Tag Archives: Pop Punk

The Sidekicks – SAM – 7″ Review

I just found my new favorite hometown punk rock band thanks to a friend who literally left me their four song 7″ SAM in my door on Monday. I still have yet to hear their full release but I can tell you that from the four songs I heard I was turned to an instant fan.

The band is called The Sidekicks and they hail from all three major Ohio cities according to their MySpace page.  Recently just playing Berea Fest IV the band has a pretty big east coast tour lined up in front of them where they will finish off in NYC but only to hit the road again at the end of October to play the Gainsville, FL Fest 8.

The 7″ was actually a tie me over until their full length So Long, Soggy Dog was released and just gives you a small taste of how great this band is.  Heavy pop punk with hints towards acts like The Falcon, The Lawrence Arms, Gaslight Anthem, The Get Up Kids, even O Pioneers!!! This band has some serious potential at making a name for themselves with their upbeat punk as well as a matured indie rock feel.

I did not know what to expect when I spun this 7″  and “Hop On A Sea Cow & Manatee Up” played, but I can tell you I was moderately shocked at how solid sounding it was.  The band has some serious talent and this song alone won me over.  The first band that came to mind if someone asked me what this song sounded like easily would be Millencolin.

“Bryant Gregst (gets nervous)” honestly had more so an indie rock feel to it but that did not discourage me one bit.  The singing alone was so charismatic and inviting I had to give it another listen just to enjoy it some more. “The Island” again was more so an indie rock jam but it was so good especially at the climax of the song where lead singer just explodes vocally.

For a mere four bucks this 7″ can be yours too by heading over to Woah Oh Records, or if you prefer you can download it from iTunes as well.  If you want to take it a step further head over to Vinyl Collective and put in and order their full length So Long, Soggy Dog.

If you are a fan of punk rock you really need to at least check these guys out.  From what I hear their live shows are not to be missed and now that I know of their existence I will make a huge effort to hit one of their shows.

I’m not sure how much longer a band like The Sidekicks will be and underground punk band seeing as they have the skills to play with the big boys.  I can only imagine the crowd at Fest 8 when The Sidekicks introduce themselves to all the punk rock loving fans.  I am sure the outcome of their set will be amazing.

Just do me a favor guys, don’t forget about Cleveland.

The Sidekicks – Hop On a Sea Cow & Manatee Up from If You Make It on Vimeo.

The 15th Annual Van’s Warped Tour – Tower City Amphitheater – Cleveland, OH – 07/09/2009 – Concert Review

The Van’s Warped Tour, currently in their 15th year of touring, made their annual stop in Cleveland, OH last Thursday at the Tower City Amphitheater (and parking lot).

The one time punk rock summer camp really should be redefined as a punk, metal, emo, hip-hop, freak rock, scream, indie, and whatnot summer camp festival thanks to the huge array of bands that dedicated their summer to touring the states as well as other countries to play out and travel.

Before even going to this year’s Warped Tour I announced it would be my last; not because I was not enjoying them but I feel I have been to enough. I don’t feel old at all as a lot of the bands I have seen over the years trump me in age, but the whole ambiance of the festival slowly has been wearing off for me. This is a festival for the kids and the young at heart and where I feel like I am 19 all over again when I make way into the festival I want to withdraw while it’s still a good feeling.

Teamed up with a small group of friends this year we made way to downtown Cleveland on a sky blue beautiful day. Saving myself $20 once again by avoiding the pay lots, I parked about a mile away from the venue and hoofed it to the venue alongside my three friends. I find it outrageous that people are charging that much for parking seeing on how that is half the price of the ticket. I have no problem walking a little further and to be honest, I love making that trek from Nautica to Tower City.

Anti-Flag was already on the main stage officially opening the day as we cut in front of the huge line of kids that spanned all the way up to the parking deck at Tower City. Honestly it was amusing to see the structured line of fans dwell up top from the street, down through the parking lot, and to the entry way. No one told them to stand in such a line but they did it anyways. Being a jerk, I walked around them alongside my friends and made my way in.

One of the things that is unique about the Warped Tour is that each stop has different time slots dedicated for the bands that play. To the attendees it is completely random and one can not plan out who they want to see until they get a copy of the schedule or find the inflatable schedule over by the main stage.

