Thousand Watt Stare

Christian Martucci formerly of the now defunct Black President, The Chelsea Smiles and The Dee Dee Ramone Band has got himself a new band called Thousand Watt Stare.  Along with Mr. Pat Kim and Dylan Howard of Unwritten Law, the trio is set to release their self titled EP on Hardline Entertainment on November 16th.

I can not say I dig the band’s name at all, it reminds me of Five Finger Death Punch….(worst band name ever), but I do dig all three musicians and am looking forward to hearing this release.  They promise “zero whining and no screaming” in their music that is aimed at the fans of real punk rock.

Want to hear it?  Head over to their Reverb Nation page and check out a few songs!

Concert Review: Bad Religion / Bouncing Souls / Off With Their Heads – House Of Blues – Cleveland, OH – 10/12/2010

Anyone who was smart enough to go to the Bad Religion / Bouncing Souls show last night can agree with me on one thing – Best Show Ever.

A trio of punk rock bands with a 20 year gap in age difference treated all the fans to one hell of a show in tropical Cleveland, OH last night at the House Of Blues.  Honestly it was one of the highlight shows of the year for me and I left the venue last night beyond satisfied.  More on that in a second…

30 years ago, a punk rock band by the name of Bad Religion formed.  Seeing how I was only three years old, I had no idea who they were and pretty much had no idea who they were until I was about 12 or 13.  I can tell you this, the first time I heard them I became a fan instantly.  Intelligent and powerful punk rock was exactly what I was looking for at a young age.  I remember I used to take the cassette inserts and read the lyrics and look up the words I could not understand in dictionaries and encyclopedias.  I was a punk rock dork.

Just a little over 15 years ago I saw my first Bad Religion show and immediately knew I would love this band for the rest of my life.  Seeing them take the stage was one of the most important events in my life as a young punker.

I’ve grown up with this band and I have seen them well over a dozen times.  Ask me what my top 5 bands are of all time and Bad Religion will be one of them, if not number one.  I guess you would be correct in saying that I kind of like these guys.

Any fan of Bad Religion can agree, they are that amazing.

When Bad Religion posted that they were coming to Cleveland once again I was just as excited as I when I was granted permission by my folks to see them in the mid-nineties.  Add Bouncing Souls and Off With Their Heads to the bill, and I was even more pumped to be at the show.

When I arrived to the House Of Blues, the place was already crowded and Off With Their Heads were already rocking through their set.  From what I heard, they sounded good.  The crowd was getting a kick out of them too as they just pushed through their 30 minute set.

New Jersey heroes The Bouncing Souls took the stage to their adoring fans and blew threw a fun set including old and new tunes.  The foursome was impressed with Cleveland on a Tuesday night and did their best to keep the excitement overflowing.  They sounded better live this time as they played “True Believer”, “Lean on Sheena”, “Gasoline” and a hilarious screw up of “East Coast! Fuck You!” that had lead singer Greg Attontio on his knees laughing his ass off while the crowd took over vocal duties for him.

The band was all smiles on stage and I would have to assume much more excited to not be playing a Warped Tour.  Having seen them earlier this summer at the 100 degree nightmare of a festival, not only did the band look more comfortable this round, but there was also twice as many fans packed at the venue to see them.

Finally the punk rock godfathers most had gathered to see, Bad Religion, took their rightful place on stage to what looked like an almost sold out crowd.  Pacing the stage, the band took in their well deserved applauds from their fans of all ages.  Without hesitation the band ripped into “Do What You Want” and the place went insane.

Rather than focusing on their recently released album The Dissent Of Man, the band played select tracks from their 30 year catalog including “Only Gonna Die”, “Conquer The World”, and “A Walk”.  They sounded better than ever to my ears and seemed focused on only one thing – playing the best show that they could for their fans.

In between a couple of songs Greg Graffin talked about their 30 year career and at one time said “when you’ve been in a band for 30 years, every night could be our last show.”  Graffin also recalled the first time Bad Religion played Cleveland in the 80’s at some place called Peabody’s.

It was evident that the band was aging, well not Greg Hetson, but the others showed signs of aging. Graffin wore a more “dad-like” outfit while Jay Bentley’s beard was more salt and pepper.  The band though did not let age play a part in their performance.  In all the times I have ever seen Bad Religion, this was my favorite show.

I was not in the pit this time thrashing around screaming lyrics I held so close to my heart.  I sure as hell was not crowd surfing.  Instead I perched myself to the side of the stage anticipating which song the band would play next while gently rocking my head throughout.

The continued their set with “Suffer”, “Atomic Garden”, “Wrong Way Kids”, and two of my all time favorites back to back: “You” and “Fuck Armageddon”.  They finished their set with “American Jesus” and exited the stage.

