Off With Their Heads
House of Blues Boston
May 18th, 2013
It feels like it’s been years since I’ve written a review on this blog. If you are wondering what caused the long absence, the answer is simple: I stopped going to shows. Just got tired of it. Too loud, too expensive, too time consuming – not worth the effort.
I’m kidding, of course. Since my last entry I’ve been to plenty of shows. Most of them have been awesome. There was Andrew McMahon playing his first solo show in Boston, Titus Andronicus tearing through a late-night set in Cambridge, and the The Bronx’s lead singer, Matt Caughthran, singing an entire song while crowd surfing when opening for Bad Religion at the House of Blues.
While these shows were great, none of them inspired me to finally sit down at the keyboard and hammer out a review. That changed when one of my all time favorites took the stage for what was likely one of the largest headlining shows they’ve played in years at the House of Blues in Boston.
That band is of course Alkaline Trio – an artist forever cursed by the fact that they released a number of excellent albums very early in their career. Since that time, every new record has been held to an unrealistically high standard and any attempt at refining their sounds or experimenting with a new approach is scorned by the fans who helped them become unlikely cult heroes.
For that reason, and despite a number of solid releases over the past few years, most Alkaline Trio fans would not argue the group is at the top of their game. Luckily for the band, you would have had no idea this was the case if you witnessed their latest Boston performance.
The night started with a 30 minute set from Off With Their Heads. Fresh off the release of their third album, the band seemed to be in a great spot to grow their fan base by bringing their brand of gruff punk rock to the Trio-worshiping masses. Strangely enough, lead singer Ryan Young had gone on the record as saying he wasn’t all that excited about the tour due to the unenthusiastic crowd reaction the band was likely to receive (read the interview here).
Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but few in the crowd seemed excited by the band’s work. The Minneapolis quartet did seem to win over at least a few new fans with a very solid performance. The title track from their recent album Home was a mid-tempo show stopper while most other tracks featured the same frantic energy that made their last two records critical favorites.
Bayside was the primary support for the tour, which must have been an honor for a band that started their career sounding like a pretty decent Alkaline Trio tribute band.
They opened their set with “Devotion and Desire” – a song they have (obnoxiously) closed almost every show with over the past seven years. It did get the crowd moving and kicked off what would become the kind of set you’ve always wanted to see the band to play.
Instead of the the three static figures seemingly rooted to their microphones on stage that we’ve seen in the past, lead singer/guitarist Anthony Raneri, guitarist Jack O’Shea, and bassist Nick Ghanbarian made a concerted effort to move around the stage and look like they were interested in the songs they were playing. During the final song, Raneri even put down the guitar to climb down to the barrier with the mic and let the crowd sing along.
As is always the case, the band sounded great, and O’Shea’s fret board theatrics took center stage whenever the song called for a solo. The band surprisingly made no reference to their allegiances to New York sports teams – which was surprising considering the show was across the street from Fenway, and the Bruins and Rangers were set to square off in in game 2 of their second round playoff series the next day.
It was probably for the better as the band was able to pack 11 songs into their set, which primarily focused on 2011’s Killing Time and also included standout tracks from 2007’s The Walking Wounded and their self-titled record. They closed with a rousing version of “Dear Tragedy” to a rather massive applause.
Next up were the headliners. The last time the band was in Boston two year’s earlier, they played at the Paradise Rock Club, a venue less than half the size of the House of Blues. That’s why the venue choice seemed surprising when the tour was announced. Despite this, the venue was packed as fans jostled for space on the first floor and the balconies.
The band took the stage and kicked off the set as they often do – with the opening track from their most recent album. This time it was the bouncy “She Lied To The FBI” – which received a surprisingly good reaction from the crowd. They followed with b-side “Hell Yes” and then “Clavicle” – a huge fan favorite from their debut album which ratcheted up the energy level considerably. They then followed with two deep cuts from 2003’s Good Mourning in “If We Never Go Inside” and “Donner Party (All Night Long)”. For a big Good Mourning fan like myself, hearing these songs played live was a huge treat.
