Concert Review: The Falcon / Worriers / The Lippies @ The Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH – 04/06/2016

[Passing the mic/keyboard/whatever over to my pal Jason Utes who covered the recent Falcon show that filled up the Grog Shop on Wednesday night.  Thanks Utes for the killer review!  It appears that I missed one hell of a show]

“I wanna die and I don’t care who knows.”

If you’re reading this, you are probably already a fan of The Falcon. Otherwise, if I told you I was going to see a band with such lyrical presentation, you would imagine something far different from what I experienced Wednesday night.

Ostensibly, The Falcon is a band that exists primarily for the sake of the band members to get together and have fun playing music, free from the expectations of their higher-profile projects which include The Lawrence Arms, Alkaline Trio, The Loved Ones, and the Smoking Popes, to name just a few.  Seriously, Neil could add probably a dozen more credits on his own, and this band is now one degree of separation from Blink-182 (more on that later).

So, if the band exists in the name of a good time, how is that going to translate to the stage when they are touring in support of the mostly bleak and harrowing (but excellent) Gather Up the Chaps?

The FalconGranted the album cover, which features a despondent leather daddy in the same vein as certain Minor Threat and Rancid album covers, achieves a humorous yet somber sexuality that Third Eye Blind only achieves on accident, this record is still a serious undertaking even with song titles such as “Hasselhoff Cheeseburger” and “You Dumb Dildos” boldly printed on the sleeve. (Enough about the album itself, you can check out the review of the album).  Rest assured, the answer is that the show was a great time for band and crowd alike.

The Lippies, from Grand Rapids, kicked things off for me (Note: I did not make it in time for Blacklister to kick things off). The band took the stage led by Tonia Broucek who addressed the crowd with a politeness that bordered on timid that simply didn’t last. Once the band kicked into their brand of 1990’s Lookout Records reminiscent punk rock, she became an authoritative force that demanded (and received) control of the entire Grog Shop.

At one point, she entered the crowd to lay on the ground in a mock temper tantrum and her sheer aggression parted the crowd like riot police.  Broucek easily had the most confident and effortless stage command of the entire night. The real pleasant surprise of the set came when the band receded for a haunting solo rendition of “It Boils” off of their eponymous full-length that left everyone rattled. Standout songs to check out: “302” and “It Boils” which you can find on their BandCamp page.

Next up were Worriers, touring in support of the incredible Imaginary Life. This band became one of the highlights of the night for me [as] every song sounded fundamentally different but clearly had the same fingerprints. For fans of thoughtful and melodic rock, hopefully they won’t mind that I mentally catalogued them in the company of The Weakerthans. This was definitely a more highbrow compliment to what the Falcon had in store next (again, hopefully taken as praise by both parties). Check out “Glutton for Distance” and “Plans” on their BandCamp page.

By the time the PA started blaring Bad Lip Reading’s “The Bushes of Love” (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lovegun played just before), The Falcon took the stage. From the opening riff of “The Angry Cry of the Angry Pie” the show was the usual onslaught of humor and spastic punk rock.

The Falcon

Having only two full length albums and an EP, all of their material was represented, but decidedly centered around songs from Gather Up the Chaps.  “Skeleton Dance” prefaced by a sarcastic “this will be great, wait till you get a load of this” and “War of Colossus” being high points for me.

Between songs, the band took playful jabs at one another and Cleveland itself. There were at least three instances of pointing out that Cleveland is indefensible to a touring band’s gravity toward Cleveland Steamer jokes.  They quipped that the crowd “Cleveland steamed the wrinkles out of [the song] ‘Sailor’s Grave’.”

Brendan Kelly reveled in pointing out how much Dave Hause hates ska and that he is now sentenced to playing the Falcon’s own ska anthem “The Unicorn Odyssey” on a nightly basis.

Dan Andriano stood helpless as Kelly mused on Dan’s Alkaline Trio bandmate Matt Skiba’s undead persona as well as a few taunts such as, “you BLINK and you’re out of a job!”

Dave Hause is a welcome addition and it’s great to see him playing punk rock again (The Loved Ones will soon be in the midst of a 10th anniversary tour for Keep Your Heart that I’m selfishly hoping will lead to the band being more active. I also don’t mean this to discount Dave Hause’s fantastic solo efforts)

The intended purpose of the Falcon is still front and center, a group of friends having a great time and not taking things too seriously. Still, the Falcon’s set still had its heartfelt moments.  On the day of this show, Merle Haggard passed away and Kelly, who has a prominent “Mama Tried” tattoo, was audibly choked up when he memorialized his hero with a story of Merle and Johnny Cash’s first meeting.

Sadly, due to the nature of this being a “side project” for everyone involved, it may be a while until we hear from the Falcon again.  This was their first proper tour since 2007.  Still, as the show ended with the band leading a conga line around the Grog Shop to Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” (yes, really) everyone in the club could only hope that this would be the first annual Gathering of the Chaps in Cleveland.

Special thanks to Toby Jeg of Red Scare Industries for inviting us to cover the show, and thanks to Brian for letting me stink up the joint on his behalf.

Setlist:
The Angry Cry of the Angry Pie
Sergio’s Here
Blackout
War of Colossus
Hasselhoff Cheeseburger
Huffing the Proverbial Line Off the Proverbial Dong or The Blood and the Frog
Sailor’s Grave
You Dumb Dildos
The Skeleton Dance
Little Triggers
Dead Rose
Unicorn Odyssey
If Dave Did It
The Fighter, The Rube, The Asshole
Black Teeth
The La-Z Boy 500

[Man, Utes, this was a damn fine review.  I think I just should give you my login info to the site and call it a life.  Thanks for covering a solid evening of tunes!  – Brian]

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