Tag Archives: Acoustic

Concert Review: Kali Masi, Sam Russo, Tane Graves [Tightwire] @ Hatfield’s | Cleveland, OH | 22-OCT-2022

A strange series of events led to a very chill, quaint punk show last night at Hatfield’s in Westpark.

Flashback to a couple of days ago when my pal Nick reached out to me asking if I was still going to see Kali Masi and Sam Russo still. I responded that I would not miss it for the world, and he was quick to tell me the show was sold out and they were not able to get tickets.

I jumped online to see what I could find out, because no offence to the bands, but this was not a show I was anticipating to even come close to selling out. Do not get me wrong, the three acts on the bill are some of my favs, but I was expecting to just snag a ticket at the door.

Sure enough, Hatfield’s had posts saying the show was sold out and that they were actually moving it from upstairs to the main floor. I was floored to see this and highly excited too, but still was wondering what was going on so I reached out to not only Kali Masi, but also Toby at Red Scare to see if the show really was sold out.

Kali Masi pretty much asked me what the hell I was talking about and laughed. Toby said he would get back to me, and he did as promised soon thereafter. Both confirmed with me the show was not sold out and to head up to the venue as planned. Hatfield’s even responded to my pal’s wife saying they had opened up some tickets so they were able to grab a few.

Apparently, bots bought all of the tickets being sold by Hatfield’s online. This is a common trend these days where tickets are bought up by bots and then resold for more money. One might think this is a good thing overall, but the inconvenience and slight stress this put on Hatfield’s and even the acts was a true bummer.

Hatfield’s staff scrambled thinking they were going to have a full house and rearranged their business to accommodate. A vacation was cut short, staff was bulked up, and a lot of time and effort was put into preparing for the show. Sadly, a lot of this was not necessary at all.

In the end though, I think it was a nice shift from expected calamity to an intimate evening of amazing music. The fans that showed up were truly stoked to be there and Hatfield’s accommodated the hell out of everyone in the house.

Ken Hatfield, the owner of the venue/eatery, kept joking all night about the bots in the house. He even took a moment to show me the list of names on his phone who bought tickets and just laughed at how crazy the whole experience was. He credited the whole bot experience likely with the Kali Masi rockumentary that has been getting a lot of attention on YouTube lately.

The result was almost 200 tickets bought by bots, and a handful of fans showing up to take in the show. I have to give it to the staff at Hatfield’s, they took it in stride and handled it well.

So yeah, that was a little odd, right? The show was far from sold out and I am hoping to hell all those tickets that were purchased by the bots are not disputed down the way because this whole ordeal caused a ton of work that was not exactly necessary.

Anyways, felt I should share that given how unique the situation was.

Bots or not, the show was great. It was certainly not a late one, but enjoyable by everyone who attended.

Tane Graves of the amazing band Tightwire took the stage and also was the first person to play on the venue’s new PA system. Blasting through a handful of songs and even a proper Blink 182 cover, he performed like there was a full house in front of him and showed gratitude to this tourmates and also the venue.

The funny thing about Sam Russo is that he was supposed to play Hatfield’s well over a year ago with Brenden Kelly, but Covid had other ideas and forced him to sit that tour out. I thought it was only proper that he was able to play the stage in time and honestly, I have been looking forward to that moment for a long time.

I’ve been a huge fan of Russo since he started playing music almost 10 years back. His folk/punk, storytelling is what captured my attention and I was not the only one. I saw a few other fans singing along through Russo’s set and taking it in.

Hearing “Sometimes” and “Runaways” pretty much made my night. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you need to probably change that. This guy is pretty damn talented. He also learned that what he called fence-talking is called shit-talking here in the states.

Russo was easily the most humble musician I have had the pleasure of meeting. We chatted briefly after the show and the dude was just as real as they come. He was so excited to be on tour with a couple of his favorite bands and was excited to head down and play Fest. I really had hoped more people showed up to take in this amazing Englishman, but there is always next time.

Kali Masi took the stage and Sam Porter was quick to make mention he was not feeling hot and the set was going to be less than what was planned. He credited his illness to possible gas station food that he grabbed on their commute from Chicago to Cleveland. Poor guy looked like he was hurting and I was impressed he even decided to play a few songs.

In a sense, a six song set was a bummer, but also looking at things differently, if by taking it easy for one night so Porter could rest and feel better meant a cut set, that honestly is acceptable. I know these guys will be back again soon.

I was happy to hear them play “Sputter”, “Powerline Days”, and “Some Friends”, and they sounded killer, so zero complaints here. I was just happen to have even had the change to check them out finally.

After the show I decided to snag merch from everyone to just help kick off the tour and give them a bit more room in their van too. Everyone was friendly as hell and not an ounce of disappointment was seen. I think having that relaxed evening did everyone some good.