Right out of the gate, it was obvious the band was willing to switch up the set list quite a bit and wasn’t going to playing just the hits. By the end of the night, the band had completely ignored 2008’s Agony And Irony and 2010’s This Addiction, while playing nearly as many songs from Good Morning (4) as they did from the recently released My Shame Is True (5). It didn’t seem like anyone in attendance had a problem with this, as the band constantly commended the crowd on their effort and even threw in the “best show of the tour” designation at one point.
With the crowd in top form, the band didn’t disappoint with their performance. Guitarist Matt Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano traded vocal duties, with Dan sounding surprisingly good on his songs, notably “Crawl” and the new track “Young Lovers”.
The high point of the set (at least from where I was standing) was the 1-2 punch of “The Torture Doctor” and “My Friend Peter”. The two songs couldn’t be more different: the former is from the band’s latest album and features a huge, glossy chorus, while the latter is a 2 minute blast of punk energy from the band’s early catalog that has long been a fan favorite. The two choices, and the huge sing-alongs they inspired perfectly represented the band’s entire set – whether the song was new or old, the crowd ate up every minute.
Skiba and Co. have made it a point of closing most shows with one of two old favorites: “Radio” or “97”. On this night, the band treated the crowd to both. Skiba ended the night playing the last few cords on his back after leaping off the drum riser while drummer Derek Grant flung drum sticks to the outstretched hands on the floor.
At one point earlier in the set, Skiba had stopped to stare out at the huge crowd and remark “we’re not going to say we don’t like seeing so many of you here.” The sheer size of this show was a reminder of just how dedicated the band’s fan base is. Like many of those in attendance, I had seen Alkaline Trio plenty of times, and like everyone else, I’ll keep going back as long as they keep putting in solid performances like this.
The Out With The In Crowd Tour
October 23rd, 2010
I was in high school when Senses Fail hit it big. Following the underground success of their debut EP, they released Let in Enfold You in 2004, and immediately rose to the top of the much maligned emo/screemo scene. In six years since, a lot has changed. Few bands remain from the scene that Senses Fail once ruled, and even fewer will ever be able to sell the 300,000+ units that Let It Enfold You did.
Much like the industry itself, Senses Fail has evolved, and this has allowed them to retain a strong fan base. The band’s biggest evolution cannot be heard on their newest record or in their numerous line-up changes, but in the immense improvement they have made to their live show. I hadn’t seen the band in four years, and while they’re still a mess at times, the difference is remarkable.
The night began…. early. While Royale has quickly become one of Boston’s trendiest music venues, it also doubles as one of it’s trendiest night clubs. This means that Friday and Saturday night shows start and end early to make way for well-dressed club-goers and their disposable incomes. For this reason, I missed opening acts Title Fight and Balance and Composure.
The first band I did catch was Bayside. This was my sixth time seeing them as a full band, and I wasn’t all that excited for their set. While they are a very solid live band, it seems like they’ve been playing the same songs for at least the past three years. This includes largely ignoring their most recent record Shudder, which very well may be their best work.
It could have been my low expectations, but I came away with a renewed appreciation for the band. While they did cover all of the familiar tracks in their hour long set, they also threw in a few pleasant surprises and displayed a sense of energy I hadn’t seen from them in quite awhile.
Among the surprises were “Just Enough To Love You” from their 2001 Split EP with Name Taken, and “Alcohol and Alter Boys” from 2004’s “Sirens and Condolences.” The band continued to avoid tracks from Shudder, but the one they did include on the setlist was a great one, that being “I Think I’ll Be Ok.”
While the New York city quintet moved quickly in order to pack in as many songs as possible, they did fit in a few well-placed jabs at the Red Sox that had the Boston faithful at least slightly riled up. The joke, however, would be on the band, for their beloved Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs by the Texas Rangers later that night.
In addition to the national pastime, Bayside focused on sounding as good as I’ve ever heard them. The highlights of the set for me were “Landing Feet First,” a mid-tempo track off The Walking Wounded, as well as fan favorite “Montauk.” Throughout the set the crowd sang along with fists in the air, showing that they may not have been the headliner, but Bayside certainly helped sell a fair amount of tickets to the sold-out event.
