook event page and saw someone was selling an extra ticket day of the show, I had to pick it up to go see Armalite… I haven’t seen them since 2009.

The local Philadelphia dudes, (featuring Atom of Atom and his Package, Dan Paint It Black/Lifetime/Kid Dynamite, Jeff of Affirmative Action Jackson and Mike of Amateur Party) took the stage announcing that this was their sixth show ever in ten years (I’ve been to three), and with a champagne toast blasted into New Wave.

The band was in high spirits with a sloppy and fun set, and a very small handful of us in the sold out crowd were singing along every word.  Mike was taking his usual jabs at his co-vocalist, apologizing that we needed to sit through Atom’s songs.

They played through the majority of the songs they’ve written (which I guess isn’t hard to do with 14 songs), but they left out “Double Negativity-ing”… ouch.  Awesome fun set, I’m hoping they play a proper headlining show soon, but with all of their side projects and being dads and other real life stuff, I won’t hold my breath, and will plan on seeing them in 2019.

Setlist:
New Wave
I Am Pancreas (Seek To Understand Me)
New Years
Husker Dave
Other Entertainers
Dan’s Hands Melt
Destination: Not at Home
Boots, Sneakers
Entitled
Cover (not sure what song)

MP3:
Armalite – I am A Pancreas, Seek To Understand Me

More:
Armalite – Humongous
Armalite – Self Titled
Lifetime – Hello Bastards

The Flex, Violent Reaction, War Emblem, The Stasi Live In Philly (5/22/14)

violent reaction flyer

This past Thursday sort of on a whim, I headed up to some random house up in North Philadelphia to see a bunch of hardcore bands.  It was the house’s first show ever, as apparently they usually just throw parties there, so the set-up was a bit odd (narrow living room, people standing on the couches, etc) and the place was PACKED.

The Stasi

First up was Philly’s own The Stasi.  Named after East Germany’s secret police and intelligence agency, The Stasi plays hardcore punk that reminded me of Negative Approach.  The band was celebrating the release of their 7 inch “State Voyeurism”, expect to see a post on that and their demo up here soon.  Solid set, go check them out live if you get a chance and their recorded stuff on their bandcamp here.

War Emblem

Next up were Philly’s War Emblem, who played heavy as shit hardcore.  They put on a good set, even as the singer was distracted streaming the Rangers playoff game from his phone on the floor (which I feel for you man, I’d be doing the same if it were the World Cup right now) to which his bandmates harassed him throughout the set, chanting “Fuck the Rangers”.  At times, they reminded me a bit of the illegitimate offspring that would happen if Discharge had an affair with NY hardcore.

Violent Reaction

A switch in the order of the lineup led to some confusion as The Flex were supposed to play next, but Violent Reaction played instead.  Self described as “straight edge hardcore for the anti-social”, I was looking forward to their set since I like what I’ve heard on their Self Titled.  These UK dudes played aggressive hardcore that reminded me of Coke Bust, they had a sizeable pit and people shouting along.  A quick set, go check them if they come around live.

The Flex

Last up were UK’s The Flex, who easily had the biggest reaction of the night.  With a huge pit (well it seemed huge in the house that could hold 6-8 people across tops) and people constantly stage (coffee table?) diving, their set was incredibly high energy.  Playing straight edge hardcore, The Flex were touring to support their latest Wild Stabs In The Dark.  Definitely a solid set, and they seemed legit stoked to be touring in the US.

More Hardcore:
Bane – Don’t Wait Up
Punch – Nothing Lasts
Cokebust – Lines In The Sand
Ceremony – Violence Violence

Bane – Don’t Wait Up (For fans of Comeback Kid, Ten Yard Fight, Gorilla Biscuits)

BaneCover

Massachusetts Bane have been one of the most consistent bands in hardcore and have been for nearly twenty years now.  With plenty of EPs, 7-inches, and now releasing their 4th and final full length (their first in 8 years) Don’t Wait Up is some of the best we’ve seen from Bane.

Kicking off with “Non-Negotiable”, a blistering posi-jam call to arms straight into “All The Way Through”, a chunky melodic song about keeping youthful energy alive while growing old, you know you’re in for a classic Bane album.

However it’s impossible to talk about Don’t Wait Up and not mention the white elephant in the room, and that being Bane stated this would be their final recorded work as a band.  Because of this, there is a theme of melancholy throughout the album.  With masterpieces like “Calling Hour” and “Final Backwards Glance” which declares “I’ve never been much good at saying goodbye.  Goodbye.” one could only imagine it’s about moving on.  Even the album title Don’t Wait Up hints at this, and while sometimes it comes off as a bit cheesy at times, as a fan for many years I can’t help but be upset to see one of my favorite hardcore bands calling it a day.

