American Nightmare Live In Philly (3/4/15)

American Nightmare

Boston’s American Nightmare have been one of my favorite hardcore bands since I was an angsty 18 year old in 2003, and I find myself listening to their albums and EPs pretty regularly even 13 years later as an angsty 30 year old.  Their music got me through a lot of shit, and the first time I saw them over a decade ago with Hope Conspiracy still remains one of my most memorable show experiences ever.  On a cool Friday night, I headed to Philly’s sold out Underground Arts right as American Nightmare was setting up.

The place was pretty packed, but there was a surprising amount of room for a sold out show.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect: I’ll be honest, as much as I love American Nightmare, the past few times I’ve seen them in bigger venues have been a bit strange feeling, with Wes having a hard time hitting the screams and the overproduction feel of the venue.  Well let me just say that this was without a doubt the best AN performance I’ve seen since I went to their reunion show up in Boston a few years back.

The band took the stage and opened with “AM/PM” which had us opening a pit and immediately piling on.  Ripping into “Hearts” without skipping a beat, Wes and crew were on point playing a tight, fast paced show with barely any time to breath as they shredded through their set.  Playing a majority of songs off of both Background Music and Year One, it felt right to have them in a smaller venue again (while I’ve had fun in the past seeing them in NYC at Webster Hall, it always felt a little bit…off.)

Setlist:
AM/PM
Hearts
Love American
(We Are)
Please Die
Fuck What Fireworks Stand For
Shoplifting In A Ghost Town
I Saved Latin
Calculation Nation
Protest Song #00
I’ve Shared Your Lips And Now They Sicken Me
Postmark My Compass
Your Arsonist
Farewell
There’s A Black Hole In The Shadow Of The Pru

Encore: (I think they did Crime Scene, but I don’t really remember)

MP3:
American Nightmare – The Ice Age Is Coming!

I Drew A Heart Around The Name Of Your City:
American Nightmare – Year One
American Nightmare – Background Music
Scenester 101: How To Be An Old School Hardcore Kid In 10 Easy Steps!

Hub City Stompers – Live In Philadelphia (2/21/16)

hubcity

On an unseasonably warm Sunday night, my girlfriend and I headed to Philadelphia’s Kung Fu Neckie to catch my home state NJ’s ska/oi/punk band Hub City Stompers.  I wasn’t expecting the place to have many people considering the fact it’s a Sunday ska show, but KFN had a decent crowd set up.  We got there a little late, missing their first song but getting there just in time for Chatterbox.

One of the first things I’ve noticed was the absence of saxophonist/singer Jenny Whiskey from the stage, with the band claiming she couldn’t make it tonight but they’d be in full strength at the next show.  I don’t know if it was because of this or not, but HCS played a bunch of their older songs as well which had a few of us singing and dancing along.

Always a fun time with their songs taking on everything from emo, 3rd wave ska, racism and everything in between, if you prefer your ska to be more similar to bands like The Specials or Madness than Reel Big Fish, definitely check them out.  I’ve seen them live many times over the past decade and they never fail to put on an great show.

Setlist: (from what I remember, not in order)
Chatterbox
Pants Music
Sharky 17 (Inspecter 7)
Little Julie Swastiska
Skins Don’t Cry
Popeye (Inspecter 7)
Hub City Stompers (Inspecter 7)
I’ve Got A Boot
Night Of The Living
WTFIU?

MP3:
Hub City Stompers – WTFIU?

More:
Hub City Stompers – Life After Death
Hub City Stompers – Blood Sweat And Beers
Hub City Stompers – Ska Ska Black Sheep

Guttermouth Live In Philly (2/12/16)

guttermouth tattoo conv

I headed to Philly’s small Fishtown dive bar the Kung Fu Necktie to catch Huntington Beach’s Guttermouth.  I’ve been a fan of these guys since I was like a freshman in high school nearly 17 years ago (…fuck I’m old) and both times I’ve seen them live they still put on a killer show.

