Andrew Jackson Jihad, Smith Street Band, Jeff Rosenstock Live In Philadelphia (3/19/15)

ajj flyer

This past Thursday, I headed out to Philadelphia’s Union Transfer to catch Jeff Rosenstock of Bomb The Music Industry/Arrogant Sons Of Bitches play a solo show supporting his new album We Cool? opening for Andrew Jackson Jihad.  I got to the venue right around the middle of first band Chumped playing and the place was decently packed for being so early.

I’m not really all that familiar with Chumped besides the fact they are a female fronted pop-punk band out of Brooklyn.  I didn’t catch enough of their set to really form an opinion either way, but it seemed like those in the crowd were definitely digging it.  So if you’re into bands like Nona or Spraynard you’d probably dig these guys.

Jeff Rosenstock:

Jeff-Rosenstock

The main reason I came, I’ve been a fan of Jeff Rosenstock’s bands and have seen them countless of times over many years.  While technically he was doing a “solo” tour, he had a backing band with him.  It was a bit strange to be seeing him in such a big venue like Union Transfer, but they didn’t act out of place at all, immediately joking to the crowd “What’s up New Jersey?” (which elicited both plenty of boos and cheers) before breaking into We Cool opener “Get Old Forever.”

The crowd was especially hyped, with people breaking out into a pit immediately and stage dives abound.  Jeff and crew played a bunch off the new album and some of his older solo stuff, with a decent chunk coming off of I Look Like Shit and the crowd didn’t really let up all night.  One thing I have to say is he definitely has a mixed-age crowd.  I didn’t realize it, but a lot of younger kids dig him (I always assumed only old heads who followed his other bands did).  Definitely a good time, go see him if you get the chance.

Setlist:
Get Old Forever
You, In Weird Cities
Hey Allison
Nausea
Beers Again, Alone
The Trash The Trash The Trash
Snow Charges
Teenager
Hall Of Fame
Bonus Oceans
80s Through The 50s
Darkness Records

The Smith Street Band are another one of those bands that get a lot of praise, but I never really got around to checking out.  I was hanging in the back by the bar talking to some friends at this point after staying in the pit for Jeff Rosenstock, so I didn’t actually get to see them, but I did hear them.  Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, The Smith Street Band played solid gritty rock tunes with ranging influences from folk punk to garage rock and even a bit of more Social Distortion type punk.  I dug a few songs that I heard, and need to give them a proper listen sometime.

Andrew Jackson Jihad:

Andrew Jackson Jihad

By the time Phoenix, Arizona’s Andrew Jackson Jihad took the stage, Union Transfer was pretty full.  I honestly had no idea that these folk-punks were that big, and while I only knew a few songs here and there off some random EPs I have, their live set definitely made me a fan.

Armed with a variety of instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, a cello, drums, stand up bass, and keyboards the band played a very dynamic set to the incredibly responsive crowd.  Their music reminded me a lot of Mischief Brew and Run, Forever.

Playing a majority of their set from off Knife Man and their latest Christmas Island albums, the band seemed in very high spirits and legitimately loved being there.  The highlight was definitely their final encore, in which they did a sweet Slayer cover which had plenty of fans confused, but those who knew who it was were losing their shit.  An incredible set, if you haven’t seen AJJ before then go do yourself a favor and catch them live.

Setlist:
The Michael Jordan Of Drunk Driving
Gift Of The Magi 2: Return Of The Magi
Hate & Kill
Hate Songs For The Brain
Hate Rain On Me
Kokopelli Face Tattoo
People II: The Reckoning
Love In The Time Of The Human Papillomavirus
Bad Bad Things
I Wanna Rock Out In My Dreams
Sense, Sensibility
Temple Grandin
Coffin Dance
American Tune
Fucc The Devil
You Don’t Deserve Yourself
Heartilation
Children Of God
Linda Ronstadt
Free Bird
Big Bird
South Of Heaven (Slayer cover)

MP3:
Andrew Jackson Jihad – ‘Nother Beer
Jeff Rosenstock – Hey Allison

More:
Jeff Rosenstock – We Cool?
Bomb The Music Industry – Vacation
Arrogant Sons Of Bitches – Discography
Run Forever/The Wild Split
Mischief Brew

World Inferno Friendship Society Live In Philadelphia (3/6/15)

The-World-Inferno-Friendship-Society-Live-300x200

This past Saturday, I headed down to Philadelphia’s infamous First Unitarian Church basement to catch favorite gypsy cabaret punks The World Inferno Friendship Society.

