Posts Tagged ‘setlist’

Foo Fighters, Motion City Soundtrack Shine As Bamboozle Returns To The Beach

June 19, 2012 Leave a comment

2012 brought big changes to New Jersey’s Bamboozle Festival, as organizers decided to go “back to the beach” by moving the three day event from the Meadowlands parking lots to Asbury Park, where it was originally conceived as Skate and Surf Festival in 2003. While Bamboozle isn’t considered to be a top tier festival like Cochella or Lollapollza, the event has grown its audience and stature in recent years by diversifying their lineup and straying from the original alternative and punk scene.

For this year’s festival,  organizers secured two of the most successful commercial rock bands of the past two decades, in the Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi, as well as up and coming electronic act Shrillexs.

I attended the event on Saturday, which featured the most traditional Bamboozle lineup, and was  headlined by Dave Grohl and Co. There was quite a bit of uncertainty going into the festival, especially regarding the logistical issues that had originally forced the move north to the Meadlowlands.

A seaside setting could help raise the profile of the festival and provide it with a signature element, but Asbury Park simply wasn’t build to accommodate tens of thousands of visitors on any given day. Many saw the festival as a nightmare waiting to happen, but as it would turn out, music took center stage and all of those major concerns became an afterthought.

As organizers had encouraged, we arrived at the festival just after doors opened by taking the train. The last time I had been to Asbury Park was for a Bouncing Souls show in December. At that point the crumbling beach town had been more of a ghost town. With perfect temperate and bright sunlight, the streets were filled with thousands of fans making their way to the main gates, that were just off the North Beach boardwalk.

The first band of interest was Motion City Soundtrack, who were inexplicably playing their first of two sets on the day. If they were conserving their energy for later, it certainly didn’t show. The group’s forty minute set was a mix of material from their four albums and also featured a new song titled “True Romance ” from their newly released album Go. The crowd loved every minute of the set, and it was likely that most would be back for round two later that night.

After this, we made our way over to the main stage, passing a number of vendors and clothing companies along the way. Everything seemed to be standard fare until we actually caught site of the stage. Simply put, it was enormous.

The stage was set up to straddle the famous boardwalk, meaning thousands of fans could take a seat on the beach to watch while thousands of others crowded the boardwalk itself and the space off to the side.

Perched on the boardwalk at least two football fields away from the stage, we could barely make out the figures of the All American Rejects as they performed “Swing, Swing”. Standing so far away, it was hard to believe you were at a rock concert, even with sound being piped through massive speakers that nearly stretched all the way to the Convention Hall hundreds of yards away.

After sneaking our way much closer to the stage, we watched both Jimmy Eat World and My Chemical Romance perform very solid sets that drew a great reaction from the huge crowd. My Chemical Romance was subbing for Blink-182, who had to cancel their appearance due to a Travis Barker medical emergency. Their dark songs certainly don’t beg to be played loudly on a beach in blinding sunlight, but tracks like “Famous Last Words” still had the crowd fist pumping in unison.

After My Chemical Romance, the Foo Fighters were ready to take the stage. If it sounds like this day was moving quickly, it’s because it was. The headliners were set to perform on Saturday Night Live later in the evening, and were therefore scheduled to perform a two hour set beginning at 7:30, meaning they started  before the sun had set.

The band took control of the stage as only the most seasoned arena rock veterans can; they sounded miles bigger and better than the main stage acts that had proceeded them. Frontman Dave Grohl ran from one side of the stage to the other, reving up the adoring crowd that responded in kind to every hit the band pumped out.

The five piece mixed career spanning hit singles with tracks from the latest album Wasting Light, which has spurred a number of hit singles itself.

While the other main stage acts had kept between song banter to a minimum, Grohl interacted with the crowd in between each song, even joking that “this is a bit smaller than most of the gigs we play, but that’s ok.” Even as we walked to find a concession stand, the blare of the band was nearly inescapable throughout the grounds.

After about an hour of watching the Foo Fighters, we headed back to the Zumiez stage hoping to catch a few songs from the reunited Promise Ring. When we arrived Hot Water Music was just finishing up their set with “Wayfarers,” and it appeared that Bouncing Souls lead singer Greg Antonik was on stage along with them.

After a twenty minute wait, the Promise Ring took the stage to some polite applause from the decently sized crowd. They were a half hour late, so it appeared that many of the fans had headed over early for the second Motion City Soundtrack set. While the emo pioneers sounded solid, their brand of straight up Midwestern rock didn’t seem to be what the crowd was looking for.  Even the very topical “Jersey Shore” didn’t receive much of a reaction.