The band also debuted two new songs from their forthcoming album, both of which were punchy and upbeat, but not terribly memorable upon first listen. Their cover of Weezer’s “My Name is Jonas,” on the other hand, was quite memorable. If I hadn’t been staring at the stage, I would have believed anyone who told me Weezer had just made a special appearance. While some fans would rather see a band put their own special twist on a cover song, I subscribe to the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” school of though. And “My Name is Jonas” certainly doesn’t need fixing.
The band would close the set like they always do, with a spirited version of “Devotion and Desire” that got the crowd moving more so than any of the previous tracks. They had played for a full hour, not bad considering they weren’t headlining the show.
After a short wait (I’m guessing there was an early curfew), Senses Fail took the stage and opened with “Shark Attack.” My first impression was “I think my ears are going to explode.” The entire set was an aural assault, with the band seemingly out to ruin the hearing of everyone in attendance. Mission accomplished.
That isn’t to say that the band sounded bad. They did stray into some sloppy territory at times, but overall they handled even their most technical tracks with ease. Guitarist Zach Roach, who recently replaced Heath Saraceno, not only shreds, but also lends solid backing vocals, often allowing lead singer Buddy Neilsen to catch his breath after a round of guttural screaming.
Neilsen’s vocals were the most surprising, and impressive aspect of the entire show. When I saw Senses Fail four years ago, they did not sound good. Neilsen’s started the show strong, but quickly faded to the point where he sounded nothing like he did on any of their recordings. What a difference a few years makes. On this night, the charismatic frontman deftly switched from his much-improved singing voice to the type of screaming that threatened to blow out every single speaker hanging above the stage.
While Neilsen provided an admirable vocal performance, it is the crowd that really deserves a pat on the back. From the second the band stepped on stage until the final notes of “187”, the fans went absolutely nuts. They pushed, shoved, flailed, and crowd surfed throughout the set, and Senses Fail seemed to feed off their energy. Neilsen paced around the stage like a caged animal and did his best in fighting the urge to dive headfirst into the crowd.
The band’s set lasted just under an hour and featured a mix of songs from their four full-length albums, including three tracks from The Fire. “Bite to Break Skin” from Let it Enfold You” received the biggest reaction from the crowd, although pretty much every song inspired at least some degree of chaos at the front of the venue.
The band would close the show abruptly, saying “we have one more left, and we don’t do encores, so this is it.” Once again, I think this may have been to accommodate a curfew the club had instituted. Either way, Senses Fail closed their set in the same way they’ve closed every other show throughout their career, with “187.” While it is a crowd favorite, it seems dated at this point, and I wish they would try something different. Based on their reaction, however, I don’t think many in the crowd would agree with me.
Overall, the show highlighted two bands that have survived seismic shifts in the music industry without reinventing their sound, but by cultivating a dedicated fan base. While Bayside is always a decent live band, their performance was certainly the best I had seen from them. With a new record arriving in February, they seem primed to continue to grow that fan base. Senses Fail, on the other hand, has never had a reputation as a good live band, but shows like this will go a long way towards changing that. Their performance was an hour of pure intensity that would impress even the most cynical music fans.
(Same as previous show in Hartford)
Despite its ocean front location and spacious boardwalk, Asbury Park, New Jersey will never be mistaken for one of the prettier places in the world. On this bitterly cold December day, it was downright eerie.
All that was missing from the barren beaches and parking lots was rolling tumble weed, but even that would be hesitant to brave the arctic conditions that marked the end of 2009.
The cold weather proved no match for the Bouncing Souls or their fans, who packed the venerable Stone Pony for the third of four “Home for the Holidays” performances. Like the venue itself, the Bouncing Souls are a blue collar, no frills type of band that have earned their spot in punk lore. With help from some like-minded acts, the band would put on an outstanding hometown performance.
The night began with a short set from Static Radio NJ. The band played a mix of hardcore and melodic punk that that wasn’t all that well received by the crowd. Next up was P.O.S. The Minneapolis hip-hop artist who stuck out like a sore thumb in the show’s lineup. By poking, prodding, and borderline insulting the audience, he was somehow able to get the crowd involved as those at the near the front of the stage were waving their arms and chanting along towards the end of the set.