The crowd knew an encore was going to happen and no one moved.  Instead, they cheered as loudly as possible letting the band know they wanted more.  Not even a minute, Bad Religion was back on the stage and Graffin joked “how’d you know we were going to play an encore?”

The encore consisted of three more tracks including two more of my favorite songs, “Infected” and “Sorrow”.  Everyone packed in the venue sang as loudly as possible through each song with arms raised high in the air.

It was an amazing night of punk rock goodness.  This show was one of the better shows I have seen in my time and I am thrilled to have been a part of it.  Punk’s not dead at all.  Trust me, I know this.

Bad Religion Set List:
Do What You Want
Sinister
Only Gonna Die
Recipe For Hate
Flat Earth
Before You Die
The Resist-Stance
Conquer The World
Digital Boy
New Dark Ages
The Devil In Stitches
Requiem For Dissent
A Walk
No Control
No Direction
Avalon
Suffer
Atomic Garden
Wrong Way Kids
Meeting Of The Minds
You
Fuck Armageddon
Generator
American Jesus
Encore:
Infected
Los Angeles Is Burning
Sorrow

Talkin’ Bout My (Black Shirt) Generation

Chances are if you have been to a concert, you are like me and have purchased a concert shirt.  It’s a way to support a band while at the same time show everyone who it is you listen to.  It is almost a bragging right if you think about it – there is nothing more satisfying then sporting a concert shirt the day after the show.  If you are lucky, someone will notice it and ask you how the show was (face it, you love it when this happens).

It’s a form of expression.  People will judge you for the shirt you wear.  Trust me, I know this. 

The concert shirt, for me, has become almost a staple in my life.  I have tons of them and they all carry certain memories.  For the longest time, I made sure that I purchased a shirt at every show I went to.  It was an obsession, an addiction that I just adored.  After having counting over 400 shirts one day I decided it was time to chill on the addiction and even pack some up and donate to Goodwill.

I can not tell you how difficult that was for me… 

Sure, a lot of the shirts were ones I hadn’t worn in years and were by bands that were meaningless to me, but there were a few that held such fond memories I just could not let them go even though I knew I would never wear them again. 

I took about 50 or so of them and jammed them in a giant Rubbermaid tub and put them in my attic.  I’m no pack-rat, but I know sometimes you should not get rid of something when it holds a fond memory of a good time… 

I know I am not the only who shares this addiction / ritual.  There is at least one other person I know who does.  Her name is Sara and she started the blog Black Shirt Generation.  The site is great in that she shares the same love for the concert shirt but has turned it into a project, if not a mission, to find out all the fellow concert tee lovers out there as well as collect their stories.

Rather than sit here and tell you why she started it, I figured I would give her the honors; so Sara, take it away:

Black Shirt Generation is an idea that’s taken me some time to figure out.  A long time ago, someone, on some drunken night downtown, put a little idea into my head that one day I was going to “write teen anthems”.  Not believing him for a second, I quickly dismissed him…but I must admit, almost 10 years later, I still thought about it.

A few months ago, I was standing in my closet, trying to figure out what I was going to wear, and I started cracking myself up.  I have probably 100 black band t-shirts in my closet.  I only wear a dozen or so of them, and it STILL takes me forever to pick out one of them.

It got me thinking about how many other music fanatics were out there with the same issue.  Closets and drawers chock full of nothing to wear – but also full of memories and stories of days gone by.

From there, the ideas started coming in about maybe THIS is what I was “meant” to do.  This was going to be my outlet to the world.  It might not be a “teen anthem”, so to speak, but it’s definitely the voice of a generation.  My generation, my voice, my story, my memories…

That being said, I wanted the scoop on others’ takes on their love affair/obsession with music as well.  Punk rock, rock n’ roll, tattoos, booze, fighting, heartbreak – everything that comes with that uniform of black cotton with your heart and soul silk-screened on across the front. 

So I’m looking to you, your friends, their friends and anyone who wants to make it known why they love that holey, frayed shirt that was black at one point in time…and why you or they never got rid of it – even though it would never be worn again.

Thanks Sara.  Very cool idea.

Got a fond memory you want to share?  Head over to Black Shirt Generation and let her know!

Disappointed is a 12 letter word.

disappointed [dis-a-point-ted]

adj – saddened by the failure of an expectation, etc.

Last night was the first time in a long time where I was disappointed, not just a little bit, but a whole lot.

I was not the only one in my group of three either who had this unbearable feeling occur.  It’s happened before, and I am sure it will happen again, but last night was not the night for it to happen.

Why so disappointed you ask?

Well, in a nutshell, last night was the J. Roddy Waltson & The Business / Shooter Jennings show at the Beachland Ballroom.  I, and two of my closest friends, have been looking forward to this show since we first caught wind of it a couple months back.  We were not excited for Shooter, but rather, J Roddy.

My friends had seen J. Roddy a couple of times but I had not.