At one point, fireworks began exploding in the distance, leading frontman Davey von Bohlen to curse Dave Grohl, his fireworks, and his “beautiful hair.” The band would play nine songs in all, closing with “Forget Me.” The Promise Ring would go on to play a headlining show at Irving Plaza the next night, which undoubtedly featured a more enthusiastic crowd.

To close out the night, Motion City Soundtrack took the stage one again, 35 minutes after they were originally schedule. Save for three songs, they played an entirely different set list, beginning with “Cambridge” and then transitioning straight into “Everything  Is Alright.”

At this point, you might expect most of the fans to be exhausted and ready to take it easy. This was not the case. Early in the set, frontman Justin Pierre admitted that his ideal crowd would be a stationary one, but despite this, he still egged on the constant stream of crowd surfers that made their way over the barrier.

The band would play twelve songs in all to close out the night – ending on a high note with “Everything Is Alright. Surprisingly, Pierre never mentioned the band was making their second appearance, and for someone who has had a few vocal issues in the past, his second performance of the day was as good, if not better than the first.

As the night came to a close, the exhausted crowd then made their way through the gates and onto Ocean Avenue. The lucky few that had scored tickets to the after-party headlined by Brand New headed to the Stone Pony, while others headed to venues like the Convention Hall or Wonder Bar for slightly less exciting after parties. I for one, was ready to head back to the hotel. After about an hour wait, we caught the train back to our stop in Red Bank and called it a day.

Overall, the move to Asbury Park seems to have been a huge success. The Saturday lineup was stellar as usual and all reports say that Sunday’s acts were just as well received. While holding such a large festival on the beach sounds like a logistical nightmare, every aspect of the day seem to go off without a hitch. The organizers have set the bar high – and are going to go even bigger next year.


It Only Took Ten Years To Become An Overnight Success: FUN. Live In Boston

April 24, 2012 1 comment

FUN. is having the type of year that defines the term “breakout year”.  The band has seen their single “We Are Young” soar to the top of the pop charts after being featured on an episode of Glee and in a Super Bowl commercial.”We Are Young” became the first rock track to hit #1 since Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” in 2008, an astonishing feat when you consider that rock radio stations continue to disappear, making it much harder for bands like FUN. to enjoy this type of crossover success.

Of course, the good times don’t stop there for the trio of Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, and Jack Antonoff. The band’s new album Some Nights has received positive reviews from fans and critics alike, and their North American tour has become one of spring’s hottest tickets.

Many of those who have been exposed to “We Are Young’s” gigantic hook, FUN. is just the latest overnight pop sensation – a studio creation that is probably the result of focus groups and million dollar producers.They’ll enjoy their 15 minutes of fame, make Live Nation a few bucks through VIP packages at some cheesy radio festival, and then be forgotten by this time next year.

The crowd that gathered at the House of Blues knew that this wasn’t the case. Unlike the upstart pop stars many would compare them to, Dost, Ruess, and Antonoff have toiled in relative obscurity for the better part of a decade in a number of different projects, never seeing the success they deserved.

Ruess had started as the lead singer of cult favorites The Format from 1999 through their breakup in 2008,  and helped create one of the greatest pop-rock records of all time in 2006’s Dog Problems. While The Format certainly played their share of sold-out shows, they never saw the type of commercial success that many (including their record label) expected from them.

Antonoff, meanwhile, has played guitar in Steel Train since 2002. Like the Format, Steel Train has released a number  of excellent albums to little fanfare. In fact, the band’s biggest tours have been slots opening for FUN. and The Format. Dost, meanwhile, earned his stripes as a member of Anathallo, an indie band that some worshiped and others just didn’t get (I fall into the later category).

All the while, the trio had built  a small but dedicated fan base that would become the foundation of FUN’s  breakthrough. These fans had snatched up all of the tickets early, and were ready to sing every word, whether it be to “We Are Young”,  “The Gambler” from their debut album, or even their cover of the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

Ruess’s booming, theatrical voice and commanding stage presence made every song seem like an event. From the opening notes of “One Foot” through the end of the 75-minute set, the band was loud, energetic, and pretty much spot-on. Ruess  and  Antonoff are both well versed at mugging for the (iphone) camera, and the risers positioned at the front of the stage didn’t hurt. Ruess, sporting Rajon Rondo’s green Celtics jersey  jumped up on one of the three black boxes to hold the mic out to the crowd and let them shout the chorus back to him on a number of occasions . He repeatedly thanked those in attendance and praised Boston for being so great to him over the years.