I will say I had an old man moment and could not remember if I have [LAUGHS] already on vinyl. I even made mention to John Garrison, the drummer that I for the life of me could not remember if I had it. He was quick to reminder me I can always hit up their Bandcamp, Well, I checked this morning, and sure as hell I do not have it. So looks like I will need to be securing a copy of that soon.

It certainly was a night that will not be forgotten anytime soon. I am just glad the show went on and everyone enjoyed themselves. That is what it is all about, right?

EP Review: Eighty-sixed, Kid – s/t

Cleveland’s Endnote Records made their introduction during the start of this stupid pandemic this past Spring and the first act they signed was Akron native Daniel Palmentera’s Eighty-sixed, Kid.

Perhaps this means absolutely nothing to you and that’s cool, but if you know the history of Palmentera and the man behind Endnote, Andrew Wells, you’d be like me and understand how much sense it makes for these two to be working together.  These two have a history together that includes friendship as well as creative avenues and seeing them form this partnership was one of the better things to happen in 2020.

Eighty-sixed, Kid started as a needed progression once Palmentera’s previous punk band, My Mouth Is The Speaker, seemingly put things in park for a while.  The stage name came about after constant solo-touring all over Northeast Ohio for a few years.  With the routine performances came fine-tuning and maturity forming a sound that contains plenty of unselfish demeanor.

The debut self-titled EP by Eighty-sixed, Kid will be released on October 30th, and let me tell you, it far surpassed my expectations.  Palmentera put it all out there without holding back whatsoever.

“I Like Their Old Stuff Better” relates to anyone who truly holds passion to being engulfed in music.  I loved how personal this pop punk song was and even more so appreciated the chorus.  It’s a catchy, heartfelt track that’s extremely relatable, especially to me.

That’s not to say the EP was all cheerful material.  “Gut Punch” pushed back to the 2000s emo days and brought forth gutted feelings about moving forward on an uneasy path.  The track wasn’t too complex and held itself together even with it being heavy on the sorrow.

Another track to mention was “When You Came Home You Never Really Came Home”.  This song hit me because I’ve lived this a couple of times and I would never wish this feeling upon anyone.  People tend to say how a certain song pulled on their heartstrings, but this song punched a hole in my heart and left me numb for a moment.

There was no reprieve in emotion by Palmentera on this EP.  He literally put himself out there for all to hear and you can feel the pain.  As mentioned before, the self-titled EP resonated with me perhaps in an uneasy way, but I appreciated the hell out of it.  I look forward to what Eighty-sixed, Kid creates moving on.  This is not an act to sit on at all.

You can preorder the EP by visiting Endnote Records.

Album Review: Sam Russo – Back to the Party

Being cooped up because of some asinine virus has not been my favorite thing as of late.  I really shouldn’t complain though, as I know many pals of mine are hurting severely because of this pandemic.  If I could help everyone, I would.  Trust me on that.

I offer a distraction to anyone who needs it right now via music.  It’s the least I can do.

My pal Toby from that punk label out there called Red Hair Bimbo Trees or something sent me a message today reminding me that the great Sam Russo has new material that just dropped and encouraged me to stop sitting there and do something.

Who is Sam Russo you ask?  He’s a UK punk rocker who honestly could put his back up these days to a young Frank Turner when it comes to musical style and craftsmanship, but that’s being a little lazy for comparison.  Said differently, if you love when punk lead singers do their solo thing and get all Revival Tour on your ass, you’ll love this dude.  I guarantee it based on his storytelling ability.

Russo has actually been around for a while now and Back to the Party is his third release on Red Scare Records.  I was lucky enough to get a good taste of him thanks to 2015’s Greyhound Dreams and have really been waiting for the day he dropped some new tunes.

“I took a lot of risks on this record and I’m so glad I did because it came out sounding really original and totally true to what I was trying to say for so many years.” – Sam Russo

“Purple Snow” started off the album a little personal and a tad incoherent in terms of the story within the song.  I adored this track upon first listen.  Russo honestly has never sounded better.  Perhaps a personal memoir, this track carried enough emotion to have me thinking of some of my past history.  I am curious though, was the snow purple from Mad Dog 20/20?  One can hope…one can hope.

“Good and Gone” I think was taken from my own personal memory of most of 2009.  This song hit the heart hard, as it sung of hurt and triumph.  These are the tunes that make me happy exist because the show me where I’ve been, where I can from, and what I’ve become.

“Darkness” followed and continued to tug on forced-in feelings with an apologetic excuse on interpersonal communication, or the lack thereof.  Wholesome and pure, this track probably will be relating to a lot of folk.

