Archive for the ‘ Reviews ’ Category

In which I review RVIVR!!!! (Exclamation points mine)

Every so often I go to a show where one of the bands look like they’ve having the best time of their lives during the show. Even less frequently does more than one band appear to be having the Greatest. Day. Ever. at that very show. And only once, in my experience, has that happened twice in one day.

And yet, this was Saturday at the final two RVIVR shows of the tour. I went to both, and going to see two RVIVR shows in one day is up high on my list of things in life that I did right. One show was better than the other, meaning they were both fantastic, crowded punk shows. Both took place in the tiny back rooms of bars, with a small stage that couldn’t quite contain the volume and force of the music.

Unfortunately, I didn’t plan ahead for taking photos, and my smartphone/high-tech camera was full to capacity and wouldn’t take any pictures. Luckily, I attended the show with F Yeah! Queer Music, where you can find a few photos and another great review. Both shows were so small and we planned well. Even at the packed and sold-out Union Pool, we managed to get close to the stage. This meant singing along and dancing literally alongside various bands before and after their turn on the stage. At one point, I found myself next to the members of Dogjaw, and told one of them how much they killed it at both shows. Saturday was way better than the third-to-last show at NYU on Tuesday, she told me. That one was weird. These last two shows really were the best.

And what more could you really hope for at the finale?

The Homewreckers opened the St. Vitus show with a classic punk sound and empowering tendencies. Guitarist Cristy C. Road also took part in an event at the New Museum the following day, and wrote a raw graphic novel that I plan to one day read in its entirety. “When capitalism falls/I’ll still meet you at the shopping mall,” went the awesome chorus of one song.

Dogjaw was next at St. Vitus. They played both shows, and they did so with furious intensity. They are raw and vicious and don’t hold back on stage. They will blow out your eardrums and you will want more. Listen to them. Seriously. They have a sound that will blow you away.

Extra Feeler opened the Union Pool show. Like Dogjaw and The Homewreckers, they’re a solid group of three with the basics of guitar, bass and drum. Three instruments, lots of power.

Shellshag is crazy. They’re reminiscent of the White Stripes in that the guy is on guitar while the lady rocks on drums, with a similar shoegaze-y feel on some of their songs. Wiki says they formed in the same year, so it’s likely a coincidence. Shellshag brought their own set up (a mic tower, three drums), started their set with a music video, covered songs by RVIVR and The Cure, and ended their set with a guitar handing from a chain on the ceiling, at which they threw drumsticks. Super danceable and insanely fun.

And then, RVIVR. Oh man. There are so many words, so many positive adjectives and adverbs to use for these shows. I described Dogjaw as empowering, but it’s so fitting for RVIVR, too. Free. Bold. Mind-blowing. Impossibly catchy. Real. They played through a good part of their discography, and their energy didn’t lag for one song.

Amazing shows. So glad I went to both. Can’t wait to see these bands again.


In which I review a surprisingly awesome Green Day concert

Listening to: “Ripped Up Jeans and Silly Dreams” by Candy Hearts

I managed to snag a free ticket to see Green Day play in Brooklyn on Sunday. I saw no reason to pass up a chance to see a band that I’ve been listening to for the better part of my existence (though maybe not as much recently).

but cool looking lights though

Great view, amirite?

The concert (not show, this was definitely a concert) was at the Barclays center, which was the first time I’ve been there. That place is too massive, and the beer is averagely overpriced. We had second row seats, which put us a hockey rink’s distance away from the stage, but heads taller than the folks who purchased general admission tickets and, therefore, we had a decent view.

Green Day hasn’t played NYC since their 2002 tour with Blink 182. I missed that show, so this was my first time ever seeing them live. I awaited a Billie Joe breakdown ala the iHeartRadio fest. At one point early on at Barclays, Billie Joe sat down on the stage, elbows on his knees, chin in his hands, and I thought this might be the moment. He seemed to ponder the crowd for a few seconds, then got up and shouted for the first of many times that evening, “Let’s get crazy!” He later professed his love for the audience multiple times.