That being said, the album does remain incredibly hopeful and positive with songs like Park St, which tells the story about how Aaron ran into a fan on the train right when he was feeling hopeless and comes to the conclusion “Maybe I was wrong and I will never be alone. All because we wrote these punk rock songs, and god damn that’s pretty crazy, so fucking amazing.”

Now maybe I’m just in the denial stage of grief, but with bands like Gorilla Biscuits, Flag, Youth of Today, American Nightmare, Lifetime, etc all playing reunion shows, I’m in the camp that no hardcore band truly breaks up anymore.  While they may not record anything for quite some time (and really, this being their first album in 8 years I wouldn’t hold my breath) I’m hoping that they don’t stop playing shows.  Besides, if Don’t Wait Up is any indication, these guys have a lot left in them.  Even if it wasn’t their final album, Don’t Wait Up is a fucking cohesive masterpiece and easily one of my favorites of the year.

MP3:
Bane – Non-Negotiable

Give Blood, Give Everything:
Bane – Holding This Moment
American Nightmare – Year One
Chain Of Strength – The One Thing That Still Holds True Today
Dangers – Five O Clock Shadows At The Edge Of The Western World

OFF, Cerebral Ballzy, Nasa Space Universe Live In Philadelphia (5/16/14)

I’ve been listening to OFF! since their inception nearly 5 years ago, and have never got the chance to see them.  I’ve seen energetic Keith Morris (Black Flag/Circle Jerks) live when he came around touring with Flag, but was stoked to finally catch him with OFF.  The fact they were playing the intimate (albeit insanely hot) First Unitarian Church just made it even sweeter.

NASA Space Universe:
NSU

I got there in the middle of California’s NASA Space Universe’s set, but holy shit the half that I caught made me a fan.  Playing aggressive experimental noisy punk/hardcore which reminded me a bit of An Albatross or Converge, the band had a huge presence, with the singer leaving the stage to scream on the floor the entire time.  I picked up their CD they were selling that has a few different albums on it, so expect a review up of that sometime in the near(ish) future.

Cerebral Ballzy:
cerebral-300x297
It honestly surprises me how big these Brooklyn punks have gotten.  Somehow signed to Cartoon Network’s (yes you read that correctly) music label, a lot of people throw all their “punk cred” out the window right there.  I however, couldn’t give a shit about that and have seen these guys go from my friend’s living room, dirty basements and shitty bars 5 years ago to opening for both OFF and Flag.

Last time I saw them with Flag though, I was one of the few in the crowd who knew them at all… this time around they had a lot of younger kids shouting along all the words, stage diving, and circle pitting.  Damn.

They put on a solid enjoyable set, playing of songs mostly off of their Self Titled (and I guess their older releases as well since a lot of S/T were rerecorded older songs).  Even without playing “Causing Havoc”, they put on a fun set, and easily won over some new fans that night.  Sure, they may always have that stigma of being what I heard referred to as “those Brooklyn hipsters who are signed to Cartoon Network”, but if you’re avoiding them based on some pigeon holing, you’re missing out on some good old fashioned 80s influenced punk rock.

Highlights:
On The Run
Don’t Tell Me What To Do
Insufficient Fare
Drug Myself Dumb
Puke Song
Sk8 All Day
Cutting Class

OFF!:

Photo by Lindsey Byrnes

Photo by Lindsey Byrnes

Finally, the main reason I came to this sweaty basement of a church on a Friday night to begin with (well, Cerebral Ballzy too).  The band and crowd was in high energy mode as they took the stage and blasted into opening track “Void You Out” off of their latest Wasted Years (post coming, but spoiler alert: it’s sick).  Pits and stage dives immediately broke out with the guitarist jumping on top of the crowd and Keith running around the stage… and for a man pushing his 60s, Keith has more anger and energy than most bands just a fraction of his age.

A blistering set, Keith took plenty of jabs at the crowd in his snarky form: “Did anyone here read the punk rock manual?  No, not the one by Sid Vicious.  Rule #1, don’t look like Sid Vicious.  Rule #2, when you come on stage… 3 second rule.  Come on, dance a bit, and get the fuck off.  We’ve seen it all before, unless you do a triple back flip from the speakers, you’re not impressing anyone.”