There’s so much that can be said about “Young Heroes” based on how the listener took it in.  Given the current situation, this track speaks volumes to those who are working harder than ever based on some stupid pandemic.  Not trying to sound cliché at all, but there’s a lot of heroes in my book right now.

I can not really talk about a certain track on here in great detail, but if you know me, you know it totally kicked my ass by the title alone.  The past will always sting back when you least expect it.  Maybe I need to appreciate it more than I give myself credit for seeing how it shaped me, but still, that shit hurts.  Nice job Russo, you jerk – I might have had a tear or two let loose…

Just when you think there’d be a slight let up of sorrow on the album, “Tears” kicked in.  This really was a beautiful track overall, but not to be reckoned with if you’re trying to lift them spirits high.  I mean, that chorus alone gave me chills.  Add lap-steel guitar playing that sparked a slight country feel made for my favorite track of the record.

“The Basement” ended the album with symbolism at its finest.  Russo came to terms with life due to rummaging around and only could sit back and reflect on where things went wrong.  Putting a lid to the album with this track just made so much sense.

Russo is a storyteller as much as he is a musician.  Personal tales might make you want to hug your drink a little harder when you listen to this album, but let’s be real – sometimes it is nice to remember you’re human.

Back to the Party is a must listen for any music fan.  Although some songs were full of ache, there really was a  silver lining in terms of hope.  I feel like I am trying to be motivational here, but let’s face it, times are weird as hell right now.  We can all use a distraction.

Hang in there folks.

BHP Best Of 2018

It’s that time of the year again folks where I share with you the bands and albums that caught my attention throughout the year.

Sure, my reviewing is infrequent these days, may not make total sense or even be read by many for that matter, but I can tell you that I am listening to as much music as possible daily.

If my memory serves me correct, this will be my 10th Best Of post.  Sitting back and just thinking that this blog has been around for 10 years now completely floors me.  Thanks to anyone who’s ever stopped by to see what’s good.  Here’s to however many more years I decide to keep this going.

With that said, happy holidays and here is my list in no particular order:


Timeshares – Out There EP
-Easily one of my most played EPs of the year.  I was obsessed with it for weeks and was caught off guard in a good way by it.  I can not wait for their next full-length now.  Loving their rejuvenated sound.


Strung Out – Blackout the Sky EP
-Not going to lie.  I was not stoked at all to hear Strung Out was going to do an acoustic album.  I do not know why I even doubted that they would not have done something amazing.  This EP was amazing and showed a completely different side to one of the best bands out there.


Spells – Loose Change Vol. 1
-Ok so this is a collection of early out of print tunes by the Colorado punk party rockers, but this was my first taste of the band after somehow missing out of them for all these years.  I caught them touring with Off With Their Heads earlier this year and turned into an instant fan.


Curtail – All Your Luck
-This is probably one of the best releases that came out this year that you may have not heard about.  I could sit here and talk about it for hours, but I will leave it to you and check it out.  Just think 90s alt rock mixed with 00s emo/post-hardcore goodness.


Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers – Brought to Rot
-This was the most punk rock album to come out all year.  Laura Jane Grace is sincere as she talks about her current dwelling and overall situation without holding back.  I was overly impressed with this one.


Turnstile – Time & Space
-An amazing hardcore release that really is so much more once you get sucked into it.  It really is a genius album to listen to especially with some 80s punk and R&B moments tossed in for the hell of it (just listen to “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind”).  Certainly happy I stumbled on these guys.


Light Years – Afterlife
-Hands down, this is one of the best pop punk albums to come out this year.  I knew it was going to be good, but I did not realize it was going to be that good.


Face To Face – Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions)
-This album has turned me into an even bigger Face To Face fan.  I feared hearing it because I really did not want to hear a punk band play acoustic renditions of their songs, but man, I was so wrong to doubt them.  They reinvented their songs in the best way possible.


The Interrupters – Fight The Good Fight
-Two-toned, punk fueled, and amazing throughout.  There’s a reason why Tim Armstrong produced this album.


The Ruen Brothers – All My Shades of Blue
-This album was like listening to The Gaslight Anthem team up with Roy Orbison to score a Wes Anderson flick.  I adore these guys and hope to hell I can see them live one day.  This was the album that complete caught me by surprise this year and fell in love with.


Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
-This album is like the energy of The Menzingers + the emotion of MakeWar.  The band clearly has matured into something incredible and this release proves it.  Do not sit on this one.


Red City Radio – SkyTigers EP
-This is the best thing this band has ever done.  There was just this certain amount of gallant confidence throughout.  The song “SkyTigers” proved that to me over and over.


Johnny La Rock – Gold Codes
-I was drunk in Vegas earlier this year and admitted Gold Codes was an album of the year for me.  La Rock is a hidden gem in Cleveland that the world really should get to know some.


