Swingin’ Utters / The Menzingers / The Facials – Rockstar – Cleveland, OH – 08/27/2010 – Concert Review

Friday night the punk rockers took over Rockstar in Cleveland.  The small, and I mean small, venue that which lies on top of Peabody’s, hosted an intimate night of punk rock goodness with help from The Swingin’ Utters and The Menzingers as well as a couple of local acts including The Facials.  Regardless of size fans of all of the bands filled up the joint and were treated to an evening of fast, fun, and furious music.

The Facials

Openers SmyD (oh, NOW I get it…) were local and sounded just like Against Me!.  It was not a bad thing at all until I noticed that the lead singer had matching…Against Me! tattoos on his shoulder blades.  Still not a terrible thing, but enough to cause a momentary distraction to more than one onlooker.  Trying ever so hard to ignore the dual permanent tributes myself, I was able to enjoy their set even if there was a little too much talk and not so much rock going on from the lead singer.  Still, I would check them out again.  I took this opportunity to enjoy a nice tall refreshing PBR with my friends.

The Facials, another local act and good friend to BHP, hit up the stage next minus one.  Even though one of the band members could not make it to the show the band played on and did not sound that bad even if the back-up guitarist had three practices to learn all the bass lines.  Kudos to the vest wearing bandanna sporting musician for switching up duties.   Fans crept around the corner stage throughout the set and enjoyed their performance.  I took this opportunity to enjoy another nice cold tall refreshing PBR with my friends.  Do you see a trend here?  Well that was the extent of it, after all I did have to drive home.  I am responsible.

The Menzingers
The Menzingers

One of my favorite punk rock bands that I discovered this year, The Menzingers, finally were able to play a show for me.  After all the was the reason they came to Cleveland, for me (not really).  You see, earlier this year the band was supposed to play a show in Covington, KY but one of the band members succumbed to a nasty stomach virus and they had to make the difficult decision of canceling the show.  I was highly bummed out that I was unable to see them live but understood.  This time though all of the band members were in house at Rockstar and took to the stage for a very high energy and fun set.

Jumping around and having a good ol’ time the band played through a bunch of familiar songs including “I Was Born”, “Rivalries” (one of my faves), and “No We Didn’t” off their latest release Chamberlain Waits.  Their live stuff was move enjoyable to me than their studio material.  The boys just were so entertaining and the crowd was so into them screaming along to every song.  Music, friends, smiles, and singing – this is what a punk rock show is all about.

The Menzingers

I was thrilled to finally be up at the front of the stage watching this amazing band do their thing.  If that was not good enough, the band chatted with me throughout the night about everything from the Kentucky incident to the local punk house the Soggy Dog.  Greg and Tom were cool as hell and I can not wait till I run into them again.  I know, I sound like a freaking fanboy right now but in all honesty it is nice to meet a band that is happy to be in their surroundings and has no problem climbing the stripper pole with you.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out Rockstar next time you are in Cleveland.  Just don’t get too rowdy or else a mustache-clad bouncer might yell “settle down” at you and walk away… very effective I might mention.

Aside from that calamity there was in fact another performance by punk rock legends the Swingin’ Utters.  Even though I have been a fan of the Utters since I was a kid this was the first time I had ever seen them live and I could not be happier.  A little older and a lot wiser, the band took to the stage and put forth a killer set with lead singer Johnny Bonnel looking like he was feeling real good.  I say this not just because we were in a bar but also because in the middle of the set he screamed “piss break” and stumbled off the stage into the crowd and made a b-line for the men’s room.  It was hilarious.

Wost Pic Ever...
Wost Pic Ever...

Breaking into tracks like “Five Lessons”, “Windspitting Punk”, and one of my favorites “The Next In Live” the 20+ year old band sounded much better than I was anticipating.  It was amusing to see Spike Slawson up on stage too as I mostly know him for his cover act Me First and the GImme GImmes.  I should comment too that he looked like she shed some pounds since the last time I saw him.  Sporting thick rimmed glasses and what looked like an army issued jacket Spike looked calm and reserved throughout the set. He was perhaps the only one who maintained composure of some sort as the rest of the band, and the crowd for that matter, jumped and thrashed about while flinging beers and fists in the air.  Oh yes, it was a punk rock show for sure.