The main support came from Bayside, another no-frills act with a history of opening for the Bouncing Souls. The band almost always puts on a solid set, and this night was no different as the crowd finally had a chance to move and sing along. The only compliant I had was that the set list was very familiar to anyone who had seen them in the past. The quartet continues to shy away from material off Shudder, their most recent, and arguably strongest record.
While the Bayside set was enjoyable, it couldn’t compare to the energetic, sweaty, nearly perfect show put on by the hometown heroes. From the opening one-two punch of “Here We Go” and “Never Say Die/When You’re Young,” until the closing notes of “The Freak, Nerds, and Romantics,” the show moved at break-neck speed.
The set list came courtesy of a local charity that was present as the show, and boy was it a good one. Celebrating 20 years as a band, it would be almost impossible to satisfy everyone, but with a perfect mix of old and new, the quartet seemed to do just that. While favorites such as “Mantham,” “Hopeless Romantic,” or any of the five songs off 1996’s Maniacal Laughter inspired giant circle pits, it was newer material that shined, including the very appropriate “Ghosts on the Boardwalk.”
Even up on stage in front of a sold-out crowd, you would think the band was playing a basement show in front of family and friends. To an extent, they were. The group had scheduled meet and greet events throughout the week, including after parties, “hang sessions,” and record store visits. They joked with those in the audience between songs, and even stopped one song to make note of how badly they had botched the opening. The group’s lack of “rock star” image or ego is another reason why they have managed to endear themselves to so many fans over the past two decades.
After closing the show with a four songs encore, the band would leave the stage having thoroughly exhausted those in the crowd. Half the fans slowly filed out onto a quiet and cold Ocean Avenue, while the other half rushed the merch table looking for a shirt or cd to help commemorate the night. Whether you walked out with souvenir or not, the show would be hard to forget. While a veteran band at the top of their game in front of an adoring hometown crowd at an intimate venue is always going to yield good results, this show was something special.
New Found Glory
Set Your Goals
House of Blues Boston
April 30th, 2009
New Found Glory will never been considered one of the most innovative or creative bands out there. Their latest record, Not Without Fight, is possibly their most predictable work yet, going back to the sound that helped propel them to great popularity earlier in the decade. After reading that, you’re probably thinking I’m not much of a New Found Glory fan. Truth is, I love New Found Glory. For years they’ve been one of my favorite bands, and their show at the House of Blues in Boston represented the sixth time I would see them live. I like New Found Glory because they don’t try to be something they aren’t. They play fast, catchy pop-punk songs that are great for singing along to, and they transfer the energy found in their records to their live show. Their headlining show with Bayside, Set Your Goals, and Fireworks perfectly illustrated this.
The night began with a short set from Fireworks, the Detroit based pop-punk act who recently released their debut record “All I Have To Offer is My Own Confusion. The band seemed like the perfect fit for the tour, considering they seem to be heavily influenced by New Found Glory and have toured with Set Your Goals in the past. While they may have been a good fit, there were very few in the crowd who showed any interested in the band, with only a select few bobbing their heads or signing along. This isn’t to say that the band didn’t put on a good show and attempt to get the crowd excited, it just wasn’t happening.
The crowd may have been saving their energy for the next act, Set Your Goals, the Bay Area band that has become somewhat of an underground phenomenon since the release of their debut LP Mutiny in 2006. They have played a number of memorable shows in the area, including a handful at the ICC in Allston that at times have featured as many fans on stage with the band as down on the floor watching. While it would be much harder to pull off a stage dive at the House of Blues, the crowd still gave it their all during the set.
For a number of different reasons, I decided to stand off to the side of the stage for the entire show, so while I can’t exactly gauge just how crazy the crowd got, I can say I saw a good deal of crowd surfing and (attempted) head walking during Set Your Goal’s short set. The band sounded decent music-wise, and included songs such as “Flight of the Navigator,” “Echoes,” and “Mutiny.” The only complaint I had about the performance was the fact that the band has been playing the same songs live for about three years now. This will change in July when the band releases their new record, one song off of which they played in the middle of their set.