Bar Stool Preachers – Grazie Governo
-Working class and bad ass all in one album.  These guys rule.  It’s like Dropkick Murphys if they were a ska band.


Mad Caddies – Punk Rocksteady
-Taking punk rock songs and putting their own reggae style to it was just a brilliant idea.  This covers album was done right and received well by this listener.


Restorations – LP5000
-Yeah, this was one of my favorite releases this year.  This band can do no wrong and I appreciated their maturing lyrics more than ever.  Seeming them live finally this year was also an added bonus.


Four Fists – 6666
-This collaboration between P.O.S. and Astronautics completely slays.  This rap duo really dropped an impressive album complete with plenty of punk references and beats guaranteed to get stuck in your head for days.


Vessel of Light – Woodshed
-This album takes everything great about Danzig, White Zombie, and even old Alice in Chains and puts them all together for a solid listen.  Super impressed with this one.


Frank Turner – Be More Kind
-Everyone needs to listen to this album, especially “Be More Kind”.  I am fairly sure it will make your day if not a better person.  Frank Turner is one talented mo-fo.


Lucero – Among The Ghosts
-I love this album mostly for the band embracing where life has taken them over the years.  They have not lost their style one bit and for that I thank them.  This has turned into one of my favorite Lucero releases.

 

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

EP Review: Face To Face – Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions)

It seems like every punk band out there is dropping acoustic albums as of late.  This facade may come off as lazy or desperate to some, but when stripped down right, it makes so much sense.  Still, it is easy to just dismiss them because of how many are out there.

I have to give it to Unwritten Law though who first captured my fascination with the whole punk rock bands doing acoustic renditions of their songs years back.  I remember hearing Music in High Places and becoming obsessed instantly.  Then Rancid busted out an acoustic set in front of me live once at one of their shows and I adored it.  Perhaps this aging punker just enjoys slowing down things a little bit.

When I heard Face To Face was releasing an EP of acoustic versions of their songs over the years, I was nervous.  Mind you Face To Face is easily one of my all time favorite bands from my 90s, I was worried that it would not go well, but I couldn’t have been so wrong.

Hold Fast simply is songs from Face To Face’s 30+ years (with a slight hiatus) career put into an acoustic style.  Perhaps sparked from their “Econo-Live Tour”, the band decided it was their turn to try.  Actually, Face To Face did acoustic sets years back as I remember a friend’s band opening for them and quickly having to learn how to relearn their songs so they could stay on the bill with them – Back to this EP though.

Hold Fast is listed as an EP, but at 33 minutes, it could easily be an album.  I was impressed to see 10 songs tracked on the Fat Wreck Chords release and was more impressed with where they call came from on their discography.

“All For Nothing” started off the EP with an alt-country twangy version of the catchy Laugh Now, Laugh Later track that I am sure Lucero fans would totally appreciate.  I quickly realized after this song alone the amount of time put in by Face To Face to transformed them into a completely different style.

“Disconnected” was the song I was most worried to hear.  This radio-friendly track that caught the most attention on Big Choice was part of the soundtrack to my life in the late 90s and I’m still quite fond of it to this day.  I held off listening to this song at first and waited until the album came out to take it in.  I had nothing to worry about.  This song was perfected transformed from a pop punk jam to an acoustic masterpiece.  I loved everything about this song from Keith’s slowed down singing to the backing vocals and even the guitar playing.

I was kind of shocked to hear “Keep Your Chin Up” the EP as it was a new song, but as soon as the chorus started I immediately understood.  It fit perfectly.

“Don’t Turn Away” was completely dissected and put together as one hell of a track.  The lyrics remain the same, but everything else about it screams alt-country with even some rockabilly qualities to it.  This was such an enjoyable track to rediscover though a different genre.  Just wait for that guitar solo.

“Aok” was another version I just absorbed and adored instantly.  This is one of those other songs that was part of the soundtrack of my life and hearing it on a different caliber was just so appreciated.

I can not say every track on the EP blew me away as some were at status quo like “Ordinary” and even “Velocity”, but I did not skip past a single song.  Nothing was completely unbearable which led me to believe the band truly gave it their all.

I truly feel Face To Face did this for the sake of trying something new and not looking for a quick paycheck (leave that to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes).  These So. Cal. punks have matured so much since back in the day and clearly have moved past their punk rock roots musically.  I really think people who never were into Face To Face are going to hear this and become fans of these renderings.  I am also hoping they just decided to make new music in this style.  I have the feeling it would be amazing.

Don’t dismiss this EP at all folks.  Face To Face is far more talented than you think, especially if you just assume they are just some aging punk rock band looking for a quick payday.