There was no encore for the night by the Utters.  They finished their set and exited the stage to an adoring crowd of longtime hardcore fans.  That was about the time I exited the Rockstar to get some air.  Looking around everyone had that look of satisfaction on their faces, you know, the one where you just witnessed something really really good.  Not sure when the Utters will make a trip back to Cleveland but I did get a kick out of a Tweet one of the band members posted later in the evening:

I don’t really understand why people make fun of Cleveland. I think Cleveland is kinda awesome. Romantic, even.

Cleveland is kinda awesome.  Romantic?  Perhaps.  Being with great friends and some amazing bands however was just perfect and I would not have wanted to spend my Friday night any other way.

Coheed & Cambria / Porcupine Tree / The Dear Hunter – Nautica Pavilion – Cleveland, OH – 08/26/2010 – Concert Review

Last Thursday evening progressive sci-fi rockers Coheed & Cambria headlined a triple bill with help from The Dear Hunter and UK’s Porcupine Tree.  The triple bill landed on a comfortable cool evening at the Nautica Pavilion, a perfect night to take in a show.  The venue sadly was not packed at all as ticket sales suffered but all who did show up that evening enjoyed three levels of prog-rock any aged fan could appreciate.

A fine mix of Coheed and Porcupine Tree fans gathered around the stage to give the night’s openers The Dear Hunter a chance.  The alt-prog act from Boston, Massachusetts took to the stage while the sun slowly crept away to open up the night.  Upon their first couple songs much of the crowd did not seem to pay attention but soon were sucked in to what sounded like a Mars Volta meets Queensryche.  Their set seemingly became more impressive through the lengthy songs to the point where people started turning their heads to the music.  Not being too familiar with their material I was impressed with what i heard.

UK’s Porcupine Tree took to a freshly vacuumed stage – yes, someone vacuumed the stage prior to them taking it – just after 9pm.  Older fans of the band, that started as just a concept in 1987, gathered around the stage and focused all of their attention to the band and the visuals being show on the backdrop.  Opening with “Ocean’s Razor” it was clear that I had never heard of them before.  I for some reason thought they were a newer act but was just a little bit wrong as I soon discovered they have been around for a little bit.

At one moment lead singer Steven Wilson asked everyone in the house if they sounded ok due to the position of the stage.  He then commented that everyone was treated to two shows – them and the Cleveland skyline.  Comically declaring “that’s one big reverb” got more than one laugh from the crowd but also hinted to the soundboard that they were not happy with their sound.

The videos that played behind Porcupine Tree was full of random clips and psychedelic light shows that periodically would sync up with the music.  At times I would almost fall into a musically fueled trance watching the screen trying to figure out what was going to happen next.  The prog-rock was almost a prog-jam during certain moments of their set was a lot more progressive than I anticipated but delivered a killer set.  I know I was not the only one impressed and I am pretty sure a lot of the younger Coheed fans went home later that night to check them out a little more.

The band thanked the fans for their support, thanked Coheed for their invitation, and then announced that it was the last night of their tour and that they would be retuning home.  For a band that has not really been plastered all over the radio it was refreshing to see an act 23 years in the making take the stage and play their hearts out showing no indication that they will be slowing down anytime soon.  I will be checking these guys out a lot more now that I saw them.

Porcupine Tree Setlist:
Ocean’s Razor
The Blind House
Great Expectations
Kneel & Disconnect
Drawing The Line
Open Car
Russia On Ice
Anesthetize
Trains
Blackest Eyes
The Start Of Something Beautiful
Way Out Of Here
Sleep Together

The headliners of the night, also known as Coheed & Cambira, took to the stage and opened with “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”. Claudio Sanchez and crew tore up the stage with their sci-fi prog rock goodness to all of their adoring fans, well, those who decided to show up. The pit was sparse and the bleachers were not filled that all. It was almost depressing to see the turn out of the evening as many of the older fans who came to see Porcupine Tree headed out after their set.

Coheed did not let that bother them at all playing through with “The Suffering”, a song I sang along to as loud as possible. Continuing with selections from their latest release Year Of The Black Rainbow the band rocked out to “Year Of The Juggernaut” and the acoustic “Pearl Of The Stars” with Claudio whispering to the adoring crowd.  Starting strong the band had a couple of lulls in between songs but kept the momentum going with “Delirium Trigger” and closed out with the always amazing “No World For Tomorrow”.   With fans screaming for more the band took the stage for a couple more songs ending the night with one of my favorites “Wake Up” where the entire place sang along with lighters in the air.