The setlist seemed evenly split between tracks from their current album and 2009’s Aim and Ignite. The band closed the show with an encore of “Some Nights,” and  “Take Your Time.” The former will be the band’s next single, and could very well prolong the band’s chart dominance for another few months. After this, FUN. (apparently) came back out for a second encore consisting of “Be Calm” and “All Alright.” Seeing as I missed this second encore, I would like to say that second encores are ridiculous and should be outlawed

Aside from the missed opportunity at the end, this was one of the more exciting shows I’ve witnessed in a long time. To see a band explode from cult favorites to mainstreams stars is something that just doesn’t happen all that often. When it does, you hope it will happen to a deserving group that has paid their dues, and FUN. certainly fits that description. Only time will tell if the commercial success will continue, but one thing is for sure, and that is  that the band’s dedicated fans will stick around for a long time – meaning FUN. is likely to be anything but a flash in the pan.

Blink 182 Brings Big Tour and New Songs to Harford and Mansfield

August 16, 2011 1 comment

Two summers ago, Blink-182 made their triumphant return to stages across the country after what had been a five year hiatus. With support from rock heavyweights such as Weezer, Fall Out Boy, and Taking Back Sunday, the trio packed giant amphitheaters nearly every night, delighting not only long-time fans, but also a legion of younger fans who had discovered the band since their break-up.

When the band announced they would headline the 2011 Honda Civic Tour along side My Chemical Romance, it seemed as thought not much had changed. Not only would they play most of the same venues, the dates and tour routing was strangely similar to their 2009 effort. Also, fans still hadn’t heard any new material from the band since 2003, and there was still no release date set for their long anticipated new record.

I couldn’t help but suspect that Blink was set to become the Dave Mathews Band of pop-punk. Content with touring the same venues every summer and playing the same songs, they would rake in the profits without actually do anything new or exciting.  Luckily, as the tour grew closer, things began to change. The band set a September release date for their new album and then debuted studio versions of not one, but two brand new songs. Suddenly the band wasn’t just shaking off the rust, as they had been two years ago. Instead, they set out to prove they still have what it takes to write the monster hits that launched them to stardom in the first place and give their thousands of fans a reason to actually buy music again.

Considering that the Civic Tour would visit just about every worthwhile city in America (and many non-worthwhile cities as well), it was easy to see multiple dates of the tour. I attended the Mansfield, Mass show on Tuesday, August 9th, and the Hartford date the following Sunday.

Each night started with a 30 minute daylight set from Georgia’s Manchester Orchestra. All three of the band’s records have earned rave reviews from critics, and the quintet has also seen a surprising amount of radio success over the past two years. Of course, a decent amount of radio success doesn’t mean much when opening for a band as big as Blink, and at the Mansfield show the amphitheater was basically empty.

While the fans might have still been in the parking lot, the band’s performance left no doubt that they can handle such super-sized environments. As lead singer Andy Hull belted out each booming chorus, the rest of the band was spot on, and the presence of two drummers only added to these thundering tracks. At the Hartford show, the rain drove more fans into the pavilion earlier, and it seemed that at least some  were familiar with the band, as they received a big applause after each song. Highlights of the set at both shows included “My Friend Marcus” and “The River.”

Next up was My Chemical Romance, a band that did an admirable job conquering the rock radio charts in the time that Blink had been gone. By the time they took the stage, the venue was full at both shows, and it was obvious that nearly everyone was at least somewhat familiar with the band.

Their performance in Mansfield was at first marred by sub-par sound and the remaining sunlight, but as darkness fell and the mixing issues were worked out, the band hit their stride, tearing through their hits while shrouded in smoke and strobe lights. They ended up playing 10 songs in all, and while their Mansfield performance was solid, they were truly on their game five nights later in Hartford. Playing the exact same set, they motivated the crowd in the pit to bounce around to new tracks like “Planetary (GO!)” and inspired giant sing-alongs during hits like “Helena” and “Welcome to the Black Parade.”

The band would close with the epic “Famous Last Words,” leaving recent singles “Na Na Na Na Na” and “Sing” off the set list at both performances. Unlike Blink, the band seemed unconcerned with promoting their new album and instead gave even the most fair weather fan a few tracks to sing along to.

After a half hour wait, Blink-182 took the stage, although not in the grand curtain-dropping fashion they had two years earlier. Instead, the instantly recognizable trio of Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge and Travis Barker sauntered onstage and kicked things off with “Feelin’ This,” the lead single from their 2003 self-titled album. Barker’s bass drum dominated the track, shaking the entire building during the chorus.

While the Hartford crowd did received a few extra surprises, the set list and crowd reaction to each song was just about identical for each show. However, being in the pit on both nights, I can say they felt very different. The Mansfield show was the experience you would expect from a performance at such a large venue. The pit there was very small. Only a few hundred pit tickets were available, and the majority of those were sold either as $250 “VIP” packages or $160 “premium” tickets. The vast majority of fans sat in seats or were soaked out on the lawn.