The downfall of this is that sometimes you miss some of the bands you would like to check out because bands you love are playing. Case and point, Anti-Flag was playing at 11:15am, well before the festival got going. I was able to see a brief moment of their set and you could tell they were ok with the early set and playing just has hard and loud as if they were closing the day.

Another distress to such a festival is that not all the bands hang on for the entire tour. Some of the bands only make it though half of the tour for reasons unknown while others stick it out from start to finish. I was bummed that the Bouncing Souls as well as Shooter Jennings would not be playing at the Warped Tour in Cleveland. Still how can I complain about something like the Warped Tour when it brings so many amazing bands together?

After making a quick lap around the area to see where the stages were positioned my friends and I obtained a schedule and started our ritual of planning out who we were going to be checking out as well as whom we would be avoiding. I pointed out on the schedule to my friends that there was a special guest playing today, with no clue what act it was we could only wonder and hope it was someone we wanted to see. Rumors later in the day pointed towards a possible Blink 182 performance. That right there would have made my day.

I was sad to see that some of the bigger bands I came to see were playing super early in the day. Still the point was they were playing and I was planning on being there to see them.  In order to do so though I was going to miss some of the acts I would not have minded checking out, but there was no way I was going to skip out on some of my favorite acts especially since they were playing 45 minute sets this year. This year I came to see specific bands instead of touring around the grounds to see what is good.

Less Than Jake put on one of the better sets of the day. The punk / ska act was full of energy and did not seem to care about their early slot. Their performance of “The Silence Of Selling Yourself Short”, being one of my favorite songs by them, was awesome to hear live. Another highlight of their set is when they started shooting t-shirts into the packed crowd with a t-shirt gun.

With a few moments to kill I decided to see what Brokencyde was all about. As I walked towards the SkullCandy stage I thought I was hearing 3OH!3, but no, it was just the emulate Brokencyde. They were just finishing up their set to a decent gathering and that was enough for me.

Bad Religion being one of my all time favorite bands was a highlight to my day and I made sure I would stay for the whole set. Having seen them every time they have played a Warped Tour I would have to say this was one of their better performances. Rocking through songs old and new the band sounded amazing. During “Let Them Eat War” one of the members of Aiden (as stated by Greg Graffin) filled in for the vocals usually sung by Sage Francis on the album version. Other songs during their set included “New America”, “Supersonic”, “American Jesus” as well as “Generator” and “Sorrow”, two of my personal favorites.

For a band that been around for over twenty years they looked so comfortable on stage and played better than a lot of the younger acts that day. Their live performance reminded me why it is I love punk rock music so much.

Getting away from the main stage, I checked out a couple of random acts on stages throughout including ska act Staylefish, UK pop punk band TAT, and the more so folk indie rockers Dear and Headlights. TAT was one of those bands I wish I would have been able to see more of where Dear and Headlights was the surprise of the day for me and I will be looking for their album shortly. Sadly I missed a pop rock act called Lights, a band that seemed to be getting talked about a lot during the day.

Minneapolis rapper P.O.S. performed at the Hurley.Com stage but really was not on the stage but rather in the crowd. Showcasing a more intimate performance the hip hop lyricist was perched atop one of his equipment cases in the middle of the crowd rapping away. I am not sure if you have heard P.O.S. before but I can tell you this, he is that damn good live too. The surrounding fans on P.O.S.’s declared stage were going nuts over his ability to flow at a fast pace.

Last year 3OH!3, Nat Motte and Sean Foreman, played on a smaller stage at the Warped Tour but thanks to their increasing popularity they took over the main stage to one of the larger crowds of the day. Backed by a live band the Boulder, CO duo performed their mix of punk and hip hop to what seemed like an endless sea of fans. Performing a ton of tracks off their latest release Want they gave their fans their best.

I was content to see Nat pick up a guitar while performing a new 3OH!3 song as I know many question the duo on really being musicians. The new song they played, according to Sean, was about LeBron James. Regardless if it was or not it was a nice peek into what 3OH!3 has in store for their next release.

On the other side of the venue Bayside was playing out to a decent sized crowd by the time I tore through the crowds. I enjoyed them from a distance while reconnecting with a couple other friends who finally arrived. With the temperatures not being too extreme it really was rather enjoyable to just hang out in a fenced in parking lot under a bridge listening to the punk rock act.