Having seen Coheed many times in my time including last year at Bonnaroo I could not say this was the best show that I have seen by them but was far from terrible.  The fans sang along with practically every song but at times when Caludio turned the vocal duties over to the crowd it almost became difficult to hear them due to lack of a bigger fan base supporting guest duties.  I would have loved to seen more people fill up the venue that evening but at the same time was perfectly contempt with the almost seemingly intimate set.

The term “you get what you pay for” came to mind after the show’s end.  Three amazing bands took to the stage that night with long sets giving all who attended their money’s worth.  I do wish that some of the Porcupine Tree fans stayed a little longer to check out Coheed before calling it a night.  I am pretty sure they would have enjoyed what that amazing band had to offer.

Coheed & Cambria Setlist:
In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3
Ten Speed (of God’s Blood And Burial)
Here We Are Juggernaut
The Crowing
The Suffering
Pearl Of The Stars
Everything Evil
When Skeletons Live
The Willing Well 1: Fuel For The Feeding End
Delirium Trigger
No World For Tomorrow
Encore:
Wake Up
Welcome Home

An Important Message From Those Darlins…

An important message form the fine fine ladies in Those Darlins (and Linwood):

Buddies,

Those Darlins here. We have a new website and along with it a new 7″, new T-shirts, and new tour dates. Let us know what you think.
XOXOX, TD

Short, simple, and sweet just like Jessi, Nikki, and Kelley Darlin.  The 7″ titled Nightjogger is only $5 and is a preview of their forthcoming sophomore release (can’t wait!!!).

I love the cover and know what it is all about.  Do you?  The vinyl is actually a split with Funstix, a Jessi and Linwood side-project. For more info and to purchase the 7″ along with some other rocking merch head over to ThoseDarlins.com.

The girls and Linwood are current on tour once again and will be making a stop in Cleveland.  If you have not seen them yet now is your chance…  I am highly considering making the trek down to Louisville to see them play with Trampled By Turtles.

TOUR DATES
Aug
24 – Nashville, TN @ Billups Art Gallery (Heavy Cream release show)
27 – Morning View, KY @ Whispering Beard Folk Festival

Sept
8 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree #
9 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl #
10 – Atlanta GA @ The Earl #
11 – Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle #
12 – Myrtle Beach, SC @ Drink
14 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 #
15 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat #
16 – New York, NY@ The Bowery Ballroom #
17 – Boston, MA @ TT The Bears #
19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie # (early show)
20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie # (late show)
21 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern %
22 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall %
23 – Urbana, IL @ Independent Media Center – Pygmalion Fest
24 – Iowa City, IA @ The Mill %
25 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon %
26 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry %
28 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown Front Room %
29 – Lincoln, NE @ Lincoln Calling
30 – Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar %

Oct
1 – Columbia, MO @ Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Fest
2 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall &
7 – Dallas, TX @ Sons of Hermann Hall *
8 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Festival
9 – Laredo, TX @Old No. 2

# w/ The Strange Boys & Gentleman Jesse
% w/Turbo Fruits
& w/Trampled By Turtles
* w/ The Soft Pack

Devil’s Brigade – Devil’s Brigade – CD Review

Chances are if you have heard of Rancid you already know who Matt Freeman is.  Most notably known for his exceptional bass playing abilities he also is the man behind the gruff gritty vocals sometimes heard on Rancid tracks as well as being a founding member of Operation Ivy.

Not just limiting him solely as a member of Rancid, over the years Freeman has played with legendary X member Exene Cervenka in Auntie Christ, stepped in with Social Distortion, as well as started his own band behind the scenes called Devil’s Brigade.

Devil’s Brigade is a psychobilly/punk rock side project started in 2000 with fellow band mate Tim Armstrong between Rancid tours.  The project yielded a couple of EPs and some of the songs were featured on Hellcat Records Give Em The Boot compilations but a formal album never was released.   After Rancid released Let The Dominos Fall in 2009 Freeman decided that it was time to head to the studio and make something of his project.

At first Freeman was hoping to record a musical about the “Half Way To Hell Club”, a name that was given to those who fell off the Golden Gate Bridge during its construction and fell into a safety net.  Although Freeman skipped the idea of the musical, he did take six of the songs he wrote for the musical along with original Devil’s Brigade songs and decided to put them together on an album.