The Hartford venue, meanwhile, features a much larger pit area, and it seemed to welcome more rabid fans who were able to score their tickets at reasonable price. Because of this, the Hartford show felt like it was being played a sweaty rock club, as crowd surfers flew through the air throughout the entire set and everyone sang along.

Regardless of the venue, Blink would mix in four new songs among their set list of hits. The first, “Up All Night,” came directly after “Feeling This” and featured Mark and Tom trading vocals in the lead up to the song’s sweeping chorus. Being the new album’s first single, the majority of the crowd at each show seemed familiar with the track and roared their approval.

The band would then roll through more familiar hits, including “The Rock Show” and “What’s My Age Again.” In Hartford, Delonge would preform the second half of the latter song on his back after taking a tumble in front of the drum kit. Neither Hoppus nor the crowd would let him off the hook afterwards as he complained of the stage being too slippery. Throughout the first part of the set, the stage backdrop took on a Neighborhoods theme in celebration of the band’s upcoming album, as the video screens displayed a bird’s eye view of suburban towns. At one point, the setup mirrored the weather on both nights as digital rain poured down on the houses below.

In between songs Hoppus and Delonge were at their comedic best (or comedic worst, in Tom’s case). Each and every cheesy joke inspired either laughter or head shakes from the crowd, and after one particularly cringe-worthy antidote at the Mansfield show, Tom shouted out “you paid for the talking too!”

While Delonge certainly isn’t known for his superb singing voice, he has improved remarkably since the tour two years ago, and easily carried tracks such as “Violence” and “Dumpweed,” both of which inspired huge reactions from the fans in the pit. Tom also got in touch with his artistic side, performing Blink classic “Blowjob” at both shows and calling it one of the band’s greatest musical accomplishments. The Hartford crowd had the rare opportunity of hearing other similar tracks played live, including “Happy Holidays You Bastard,” which followed a brief Hoppus vs. Delonge on-stage volleyball match that bought Barker more time to clean up what was apparently an injured finger.

The crowd ate up just about everything Blink threw at them, including the three additional new songs. “Hearts All Gone,” which stands as one of the fastest songs the band has written in many years even inspired a huge circle pit on the floor. After approximately an hour and ten minutes, the band would close the set with “Josie.” At the Mansfield show, Hoppus would announce, “Travis can’t do the drum thing because of the rain but he still wants to show off for you,” which led to a ten minute solo performance by the drummer.

In Hartford, a black screen fell across the stage and when it was removed, Barker was strapped to the end of a giant mechanical arm from which he would then perform the solo. The giant arm gyrated around the stage and even tilted so that at one point barker was staring straight down at the crowd below.

Once Barker returned to the ground, he was joined again by Hoppus and Delounge for a three song encore that began with “Carousel” and then moved on to “Dammit,” which of course inspired the biggest reaction and sing-along of the night. Instead of walking straight off stage, the trio would stick around to play a small part of “Family Reunion,” and then take their bows.

All in all, both shows had been nothing short of a spectacle. The lasers, the rotating video screens that made up the backdrop, and of course the huge sound made these shows different and more spectacular than anything I would normally see. Mix in some very solid new songs and a pair of great openers and you have a very memorable tour that will be hard for the band to match in the future. But with a new album coming out and a willingness to change it up, at least we can take comfort in the fact they they’re going to try.

The Bouncing Souls “For All the Unheard” Nights 3 and 4

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

As the last notes of the set faded and the crowd began to file out into another rainy June night, the sense of ecstasy that had been so prevalent at the conclusion of the past three nights was noticeably absent. It wasn’t because fans were disappointed with the Bouncing Souls’ performance in the last installment of their four night residency at the Middle East in Cambridge MA. The band had just turned in another memorable effort, performing their two most recent albums in their entirety, along with a handful of b-sides.

So why the lack of enthusiasm from the exiting crowd? One reason could be the fact that nearly everyone in attendance was exhausted. After four straight nights of late set times, intense heat, and (most importantly) epic performances, this would be expected. The more pertinent reason fans seemed somewhat down was the fact that it was over. After four straight nights of (basically) hanging out with one of punk’s all-time great bands, there would be no fifth night. While the Bouncing Souls were sure to return to Boston, they would probably never do it in such an extravagant way, for so many nights in a row, or at such an intimate venue. The second half of the stand had been even more memorable than the first and showcased how far the band has come over the past 22 years.

Night three: June 24rd 2011: How I Spent My Summer Vacation and Anchors Aweigh

The third night of the series would not only be a treat for fans, it would also be a test. How I Spent My Summer Vacation is regarded by many to be the Bouncing Souls best work, guaranteeing a very enthusiastic crowd. It would then be followed by their longest record, the 16 song, 48 minute Anchors Aweigh.