Really, we had a pretty clear view of the stage

Really, we had a pretty clear view of the stage

Green Day performed well and the concert was a big bunch of pop-y fun. And here’s why: Green Day are entertainers. At one point in the past they were a punk band. They started out like any other punk band, playing basement shows, mad at the world. Some time around American Idiot, things changed. They were no longer playing shows. They started playing concerts and major venues and festivals. They realized — perhaps with the help of money, encouragement, or a combination of the two — that they were not just a band, but a brand. The concert was great because they embraced this.

They started their set with newer songs and moved into classic ones, which Billie Joe referred to as their “vintage” tunes. They included a ton of audience participation and one too many “Everybody say ‘Heyyyyyy Ohhhhh'” moments. They brought audience members on stage to sing, dance around, hug Billie Joe, even play his guitar and then get to keep it. And why not? They most definitely make more than enough money at every concert to give away a cheap starter-kit guitar. They covered a more well-known Operation Ivy song, which was exciting since this tour has included more covers from the likes of Iron Maiden and the Beatles.

The audience ranged in age from middle age to middle school to in the middle of preschool. I’m sure some badass memories were made for some little kids that night. We missed seeing Best Coast open, so no review for them. But Green Day embraced the pop star part of their image and put on a super upbeat, fun concert.

Your favorite band, in graphs

Your favorite band, in graphs

Listening to: “Hopeless Romantic” by Bouncing Souls

It’s a cool idea for graph nerds, but I think a lot of their categories are too subjective for charting.

Says the blog:

Enter any band name, and his creation, which runs on The Echo Nest’s data, presents you with graphs and other science sure to amaze and amuse. Oh, and it also lets you listen to everything on Rdio.

The chart plotting the “danceability” for the Bouncing Souls, for instance, came up as very low. I would argue that their danceability is extremely high. (Excuse me while I go blast “Hopeless Romantic” for a bit.) Also, “liveness,” “speechiness,” and “hotttness”? Is the latter a purposeful typo, a reference to Echo Nest that I’m not aware of? These categories all seem relative to me. Fun to make up a plot for them, sure, but chances are I’ll disagree with what’s posted.

I appreciate the ability to stream music online, but I don’t have a Rdio account and don’t plan on getting one. I also searched for bands/artists via iTunes, Spotify, or, which is probably where I’ll listen to them.

Saying they can fetch data for “any band” is getting a bit ahead of themselves, because I searched for quite a few that aren’t up yet.

Fun idea, some interesting graphiness, but kind of a gimmicky app overall.

In which Desaparecidos, Joyce Manor, States and Kingdoms, Man Man, Murder by Death, Samantha Crain

Listening to: RVIVR “The Beauty Between”

Some delayed reviews to bring you. Gonna make this short and sweet, and leave you wishing you were at these shows. Oh yeah.

Desaparecidos/Joyce Manor/States and Kingdoms at Webster Hall Feb. 26

Desaparecidos: Viciously epic. Basically played every song they have and the new “Anonymous” song, which is fantastic if you haven’t heard it, by the way. A lot of bands out there sing pretty much only about relationships and feelings and growing up. A lot of other bands get political in their music, but do a poor job of it. Desaparecidos have all the feeling of songs about growing up, but with smart, serious political passion. Their songs are full of life on their albums, and they’re explosive at their live shows. Their set was meaningful and intense. And in their encore, they played Constant Headache on stage with Joyce Manor. And they killed it.

Joyce Manor at Webster Hall 2/26

Joyce Manor at Webster Hall 2/26

Joyce Manor: These guys are one of the great new-ish bands on the scene, and I was most excited to see them. The crowd exploded into a bunch of entitled young boys when Joyce Manor started playing, which I honestly wasn’t expecting at this show. Full beers were knocked out of hands and flew all over the place. Numbers of people were knocked flat down when a bunch of kids pushed through to open up a pit. And a kid that may have been the same short guy who stood in front of me at the Iron Chic/Slow Death show gave me the finger for pushing him back into the pit after he flung himself into me. Aside from the unexpected crowd, Joyce Manor played an awesome set. I love their albums, but I feel like some of their recorded songs lack excitement. Not true for when they play live. Their energy was way up.