Next was Bayside, and this was my forth time seeing the four-piece who released their excellent forth record, Shudder last fall. As expected, the band sounded nearly perfect live, with guitarist (and Strewsburry, Mass.) native Jack O’Shea ripping of one jaw-dropping solo after another. Lead singer Anthony Reneri kept the between-song banter to a minimum and let the band’s varied setlist take center stage. After openning with “Hello Shitty,” the band would follow with “Boy” and then “The Walking Wounded,” providing one standout track from each of their last three records. “Masterpiece” from the bands debut record Sirens and Condolences was a welcome addition to the set, and fan favorite “Montauk” was also included before closing the set with “Devotion and Desire.” While the crowd had been quite enthusiastic during the Set Your Goals set, Bayside did not receive the same reaction. The crowd was seemingly split between fans who wanted to move around and sing along, and those who couldn’t’ wait for Bayside to get off the stage. This is unfortunate, but having half the crowd on your side at such a large venue isn’t a bad thing either.
After a short wait, it was time for the headliners to do their part. I am a strong believer in starting a set off strong and getting the crowd excited right from the outset, for it always seems to make for better shows in the end. New Found Glory also subscribes to this philosophy, as they began with current single “Listen To Your Friends,” easily the catchiest (and best) song off their new record. The crowd responded in full force, and from what I could see, they never let up for the rest of the night. The band would go on to pump out anthem after anthem, mixing the best songs from Not Without a Fight with all of their older favorites. This is the type of show that makes it very difficult to pick out just a few highlights, so I might as well just say every song was excellent and had almost everyone in the building singing along as loud as they could. It was a nice treat to hear “Tip of the Iceberg” and “Dig My Own Grave” in succession, both of which came from last year’s hardcore-leaning “Tip of the Iceberg” E.P. The only misstep (and it was a very minor one at that) was their cover of “Don’t You Forget (About Me),” which they used to close the set. It appeared that a good deal of those in the audience weren’t familiar with the track.
After a very short time off stage, New Found Glory once again grabbed the reins and ramped the energy back up with “Better Off Dead” to begin the encore. “Head on Collision” would follow, along with “Too Good To Be,” a slower track from 2007’s Coming Home. The band would then invite a random fan onstage to join the performance of the customary New Found Glory closing act, featuring Intro from 2005’s Catalyst, and of course, the band’s biggest hit “My Friends Over You.”
All in all, what I consider to be the strongest tour of the year so far easily lived up to the high expectation I had set for it. Each band sounded great and put together outstanding set lists. The crowd easily held up their end of the bargain, earning the title of “craziest show of the tour for sure” from NFG guitarist Chad Gilbert on Twitter (I’ve been doing some deep investigative reporting, I know). Title or no title, everyone in the building had a great time, from the people like me standing off to the side, to the crowd surfers getting tossed around, to the bands themselves. The only thing left to wonder is how long it will be until we see another tour this good.
New Found Glory set list (in order)
Listen To Your Friends
At Least I’m Known For Something
Forget My Name
Right Where We Left Off
All Downhill From Here
Glory of Love
Truck Stop Blues
Truth of my Youth
Something I Call Personality
Hold My Hand
Tip of the Iceberg
Dig My Own Grave
Failure’s Not Flattering
Dressed to Kill
Don’t Let Her Pull You Down
Hit or Miss
Don’t You Forget (About Me)
Better Off Dead
Head On Collision
Too Good To Be
My Friends Over You
Bayside set list (in order)
The Walking Wounded
They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns
Devotion and Desire
Set Your Goals set list (not in order)
Flight of the Navigator
Work in Progress
We Do It For the Money
To Be Continued
How Bout No, Scott
I’ve always liked “Best Of” lists, but I’ve always had a lot of trouble compiling my own. In 2005, I made a list of the year’s 25 best records and gave a reason why for each. I’m not nearly that ambitious anymore, and I certainly didn’t hear 25 albums worthy of making such a list this year. That is why I’m going to present you with my Top Ten of 2008. I know, they are completely subjective and you might think all of these records such, but that’s ok, because everything on this list captured my imagination and reminded me why I still buy cds, at least for a little while. So here they are:
1) The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound. Simply an amazing record that captures the spirit of Bruce Springsteen, modern day punk, and everything in between.