While the Bouncing Souls had chosen a great lineup of opening acts for the other three nights, it was the lineup at this show that stood out. First up was Dave Hause of the Loved Ones performing a solo set. Hause released an acoustic record earlier this year, and while I had listened to it briefly, I failed to realize just how good it was.

Hause’s performance was the rare opening set that completely absorbed everyone in the audience. Instead of chatter and side conversations, all eyes and ears were fixed on the stage, and Hause received quite the applause at the conclusion of each track. He kept the crowd engaged with between song banter, relaying a story about his nine hour, $4 bus ride from Philadelphia and then at one point calling out a heckler in the front row. While it was a great 30 minutes of music, it wouldn’t be Hause’s only appearance on stage that night.

The next act was Brooklyn cult favorites World/Inferno Friendship Society.  The band was making their second appearance in Boston in little over a month after a rousing headlining show at the Paradise in May. Not the type of band to normally share the spotlight, they were forced to cut at least a few staples from their set. This didn’t mean that they cut down on the theatrics, however, as lead singer Jack Terricloth and Co. fed off the energy of the diehard fans in attendance.

Earlier in the night, Terricloth had joined Hause to play harmonica during one his tracks, and Hause repayed the favor, joining the band on stage as guitarist for two songs. Throughout the 45 minute set, it seemed like about half the crowd was completely into it, while the other half was somewhat weirded out by the whole spectacle. The band played a number of songs from the recently released “The Anarchy and the Ecstasy,” which were once again very impressive live, especially “Canonize Philip K. Dick, OK?” After Terricloth had exhausted his between song antics, the band closed with “The Models and the Mannequins.” This came as a relief to at least some members of the crowd.

After another short break and “welcome to the main event” style introduction, the Bouncing Souls took the stage for to the tune of “That Song.” The energy that had built up throughout the night exploded into a sea of fists and crowd surfers as nearly everyone in the room sang along. With each track from “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” being a finely crafted burst of punk energy and aggression, the intensity level never really died down until the final notes of “Gone” had been played.

While the crowd was obviously enjoying the show, this unbridled joy could also be seen on the stage. Hause joined the band for a number of songs, and sported a huge smile when he wasn’t singing along with the crowd. When I ran into him at Dunkin Donuts the next morning (name drop?), he wouldn’t commit to it being the highlight of his life, but he did say it was “pretty cool.”

After finishing the 13 tracks that made up the first half of the set, things began to get sticky. The temperature had risen at least 30 degrees, and now the band was set to play their longest album, Anchors Aweigh. While the album does have its moments, it doesn’t feature the same type of upbeat energy that is standard on most of the band’s other albums. Being the product of a rough spot in the band’s history, it is darker and more introspective, and made for a rollercoaster of a live set.

This portion of the set got off to a very quick start with opener “Apartment 5F” and “Kids and Heroes,” and it seemed like both the crowd and the band were determined to maintain the furious pace they had set earlier. I had never heard the band play “Kids and Heroes” live, which is surprising considering it is one of the highlights of their entire catalog. It seems written to inspire huge sign-alongs at sweaty punk shows, and that is exactly what it did.

Other songs throughout the set inspired the same type of reaction, but most of them came from the first half of the album. After that point, the reality of the heat and the length of the show began set in, and the enthusiasm level fell quickly. All the while, the band refused to wilt, powering through each song unaffected by the conditions. They closed the set on a quiet note with the acoustic hidden track “Fall Song.”

Night Four: June 25th 2011, The Gold Record and Ghosts on the Boardwalk

The fourth and final night of the series would turn out to be different from the first three in a number of ways. First off, it wasn’t raining. This was a big plus for many fans, especially for those who showed up at the same time, because the band had insisted that all four shows be “will call only,” to eliminate scalping.

This meant that instead of distributing physical tickets, fans had their names added to a list that was kept at the door to the venue. As fans arrived, they had to show their ID to gain entrance. While I showed up early each night and never had to wait in a long line to get in, many fans entered the show drenched, which is never a good way to start your night.

Another difference from nights 1-3 was the fact that somehow, this show was not sold out. While I’ll admit that most fans wouldn’t consider either of the night’s albums their absolute favorite Bouncing Souls record, I must say that I would take the combination of these two albums over any other night’s lineup.

Another factor in the non-sell out may have been the openers. Neither Iron Chic or Make Do and Mend brought the same type of recognition or fan bases that at least one band had during the previous three shows. However, that isn’t to say they both weren’t solid acts. Iron Chic’s thirty minute set of throwback punk with gruff vocals was very impressive, and I ended up buying their latest full length. Make Do and Mend also played a strong set, although their songs began to blend together seeing as I wasn’t familiar with any of their material.