He took jabs at himself and his other projects too: “No, we’re not playing Rise Against, Rise Above, or whatever the fuck that song is called.  Nor are we playing Wild in the Streets.  You’re going to have to wait for punk rock karaoke to come around again”

The band played a blistering set playing songs off all of their releases with the majority off of the First Four EPs.  High energy, OFF put on a hell of a set, and these guys even with their age and other projects have not lost an ounce of their aggression.  Young bands take note, you can learn a thing or two from these veterans.

Setlist:
Void You Out
Black ThoughtsBorrow And Bomb
Hypnotized
Now I’m Pissed
No Easy Escape
Poison City
King Kong Brigade
Rat Trap
Red White And Black
I Got News For You
Legion Of Evil
Blast
Crawl
Darkness
Wrong
Over Our Heads
Jeffrey Lee Pierce
Wiped Out
Panic Attack
I Don’t Belong
Upside Down

MP3:
Cerebral Ballzy – Puke Song
OFF – I Got News For You

More:
OFF! – Self Titled
OFF! – First Four EPS
Cerebral Ballzy – Self Titled
Cerebral Ballzy – You’re Idle EP

Ma Jolie, Hold Tight, Old Flings, Sad and French, Address Live In Philly (5/14/14)

Holy shit… it’s been 3 whole years since I’ve last seen my homies in Richmond, VA’s pop-punk band Hold Tight play, so when I saw they were stopping at West Philly’s Golden Tea House for a pre Pouzza Fest show, there was no way I was missing that.

Address:

Address Philly

First up were Philly locals Address.  Featuring members from old NJ/Philly hardcore band One Win Choice, Address plays a mix of punk/post-hardcore/emo/indie and they blend the styles together masterfully. With a slew of pedals and effects, Address is able to create a wall of sound all while playing catch punk influenced tunes.  Definitely a solid set (as usual per these guys), and even though they’re a little slower than what I usually listen to, I have nothing but mad respect for these guys.  Besides, they played a song called Space Jam, and that is seriously one of the greatest movies of all time.

Sad And French:

Sad and French

I’ve never heard of these guys before, but from France they are not.  Sad?  Well maybe.  But regardless, these New York folk punkers put on one hell of a catchy set.  Looking at their Bandcamp, it appears like most of the songs are acoustic, but they played with their amps plugged in last night, although they didn’t lose any of that folk feel (even busting out a harmonica at one point).

Their sound reminded me a bit of Run Forever, and my friend put it perfectly when he described their music as “awesome.  It’s the type of music you drink whiskey to.”  I need to check out some of their recorded stuff, even if acoustic isn’t my jam these songs were catchy as herpes (that you probably caught from too much whiskey influenced bad decisions).

Old Flings:

oldflings

Another band I haven’t heard of but was pleasantly surprised by their set was Asheville’s Old Flings. Self proclaimed rock/power pop, these guys played with plenty of punk and metal influences with plenty of heavier riffs, and put on a killer set.  They legit seemed thrilled and stoked to be playing, and it appeared they generally were having a fucking blast.  That type of energy is contagious, and they made a fan out of me.

Hold Tight:

holdtight

Seriously, I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I’ve last seen these Richmond pop-punkers (and occasional hardcore band).  Since I’ve last seen them, they’ve put out an EP and a full length, and was pretty stoked to finally hear these songs live.  Hold Tight played an energetic set with their melodic pop-punk that takes plenty of cues from old Saves The Day and Lifetime.  Definitely give them a listen, easily one of my staples.  Rad dudes, rad time.

Setlist (Not in order or complete):

Virginia Is Beautiful, WIsh You Were Here
Meade Skeleton Birthday Party
$122.50
Power Converter
Mother Leopard
Moving Day
Purple Beanie
Sky Watching
Rock Garden
Can’t Take This Away
Wonder

I didn’t get to see Ma Jolie as I had to bounce before they got a chance to play, but it was definitely a solid and fun show, and if last night was any indication these bands are going to tear up Pouzza Fest.  After talking with a bunch of people last night, I’m really fucking tempted to head up there for this weekend.  I mean, Dillinger Four is fucking playing along with SNFU….

