Camp Anarchy (Day 3)


Camp Anarchy, 2 June 2019

Legend Valley; Thornville, OH

Spanish Love Songs, The Bombpops, Iron Chic, The Bronx, TSOL, Less Than Jake, Bad Religion, NOFX


I hate to say it, but the last day of Camp Anarchy was a little anti-climactic. It was pretty obvious as we dragged ourselves in that we were all a little wore out. I didn’t drink, smoke, take any drugs other than ibuprofen and spent my nights in a motel so I can only imagine how haggard the drunken masses were feeling by this point.

I didn’t realize until a few hours in but the organizers did a really good job of grouping the bands for each day. Friday was mostly hardcore and Saturday had a lot of ska. Sunday was the pop-punk day and while I usually enjoy that subgenre, after being worn out by the ska and hardcore it was hard to feel it.

I have to give Spanish Love Songs some credit. They had the worst set time of the weekend. Those poor bastards were playing mostly to the underage kids who weren’t able to get their hands on booze or pot and the one straight edge guy with a blog.

The Bombpops

I was really excited to see the Bombpops. I checked them out on Spotify and fell in love with their brand of pop-punk. They come off as almost bubblegum because of the cutesy, female vocals until you realize they’re singing about getting drunk and shitting their pants. I also really enjoyed Jen Razavi’s lead guitar style which is similar to the ultra-simple stuff Johnny Ramone played but taken up a notch by moving across the strings.

The Bronx is one of those bands who are bigger than I realized. They’ve been making records for years and playing fests. I actually had one of their tunes on a mix CD a few years ago. I was never able to figure out who played that song even after Google made it easy to find that stuff out and I’m sleeping a lot better now that the mystery is solved.

Unlike every other band that has gotten a pingback from this event, I haven’t gotten to know TSOL any better than when I first saw them open for Dead Kennedys last year. They’re definitely in a world of their own and are very unlikely to show up on shuffle play for any artist on any music app. Plus, as much as I enjoy their tunes the comedic banter between was completely golden.

I managed to remain calm and adult all the way until Bad Religion started playing at 8:40. That was when my HIIT workout began. For whatever reason, it took a while to set up the stage for them so I had plenty of time to stake my claim to a spot to watch from, but within about 2.5 seconds I was shoved elsewhere and only managed to take a brief rest after crowd surfing out of the mayhem (before running right back into it two songs later). There was finally some slam-dancing instead of just a bunch of idiots running around in circles like the Muslims do with that big rock in Mecca and while I don’t think it was more intense than the Offspring’s pit on Friday, I think that’s just because everyone was so fucking wore out.

I’m not sure the pit was even as intense for them as it was at the Summer Nationals tour when I remember seeing the entire crowd bouncing up and down for “21st Century Digital Boy,” but I could be wrong as I was able to view that pit from the outside.

I hadn’t realized that this was NOFX’s first US show since they were dropped by a sponsor after a joke about last year’s Las Vegas shooting. It was nice to hear that experience didn’t get them to tone anything down and they kept me in stitches throughout their set. I’m not the biggest fan of their music and I had intended to leave early, but they were just so damn enjoyable. I’m wondering if they have a live album that features all the between song banter. That’s what I need to make a fan out of me.

I almost don’t want to post a video as I’m worried it might lead to more hardship for the band.

I hope you’ll all forgive me for taking an extra day on the last post of this series. After getting home and feeding the cats all the adrenaline wore off and I managed to nap most of the day away. Shit like this is fun as hell, but it really makes me realize I need to hit the gym more before next year.

 

 

 

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Camp Anarchy (Day 2)


Camp Anarchy, 1 June 2019

Legend Valley; Thornville, OH

Voodoo Glow Skulls, A Wilhelm Scream, The Suicide Machines, OFF!, The Damned, Suicidal Tendencies, Pennywise, Rancid


Two down, one more to go. My mind wishes it would last longer, but my body is saying ‘Let’s go home!’