The place was pretty packed when I got there right before Guttermouth took the stage, and it was clearly a Guttermouth show, as indicated by the drunk dude who decided to breakdown the stage before the band even went on until he was physically lifted off fireman style.

The vibe was a bit weird at first, with a bunch of people with cameras right up front (keep in mind this is a really divey venue, with no barricades and a low stage) and I was worried that this meant people weren’t going to dance, but my concerns were immediately put to rest by the large frantic pit that broke out as soon as Mark and company finished sound checking and opened with The Album Formerly Known As Full Length LP opener “Race Track”Following it up with “Asshole”, the crowd didn’t let up for the majority of the show, and Mark was all over the place running around, jumping into the pit and drunkenly quipping with the crowd.

At one point, Mark asked the crowd if punk bands still frequented Philly, which someone replied “yes, except Rancid”.  To which they started playing “Ruby Soho” while Mark mumbled like Tim Armstrong and nailed the impersonation.

The band ripped through a bunch of their classics, with all the juvenile and brash humor that they’re known for.  While they’re getting up there in age, Guttermouth still puts on an incredibly energetic and fun show.

Setlist (From what I remember, not in order)
Race Track
Asshole
Lipstick
Do The Hustle
Jaimie’s Petting Zoo
Lucky The Donkey
Where Was I?
No Such Thing
End On 9
Bakers Dozen
Bruce Lee Vs The Kiss Army
She’s Got The Look
Trinket Trading Tick Toting Tired Toothless Tramps
Party Of Two (Your Table Is Ready)

MP3:
Guttermouth – Bakers Dozen

More:
Guttermouth – Musical Monkey
Guttermouth – 4 New Songs

Official Site:
Guttermouth

Leftover Crack – Constructs Of The State (For fans of Choking Victim, Operation Ivy, Star Fucking Hipsters)

leftover_crack_constructs_cover

It’s 2016, and I’m really fucking loving the new Leftover Crack album – file under shit I’d never thought I’d be saying.  I’ll be honest, I’ve been a Leftover Crack fan for nearly 15 years now, but I didn’t really have high hopes for their latest Fat Wreck release Constructs Of The State.  For one, it’s been over 11 years since their last album Fuck World Trade, and on top of it founding member Ezra has since left the band, so I just assumed it would just be watered down.  Upon my first listen of Constructs Of The State, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Constructs Of The State is 13 tracks is a fantastic mix of ska, punk, hardcore and metal creating that crack rock steady sound that you’ve come to love from the band.  Songs like opener “Archaic Subjugation” and “Slave To Throne” show the heavier side of things with plenty of hardcore and thrash metal influences, while the more ska influenced “System Fucked” is an incredibly catchy song featuring Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy/Classics Of Love that’s so damn skankable, you’d think it was 2001 again.  (In addition to Jesse Michaels, there are plenty of musical guests throughout the entire album, including members of Crass, Dead Milkmen, Bouncing Souls, Riverboat Gamblers, and plenty more.)

Lyrically, the band is political as ever with songs about systematic racism, lies the armies recruit with, etc.  But Stza also goes down a bit more personal route with songs about seeing drug addiction ruining so many of his friend’s lives on the incredibly catchy “Bedbugs and Beyond” (It even has a direct reference to former member Ezra and his struggles with addiction) that ends with a cautionary “these fucking bugs eat punks.”

Speaking of the white elephant in the room Ezra, yes his absence is noticeable on Constructs Of The State, but not nearly as much as you might think.  As proven with Morning Glory, Ezra is a pretty talented song writer and his songs definitely helped expand the sound of their previous albums and his voice proved to be a nice contrast to Stza, but at the same time according to Stza when asked if it was strange to record without him: “Not really. He was never very involved in the recording process, and even less in the LöC songwriting. He wrote/co-wrote about six songs between Fuck World Trade, Deadline, and the Crack Rock Steady 7 split with F-Minus. He played guitar on a hidden track at the end of Mediocre Generica and he plays guitar on about six of the now 21 tracks on Fuck World Trade. Other than that, he only sang or played guitar on “his” songs. There are three of those. People were led to believe that he was more involved in these projects by my direction. Even on the Choking Victim full length, No Gods/No Managers, he is actually only on about three songs and he’s playing bass and not actually playing any guitars or vocals as the liner notes otherwise dictate. All that being said, his contributions were not insignificant and the few songs that he was around to write guitar for benefited greatly. He’s a talented musician.”