This was my first show back at the church basement since July when they stopped having as many shows there (for some sad reason, I love that place), and the first time I was seeing World Inferno at the church since 2011.  I’ve seen them a handful of times since then, but a church show is always special (especially considering last time they headlined a show there the fire alarms went off).

The band was playing a string of shows to support their latest album This Packed Funeral.  I got to the church only to miss the one last minute opener, and the place was at about half capacity so plenty of room to dance around.

The Brooklyn collective took the stage, and started straight into their call to arms “Tattoos Fade” which had everyone in the close knit crowd shouting along.  I feel like the energy at this show was much higher than their recent Union Transfer shows, with plenty of people dancing around.

Vocalist Jack and crew played through a bunch of their older stuff, but had a pretty strong emphasis on the latest This Packed Funeral as expected. If you haven’t heard the album yet, it’s definitely a bit different than their other releases, but still incredibly catchy.  As usual, the band was full of quips and stories for the crowd, with having members try to name 11 bands that are named after municipalities (I can think of 7…)  While not the strangest Inferno show I’ve been to, things still got a bit odd when a drone was flying around the crowd and band with audience members taking swipes at it and the band trying to pay no heed while it circled them during their set.

A fun evening as usual, World Inferno always puts on an entertaining set.

Setlist (from what I remember, not in order):
Tattoos FadeJust The Best Party
The Elegant Solution
This Packed Funeral
Brother Of The Mayor Of Bridgewater
Dr Dracula Who Makes You Get High
Your Younger Man
The Apple Was Eve
Let’s Steal Everything
Jersualem Boys
Dolce Far Niente
American Mercurial
The Faster You Go The Better You Think
Cats Are Not Lucky Creatures
Thumb Cinema
Secret Service Freedom Fighting USA
Addicted To Bad Ideas

MP3:
World Inferno Friendship Society – Tattoos Fade
More:
World Inferno Friendship Society – A Demonstrational Introduction to the Astral Plane
World Inferno Friendship Society – The Anarchy And The Ecstasy
World Inferno – Addicted to Bad Ideas
World Inferno – Just The Best Party
World Inferno – Red Eyed Soul
World Inferno – East Coast Super Sound Punk of Today

Jeff Rosenstock – We Cool? (For fans of Bomb The Music Industry, Arrogant Sons Of Bitches, Antarctigo Vespucci)

We Cool

Call me old (actually don’t, fuck you), but I’ve been a fan Jeff Rosenstock’s music for a loooong time.  From his time with Arrogant Sons of Bitches who I used to go see regularly to the very first day when he released Bomb The Music Industry’s first Album Minus Band LP, so naturally I was pretty excited about his newest release We Cool? 

Although technically a ‘solo’ record (insert finger air quotes here), We Cool is actually the first album Jeff recorded with a band since the demise of Bomb The Music Industry, and while it’s not a BTMI project technically… the music sounds a lot like where Vacation left off and a perfect follow-up to it.

All 12 songs are incredibly different, yet they all fit together perfectly making for a cohesive album.  You’ve got songs like “Hey Allison” and “You, In Weird Cities” leaning more towards the traditional punk side of things, “Nausea” being a catchy piano driven power-pop ballad, and “Novelty Sweaters” and “Hall Of Fame” sounding like pure Weezer-esque garage rock.

Lyrically, the themes are the same relatable issues that we’re used to from Jeff.  Opener “Get Old Forever” starts the album off  “When your friends are buying starter homes with their accomplishments, drinking at a house show can feel childish and embarrassing.”  Possibly the most relatable line comes from “Nausea” with the chorus “I got so tired of discussing my future I’ve started avoiding the people I love.”