I liked the early ska bands more than I thought I would. My intentions were to arrive about halfway into Voodoo Glow Skulls’ set, but I got there in time to watch the whole thing and was surprised by how much I enjoyed them. I’ve never been a fan of ska. I’m not sure why. But watching them play live had me trying my hand at skanking. Maybe trombone and sax is the perfect combination in a horn section to pique my interest. Or maybe it was voodoo.

I’ve enjoyed The Suicide Machines since I saw them at The ANC in 2016. They might just be my gateway to ska because they’re more of a hardcore band with some ska leanings. They keep popping up on my Google Play account at work and I keep listening. Who knows, maybe they’ll be my first official ska CD purchase.

I checked out A Wilhelm Scream on YouTube before the show and was interested to see them, but they didn’t do it for me live. They’re definitely a capable band, but I think they might be too capable. I don’t want to talk too much trash, but I think these guys might know more than four chords. They got so epic at times I wonder if they might know seven or eight! Now that they’re on my radar I’ll keep an eye on them. Maybe in a few years, I’ll feel differently.

OFF!

OFF! and The Damned were the elder statesmen of the evening, bringing us greetings from the 70s. I knew the name OFF! but had to Google them to find out they’re a supergroup with Keith Morris from Black Flag and the Circle Jerks on vocals. The YouTube search of these guys made me an immediate fan as they’re quite skilled at making great videos. I wasn’t sure if that would translate well to the stage but now I can tell you: it does. I had to add an album to my Amazon wishlist and I’m in love with the guitar Dimitri Coats played.

The Damned made up about 76.83% of the reason I bought a ticket for this festival. I’ve been a huge fan for a couple of years and was heartbroken to have missed a Cleveland show a few years ago when a friend had a medical emergency. I’m sort of surprised I got another chance to see one of the first English punk bands so soon. I was prepared to not know a lot of songs, but they’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of Machine Gun Etiquette and played most of the album. Seeing them is a huge check mark off my bucket list. They were definitely the highlight of my day trip.

The only issue I had was the constant circle pit. Can’t we just slam dance for “Smash It Up” guys? Do we really have to do laps and go round and round?

Mike Muir could be a great motivational speaker. Get that man a Pepsi!

After a $3 water and some Advil, I hung back for Suicidal Tendencies. Not only was I starting to feel my age, but I was kinda scared to get too close. Those guys have made a career out of being cyco and I didn’t want to end up institutionalized. The most disturbing part was Mike Muir giving these motivational “don’t let the man get you down” speeches between songs. I would have preferred to hear them play more songs, but if the whole rock and roll thing doesn’t work out he could make a good living on the circuit with Tony Robbins.

I saw Pennywise at the Summer Nationals Tour in 2014 with the Offspring so I knew what I was getting with them. They’re a simple four-chord skate punk band that’s hard not to love. I don’t know that any song sums up my punk ethos more than “Fuck Authority.”

One of the highlights of the day was the kid skanking on the side of the stage through their whole set. He’s going places!

I’m not a fan of Rancid, which was great as it gave me a chance to sneak out early and avoid the traffic jam. I meant to take off after “Roots Radical” which is one of the few songs of theirs I enjoy, but they played that second so I hung out longer. I made it through about half their set and while I’m not going to be buying any albums I may give them another listen.

Today’s the last day. The lineup is a little lighter and there aren’t as many bands I’m excited for but that just gives most of them a chance to exceed my expectations!

Check out Day 1 if you missed it yesterday

Camp Anarchy (Day 1)


Camp Anarchy, 31 May 2019

Legend Valley; Thornville, OH

La Armada, Death By Stereo, Strung Out, Sick of it All, Fear, X, The Offspring


I can officially say I’ve survived the first day of this three-day punk extravaganza. It’s one helluva accomplishment because things definitely got crazy.

But Friday is the short day. There were fewer bands and a later start time. Due to traffic, hotel check-in and bad mapquest directions I got there late and completely missed the first two bands. I wasn’t extremely broken-hearted as I’d checked them out on YouTube earlier in the week and wasn’t extremely impressed. But it’s still nice to see bands live and maybe something will grab you.