With all that being said, Constructs Of The State is a stellar album, and a must for any Leftover Crack fan.  It’s been in my regular rotation since I got it in November, and I haven’t been able to stop listening since.

MP3:
Leftover Crack – Syste Fucked (ft Jesse Michaels)

The Queers, Bigwig Live In Philadelphia (12/28/15)

Growing up in New Jersey, Bigwig has always been one of my favorite bands since I was just an angst filled teen.  I thought I’d never get a chance seeing them as somehow every show they played when I was growing up, I couldn’t go to for one reason or another, and then they stopped playing shows for years.  However, this past year I’ve had a chance to see them both at NateFest and the Court Tavern and both shows were killer.  Needless to say I was pretty damned stoked to be catching them again.  The fact The Queers were also playing was an added bonus.

I got to Philly’s small dive Kung Fu Necktie right as the opener was ending and just in time for Bigwig.  The place was pretty packed as the show was completely sold out.  There was barely any room to move and the small room with the stage quickly packed out in anticipation for Bigwig.

Bigwig:

bigwig

As soon as the band took the stage, they immediately opened with Invitation To Tragedy’s “Sink Or Swim”.  With the first strike of the opening chords, while there wasn’t much room to move around a small pit opened up that really didn’t let up for most of the night.  With people piling on and singing along, these Jersey punk didn’t let up as they ripped through a solid set consisting of songs off all four of their full length albums.

Bigwig played a tight set and seemed to have a blast on stage.  Even after all these years, still one of my favorite bands around, and luckily I get to see them once again in a few months when they come around with Less Than Jake.

Setlist:
Sink Or Swim
Sore Losers
Still
Best Of Me
A War Inside
Mr. Asshole
Waste
Moosh
Friends
Flavor Ice
Numbers
Sellout
Girl In The Green Jacket
No Thought, No Spine
Counting Down

The Queers:

queers1

Next up were 80s pop-punk band The Queers.  I’ve had the chance to see The Queers a few times, and they always put on a great show.  Snotty, crude, and incredibly catchy, The Queers had a sizeable pit throughout their set and had fans from their 20s through their 50s singing along. They kept the tradition of keeping stage banter to a minimum and playing without a setlist, ripping through a shit ton of songs to the point where the crowd could barely keep up.

Highlights:
I Hate Everything
Like A Parasite
No Tit
Another Girl
Granola Head
Hi Mom It’s Me
Punk Rock Girls
Can’t Stop Farting
This Place Sucks

MP3:
The Queers – Little Rich Working Class Oi Boi
Bigwig – Mr. Asshole

Bouncing Souls, World Inferno Friendship Society, Miss TK, and The Low Budgets Live In NJ (12/26/15)

I’ve been going to The Bouncing Souls Home For The Holidays since the band started the Asbury Park tradition back in 2007.  This year, I decided to go on Saturday due to the fact that both the World Inferno Friendship Society and The Low Budgets were playing it.   I got to the Stone Pony right as The Low Budgets took the stage.

The Low Budgets:

lowbudgets
Viva valu-rock!  I’ve loved Philadelphia’s Low Budgets from the moment I saw them live back in 2003 with their goofy songs about being broke, dead kittens, and craft fairs.  Catching them a few times up until they announced they were calling it a day back in 2008, I was pretty sure I would never get to see them again.  One of the main reasons I picked this night for Home For The Holidays was because of these guys, especially because I couldn’t make their Philly warehouse show a week beforehand.