Last night around 8pm we left my homestead and made the 45+ minute trip to Cleveland to hit up the show.  We were all smiles during the rainy drive up there and anticipated a killer show.

Arriving we hung outside the venue for a moment as a female Chris Farley looking cop (seriously, just like Airheads Farley) chased a seemingly drunk patron down the sidewalk with her trusty stun-gun in hand.  She was pissed about something he did, maybe asking her how it felt to be a Farley…

Anyways, we walked inside, and realized something was terribly wrong.  There was music playing and it sounded like J. Roddy.

Wait – it WAS J. Roddy.

We ran inside the ballroom literally to J. Roddy stating that they were playing one more song, “Used To Did”.  The song was amazing live and for a brief moment I was in a music bliss like none other enjoying the song and then it happened.

J. Roddy Waltson & The Business finished their set.

Disappointment took over.  I wanted to crawl in a dark corner and cry.  One song was not enough for me at all.  I wanted more and I could not have any.  We arrived 1 hour late thinking the show started at 9 p.m.

The three of us stood there.  Depressed, pissed off for not rushing one another to get there and most of all disappointed as hell.

I honestly thought there was a local opening act and what band starts on time anyways???

A very friendly J. Roddy greeted us and was bummed to hear we missed his set but did give us a heads up that they just wrapped up a new Daytrotter session.  That was cool to hear.

Still, we were not satisfied at all.  We did not know if we wanted to stay or not so we sulked over a cold one and felt sorry for ourselves.

Add insult to injury, Lady Chris Farley super-cop pushed us aside in the bar to make way for Shooter Jennings and his band so they could hit the stage.

Screw you super-cop.

A few songs into Shooter’s set we decided to bail.  We were not feeling it.

Jumping in the car we decided to play a fine mix of J. Roddy songs all the way home.  We sang the songs at the top of our lungs, almost making up for the live show we missed.

Good friends and great friends mix so well especially when you need a pick-me-up.

So, I guess I wait till next time J. Roddy makes his way back to Ohio to check him out.  I can wait, and I know he will be back, and it is going to be amazing…

Music Review: Jeff Rowe – Barstool Conversations

Growing up in a tough town just north of Boston, Jeff Rowe (no, not the football player) did not not necessarily have it easy.  Without going into detail on his life, I can tell you he was in the punk band BoxingWater, a band that released a couple of albums with ideals that revolved around the hard times and then moved along once the band called it splits.

Rather than continuing moving along with a punk rock sound, Rowe took his guitar and headed out of his hometown and found himself spending time in Richmond, VA perfecting his music that turned more of a folk act.  Taking personal experiences he assembled songs over time and released Barstool Conversations an album he recorded in Richmond with Lance Koehler (Tim Barry) before returning home.

I know, I know…another punk rock guy playing folk music?  Yes, it has been happening a lot and if you are like me you not only like it, you appreciate it.  Recently Barstool Conversations arrived in my mailbox, Rowe’s debut solo attempt.  I listened to it upon receiving it and then set it aside until I could actually get a better listen.  This past weekend I finally popped it back in and really enjoyed the personal, heartfelt tunes Rowe plays on the album with help from a backing band.

The album started off a little slow with “Passenger”, a quite personal track about leaving and returning.  “Kate” sped up slightly and with help from Smoke Or Fire vocalist, Joe McMahon on backing vocals, turned in to a fun jam to listen to.  “Bastards Love” might be best heard in a hardly filled barroom in the middle of nowhere.  The gloomy track perfectly could compliment any bad day alongside a stiff drink.

Things picked up when “An Album’s Point Of View” played as it was more upbeat than previous tracks.  I loved this track because of the lyrics that seemed to have Rowe coming with terms on a tough life and making the best of life.  “I’ve got friends that are more than blood,” was one lyric that I can attest to.

One of my favorite tracks on the album, “Dead Authors”, was another personal track, almost too personal, with Rowe talking of family problems and foreclosure.  The gentle piano behind Rowe’s raspy singing was the perfect compliment to this bittersweet track.

“Service Of Hardship” was a toe-tapping folk jam that hinted heavy on Frank Turner.  “Thinnest Strands” was a very soulful track while “Stolen Songs” begged to be sung along with.

“Glenville” was another track I really enjoyed on the album.  This is the kind of song I wish I would write to swoon someone with.  “No Place” was another perfect barroom jam with captivating back-up vocals throughout.  “Pale Face” ended the album with another slower track that perked up midway with piano and accompanying vocals from a slew of friends including Lance Koehler.

Jeff Rowe does a great job writing songs and playing acoustic guitar.  I just wish the album was a little more upbeat throughout as many of the songs he wrote revolved around the tougher times of his life.  I would love to see him take a stab at another album with a more positive approach.  Rowe definitely has some talent and I can not wait to see where it takes him.