Strung Out was the first band I was able to watch and they had a great set. They do some pretty basic punk-pop but mix in the occasional breakdown or arpeggiated bridge. Not that I have any issue with basic punk-pop, but it was pretty cool to hear a band add a few other ingredients to the old formula.

Sick of it All

Sick of it All is a band that pops up in my life every decade or so. I had Built to Last in high school and I remember hearing a lot of Death to Tyrants when it came out, but I’ve never been a huge fan. I was psyching myself up to get in the pit for “Take The Night Off” but didn’t prepare for it to be their opener! And I didn’t expect the pit to come to me! Come on guys, give me some warning. I’d gotten a great spot for their set, but I didn’t hold onto it for long. The best thing about a mosh pit is it makes it easy to catch the band from many different vantage points (albeit with a large sweaty man running full bore at you).

Both Fear and X were the elder-statesmen of the evening. It’s great to be able to cross both those groups off my bucket list, but I wasn’t going crazy for them. Fear is a great band with hooks to spare in their tunes and that irreverent humor that makes the punk great. I wish they would loan a few of those hooks to X, who are a great rockabilly band,

Fear

but I’ve always found them difficult to get into. They were definitely a little out-of-place, but they were probably out of place when they started in 1977. I think they would be out of place anywhere this side of JFK’s election (not that that’s a bad thing. It puts them in great company with Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams and Others.)

The Offspring was fucking crazy. I saw them a few years ago at the Summer Nationals Tour in Pittsburgh, but at that show, I was on the lawn and far away from the thriving biomass in front of the stage. I spent the first few songs learning what a sardine feels like at the canning factory before I hopped in the pit for a little fresh air. That had to be one of the craziest pits I’ve ever been in. I’m always surprised at how intense people mosh for punk bands, I thought I could handle anything after Slipknot and Slayer, but the Offspring and Primus have been way more intense. Then again, I am getting a little old.

The highlight of the evening was Dexter Holland’s solo version of “Gone Away” on piano. I was disappointed when they didn’t do that tune the last time I saw them but this performance more than made up for it.

 

It’ll be hard to top the performances from yesterday, but I have faith in the bands scheduled today. If I’d had to pick one day of the weekend to attend, it would be today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to eat some White Castle and pop some Ibuprofen.

 

Elton John – Farewell Yellow Brick Road


2 November 2018

Schottenstein Center; Columbus, OH

 

This is a much bigger show than I’m used to attending and I know that a lot of other publications have done reviews so I wasn’t sure if it would be worthwhile for me to do one. But I’m a man goddammit! My opinions matter! Plus, I may have some interesting insights you can’t get anywhere else… I doubt it, but it might happen.

First off, I paid a bit too much for the tickets. But to see a living legend like Elton John that’s to be expected. I tried to think of another artist I would pay that kind of money for, but couldn’t think of any. The nice thing was the seats were much better than expected. I didn’t realize how awesome they really were until we sat down and Elton* took the stage only a few moments later.

Second, his voice doesn’t sound like it did in the seventies. But do I really have to type that? No one’s voice can tour the world for 50 years and stay the same. Elton does a great job keeping the songs sounding strong with his cords in the condition they’re in. Most songs still sound great, and a few sound even better; Something about the older voice lends a few tunes more authority and authenticity. The only one I didn’t care for was “Tiny Dancer.” That song is missing something without those high notes (and there was no steel guitar!).

I was really surprised to find how much I enjoyed the songs he did solo. I’m not familiar with “Border Song,” but thought it was great and I missed the great guitar lick in “Candle in the Wind,” but it was still an awesome performance.

One of my mom’s favorites has always been “Indian Sunset” and I was surprised to find it on the setlist. I wasn’t looking forward to it as I’ve heard it more than enough for a lifetime, but I enjoyed the live version with just piano, voice and Ray Cooper ‘s percussion much more than the album version.

It also really says a lot that I’d be interested in going again when he comes back around next year. If I check up on the setlists and find he’s ditched something like “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” and/or “Believe” for “Madman Across the Water” or “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” I’d definitely be interested. I can only imagine how many other songs could take the place of “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” but then where would the wardrobe change take place?