The room was filling up as they started playing, with Joe Jack Talcum of Dead Milkmen fame in the center of the stage with his keyboard.  It seemed like most of the people there weren’t sure who they were, but there were definitely a bunch of us who were singing along to each word, and most people seemed to be digging them.  Playing songs off all three of their full lengths, the band put on a solid show and I’m really kicking myself for missing the Philly one which was definitely rowdier.  It’s a shame that this was just a one-off reunion, The Low Budgets still slay live.

Setlist (From what I remember, not in order):
Oh Yeah
O.E In The A.M
50 Cents
Thrift Store
Ripped Off
Poser Punker
Stupid Dead Kitty
Rock N Rollers
Sweet Tooth
Declined
Fat Cop

Miss TK and The Revenge:

misstk

I’ve never heard of Asbury Park’s Miss TK and The Revenge before, but apparently they featured both Ari Katz (vocalist of Lifetime) and his wife Miss TK.  Playing a sort of synth-punk style that reminded me a bit of Le Tigre or later No Doubt, it wasn’t my particular style, but they definitely weren’t bad by any means.   Bonus points for having enough cowbell to make even Blue Oyster Cult jealous.

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

The World Inferno Friendship Society has gone through numerous lineup changes throughout the years, but yet they remain to be one of the most consistent live bands around.  Taking the stage and opening with their call to arms “Tattoos Fade”, the place immediately erupted into a frenzy of crowd surfing, dancing, and singing along.  A World Inferno show may seriously be the only place where you’ll see people go from moshing to waltzing within the same song.

Vocalist Jack Terricloth and crew were on point with their both their music and quips.  Between telling the bouncers guarding the stage that the “the kids just want to dance”, and then joking with the bouncer throughout the set, it was definitely amusing to watch.  With people climbing the rafters and Jack stage diving into the crowd during the last song, The World Inferno Friendship Society is always just the best party.

Setlist (From what I remember)
Tattoos Fade
Annie The Imaginary Lawyer
Just The Best Party
My Ancestral Homeland, New Jersey
Thumb Cinema
Secret Service Freedom Fighting USA
Brother Of The Mayor Of Bridgewater
Jerusalem Boys

The Bouncing Souls:

BouncingSouls5

Before the Souls took the stage, the place was already getting rowdy with chants of “OLE” and “Here We Go” breaking out throughout the crowd. The Souls finally took the stage, and announced that this might be their last Home For The Holidays (boooo), and opening with “Joe Lies (When He Cries)”.  The place immediately broke out into a frenzy.  The Souls didn’t let up for the entirety of the night playing songs mostly from their earlier releases with an emphasis on How I Spent My Summer Vacation.

Greg seemed lively jumping into the crowd a few times, running around the stage, and all around having a blast on stage.  The majority of the night was a blur for me as I danced and yelled along, but one thing is for sure: Home For The Holidays is one of my favorite shows, and I’ll be pretty bummed if this is the last one.  The Bouncing Souls are easily my favorite band and have been for nearly 16 years now, and there’s just something special about seeing them in my home state of New Jersey.

Setlist (Not in order)
Joe Lies (When He Cries)
Punks In Vegas
Kate Is Great
Kids And Heroes
Sing Along Forever
Say Anything
Broken Record
East Coast! Fuck You!
Hopeless Romantic
That Song
The Something Special
Lifetime
Manthem
Late Bloomer
Lamar Vannoy
Quick Check Girl
Born To Lose
Lean On Sheena
These Are The Quotes From Our Favorite 80s Movies
True Believers

MP3:
Bouncing Souls-Joe Lies (When He Cries)
World Inferno Friendship Society – Tattoos Fade
Low Budgets – Born Before The Internet

The Dickies Live In Philly (12/16/15)

The Dickies KFN

I’ve been so incredibly busy with the holidays I haven’t had a chance to breathe, let alone make a post… so it’s a bit overdue, but I finally had a chance to see The Dickies here in Philly.  I got to Kung Fu Necktie right as The Dickies were setting up, and the small dive was pretty packed out with punk fans from all generations: plenty of people there who probably saw them when their first albums came out back in the 70s to people in their 20s and 30s who didn’t get to see them until later in life.