The Bouncing Souls entered to the now familiar boxing match theme for the final time, and got started with 2006’s Gold Record opener “The Gold Song.” While this is a fast-paced track to begin with, the band seemed to play it twice as fast, challenging the crowd to keep up with the chorus of “heys!” “The Pizza Song” featured a number of guest musicians, including accordion and trumpet players, and sounded nearly as good as the recorded version. “Better Things” was a highlight of the set, as was the fan favorite and live show staple “Lean on Sheena.”

The politically-charged “Letter from Iraq” is one of my favorite Bouncing Souls songs, and I was thrilled to finally hear it played live. The only unfortunate part about the track was the fact that its “bring the troops home” message is just as relevant and pressing today as it was when the Gold Record was released five years ago.

In addition to being a great collection of songs like “Letter from Iraq,” The Gold Record stands out because of its sequencing. From beginning to end, every track seems perfectly placed, with each one nicely transitioning to the next. This was very apparent at the end of the set, as “Midnight Mile” and “For All the Unheard” acted as a tremendous closing pair. While these aren’t the type of songs that inspire a huge amount of crowd interaction, it was obvious everyone was enjoying every second.

Next up was the band’s latest album, Ghosts on the Boardwalk. Released as a series of single tracks each month throughout 2009, the album isn’t nearly as cohesive as The Gold Record. Of course, this had little to no effect on the live set, which began with “Gasoline” and “Never Say Die.” The crowd had caught their breath towards the end of The Gold Record, and they were now ready to give it their all.

At one point in the show, a brave stage diver realized that the Middle East security crew that had kicked out scores of fans over the first three nights, suddenly seemed uninterested in enforcing the venue’s strict policies. They had most likely been told by the band to “chill out,” and because of it, there were bodies flying through the air for the rest of the night.

The band’s performance of “Badass” was the most memorable song of the set, as cue cards appeared on stage to help the band remember all the “badass” things called out over the song’s two minutes and 38 seconds. The band then brought their eighth and final full-album set to a close with two of the record’s stronger and more melodic tracks, “We All Sing Along” and “Like the Sun.”

Despite the fact they had just played two albums that both clocked in at over forty minutes in length, the band would continue with a series of b-sides and rare tracks. I’ll admit that I’m not very familiar with their material outside of their full lengths, and it seemed like about half the crowd was in the same boat. However, this didn’t stop anyone from continuing the moshing and stage diving, and at least a few diehard fans got quite a treat in hearing these songs.

I do know they closed with “Wayfarer,” a Hot Water Music cover the band put out on a split 7 inch earlier in the year. The set ended on a high note, but you could feel a sense of instant nostalgia among the fans filing out of the venue.

The “Four All the Unheard” four night series had not only showcased how far the band had come over their 22 years, but it was also a testament to how much of their success they owe to their fans. If you’ve ever been a diehard fan of a certain band, you probably know what it’s like for them to not play your favorite forgotten track. The Bouncing Souls gave diehard fans exactly what they had been hoping for, which was the chance to hear that song. There were no real surprises, just a collection of great music and a band further strengthening the bond they have with their supporters.

The Bouncing Souls “For All the Unheard” Nights 1 and 2

July 6, 2011 1 comment

When it was announced earlier this year, the “For All the Unheard” tour seemed like a dream come true for any long time Bouncing Souls fan. Not only would the band be playing four consecutive nights in select cities, they would be playing each of their eight albums in chronological order over those four nights. They would even be playing at very small venues that would allow fans the chance to mingle with the headliners and the excellent bands tabbed as support acts. Could this marathon four-night stand live up to the high expectations fans would undoubtedly place on it? As you will see through my nightly reviews, the answer was “of course it could.”

Night One: June 22nd, 2011. The Good the Bad and the Argyle and Maniacal Laughter

Night one would begin with the Bouncing Souls first full length,  The Good, The Bad, and the Argyle. Seeing that it was released in 1994, there were plenty of fans in the audience who weren’t born when it hit shelves. This was practically true of the night’s other featured album,  Maniacal Laughter as well, and it seemed to have some affect on the crowd’s reaction to the set. While there were the diehards at the front who sang along to every word, many in the sold-out crowd seemed less than familiar with the older material.

While I didn’t sense the same type of energy normally found at a Bouncing Souls show, this could have been because of the fact I was sitting on a chair in the very back of the venue with my crutches propped next to me. The band did seem to hit their stride during Maniacal Laughter, ripping through the 24 minute album and providing a good number of fans with the motivation to stage dive, only to be kicked out immediately by the bouncers.