My biggest bitch about the show was that there was no mosh pit. It was Friday, but when you end the show with “Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting” you have to expect some craziness. Of course, I’ve never seen ushers dancing in the aisle like they were for that tune!

 

Courtesy of Setlist FM

Bennie and the Jets
All the Girls Love Alice
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Border Song (Elton solo)
Tiny Dancer
Philadelphia Freedom
Indian Sunset (Elton and Ray Cooper only)
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
Take Me to the Pilot
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Levon
Candle in the Wind (Elton solo)
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Burn Down the Mission
Believe
Daniel
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
The Bitch Is Back
I’m Still Standing
Crocodile Rock (One of the best moments was when he looked at all of us confused because we weren’t singing the “Laaaaa Lalala la Laaaaa” part.)
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Encore:
Your Song
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

 

*AP Style says I should refer to him by his last name, but that just seems really weird when his last name is ‘John.’

 

Dead Kennedys @ The Agora


5 May 2018

The Agora Theatre; Cleveland, OH

Stalker, The Snakes, Gay Black Republican, T.S.O.L., Dead Kennedys

I gave a serious pooh-pooh the first time I heard that Dead Kennedys were coming to town. Without Jello? Who gives a fuck? Then I remember how awesome East Bay Ray’s guitar work is. And I remembered Klaus Flouride has the coolest stage name ever. And I want to say something about D.H. Peligro, but who really cares about drummers?

So I plopped down my cash and bought a ticket. I can’t say that I regret it.

The show opened with local act Stalker. At first it sounded horrible, but I think that had more to do with PA problems. Every guitarist on the stage that night looked over at the sound booth and shouted obscenities. The sound guy was not having a good night. I enjoyed their sloppy, high energy punk. It’s neat to see a band where nearly everyone takes a turn on lead vocals and I appreciated the use of full chords on the bass guitar. It’s a sound that doesn’t get used enough and when done right it sounds huge and awesome.

The Snakes were another local act. They had a lot more metal in their sound, but I still enjoyed their fast punk tunes. I wasn’t extremely impressed and nearly wrote them off as a band with a hot blonde singer. When she announced they were going to play a cover I wondered if it would be Blondie or the Runaways, but they surprised me by doing my all-time favorite Ramones tune “Pet Cemetary” and won me over. Like my companion pointed out, they were a lot more put together than the first act. I didn’t disagree with him; I just noted that was the reason I enjoyed Stalker more.

It’s hard not to get excited about a band called Gay Black Republican. They played some great high energy rock without distortion but with a lot of catchy hooks. Sometimes I wonder why bands are on bills together (see Frank Ierno and The Descendents), but these guys fit right in with T.S.O.L. and DK. I’m guessing it didn’t hurt their chances that they let the headliners use their drum set.

I’m not sure why T.S.O.L. never achieved the same levels of popularity other first-wave punkers did. They play good tunes and feature interesting guitar work. They put on a good show with the singer doing a little bit of standup between songs. I guess their downfall might be a lack of good singalong choruses. The only tune I recognized was “Code Blue,” and while it is a humorous ode to necrophilia there really isn’t a great hook.

Dead Kennedys put on the show I expected. It sucked that I don’t know more of their songs, but I enjoyed the ones I didn’t recognize as much as “Looking Forward to Death,” “Kill the Poor,” “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and “Holiday in Cambodia.” Jello’s absence wasn’t felt too strongly as Skip Greer proved to be an entertaining and animated frontman. He did stand-up and political jokes to introduce songs and cheated a little by holding the mic in the crowd and letting us sing the choruses. I meant to stay out of this pit as I’m getting a little old, but at a certain point I said ‘Fuck It’ and slammed into old, sweaty people. Then I found my way to the front and stood in awe of Ray’s guitar work.

 

The strange thing was how the crowd got smaller as the night wore on. I guess a lot of Dead Kennedys’ fans have earlier bedtimes than they did in the early eighties, but I still thought everyone would stay around for the encore. It was a great set and I’m glad to have added this band to the list of live acts I’ve seen.