2) Fall Out Boy, Folie a’ Deux. It’s hard to justify putting a band like Fall Out Boy on this list, but they’ve simply never let me down. Folie a’ Deux is pure genious.
3) The Matches, A Band in Hope. The most creative and original band I listen to somehow manages to “out-weird” their previous efforts.
4) Alkaline Trio, Agony and Irony. Openning track “Calling All Skeletons” is easily my favorite of the year. I listened to this record non-stop all summer.
5) The Academy Is… Fast Times At Barrington High. Never would I have though this band would make it’s way on to a list like this after their laughable last record, but Fast Times was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year.
6) Bayside, Shudder. Classic Bayside.
7) Jack’s Mannequin, The Glass Passenger. I still haven’t decide if I like this or their debut record better, but both are excellent.
8. Funeral For A Friend, Memory and Humanity. The band’s top-notch guitar and drum work is aided by pristine production and Matt Davies’ simple yet supurb song writing skills. This record is a huge step back in the right direction after 2007’s disapointing Tales Don’t Tell Themselves.
9) Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death And All Of His Friends. I never liked Coldplay in the past, but this record changed that instantly. It’s refreshing to see a band achieve the success that they deserve.
10) Valencia, We All Need A Reason To Believe. This is one of those records that, on the surface seems like another happy and upbeat pop-punk record, but on the surface turns out to be much darker.
In 2004, Bayside released their debut record, Sirens and Condolences. It was ok… at best. It featured one good single, a few decent tracks, and a lot of filler. The band seemed hardly distinguishable from their many emo-rock peers, and If there was ever a group destined to be lost in the Victory Records shuffle, it was Bayside. The only thing was, that’s not what happened. The band has released three full-length records since that time, and each one has been significantly better than the last. They have seen their fan base swell, and have even had their videos on MTV and heard the all-to-familiar “sellout” accusations. Their success has led them to this point, a nationwide headlining tour with the Matches, Valencia, and the Status in support.
The tour made a stop at Showcase Live, the brand new venue inside a movie theater next door to Gillette Stadium in Foborough Mass. At first, I was very impressed. The club is quite small, with a capacity of about 1,000, and features a setup that puts fans very close to the stage. While it was very nice to look at and had great sound, I would realize as the show went on that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but more on that later.
First up, surprisingly, was a local band known as Tour Du North. Apparently this was their first show, and they were actually from Foxborough. They were on stage due to the fact that Valencia was unable to make the show that night due to sickness. It was really a shame considering their new cd, We All Need A Reason To Believe is so good, and I had been listening to it non-stop. Either way, Tour Du Nord put on a solid, though short set. As mentioned earlier, the sound at this venue was great, so it was very easy to hear every word and every note played.
Next was The Status, an Altlanta based band who released their debut full length this October. They seemed to perfectly fit the current pop-rock mold, playing upbeat, catchy songs that might have been lacking in originality, but were fun nonetheless. I can certainly see them as the type of band that, with some luck, could garner attention from rock and pop radio stations in the near future.
Next was The Matches, who are, in my opinion, easily the most underrated band in the scene today. They
have released three stellar records, with the last two being as unique as anything out there today. They took the stage and put on one of the best live performances I’ve seen in a while, displaying more energy than most bands do throughout an entire tour. Lead singer Shawn Harris twisted and cortorted his body in every way possible while belting out the bands signature tunes, all the while displaying the facial expressions of a man who had been hooked up to a caffine IV for days. Highlights of the set included: every single song. They played a mix that consisted mainly of 2008’s A Band in Hope and 2006’s Decomposer, while also including “Chain Me Free” and “Sick Little Suicide” from their debut record, E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals. They closed their forty minute set with Paper Cut Skin, which included the surprising, and very welcome addition of the chorus from Between Halloweens in the middle of the song. While it would have been nice to hear both tracks individually, this miniature mash-up was executed so perfectly you certainly couldn’t fault them for presenting the songs in this fashion.