MP3:
Hold Tight – $122.50

More:
Hold Tight – Blizzard Of ’96
Hold Tight – Can’t Take This Away
Hold Tight – Call The Zoo
Hold Tight/Direct Hit Split (Hardcore)

 

The Holy Mess – Cande Ru Las Degas (For fans of The Menzingers, None More Black, Smoke or Fire)

holy-mess cande

If you were to judge The Holy Mess’s latest Cande Ru Las Degas by the acoustic opening track of “My Boring 90s”, you’d think “shit, another punk band has gone all soft” while ripping out your speakers in disgust and throwing them in the street.  You’d probably then light said speakers on fire, dropkick a baby, and burn your city to the fucking ground.  Well fret not dear reader, I’m here to tell you that Cande Ru Las Degas is a solid melodic punk album and classic Holy Mess album through and through (although you might want to consider going to anger management, dropkicking babies isn’t cool.  Well, maybe unless you’re Michael Jackson but he’s dead so you’re clearly not him, douche.)

Containing ten catchy songs clocking in just around a half hour, Philadelphia’s Holy Mess haven’t really missed a beat.  While Menzingers-esque “Within the Range Of A Raven” shows that the band has certainly matured in their music writing, insanely infectious “Hospitals” and “Cold Goodbyes” show what The Holy Mess are all about: writing some of the catchiest songs, having a great fucking time, all while singing about some of the most depressing shit imaginable.

On Cande Ru Las Degas, The Holy Mess succeed where many melodic punk bands fall flat.  They’ve managed to craft songs that show how they’ve matured but never lost touch with their roots or sound that made fans fall in love with them in the first place.

MP3:
The Holy Mess – Hospitals

More Punk Rock:
The Holy Mess – Dismount
Holy Mess – Briefcase Full Of Bruise
The Holy Mess Live In Philly Recap
The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past

Official Site:
Holy Mess

Big Eyes, Tony Molina, Radiator Hospitals Live Under A Bridge in Philly (5/6/14)

Sometimes I think that I should move from Philly, as I’ve been living here for a total of 7 years now and occasionally feel I should check out another city.  Then something incredibly awesome happens like the show last night, and it reminds me why I love this city so fucking much.  So I totally missed Against Me at the Trocadero last night, but I saw that a last minute show was happening at midnight somewhere under a bridge in South Philly, and found this out approximately 5 minutes before the show was due to start.  That sounds awesome, there is no way I was missing this.

I never really heard any of the bands playing tonight except I knew that it was sort of a secret aftershow as both Big Eyes and Tony Molina played the Against Me show at The Trocadero.  After wandering around South Philadelphia AIMLESSLY late at night looking under bridges (and believe me, you see some sketchy shit) I finally saw a group of punk looking kids on skateboard who I assumed were going to the show, talked to them and followed them.

Big Eyes:

bigeyes

I got to the show approximately halfway through Big Eyes set, and there were plenty of kids out for the afterparty skateboarding, watching the bands, and generally just hanging out.  From the little bit of the set I caught, Brooklyn now Seattle based Big Eyes played catchy female fronted power-popish-punk, and put on an enjoyable set.

Tony Molina:
tonymolina
Tony Molina was up next, who based out of San Francisco had a backing band behind him, put on what was probably my favorite set of the night.  My friend described them as Weezer with guitar solos, and he completely nailed it.  If you dig Weezer at all, definitely check this out.  His latest LP “Dissed and Dismissed” finishes just under 12 minutes, so works perfect for us ADD fucks.

Radiator Hospital:

RadiatorHospital
One of Philly’s latest poppy punk bands, their live set was much heavier than their recorded stuff, and was filled with antics.  With friends (I’m assuming they’re friends… maybe they’re just assholes) were throwing cans at the drummer, putting boxes over his head and it didn’t faze him one bit.  Meanwhile the singer was rocking out all while exclaiming “I am way too drunk for this!”  Definitely a fun set.

All of the bands were on the poppier side of things than I usually listen to but it was one hell of a show regardless.  Midnight show under a bridge somewhere? Yeah, that’s Philadelphia in a nutshell for you.

The Death Set – Michel Poiccard (For fans of Melt Banana, Math The Band, Japanther)

deathset

I have to say, ever since I saw Australia-now-Brooklyn’s electronic experimental punk band The Death Set last week, I’ve been listening to their 2011 Michel Poiccard pretty much non-stop.

Opening up with a quick statement “I wanna take this this tape, and blow up your fucking stereo”, The Death Set wastes absolutely no time before blasting into their heavy hitting “Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap” a shout-out song to others in their Brooklyn scene, including Cerebral Ballzy.

The band is all over the place, with many of the songs giving off a poppier Melt Banana vibe, a slower ballad to deceased band member Beau Velasco, and even one sounding like it came straight off of a Bad Brains album (“I Like The Wrong Way”).  Speaking of Bad Brains, The Death Set clearly took a page from HR’s book of P.M.A, as keeping your head up, having fun, and just celebrating life is a theme that runs strong throughout the album.