If this show comes to your town I would highly recommend getting out and seeing them. How many other chances will you have to mosh to “Viva Las Vega”?

 

The Descendents at House of Blues


17 November 2017

House of Blues; Cleveland, OH

Public Squares, Frank Iero and the Patience, The Descendents

The best news I’ve gotten this year was that the Descendents would be on tour and be stopping in Cleveland. These guys have been my favorite band for a few years and I keep hoping to make it to a concert, but I’ve only seen them playing at Riot Fest and my budget doesn’t allow me to go to Chicago for a long weekend.

I haven’t been to a show in about a year, so it was time to get to one. Music is best experienced live, but there’s that damn job thing that keeps me from going to shows every night… and also provides me with money to buy concert tickets.

The night began with Public Squares, a trio from somewhere not of this earth. I’m a sucker for extraterrestrial bands in matching outfits who tell us the only reason the rest of the universe hasn’t destroyed us is that we gave them rock and roll. Is there a way to not love that? If there is I haven’t discovered it.

Their music is great too. It’s your basic punk rock, which is exactly what I was hoping to hear. Things did sound a little too classic rock for my taste by the end of their set, but I’m still looking forward to checking out their album. They’re the best local band I’ve seen in quite a while.

I’ve gone on record about my dislike of emo music many times so it should come as no surprise I’m not a fan of Frank Iero and the Patience. I tried to give them a chance, but when I saw the long hair and incense burning on stage I had a feeling it wasn’t for me. On the bright side, I’ve finally realized what I dislike about the genre: it’s too serious. I can’t help but think that this might not have been the best group to open for a band who has written so many songs about farts.^

The lady friend wanted to head to the balcony for the Descendents to get away from the crowd, so we made our way up. I like checking out bands from a different vantage point, but the balcony at House of Blues isn’t the greatest. You have to pay more than double to get a seat and since I’m too cheap for that we were back in the standing room only section. I’m happy to say we still managed to get a good view.

They opened with “Everything Sux” and “Hope.” Both great tunes, but it took Milo Aukerman a minute to warm up. After the first few songs the band was the well oiled machine I expected. I was a little surprised Milo is such a great frontman. I suppose I should be, he’s been doing it for longer than I’ve been alive. But I’ve heard him described as an ‘Uber nerd” and didn’t see anything to make me think anything else (especially the Camelbak he wore). When my girlfriend said “He looks like a college professor” I had to reply “I think he is.”*

I believe I pointed out in my review of Cool To Be You that the Descendents are the least cool band I’ve ever come across and that’s just as apparent live. Not that they don’t rock, but they definitely resemble the caricatures from the cover of the Live Plus One album. Except for Bassist Karl Alvarez who’s hair has moved from his head to his face and turned gray, making him look like a punk rock Tommy Chong. Caveman Bill Stevenson is the only drummer I’ve ever heard a crowd chant for. With good reason, he’s the main songwriter and quite a few of those great songs we heard sprang from his head.

Cover illustration for the Descendents’ “Live Plus One” album by Chris Shary

I was surprised to recognize so many of the songs they played. It wasn’t until I started researching this post that I realized I own 7/9 of their full-length albums. I’d love to just post the entire setlist because it contained so many great tunes. “Clean Sheets,” “Silly Girl,” “Pervert,” “Suburban Home,” “When I Grow Up,” “Weinershnitzel/No All” and about a million more. Most tracks came from the new Hypercaffium Spazzinate and I Don’t Want To Grow Up.   

The biggest highlights were the resistance anthem “Who We Are” which I wasn’t familiar with, but I’m pretty sure I like better than anything off the most recent album, and Milo running into the crowd for “Thank You.” There were definitely a few ecstatic fans that got to sing that chorus with him on the floor. I managed to get in the pit for the encores and do a bit of slam dancing for “I’m the One” and “Bikeage.” It was a good thing I took my girlfriend to the balcony. I forgot how intense those punk rock pits can get.