Enlisting Armstrong as well as DJ Bonebrake, another member of X fame, they entered the studio earlier this year and recorded the self titled release.  With Freeman taking vocal duties he also decided to play stand up bass throughout while Armstrong played guitar and DJ Bonebrake on drums.  Dropping at the end of August, the album will mark yet another consecutive release by a member of Rancid on Hellcat Records proving that they have no intentions of quitting anytime soon.

“I’m Moving Through” opens the album full forced with Freeman’s indistinguishable singing backed by his bass playing immediately grabbing my attention.  “My Own Man Now” really did not sound anything outside of Rancid but nonetheless was still enjoyable and carried that Bay City punk sound I have been fond of half my life.  “Shake Down” followed with Freeman slapping his stand up bass singing about his “25 years of punk, rock, and roll”.

“Bridge Of Gold”, featuring Armstrong and Lars Frederickson, was a noteworthy song about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge and was one of my favorite cuts off the album.  I loved the old barroom jam sound with the piano in the background and just the reference itself to a 1930’s wonder of the world.

“Ride Harley Ride” was a mysterious biker tune with an almost Natural Born Killers feel to it.  “Vampire Girl” repeated “I want to get rid of you” throughout the twangy psychobilly tune.  “Gentleman Of The Road” was another track I really enjoyed with xylophone, a distinct bass line, and outlaw story to follow.  Closing the album was the working man’s “Half Way To Hell”, another track I really appreciated due to the guitar playing and history contained within.

It’s easy for someone to assume that this is just another Rancid release, but once you hear the album your opinion will be changed.  Of course it is going to sound like Rancid here and there, look who’s in it.  Once you actually sit back and listen you will understand that it is a Matt Freeman project full of what he enjoys to do.  He has branched in his own direction with his musical talent just like Lars Frederickson & the Bastards did as well as the Transplants.

The album is enjoyable all around without any lulls in between.  Freeman has no trouble displaying his musical abilities from slapping the bass to screaming in the mic.   I am glad he finally decided to do something with Devil’s Brigade finally.  What was just a spare time thing at one time has incorporated into something so much more.

Already touring in support of the release, Freeman has gathered up a touring band and will be joining fellow label mates the Street Dogs and Left Alone.

Devils Brigade Tour Dates:
Sept 7 – San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit
Sept 9 – St. Petersburg, FL – State Theatre
Sept 10 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
Sept 11 – Orlando, FL – Firestone Live
Sept 12 – Jacksonville Beach, FL – Freebird Café
Sept 13 – Charleston, SC – The Oasis
Sept 14 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
Sept 16 – Washington, DC – Rock and Roll Hotel
Sept 17 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
Sept 18 – New York City, NY – The Gramercy Theatre
Sept 19 – Pawtucket, RI – The Met Café
Sept 21 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
Sept 22 – Pittsburgh, PA – Diesel
Sept 23 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
Sept 24 – Hamtramck, MI – Small’s
Sept 25 – Chicago, IL – Reggies Rock Club
Sept 26 – St. Louis, MO – Firebird
Sept 28 – Dallas, TX – The Loft
Sept 29 – Austin, TX – Red Seven
Oct 7 – Tempe, AZ – The Clubhouse
Oct 8 – Santa Ana, CA – Galaxy Theatre
Oct 9 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
Oct 16 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Oct 19 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
Oct 20 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
Oct 21 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Concert House
Oct 22 – Salt Lake City, UT – Club Sound
Oct 23 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre
Oct 24 – Colorado Springs, CO – Black Sheep

Friday Night: $wingin’ Utter$, The Menzingers, & The Facials

Do you like punk rock?

No seriously…do you?  I hope you have not made any plans this Friday because punk rock heroes The Swingin’ Utters are playing with The Menzingers, and The Facials in a small bar also know as Rockstar in good ol’ classy Cleveland, OH.

This is your chance to see 3 amazing punk rock acts for the low low price of $13.

The Utters just started recording new material after a seven year break and rumor has it will be releasing a new album shortly. This will be my first time seeing these guys live.  I swear, every time they have played Cleveland I either forgot or had to work.  No way am I missing out on this chance to see them finally.

The Menzingers, one of my top punk acts of 2010, are just full of energy and are looking to have a good time. This will be my first time seeing them live on account of the band canceling their set at the NOFX show I attended earlier this year in Covington, KY.  Needless to say I am psyched.

The Facials….suck.  Show up late so you do not have to see them.  I am kidding.  The Facials are like family to me and have been in the Cleveland punk scene for years now.  If you have not seen this local act yet do yourself a favor and get there early grab a PBR and enjoy.