The Los Angeles punks have always been known for their fun and campy humor in their lyrics and shows.  This was evident as soon as the band came out, singer Leonard Graves Phillips was completely dressed like an elf as they opened the show with their punk cover of the christmas classic “Silent Night”.

The band continued blasting through their incredibly catchy songs without pause or break until finally taking one deep about 7 or songs deep into their setlist.  Then the band broke into their hilarious props, from bringing a sex doll on stage during “Waterslide”, having a sock puppet dog “sing” the lyrics to “Poodle Party”, or Leonard running around taping up members of the band as they’re playing, they definitely were one of the most entertaining and fun shows I’ve seen recently.

Setlist:
Silent Night
I’m OK, You’re OK
Fan Mail
(I’m Stuck In A Pagoda With) Tricia Toyota
Got It At The Store
Give It Back
Nights In White Satin
Welcome To The Diamond Mine
Golden Boys
Toxic Avengers
Waterslide
I’ve Got A Splitting Hedachi
Manny Moe And Jack
Paranoid
Mental Ward
Poodle Party
You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)
If Stuart Could Talk
Gigantor

Encore:
Rondo (The Midgets Revenge)
Rosemary
Banana Split

MP3:
The Dickies – She’s A Hunchback

The Slackers, The Snails live in Philly (12/11/15)

This past Friday, I headed to Philly’s Underground Arts in order to catch New York ska band The Slackers.  I’ve caught The Slackers a few times over the years, and one thing that always impressed me was the large and diverse crowd that always comes out to catch them, and Friday night was no different.

I walked down the steps into Underground Arts and arrived into a pretty full room decked out in holiday décor.  I got there right in the middle of openers The Snails set.

The Snails:

The snails

I’ve caught local ska band The Snails once before back in 2011 open for The Slackers, and they surprised me with their catchy, rocksteady ska sound mixed with more traditional soul and early rock and roll.  Four years later, the band still puts on an incredibly tight set, with their latest songs concentrating more on the ska/rocksteady side of things than the soul, but threw in plenty of more rock and roll songs including an energetic cover of “Woolly Bully” which had the place moving.

The Slackers:

the slackers

The Slackers took the stage promoting their upcoming album (which also was on sale at the show) simply called The Slackers.  Playing to a pretty full room, there was barely any room to skank in front of the stage, with most people opting to dance completely in the back or the sides.

The Slackers were in high holiday spirits, with vocalist/keyboardist Vic Ruggiero messing with fellow bandmates trying to kiss saxophonist “disco Dave” under a disco ball in lieu of of mistletoe, talking about the difference between Italian and Jewish households, and other quips that had both the crowd and band laughing.

As usual, The Slackers played a very solid set consisting of plenty of newer songs as well as older hits such as “Married Girl”, “Sarah”, and covers such as ska versions of “Dreidel” and “Like A Virgin”.  Always a solid set, The Slackers once again prove that even in the year 2016, ska is far from dead.

MP3:
The Slackers – Mr Tragedy

PEARS Live In Philly (12/10/15)

Pears

Ever since I saw PEARS open for Teenage Bottlerocket a few months back and I got a copy of their debut Go To Prison, I haven’t been able to stop listening to them.  New Orleans PEARS mix their aggressive hardcore so seamlessly with Descendent’s inspired pop-punk, it seriously is the most catchy and addicting music I’ve heard in a long time.

I got to Johnny Brenda’s intimate small room just in time for PEARS, and the place was actually nowhere near as dead as I expected it to be for a random Thursday night 21+ show.  Once PEARS took the stage, it was clear a lot of people weren’t too familiar with the band itself but were there to support the Philly local drummer.

If there’s one thing that makes PEARS stand out live, it’s their incredibly explosive stage presence.  From the second they opened with “Little Bags” vocalist Zach was all over the place jumping all around the stage with his bizarre and entertaining antics.  This continued throughout the course of the night, jumping and rolling through the crowd even though there were only a handful of us who were singing along (although everyone did seem to be digging them).