Prior to the Bouncing Souls appearance, the night had started with a set from Lenny Lashy. Unfortunately, I missed this because I was busy being soaked on the walk (crutch?) from my parking spot. If this four-night stand had been held outdoors, we all would have been in trouble. Bane served as the primary support, and the Worcester hardcore legends performed an intense 45 minute set that complemented the Bouncing Souls set nicely.

Night two: June 23rd 2011: The Bouncing Souls and Hopeless Romantic.

At the start of the Bouncing Souls set each night, a Michael Buffer-ish recording was piped through the speakers, introducing the two records as if they were competitors in a heavy weight title fight. A ring girl even elicited cheers from the crowd by parading around the stage with a giant version of the album cover.  If night one had been the undercard, night two was the first round of “the moment everyone had been waiting for.”

Boston ska-punk act Have Nots kicked things off with an energetic 3o minute set that inspired plenty of circle pits and fist pumps. Not bad for an opener. Like night one, the main support was provided by another Massachussets punk stalwart, the Unseen.  Lead singer Mark Unseen had been pacing around the venue for what seemed like hours, and was rearing to go as the band began its first performance in quite some time. Like Bane the night before, they played a solid 45 minute set that not only pleased those in the pit, but probably won over some new fans at the same time.

Next up (of course) were the Bouncing Souls. They had held a meet and greet with fans  earlier in the night, and had seemed somewhat reserved. They might have been saving energy for the fury they knew they were about to unleash on an all too willing crowd.

With the opening notes of “Cracked” from 1997’s The Bouncing Souls, those on the floor  immediately showed more energy and enthusiasm than they had the night before, and the band seemed to respond in kind. “Kate is Great” had bodies flying through the air (and of course, out the door at the hands of the bouncers). As the band powered through the album’s 16 songs, the temperature inside the venue began to skyrocket, despite the fact it was a rainy 60 degrees outside. This is a testament to the type of chaos the band was inspiring.

While the band does include a few staples from The Bouncing Souls era on most of their set lists, it was the deeper cuts that both the crowd and band seemed to enjoy the most. In fact, the crowd’s reaction to tracks such as “Toilet Song” and “East Side Mags” inspired huge sing-alongs that were even bigger than those that came with other favorites. One of the most entertaining moments of the entire series was closing number “Shark Attack,” during which normally reserved lead singer Greg Attonito couldn’t keep the smile off his face, especially during lines such as “the Bouncing Souls only go on tour so they can eat other people’s food…. those Jersey mooches.”

After a short break, the band returned to play Hopeless Romantic, and with the opening notes of the title track, it felt as if the gates had just been opened at the Kentucky Derby and both the band and the fans were off to the races. Both groups refused to slow down, even as the temperature continued to rise, and it was obvious that the band was enjoying the moment as much as everyone else in attendance.

Like the first half of the set, the crowd roared their approval whenever the band would begin another rarely played track. “Bullying the Juke Box” was the first of these cuts, and Attonito commented the band would love to keep playing the track forever. “Ole” followed shortly after, and was the song that resulted in the largest number of crowd surfers being kicked out.

For the duet “Wish Me Well (You Can Go to Hell),” the band was joined by a female guest vocalist, who perfectly traded lines with Attonito, who once again couldn’t keep a big smile off his face. “The Whole Thing” then provided a fitting ending to what had been a loud, sweaty, and downright perfect punk show. The band would really need to outdo themselves if they hoped to supply fans with anything as memorable as this show had been.

Alkaline Trio and An Horse Live in Providence

May 7, 2011 2 comments

Alkaline Trio
An Horse
Lupo’s, Providence RI

April 28th, 2011

Much like my last review, this one will cover some familiar territory. Alkaline Trio is one of my all time favorites, and I’ve seen them plenty of times. They usually do a great job of switching up their set lists to appease long time fans, so I’ve been lucky to hear them play a number of deep cuts and rarities from their back catalog. I was hoping for this type of performance from their show in Providence on April 28th, and for the most part, I got my wish.

Ok, so that first paragraph probably didn’t seem very enthusiastic, but don’t worry, the enthusiasm is on the way. Right after I describe the opening set from An Horse. The Australian duo, who have generated quite a bit of buzz recently, performed a bland set in front of about 100 people. It might have been the early start, or it might have been the empty building, but the band did little to involve the crowd and seemed to mail it in right from the start. That’s not to say they don’t have a number of good songs across their two records or that I don’t think they could be a very entertaining live band, but tonight wasn’t their night.