States and Kingdoms: Despite the fact that their ranks include Thursday’s Steve Pedulla and Ian Love formerly of Rival Schools, I wasn’t completely impressed with these guys. Their songs went really hit or miss. The song they opened with was really powerful and had a serious bass-line that completely filled up the room. It might’ve been poor mixing, but I felt like the guitar and synth were completely unnecessary. And later, the vocals and guitar riffs started to remind me of Interpol, which was weird and unsettling. But other than that, they had some great moments.

Webster Hall: The last time I was at this venue was probably a few years ago, and it has seriously changed. They charged five bucks for a single bottle of water, and refused to serve tap water for free. A guy walked around on the floor selling beers like at a baseball game. Not at all how I remembered, and it felt too elitist for me.

Man Man/Murder by Death/Samantha Crain at Music Hall of Williamsburg Feb. 28

man man you cray

Man Man at Music Hall of Williamsburg 2/28

Man Man: These guys are absolutely crazy in the best possible way. I first heard them when I saw them play at Bonaroo 2011, and I couldn’t believe how much fun they were. I tried listening to them on my iPod a bunch after that, but it just didn’t have the same effect. Man Man headlined this show with MBD, and the bands had been sharing a headline throughout the tour. Not one dull moment occurred during Man Man’s set. They had neon lights all over the stage and drum set. An oddly-placed bouquet of flowers adorned the synth stand. Costume changes were frequent. Movement was nonstop. The crowd immediately turned into a dance party that didn’t stop for the near two-hours that the band was on. The way they were constantly going, it felt more like DJs at club than a band at a show.

Murder by Death at Music Hall of Williamsburg 2/28

Murder by Death at Music Hall of Williamsburg 2/28

Murder by Death: This was the band I came to this show for. I’ve seen them a few times, and this was the best. MBD’s energy never lacks. Guitarist and vocalist Adam Turla’s freakishly baritone and booming voice was the loudest and most powerful I’ve heard at a show yet. Sarah Balliet’s cello pulls their songs together on the albums, but goes beyond that by being a rich, important part of the sound at their shows. Samantha Crain, who did guest vocals on MBD’s latest album “Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon,” joined in on some songs with a voice that blended in seemlessly. Plus, they opened with their single “I Came Around,” which is one of the best songs on their latest album, and played some of my all-time favorite tracks during their set. I wish they got an encore, and so did much of the crowd that chanted “One more song!” for a while after they had finished.

Samantha Crain: I was really interested to see her open the show, since I didn’t know anything about her other than her voice on MBD’s album. She’s got such a sweet, strong voice, and a new album out that I highly recommend. I didn’t expect her to be so talented or sound so powerful with just the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. Plus, she’s really funny. She kind of ad libbed between songs and was hilarious. I’ll be listening to her a lot more.

Freas’s vocals …

Freas’s vocals are probably the best part of the whole album. Not that Canino is bad, he has a perfectly fine voice and a great yell when he needs it, but as a friend told me recently, “I’m sick of dude voices,” especially in punk. They’re everywhere and a lot of them tend to sound the same, so the tracks where Freas takes the lead are real stand outs.

From a friend’s review of the latest RVIVR album, The Beauty Between. (You should probably go check out his blog, because it’s awesome.) I was going to write my own review on this album, but then I read his. And it’s basically pretty much everything I wanted to say about it. So read his review, and it’ll be like you’re reading all the things I would’ve written in my review. Also, I’m proud to say I’m the quoted friend who is sick of dude’s voices, especially in punk music. Yet another reason this album is awesome.