PEARS played pretty much every song they have maybe minus one or two for a quick and explosive set.  Bonus points for somehow incorporating what I’m pretty sure was Super Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country’s aquatic level music in their set as an intro before one of the songs.

Easily becoming one of my favorite bands, PEARS killed it, and if you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, get on it.

Setlist: (not in order)
Little Bags
Sycophant
Anhedonia
You’re Boring
Terrible
Framework
Breakfast (I think they did this one)
Forever Sad (I think)
Judy Is A Punk (Ramones)
Victim To Be
Grime Spree

So pretty much everything except Snowflake if I remember correctly.

MP3:
PEARS – You’re Boring

Weston, Digger Live In Philadelphia (12/5/15)

Weston flyer

This past Friday, My girlfriend and I met up with some friends and headed out to Philly’s First Unitarian Church basement meeting up with some friends to catch Pennsylvania’s beloved Weston.  The sweaty basement was pretty packed out by the time I got there with original fans who used to follow the band when they played in the 90s, dads introducing their young ones to their first punk rock experience, and everything in between.  I missed openers Mikey Erg and The Fiendz, but got there in time for Digger.

Digger:

digger

Allentown’s Pennsylvania’s Digger used to play all the time with Weston back in the 90s (in fact one of the members of Weston used to be in Digger), and musically the influences are very similar.  Playing pop-punk similar to Fifteen, Digger called it a day back in the early 2000s only to recently play a string a reunion shows.  Being one of the first Hopeless Records bands, if you ever had any of the Hopelessly Devoted To You compilations back in the day, you know Digger.

Digger killed it with their catchy pop-punk anthems about girls and hats, and even though I’m not too familiar with their albums (which I need to change) they put on a really fun set with plenty of people singing throughout.  Plenty of vocal melodies and catchy riffs,  Digger is one of the most underrated pop-punk bands of their time.

Weston:

weston

This was my 3rd time seeing Weston and the previous two times I caught them (the first time in NJ almost a decade ago opening for The Bouncing Souls at the fucking House Of Blues in Atlantic City, and more recently Riot Fest East here in Philly) the majority of the crowd didn’t seem to know or even really care who they were.  But finally, I was getting to catch Weston in a small, intimate venue they were headlining.

The PA natives took the stage in the most ridiculous/awesome outfits, with hawaiian shirts, the most glittery suit I’ve ever seen, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night: fun.  Kicking things off with Got Beat Up opener “Retarded”, the crowd immediately burst into a pit, pile-ons and sing alongs which lasted throughout the course of the night.

Weston were in high spirits as they joked about their history, getting older, and immediately having sound problems with the bass cutting out, to which they took the time to give odes to bands such as Nirvana and Led Zeppelin, saying that they were great song writers regardless of what you thought.  Using that as a segue, they introduced the original guitarist of Weston who wrote a bunch of the riffs and had him a play a few songs.

After ripping through a bunch of favorites the band started joking about how they have shirts in the back, and they are new before closing with fan favorites “New Shirt/Heather Lewis”.  After leaving the stage, the band came back out to the “one more song” demands playing a cover of The Misfits “Where Eagles Dare” and picked probably the drunkest dude in the crowd to do vocals for it.  Finally, closing with what they said was a “deep cut” (Bus Stop off of their Japan only release) they called it a night with saying they literally don’t know how to play any more songs.   A fun night, I really hope Weston plays some more shows.  They still kill it live after all these years, and prove they can still pack a place on a Friday night.

Setlist (From what I remember, not in order)
Retarded
Just Like Kurt
Feelings Stupid Feelings
No Kind Of Superstar
Record Shop (I think)
David Soul (I think)
Feet
Varsity Sweater
Little Mile ’94
New Shirt
Heather Lewis

Encore:
Where Eagles Dare (Misfits cover)
Bus Stop

MP3:
Weston – No Kind Of Superstar