Like most experimental bands, The Death Set are definitely not for everybody.  But if you like bands like Melt Banana or Intro5pect, definitely give Michel Poiccard a listen.  It’s the perfect album for the warm days ahead.

MP3:
The Death Set – Yo David Chase You P.O.V Shot Me In The Head

I Been Searching For This Song Called Housewives:
The Death Set Live In Philly
Math The Band – Don’t Worry
Team Robespierre – Everything’s Perfect
Atom and His Package – Society Of People Named Elihu

Buy:
The Death Set

The Death Set and Wax Witches Live In Philadelphia (4/24/14)

fylf

This past Thursday, I headed to Philadelphia’s Barbary to catch Brooklyn electronic-punk-art-weirdos-whatever the fuck you want to call them The Death Set and Wax Witches play Shadowscene’s rad “Fuck You Let’s Fuck” party (the first one in quite some time).  I never saw either bands before, and the last time I tried to catch The Death Set back in 2009 when they toured with Cerebral Ballzy and Totally Michael, I had to bounce early unfortunately.

The venue was pretty empty when I first got there, but there was definitely a handful of people by the time Wax Witches started that made for a smaller and more intimate show (read: awesome).

Wax Witches:

wax_witches

I’ve never heard of Wax Witches before this show, but originally a solo project, the Australian two piece put on a solid set armed with a guitar, bass guitar, and a laptop drum machine.  Wax Witches played a straightforward set without any stage banter but with plenty of incredibly catchy, snotty garage punk.

Definitely need to check out some of their recorded work soon.

The Death Set:deathset The second the band took the stage, a few people (including yours truly) immediately started dancing and singing along throughout their set as we collectively lost our shit.  If one thing can be said about The Death Set, it’s that they put on one hell of an entertaining show.  I talked to people afterwards who said they’ve never heard of them before but was completely caught up in the energy.  Celebrating the release of their latest EP King Babies, The Death Set played a spastic energetic set filled with songs spanning from all of their releases, Clash and Melt Banana samples, all while climbing all over the damn place.  If you haven’t seen The Death Set before, do yourself a favor and go check them out live.  I love their recorded music, but nothing really compares to their live show.

 

Highlights:
A Problem Is A Problem It Don’t Matter Where You’re From
Yo David Chase You P.O.V Shot Me In The Head
We Are Going Anywhere Man
Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap
Intermission
Negative Thinking (I think they played this one)
They Come To Get Us

 

MP3:
The Death Set – Yo David Chase You P.O.V Shot Me In The Head

More:
Math The Band – Don’t Worry
Team Robespierre – Everything’s Perfect
Atom and His Package – Society Of People Named Elihu

Like, so official dude:
The Death Set
Shadowscene

The Holy Mess Live In Philadelphia (4/18/14)

holymess

I realized it’s been a full two years since I’ve last seen local Philly punks The Holy Mess, and my last attempt to see them a few months back was a total failure since I had to leave early.  So I headed out to Philly’s Kung Fu Necktie to see them play the upstairs in the backroom this past Friday.  I was running really late, but luckily so was the show.  I got there right as The Holy Mess were sound checking, perfect timing.

I’ve been to the Kung Fu Necktie before, but never upstairs.  The room they were playing in was tiny.  With about 20-30 people filled in it felt full and the room was about the size of a bedroom, which I’m pretty sure it was converted from originally.

The band was up to their usual banter, joking about new kicks, the terrible sound quality of the room (it was muddied and vocals were near impossible to hear) likening it to “It sounds like we’re playing inside my grandmother’s cunt…she’s very tall”.

In true Holy Mess fashion the band announced that they didn’t write a setlist, or practice, and “we’ll probably play some new ones… some old ones… who really gives a shit?”  Even though the sound levels were terrible due to the acoustics of the room, the band put on a fun set playing  a decent amount of new ones and a lot off of their latest Cande Ru La Degas (which side note: is fucking awesome, go check it) and the Benefits Sesh in it’s entirety (ok all three songs).

Unfortunately the show was cut short when the guitarist blew out his amp (on one of his last Philly shows too, which just seemed so appropriate).  Still, definitely a good time, and I might try to catch their secret show tonight with the Menzingers.  Sometimes it’s pretty rad living in Philly.

MP3:
The Holy Mess – A Soulful Punk Tune About A Working Class Dreamer

More:
The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past
The Holy Mess – Dismount
Holy Mess – Briefcase Full Of Bruise

Official Site:
Holy Mess