Next up, of course was Alkaline Trio. They took the stage…. like they had been there before? Not sure what the proper analogy would be here, but they normally aren’t ones to make a grand entrance. Instead, they sauntered down the stairs from the dressing room and took their time getting set before opening with “Private Eye.” Through all the shows I’ve been to, I’ve realized that it’s never a bad idea to open with a track that also serves as the opener to one of your most popular records.

From here on out, they bounced between well known crowd favorites and rarely played songs from the past. In what was a surprising and very well received move, the band focused on 2000’s Maybe I’ll Catch Fire. The album features “Radio,” which the band uses to close nearly every one of their headlining shows. Beyond this track, I don’t believe I had ever heard them play a single song from the record. On this night, they played four of them.

“She Took Him to the Lake,” “You’ve Got So Far to Go” and “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire” might not pack the same punch as “Radio” (what song does?), but the crowd still ate them up. Aside from the set list, the attribute that made this show different, and dear I say, special, was the crowd. Alkaline Trio crowds are always very enthusiastic. That enthusiasm can even border on violent at times. This crowd however, would best be described as euphoric. It was like everyone involved just experienced the worst day of their lives and were doing everything in their power to sing, dance, and sweat it all away. If that was actually the case, then mission accomplished.

Two other highlights of the set from my point of view were “This Addiction” and “We’ve Had Enough.” The former was the lead single from the band’s latest release and pretty much embodies everything I like about Akaline Trio. “We’ve Had Enough” meanwhile, was the undeniably catchy lead single from 2003’s Good Mourning, which for reason doesn’t make it onto many Trio setlists.

As always, the band triumphantly closed the set with a giant “This Could Be Love” sing along, followed by the “Radio” encore. It capped another great Trio set that once again satisfied both long time fans and newcomers. The only thing that could make their legions of fans happier would be to do the type of career spanning shows that a number of other punk bands have recently announced. Imagine Alkaline Trio playing each of their records in their entirety across three or four nights? Sounds like a can’t-miss proposition to me.

Another Positive Taking Back Sunday Review, This One From Providence

Taking Back Sunday
Circa Survive
Precious Weapons
Lupos, Providence RI
April 27th 2011

If you read this blog regularly (which you almost certainly don’t), you know that I’ve seen Taking Back Sunday many times. I’m starting to lose count at this point, but I think the number is somewhere around ten, including their April 27th show in Providence, RI.

Now this show was very similar to one of  their first “reunion” shows last summer in Boston, so if you want a detailed account of what it’s like, look here. If you’re  looking for the abridged version, you’ve come to the right place.

To start, Taking Back Sunday is one of the best “club” bands you’ll ever see. Their intensity and stage presence are perfectly suited for small, sweaty venues full of  a few hundred (or even thousand) die-hard fans. Lupo’s fits the bill perfectly, and from the second the band took the stage until the final drum stick had been thrown into the crowd, it was bedlam.

As has become their custom, the band opened with the track that launched them from Long Island basements to scene kings in 2002, “Cute Without the E (Cut from the Team).  The song inspired the type mob scene usually reserved for  your local Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

John Nolan

As with any show, neither the band or the crowd could maintain this level of enthusiasm throughout the show, but they sure did come close. Like in Boston nearly a year earlier, the set list focused on songs from Tell All Your Friends and Lounder Now, with the former being the only album featuring the original (and now current) lineup.

Guitarist John Nolan, who along with Sean bassist Sean Cooper rejoined the band last spring, wore the kind of smile that said “getting back in this band was the best decision I’ve ever made.” Lead singer Adam Lazzara agrees wholeheartedly, as their  bromance was on full display between songs.

The band seemed eager to show off the results of their new-found camaraderie by previewing two tracks from their upcoming record. The first was the driving “El Paso,” which certainly won’t be a radio single, but will make for a great live track. The next was “Best Places to be a Mom.” This, in my opinion, is one of the best tracks the band has ever written and bodes well for the new record that will be out in late June.

As has also become a custom, Lazzara and Co. capped the night with “MakeDamnSure.” Thankfully, they felt no need to play the encore game, which would have been out of place in what had been a blistering set.

Anthony Green

With their performance, Taking Back Sunday had overshadowed a fine set by Circa Survive earlier in the night. The band had weaved through a mix of songs from their three full-lengths and ensured the crowd was adequately warmed up for the headliners. Circa  garnered quite a reaction from those on the floor, many of who danced, sang, and and swayed along throughout their forty minute set.

In conclusion, Taking Back Sunday is a pretty decent live band. While it looked like they were finished following the release of New Again two years ago, the return of Nolan and Cooper has reinvigorated not just the band’s members, but the band’s image as well. Suddenly the bandwagon is getting more and more crowded everyday, and as long as they continue to put on shows like this and release tracks like “Best Places to be a Mom,” I’m sure there will always be room for more.