We Cool is definitely a damn solid album, and any fan of Jeff’s music should go check it out.  It was a bit of a grower for me (just like Vacation), but I’m finding that I dig it more and more with each listen.

Mp3:
Jeff Rosenstock – Hey Allison

More:
Bomb The Music Industry – Vacation
Bomb The Music Industry – Adults!!! Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited By Nothing
Bomb the Music Industry – Scrambles
Arrogant Sons Of Bitches – Discography

Official Site:
Quote Unquote

Ink & Dagger – Drive This Seven Inch Wooden Stake Through My Philadelphia Heart (For fans of American Nightmare, Paint It Black, Blacklisted)

ink and dagger

Philadelphia’s Ink & Dagger were one of the most influential and strangest bands to ever come out of the city of brotherly shove.  Formed back in 1995 and disbanding in 1999 (and which vocalist Sean McCabe died shortly after at the young age of 27), the band is most famously known for on and off stage theatrics (the vocalist once through yogurt at hardcore vegan hate-edge band Earth Crisis) and horror themes written throughout their music.  Their most famous, and my personal favorite is their Drive This Seven Inch Wooden Stake Through My Philadelphia Heart album which includes the EP of the same name and a previous “Love Is Dead.”  While their later works expanded their style a bit incorporating more elements of prog-rock, their original 10 song compilation is a hardcore masterpiece.

Before Twilight was ever a thing, Ink & Dagger used to take the stage in full face paint and fake blood while vampires were a recurring theme in their music.  The hardcore they played was incredibly dark and ambient, yet remained catchy through plenty of melodies.  Songs like “Full Circle”, “Bloodlust”, and “Shadowtalker” show Ink & Dagger at their finest.

I’ve been listening to this one since I saw Paint It Black cover Full Circle back on Halloween, and it’s easily becoming one of my most played albums.  Check it if you’re a fan of hardcore at all.

Music:
Ink & Dagger – Full Circle

Tonight, we try to die on purpose:
Ceremony – Violence Violence
Paint It Black – Invisible
United Nations – Self Titled

Armalite, Dark Thoughts Live In Philadelphia (2/1/15)

Armalite flier

Ahhh… Superbowl Sunday.  Where every American goes to their favorite punk house for a benefit show and watches some sick bands tear it up.  I got to West Philly’s Golden Tea House a bit late and missed a bunch of the awesome bands (including a new band featuring Dan Yemin and Andy Nelson), but got there in time for Philly’s own Dark Thoughts.

Dark Thoughts:

darkthoughts

This show was the kickoff for Dark Thoughts tour, and the 3 piece put on one hell of a show.  I caught them back in November here when they played with Mean Jeans and Kepi Ghoulie, and this time around they were even tighter.  Playing Ramones influenced punk rock, Dark Thoughts played most off of their 4 song demo (although the songs translate much better live).  I said it before and I’ll say it again, keep an eye out for Dark Thoughts, they’re definitely one of Philly’s up and coming bands.

Armalite:

armaliteband

I’ve been a fan of Armalite ever since they’ve started, and with a side project of a bunch of very busy people (including Dan Yemin of Paint It Black/Lifetime/Kid Dynamite, Adam from Atom and His Package) a show from them is incredibly rare.  This was like their 7th show ever in 10 years, (not many bands I can say I’ve been to more than 50% of their shows) I was pretty stoked to be seeing them at the intimate Golden Tea House kitchen.

After setting up, the band took some time to talk about the benefit, which is actually a benefit for a benefit show where the floors or something collapsed and the place has to undergo some heavy repairs.  Holy shit.  They joked to keep the jumping up and down to a minimum here, and instead rip out the copper pipes in the wall.

Breaking out Boots And Sneakers, Armalite played a surprisingly straight forward set without a lot of the banter usually found at their shows.  It seemed like most people didn’t know any of their songs besides me and one other dude who were shouting along to each word, but people definitely seemed to be digging it.

Playing the majority of their songs (granted they only have 14… one full length and one EP) they even through in a Magnetic Fields cover in there.  A tight set, I feel a little spoiled seeing them play twice in a matter of a year… and they got to play one of Philly’s best spots for shows.