Okay okay, this is my last RVIVR post for a while since I know I’ve been posting obsessively about them lately. (At least until they put out a new music video. Or do anything else otherwise awesome.)

In which I attend a basement show that is not in a basement

Listening to: Turnstile Comix #1 7″ – music by The Slow Death, comics by Mitch Clem

Last night, Iron Chic, The Slow Death, Bastard Cut and Coffin’ Fit tore up Mr. Beery’s on Long Island.

I’d never been to Mr. Beery’s for punk show or even a beer for that matter, and country music was blasting over the PA when I got there. A group of bros were playing pool. One or two other out-of-place looking kids were sitting at the bar, nursing beers. We showed up less than 10 minutes late, and I guess that’s what we get for not being on Punk Rock Time.

The Slow Death

The Slow Death

Mr. Beery’s is a small bar. I wouldn’t call it a venue. Once the game was over, the pool table was pushed against an opposite wall in order to make room for the bands to play. The packed space gave the place the feel of a basement show, which was cool once the music started.

Coffin’ Fit was on first and played the songs off their demo EP. It went by too quick. Their songs are just as raw and loud at a show as they are on their album. In spite of myself, “Cinder Lips” quickly became my favorite song of theirs, though “Mundaze” and “Eater of Cowards” are tying up close seconds. I’d like to see them play again soon. I’d love to see a show where they play with Shady Hawkins.

Bastard Cut was up next, and I hadn’t bothered to look them up before the show. They were insanely energetic pop punk, and a lot of fun. They’re the kind of band that I would’ve loved in high school, but have trouble listening to on my own nowadays. Some of their songs had a bit of a Guttermouth quality, while others reminded me more of early Movielife. In terms of energy levels, Bastard Cut were through the roof. I don’t know how much I’ll find myself listening to them while sitting at a desk; they require movement and were much more fun live.

Iron Chic

Iron Chic

I originally thought The Slow Death were headlining, but they were on before Iron Chic. It seemed like only me and one other kid were there to see these guys, and that one other kid chose his prime viewing spot directly in front of me. And then thrashed around for the set. It was obvious he was having a great time. I could tell The Slow Death were feeling a little ragged, which Jesse “Pretty Boy” Thorson confirmed, saying the band had a bit of a wild night before. However worn out they might’ve been feeling, it didn’t show in their music at all. They brought serious energy to all their songs, and closed their set with “Phantom Limbs,” which made my night. Considering they were the only band in the line-up that had traveled a really significant distance for the show (in general, they’re from Minneapolis, and the fill-in bass player was from Wales), I hope they head to the east coast again soon. Really soon.

Iron Chic has become sort of iconic in the Long Island scene, and they’ve definitely earned their place there. Their songs all have the intensity of an existential crisis set to an orgcore sound. The crowd was so pumped for Iron Chic to play, and the two fed off each other. The crowd did the wave, the band played louder. The band played with everything they had, the crowd screamed along until our throats were raw.

I wouldn’t place this show on my top 10 list, but it was crazy fun. My favorite shows are the ones where I can tell the band is super into it and having just as much fun as I am, and the show last night definitely had that.

In which 2013 brings back live shows and regular posts (hep, hep!)

Listening to: Shady Hawkins, “Dead to Me”

Back here on rudietuesdays, the new year seems an appropriate time to start blogging again every Tuesday. My posts have severely lacked this year due to overwhelming, draining, and rewarding weeks of professional volunteering. But 2013 is a new start. And the beginning of January, so they say, is a great time to resolve to do things. So, rudie is back on Tuesdays.

To kick off my new start are shows that reinvigorated my love of seeing bands live. 2012 proved to be an awful year for me and attending live shows. The symbolic end of 2012, the end of my professional volunteering job, nearly immediately and exponentially increased the number of shows I’ve attended as of late.

Just a few days before Christmas, I consecutively attended a Slackers show on Long Island and a Fucked Up/Lemuria show in Brooklyn.