The Matches Set list:
Point Me Towards the Morning
Chain Me Free
Wake The Sun
Didi My Doe
Yankee in a Chip Shop
Paper Cut Skin (With Between Halloweens)
Bayside decided to open their set in the same way they open their new record Shudder, and that was with “Boy.” While it is a great song, I was surprised by the lack of reaction from the crowd. I chalked it up to the fact that the CD had been out less than a month and therefore wasn’t as familiar as any of the their older work. Unfortunately, the crowd remained disappointingly unenthusiastic for most of the set. Now this can’t be blamed completely on the crowd itself, for the overly-strict policies employed by Showcase Live were the real culprit, as “No moshing or crowd surfing” signs were posted all around the venue, and a bouncer in a suit and tie was constantly jumping into the crowd to enforce these policies.
This seemed to matter little to the band, who put on a great performace none the less. The mainly static crowd did at least sing most of the set back at Anthony Rineri at the top of their lungs. While they didn’t bounce and crash around the stage in the way the Matches did, Bayside still does have a solid stage presence. Much like the Matches, Bayside did a great job of presenting a mix of old and new, including “Masterpiece” and “Guardrail” from their first record. The new songs from Shudder all sounded great and included the aforementioned “Boy,” along with “No One Understands,” and “Rochambo.” Also, a Bayside review would never be complete without a mention of Jack O’Shea’s amazing shredding abilities, as he tore it up all night long.
One highlight of Bayside’s set was “Landing Feet First” from The Walking Wounded. While it was easily
theslowest song of the night , it inspired a huge sing along and sounded great. The band would close the set with Duality, and walk off the stage to the expected chants of “one more song!” Unfortunatly, they granted this request, and played only one more song, that being “Devotion and Desire.” This meant that Bayside had played barley 20 minutes longer than the Matches, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a 10:30 curfew, for this was exactly when the set ended.
Bayside Set List
No One Understands
The Walking Wounded
They’re Not Horses They’re Unicorns
Landing Feet First
Devotion and Desire
In general, the show was hampered by the teen center-eque rules of the new venue, one that I hope most bands will avoid in the future, despite its great sound and small size. The bands who took the stage were all great, and while it would be difficult to say the Matches stole the show when only about seven people were singing along, that’s more or less what happend. Bayside was very good and put together a great set list, but the Matches were amazing. In a perfect world, this would have been a co-headlining tour, and the boys from Oakland would be every bit as popular as their East Coast peers in Bayside. Unfortunatly, this isn’t true just yet, but record sales and popularity have never seemed to be at the top of the Matches’ list. I think they’re just a little too weird for that.
I now realize I face a huge dilemma in writing these show reviews. I have no idea who, if anyone, will be reading them. Now my first thought is to write a very detailed review that another diehard fan would want to read. However, if you’re one of my friends who I’m forcing to read my blog, you would have probably been there with me if you were that interested in whether the band played that Japanese bonus track from 1998 or what color Matt Skiba’s guitar picks were, and how many he threw out to the crowd (they were white, and he threw out a lot of them, but I wasn’t counting, sorry). Anyway, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that, because I want my own record of the show, but I don’t think anyone other than myself is going to read the War and Peace version of “Alkaline Trio at Toad’s.” So here is my attempt at a concise and somewhat interesting review of one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while.
I’ve been a huge Alkaline Trio fan for five years now, and up to this point, I had never seen them live. Freshman year, I passed up two chances to see them, once at the Roxy and once at Avalon because I had an exam to study for and a night class. If anything, this taught me the invaluable lesson that school work should never come before your favorite bands, because I ended up bombing the test, learning nothing in the night class, and regretting the decision horribly.
Toad’s is pretty much the size of my basement. And it’s 10 minutes from my house.So it completely rules. Tonight however, the club decided to split the crowd in two, straight down the center by putting up a barrier. One one side was the bar and everyone over 21, on the other side was the merch tables and everyone under 21. Now, I can’t imagine anything more lame than standing near the front of the stage with a bunch of dudes holding beers and barely singing along, so I chose the under 21 side hoping it would be crazy during the show, and of course, it was.