Setlist:
Boots And Sneakers
New Wave
Husker Dave
Entitled
Dan’s Hands Melt
New Years
Destination (Not At Home)
I Am Pancreas, Seek To Understand Me
Other Entertainers
100,000 Fireflies (Magnetic Fields cover)

Mp3:
Armalite – I am A Pancreas, Seek To Understand Me
Dark Thoughts – Identity Crisis

More:
Armalite – Humongous
Armalite – Self Titled

Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish Live In Philadelphia (1/24/15)

ltjposter

Ska shows are a rare beast these days in our modern world.  Even though I listen to ska regularly still and go to plenty of shows, long gone are the days of VFW Halls filled with kids decked out in chain wallets and checkerboard accessories, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out that Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish completely sold out the Electric Factory, one of Philadelphia’s larger venues.

My girlfriend and I got to the Electric Factory a bit late and met up with some of my friends, but sadly missing one of my old favorites Authority Zero (who I honestly have not seen in about a good decade).  I was able to catch their last few songs which included Sirens and Rattlin Bog, although Passage In Time was always my jam.

Less Than Jake:
lessthanjake

It felt wrong to me that Less Than Jake was playing before Reel Big Fish, but as a die hard LTJ fan, I am definitely a bit (ok incredibly biased).  I’m one of those weird ones who not only love all the old albums I grew up with, but also like their newer stuff as well (…minus their brief flirtation with pop music on that abomination In With The Out Crowd).  Sure, maybe not as much as Pezcore but Greetings and Salutations is pretty damn solid.

In true Less Than Jake style, the band took the stage to a recording pretty much poking fun of themselves and the audience, and broke into “Look What Happened”, with confetti falling.  The place was packed with people skanking, shouting along, and a sizable circle pit throughout the set, where they played stuff off of most of their rather large discography.  I was actually shocked by the amount of younger kids there, because I didn’t know people under 21 listened to ska anymore (and it warms my heart that they do).  The band took some time with their usual banter, had a couple come up on stage and propose, and even had a young kid from the audience come up on stage with them for a bit.  They’ve always been one of the most consistent live bands I’ve seen, and Saturday’s show was no exception.

Setlist (From what I remember, probably not complete or in order)
Look What Happened
Nervous In The Alley
The Ghost Of Me And You
Good Enough
Automatic/We’re All Dudes
American Idle
Overrated
All My Friends Are Metalheads
Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts
Anchor
Sobriety Is A Serious Business And Business Isn’t So Good
How’s My Driving Doug Hastings
Harvey Wallbanger
Pac Man Cereal (Multiple times through out the night)
Plastic Cup Politics
History Of A Boring Town

Reel Big Fish:
reel big fish

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never been much of a fan of Reel Big Fish.  Sure, I’ve seen them a bunch over the years but while they were one of the bands that got people into ska, that was Less Than Jake and Mighty Mighty Bosstones for me, so I always found their recorded work a bit poppy for my liking.  I wasn’t going to stay around to see them originally, but plans changed… and with that being said, they are always a fun time to see live, and I’m actually glad I did.

They of course played through all the hits, throwing in plenty of their covers as well.  Definitely a solid time, I might actually check out their recorded stuff… just 20 years later.

Setlist:
Trendy
I Want Your GIrlfriend To Be My Girlfriend Too
Everyone Else Is An Asshole
All I Want Is More
241
Your Guts, I Hate Em
She’s Famous Now
Skank For Christmas
Good Thing
My Life
Thank You For Not Moshing / Garden Grove (Sublime)
I Know You Too Well To Like You Anymore
She Has A Girlfriend Now
Where Have You Been
Sell Out

Encore:
S.R (The Many Versions Of)
Beer / Self Esteem (Offspring)
Take On Me (Aha Cover)

MP3:
Less Than Jake – My Very Own Flag

More:
How to be a 3rd wave ska dork
Less Than Jake – Greetings And Salutations 
Less Than Jake – Pesto EP
Less Than Jake – Pezcore


Holy Mess – Comfort In The Discord (For fans of The Menzingers, Captain We’re Sinking, Lawrence Arms)

holy mess comfort in the discord cover

Philadelphia’s Holy Mess have been at it for a while now, with a decently sized line of releases under their belt.  With their self released latest album Comfort In The Discord, the band shows just how much they’ve evolved over the years.

