Concert Review: Strike Anywhere / Dead To Me / Menzingers / Holy Mess / Signals Midwest – Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH – 10/09/2011

Last night was more or less on the the best punk rock lineups I have seen all year and I am not just saying that. Originally there were supposed to be two Sunday night shows in Cleveland featuring all of the bands listed on the flier on the right, but some way, some how, the bands decided to jump together on one super bill making for an incredible evening of music.

It was almost as if someone who wanted to go to both shows at the same time made a wish and it came true.  As corny as that may sound, I am not the only one who thought that last night.

Originally there was to be a show at Now That’s Class featuring the Menzingers and Holy Mess as well as a show at the Grog Shop with Strike Anywhere and Dead To Me.  As a fan of all four bands, this was a super hard decision to make and I was planning on leaning toward the NTC show but as previously mentioned, for whatever reason (I am actually curious to find out), the bands all decided to share the same bill at the Grog Shop providing for one of the best punk rock shows money could buy.

Cleveland’s Signals Midwest started the night off.  Having seen them just a couple of days ago, their previous set was still stuck in my mind as I watched them.  The band once again played a pretty kick ass set to the slowly increasing crowd.  Lead signer Max Stern and crew even debuted a hew song about the house they had their first band practice, the Milk Crate House.  It was also announced that the band’s recently released album Latitudes & Longitudes was dropping on vinyl in a month.  The crowd got a kick out of that as did I.  Seems as if this Cleveland band has got their shit intact.

Up next was the Holy Mess.  The Philadelphia punk rockers were full of energy and put on a killer performance to tons of excited fans.  Playing a welcomed mix of punk rock and trash, the band was all over the stage and just looked to be having the time of their lives.  The venue was filling up a plenty as the band played on and by the end of the set, the fans were going crazy.  I really enjoyed seeing these guys live finally.  I can not wait till they come back.  They were just a ton of fun.

Scranton, Pa’s Menzingers were up next and it is safe to say that most people in the Grog Shop made sure they were there in time to see latest band to sign to Epitaph Records.  Rifling through songs from Chamberlain Waits as well as their previous releases, everyone in the house was signing along and enjoying the set to the fullest potential.  Tom May was barely tall enough to be seen at times from where I was standing, but that kid has mad jumps and at one time jumped up and grabbed a steel beam climbing over the fans screaming his heart out.  A couple of the songs seems to be slower than I was used to.  Perhaps that is because Holy Mess was playing songs that were four times faster, but still, that was my only concern.  I loved when the Menzingers peeked out on music for a moment telling (bragging) to the crowd how they got to see Leftover Crack play Chicago – I know I was not the only one jealous at that moment…  The Menzingers are one of today’s most exciting up and coming bands and I was stoked that they came back to Cleveland to play.  You should have seen everyone around the venue smiling and singing, it was awesome and reminded me why I love punk rock so much.

As far as I am concerned, San Francisco’s Dead To Me had the best set of the night.  Chicken was in a zone the moment he struck his bass and just start at the crowd looking like he was going to destroy everyone around him.  DTM took their time of the stage to play a whole array of songs from all of their albums in front of the healthy sized crowd.  Their style is live none other; during one song kids were slam dancing and tossing fists in the air and moments later a much more broken down ska-like track was pushed through the amps and everyone got into a groove.  It seemed like the band played 100 songs and I wanted 100 more.  Chicken took a moment to have a realization in front of the crowd and started ranting on how he has been listening to punk rock for 20 years and at 33-years-old, he never in his life thought he would be in a punk band playing shows let alone with the bands on Sunday night’s lineup.  His words hit me because there I was, in the crowd, looking at someone about the same age as I am still rocking out and doing his thing.  Age does not mean a damn thing and Chicken reminded me that it’s all about the love for the punk rock that keeps us going.  Towards the end of their set, DTM played a new song and all I have to say this this: Oct. 25th can not come soon enough, that song was bitching.  During the last song Chicken started recruiting some of the crowd to help him sing along and before long people surround Chicken all screaming their hearts out.  It was awesome to see that.

The headliners of the night, Strike Anywhere, had the entire crowd in the palm of their hands during their set.  Fans and bands were all singing along to the Richmond, Va. punk rock heroes.  Taking their stand at politics and social ideals, the band took a moment to ask the crowd what “occupies Cleveland”, in reference to the ongoing protest of cop orate spending.  The kids in the crowd flung out plenty of examples proving they all know what is going on in this messed up world.  SA’s set was full of old and newer tracks and everyone, and I mean jut about everyone, was singing along with some kicks taking their change at jumping up close and personal to sing with Thomas.  I won’t lie, I did not stay for the entire set and I am sure I missed a great end to SA’s set, but I had to be responsible and head home so I could function half-assed at work in the morning.  I’ve seen SA a few times before and they never disappoint.  The first half of the set I did stay for was just perfect for a close to a Sunday punk show.

As tired as I am right now writing this, I would not have missed last night’s show for the world.  Five great bands kept the punk rock flowing steadily throughout the whole nice.  Each band did their thing, thanked the fans and the bands, and looked all to be happier than hell to be on stage.  People of all ages stood throughout the venue soaking in the goodness that is music.  As a reviewer I could have been a little more in depth with this review, but the fact of the matter is that I wanted to be a fan more than everything last night and decided to throw down the notepad and just soak in the energy.

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