Of course, there were a few songs I was disappointed to not have heard, but I’m guessing just about every attendee could say the same thing. When you have as massive a catalog as these guys there’s going to be a few that don’t make the final cut. If I had it my way I’d just go see them the next day and hopefully they’d play “Cool To Be You” at that show.

 

^As always I say this with the caveat that they were playing to a much larger and more interested audience than I’ve ever entertained.

*He was an adjunct professor at the University of Deleware. I can’t help but wonder what his lectures were like.

 

 

Has Anyone Else Noticed…


…A shift in the modern rock radio format?

It seems like when I tune in lately I hear a lot more of Everlast’s “What It’s Like”, Beck’s “Loser” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.” I also hear a lot less Three Days Grace, Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin and other middle-of-the-road modern rock.

I’m not complaining. This is a huge improvement. I actually didn’t listen to much rock radio for a few years. I couldn’t get reception in my car and the morning show sucked, so I switched to a local mix station.

Plus there was that time I almost overdosed on “Kashmir.”

The Ultimate Driving Mixtape*


I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with my mental state. I’m off in the head.

For the past month and a half, my girlfriend has been in the hospital and I’ve managed to visit her three or four times a week. This is a bit of an inconvenience as she’s about an hour drive away**.

So last week I took a vacation day… to drive two hours in the other direction and take an introduction to solar energy systems and design class in the southern part of the state. It wasn’t until I was cruising back on the highway that I realized this isn’t something most people do. In fact, most people would probably say I’m in desperate need of a psychiatrist.

And after I finish installing these solar panels and save on my electric bill I’ll make an appointment.

The insane part is that I actually enjoy the drive. Southern Ohio/Northern West Virginia is filled with beautiful scenery. It was a gorgeous day, and I got to enjoy it in my own way.

The best part is that my new*^ car has one of those newfangled ‘radio’ contraptions so I was able to listen to music the whole way. When I needed a break from the Creedence CD I brought along I was able to scan through the stations and usually land on something descent that made time pass a little quicker.

This got me thinking “what would be on the ultimate driving playlist?” And because one of my hobbies is blogging I had to turn it into something.

Granted, most of this is low hanging fruit, but give me a break; I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately.


Tom Cochran “Life is a Highway”

The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”

The Carpenters “Superstar”

 

Beastie Boys “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

AC/DC “Highway to Hell”

Elton John “Tiny Dancer”

 

 

Meat Loaf “Bat Out Of Hell”

Heart “Barracuda”

 

Jimi Hendrix “All Along The Watchtower”

Red Hot Chili Peppers “Soul 2 Squeeze”

Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody”

 

So I know all of your typing fingers are burning up right now to tell me which I missed. And that’s great! I purposely left enough space on this virtual disc for a little feedback. That’s what comments are for.

Have at ‘er!


 

* I’m sure someone has already done this post in a different way, but now it’s my turn!

**But she’s totally worth it.

*^Actually, it’s a year older than my previous vehicle, but the owner took much better care of it so it’s like a new car.

 

Trump Promises “Big, Beautiful Scandal”


In the interest of keeping my political rants / satire pieces separate from the music posts I’ve started another blog. If you enjoy this stuff, give the page a like and a follow. If not, just sit back and I’ll get to doing more album reviews soon.

This may not pan out and I might go back to just the one blog, but I wanted to give it a try.

The Suppository

Washington- President Trump promised voters a “big, beautiful scandal” that will be announced by the end of the week.

“It will be, I believe, the biggest scandal in American history,” said Trump. “Bigger than Sally Hemmings, Lincoln’s sexual preference or Calvin Coolidge’s Cocker Spaniel put together. It will be bigger than Watergate. It will be so big that after this we’ll have a new suffix to replace -gate on political scandals.”

President Trump has been facing serious backlash for his firing of FBI Director James Comeyand spilling government secrets to Russian officials. He hopes this new revelation will take the focus off other scandals.

“It’s going to be so yuge that people at my rallies (which are the biggest rallies ever held, bigger than Stalin’s or Castro’s rallies) will begin yelling ‘Lock him up!'” bragged the obviously confused chief executive. “Even sycophants like Paul Ryan and Bob Gibbs are going…

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