The biggest change is since their last album Cande Ru Las Degas, the band has become a three piece, yet the songs are just as, possibly even more so melodic than anything they’ve ever written before.  Take the incredibly catchy “Spencer Reid” which is probably my favorite on the album with it’s infectious chord progression, it’s clear the band hasn’t missed a beat with their Lawrence Arms/Menzingers influenced style of punk rock.  Their tongue in cheek humor is still running strong with song titles parodying NOFX (“Liza and Louisiana”), and opening “It’s All Fun and Games ‘Til Someone Gets Heard…”

Definitely a solid album by one of Philadelphia’s best, if you have a scruffy ass beard, wearing flannel right now, have an Alkaline Trio or Lawrence Arms tattoo somewhere, and are currently drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon or National Bohemian, you’ll definitely love Comfort In The Discord.

MP3:
Holy Mess – Spencer Reid

Show Me I Mean Anything To You: 
The Holy Mess – Cande Ru Las Degas
The Holy Mess – Dismount
Holy Mess – Briefcase Full Of Bruise
Holy Mess – Benefit Sesh

Lagwagon – Hang (For fans of NOFX, Millencolin, No Use For A Name)

lagwagon-hang-cover

California’s Lagwagon is one of those bands that have been at is since many of you were still learning to wipe yourselves.  I first discovered them years ago when I grabbed a copy of their heralded Let’s Talk About Feelings which I played way too much throughout my angsty high school days, and then went through their back catalogue with both Hoss and Double Plaidinum being some of my most played albums.  The band evolved a bunch from their early skate punk days when they released Blaze, incorporating slower elements and continued that with the release of Resolve and their self-depreciating I Think My Older Brother Used To Listen To Lagwagon EP.  So naturally, their latest album Hang probably continues this direction right?  Wrong.

Hang, the first full length in over 9 years from the band, takes a completely different evolutionary direction with it being the thrashiest Lagwagon album to date.  Acoustic minute long intro “Burden Of Proof” leads into “Reign”, a solid skate punk jam that is classic Lagwagon, but then from there it’s a solid block of thrashy melodic punk rock… and it’s damn good.  Take “The Cog In The Machine”, which may be the heaviest Lagwagon song to date yet easily remains classic Lagwagon.  Joey Cape and crew are able to incorporate these new thrash elements without ever really giving up what makes us love Lagwagon to begin with.

Of course, not every song is completely thrashy.  “Burning Out In Style” sounds like it could have come off Double Plaidinum while songs like “One More Song” (which I can only imagine they use to as a response to an encore) is one of Lagwagon’s finest ballads complete with a piano breakdown in the middle.

While I will always love the classic skate punk that Lagwagon gave us, and their early albums will definitely hold a special place in my ramp shredding, fist raising, punk rock heart, Hang definitely an amazing album and if a band is going to evolve they may as well do it right the way Lagwagon did.

MP3:
Lagwagon – Made Of Broken Parts

More:
Lagwagon – I Think My Older Brother Used To Listen To Lagwagon
Lagwagon – Double Plaidinum

 

Swingin’ Utters – Fistful Of Hollow (For fans of The Descendents, The Clash, Social Distortion)

swingin-utters-fistful-of-hollow-album-cover-art

I didn’t write a list of my favorite albums of 2014, because honestly I didn’t get to listen/review to as many as I would have liked due to being insanely busy… But I was surprised when I read other people’s lists and didn’t really see Swingin’ Utters latest Fistful Of Hollow on there, because it would easily make my favorites list.

San Francisco based Swingin’ Utters have been at it since the late 80s, and if their latest album is any indication, then they certainly haven’t missed a beat.  The 9th full length by Swingin’ Utters, Fistful of Hollow contains 15 catchy punk rock anthems.  Whether it’s the incredibly Descendents influenced title track “Fistful Of Hollow”, the circle pit inspiring “From The Towers To The Tenaments”, or the anthematic “Tonight’s Moon”, I think Fistful Of Hollow has some of the best songs that Swingin’ Utters have ever written.