If there’s one thing I like, it’s knives. Really who doesn’t? You can’t deny the pleasure that comes from slicing cleanly and quickly through a steak, or chicken, or some flesh vegetables. That’s why I was amused when a Denmark-based band that no one had ever heard of called the Fashion took the stage to the sound of blades being sharpened and a recorded dialogue about which type of knife was the best. Did you notice that spelling error? It was my sad attempt to keep this interesting for people who couldn’t care less about punk bands from Copenhagen. However, those people should care, because the Fashion were really, really good. Their singer jumped and danced around the stage like a mad man and the songs themselves were full of energy, hand claps, and big choruses. While I don’t know if this band will ever catch on in the US, they sure did manage to entertain the crowd and start the night off on a good note.
Next up was Bayside. Now I’m not sure if you’ve been informed of this, but Bayside is a cult. I learned this from the t-shirts and hoodies that way too many kids wore to the show (even if they are an opening band, that’s still a no no). In addition to being a cult, Bayside is also huge. I’m not sure when this happened, but it’s pretty awesome, and from where I was standing, this might as well have been a headlining show for Anthony Rineri and Co, because everyone went nuts when they steped on stage and began their set with “Blame It on Bad Luck.” One of the things I love the most about Bayside is the fact that there are no gimics. They don’t pull out any keyboards or recordings or string arrangements, they don’t try to look like rock starts, and they’ll happily admit that they worship Alkaline Trio and are thrilled to be touring with them. They simply do their job, which is to play dark, meloctic rock music very very well. At some points, the singing of the crowd easily drowned out Rineri, who said every night of the tour had been the best night of his life, and proudly sported a red Alkaline Trio heart logo among the numerous tattos adorning both his arms. When the band could be heard, it was obvious they were hitting every note, and Jack O’Shea is one of the best guitarists around. Rineri also said that the band would be recording a new record shortly and hoped to release it in September. Here are the songs I remember them playing:
Blame It On Bad Luck
The Walking Wounded
They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns
Devotion and Desire
Now it was time to wait about half an hour for Alkaline Trio to take the stage. The entire time, I’m wondering how they can possibly top Bayside’s set, and wondering how Bayside has gotten so good. Also, this is the part in the review where I stopped to take a break. It lasted about a day, and that’s really too long, so the quality is pretty much all downhill from here. I apolagize for that, especially considering it wasn’t any good to being with.
Anyway, It’s great to see Bayside getting the attention they deserve, and I’m expecting a lot from their new record. So Alkaline Trio. For most of their set, they were very good, borderline great in fact. They kept everyone happy by playing a nice mix of songs from all of their records. They opened with “Private Eye,” and Matt and Dan seemed to be switching off songs. I was more impressed with the songs Matt was singing lead vocals on, mainly because it was pretty difficult to hear Dan, and also because Matt’s songs are just better to begin with. The crowd sang every word, and there was plenty of between song banter including the obligatory “this is the best show of the tour!” after only the third song.
While many bands start off displaying a lot of energy and playing their most popular songs first, that didn’t happen here, for I felt each song got better and better, and the show certainly hit it’s peak during an amazing encore. The band finished the first part of their set with “This Could Be Love,” extending it to include a huge crowd sing along with everyone belting out “love for fireeeeee!!!!” After the song, they said their goodbyes and left the stage. Instead of the typical “one more song” chant, the crowd began singing the chorus to encore staple “Radio” at the top of their lungs in unison. It was incredible, and upon hearing it, the band immediately returned to the stage and joined in (from the start of the song, or course). No matter what type of mood you’re in, there’s something wonderful about singing a song about wanting to see your enemies electrocute themselves very loudly with hundreds of other people.
For a band that has been around ten years, it seems like Alkaline Trio is as popular and as vital to today’s music scene as ever, and they should only get bigger with the release of their major label debut on July 1st. It will be interesting to see what the band has planned down the road in terms of touring and promotion of the new album. A fall tour of larger venues with other established acts doesn’t seem out of the question, but it is unlikely such a tour could match the excitement or intensity of the Trio playing all of their best songs at intimate venues with two great opening bands, but we’ll just have to wait and see. The more pressing question is, does anyone have an extra ticket to the New York show?
Songs I remember them playing:
Nose Over Tail
I Lied My Face Off
New Song (possibly calling all skeletons)
Maybe I’ll Catch Fire
Every Thug Needs A Lady
We’ve Had Enough
Time To Waste
This Could Be Love