I find it basically impossible not to smile at ska shows. The thing is, they’re just plain fun. It’s way too difficult to be mad. And with music that’s got upbeats like this, I don’t know why someone would want to try.

The Slackers at Revolution

The Slackers at Revolution

A lot of times I don’t miss a lot of things about Long Island when I’m not there, but The Slackers’ show was an instant reminder of one of the place’s few great qualities. The Slackers have gotten mellow after spending so many years gelling as a band. This last time I saw them felt like the first time I wasn’t just attending one of their shows. The guys are generally all smiles, especially Marcus, who just has the brightest and most genuine smile (and is also the snappiest dresser, I might add).

This time, they were also the most relaxed I’ve seen. It felt like we were 60 of their closest friends and just happened to be at this venue with all of this perfect equipment lying around. The guys saw it and figured, “Hey, let’s jam.” They went on an awesome tangent mid-song where they showed how any song could fit into the chord progression of “Manuel.” They later spent a good few minutes covering pieces of songs by every musician who had a picture of the walls in the venue.

The crowd was older, except for one kid who looked about 17 or 18 and hadn’t yet grown out of the practice of running around the room bumping into everyone in what he seemed to think would be the best course of action to get them up and dancing. Of course, it didn’t work, and just ended up pissing off a lot of people and spilling their drinks. But he sure did look like he was having a great time. And on top of that, I was honestly thrilled to see that Skankin’ Rich was still rocking hard on the scene. I doubt I’ve seen him since my junior year of high school or so. (Yup, I remember the days before Facebook, when he just had a MySpace, and that page was kickin’. Er, skankin’.)

I also learned of The Pandemics, a local ska band I hadn’t heard of before. They were incredible. My favorite act other than The Slackers. Check them out here.


Oh, how I love Fucked Up. For years I’ve just been in awe of the strong, incredibly powerful, raw, true, and gut-wrenching kind of music they create. And wow, did they deliver. In every way The Slackers were like a personal, chill jam session, Fucked up were like a personal, sweaty, ear drum-busting, throat-ripping basement show on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Ted Leo with Lemuria?

Ted Leo with Lemuria?

The opened right up with “Queen of Hearts,” probably my favorite song by them, and really, how could they have started with anything else? Nothing makes me yearn for life and change that could happen, places and people and ideas I could encounter, ways I could be, quite like that song. I could follow them around the country on tour and they could open every show with that song and I would never stop loving it.

And the energy and quality just never stopped. The set was heavy on “David Comes to Life” songs, but also had a good assortment of music from their other albums, both EP and LP. And let’s face it, “David” is really the epic love saga of our hardcore generation, and it’s done incredibly well.

One of my favorite things about Fucked Up is how raw and intense their music is, but how fun-loving and funny the guys and gal in the band are. Pink Eyes never stopped joking around, even during songs. At one point he picked up a kid, damsel-in-distress-style, who had surfed to the front of the stage. He then brought the kid around to the other bandmates so each could give him a kiss on the cheek, before gently lowering him back down into the careful and loving arms of the punks that engulfed him.


Lemuria is a band I’ve only started loving recently, but their catchy pop and so damn truthful lyrics are hard to stop listening to. Before the show, I’d only heard their albums and hadn’t yet seen them live. I wasn’t super thrilled with their live performance — the sound was different from their albums and seemed to lack some of the magic I could hear in the prerecorded songs.

Still, they held their own and took charge of the stage. I could tell they were having fun with it, and I think shows are always more enjoyable when I can tell the band is having a good time, too. And I might be crazy, but I’m pretty sure Ted Leo showed up at the end of their set to sing an apocalyptic song? After all, it was the day the world was supposed to end.

The show as a whole was just so powerful and is up there among the most amazing shows I’ve seen. The Slow Death are playing Long Island at the end of the month and Desaparecidos are playing Brooklyn in February with Man Man. Lucero, The Queers and others will also be in the area in the coming months.

2013, you’ve got a lot to live up to. But you’ve also got a lot of promise.

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