The band pulls in some of their slower folk influences as well on sing-along tracks like “Napalm South” and “Tibetan Book Of The Damned”.  While not my favorites on the album, they do showcase Swingin’ Utters wide range of influences.

Definitely a fan, Swingin’ Utters seem to be one of those bands that too many punk fans overlook.  Don’t be one of them, Fistful Of Hollow slays.

MP3:
Swingin’ Utters – Tonight’s Moon

More:
Swingin Utters with Lagwagon in Philly
Swingin’ Utters – A Juvenile Product of The Working Class
Have Nots – Serf City USA

American Nightmare Live in NYC (1/2/14)

american nightmare

American Nightmare is quite frankly, my favorite hardcore band of all time.  I remember a friend giving me the album Background Music, and then seeing them tour with The Hope Conspiracy back in 2003.  I went mostly for Hope Conspiracy, but left an American Nightmare fan.  Soon afterwards they announced their breakup, and I was telling my friends for years all I wanted was another American Nightmare show.  My chance finally came at the end of 2011 where I got to see their reunion show up in Boston.  I thought it was going to be a one off thing, but then I got to see them again in NYC in 2012, and then again last night.

Although I was running on no sleep and was completely exhausted, I made the solo trek from Philadelphia to New York’s sold out Webster Hall.  I got done with work late so I missed all the openers, and actually walked into the venue right as American Nightmare was setting up. Good fucking timing.

For those who don’t know, lead singer Wes now fronts an 80s synth-pop band called Cold Cave and he looks much more like the part for that these days coming out with a shiny goth inspired jacket.  But as a frontman, he still has that hardcore kid in him as he runs around the stage, embracing the pile-ons and mic grabs.

Taking the stage and opening with Background Music opener “(We Are”) the place immediately erupted into a frenzy of stage dives, somersaults, and a huge pit that didn’t really let up for the rest of the night.  In true recent American Nightmare fashion, there wasn’t much stage banter and they kept it going. While their set seemed way too quick, they played a solid chunk off all of their albums.

Wes announced they were going to play some songs they never really do live, doing some of their slower songs (Bluem, Crime Scene, We Killed It, and instrumental Sometimes It’s Like It Will Never End) in the middle of their set which was different to see (and sort of strange to see in the middle of their set, especially when Wes left the stage during the instrumental), but it was cool to hear them do songs I never really saw them do before.

Granted there’s something that’s always been a bit strange to me about seeing them at Webster Hall, and I think it’s just the size/overproduction of the show with it’s constant colored strobe lights and I believe fog machines going.  This is more of a venue thing than an American Nightmare thing, but as one of the rawest hardcore bands around they’ve always seemed a bit out of place to me at Webster Hall.

While no American Nightmare show for me will ever compare to the energy of their first reunion show or the first time I’ve seen them, it’s always a good time to see one of my favorite bands of all time play again.  I know their shows are few and far between, but I’m really hoping they come to Philly soon.  How sick would it be to see them at the First Unitarian Church like they toured back in the day?  Shit would be unreal.

Setlist:
(We Are)
Protest Song #00
There’s A Black Hole In The Shadow Of The Pru
I’ve Shared Your Lips And Now They Sicken Me
Hearts
Crime Scene
Bluem (Calumet Street Light People)
Young Hearts Be Free Tonight
We Killed It
(And Sometimes It’s Like It Will Never End)
AM/PM
Shoplifting In A Ghost Town
I Saved Latin
Postmark My Compass
Calculation Nation
Please Die!
Farewell
Your Arsonist

Encore:
Love American

MP3:
American Nightmare – The Ice Age Is Coming!

And All The Pretty Pretty Kids With Their Tired Tired Eyes:
American Nightmare – Year One
American Nightmare – Background Music
Scenester 101: How To Be An Old School Hardcore Kid In 10 Easy Steps!