As the UK hardcore punk act Gallows set up their gear, I noticed a Paramore poster duct taped to the asphalt with a note saying “This Stop Only”. It was clear to me that Paramore was the special guest of the day that would be playing the main stage. All rumors of Blink 182 were shot down. The gaining stardom group took a day of from their tour with No Doubt to play the Warped Tour in Cleveland.

I myself prefer Gallows over pop-punk so I avoided the insanity that took place at the main stage to enjoy an act I was more so a fan of. I found out later in the day from the bouncers of the main stage that Paramore drew in a huge gathering fun of excited fans.

Having seen the Gallows in 2007 I wanted to make sure I did not miss their performance as lead vocalist Frank Carter takes his aggression out on the mic as well as has no problem speaking his mind. The skinny, tattoo covered, redhead alongside his band put on the hardest punk rock performance of the day. To me it was like witnessing a modern day Black Flag.

After a couple of songs in, Frank Carter jumped into the pit with his microphone where the fans respectfully gave him his space to sing, rather, scream songs and jump around. At times he would walk around and put the mic in fan’s faces to give them a chance to sing a lyric. Frank Carter had a look of angry approval each time a fan would sing into the mic. I could only wonder what would happen if a fan did not know any of the song.

Midway through the Gallows set Frank Carter started speaking his mind and the fans were all ears. He spoke on his disapproval for bands like 3OH!3, Jeffery Star, and Brokencyde. He did not seem to be too thrilled about the way the Warped Tour has been going as well and mentioned that “Jeffree Star is a confused individual”. He called out 3OH!3 multiple times and started the Warped Tour was just not punk anymore.

It was not all negativity though as Frank Carter did comment on how there still were punk bands out there like NOFX and Bayside that keep the punk in Warped. He also admitted to the crowd that played corn hole for the first time and just did not care for the scoring rules. It was not all talk of course as the band hammered through songs from the band’s two albums to a assembly of rowdy fans.

Another Warped Tour veteran act, NOFX, took the stage a little inebriated and a lot excited. The person the most excited was Eric Melvin who earlier told me behind the scenes that it was his birthday. He kept announcing it to the crowd that it was his birthday and it was pretty clear he got his party on well before the set.

In almost a Jane’s Addiction “Mountain Song” flashback someone threw a flip-flop on stage almost hitting Fat Mike in the junk. Laughing he picked up the flip-flop and asked who would wear flip-flops to a Warped Tour, let alone wear them in a pit.

I could not believe some of the tracks NOFX dished out. Opening with “My Heart Is Yearning” as well as later on playing “Arming The Proletariat With Potato Guns” from a 7” Of The Month release I was excited to see such a array of tracks being played.

I got a kick out of hearing NOFX cover Rancid’s “Radio, Radio” more so because I just saw Rancid on the very same stage just weeks before. NOFX of course did the cover their own way and to be honest, it took me a minute to figure out what song it was.

“Linoleum”, “What The Matter With The Parents Today?”, “Quitter”, “Franco Unamerican”, and the humorous “Creeping Out Sara” were other tracks the band performed to a huge crowd of all ages. I honestly think I lost some of my voice while signing along and it was totally worth it. I felt like I was nineteen all over again.

Westbound Train had a half hour set in between NOFX and Flogging Molly and I tried my best to catch at least a few songs by the smooth soulful ska act. The bottleneck human traffic jam did not make it too easy for me and sadly I just gave up. Westbound train is one of those bands I could watch for hours and I hope they return again soon so that I can actually see them this time. On a good note though I did stop at their merch tent earlier where I picked up one of their earlier releases as well as a t-shirt.

Flogging Molly would be the last band I would ever see live at the Warped Tour bearing in mind on how I previously announced my retirement from the punk rock county fair after the day’s end. They are an amazing band to see live and I am so happy they were on the bill this year.

Everyone in the crowd got a heavy dose of Irish spirit thanks to the men and woman of Flogging Molly. Slamming Guinness and playing out like it was their most important show, the band had the crowd in the palm of their hand and put on a near perfect performance.

There were a few bands I missed I would have loved to see live like Alexisonfire, Senses Fail, Fake Problems but when NOFX and Bad Religion are playing an aging punk like myself will drop all interest for other acts to see them. I am sure the veteran bands will be playing for many more years but honestly I am not the type to miss out on the bands I cherish most in life.

The Warped Tour this year was a remarkable event and I hands down enjoyed it a lot more than last years. Not only was the line up a bit more catered to me, but I felt that I had no down time at all and the sun was not too brutal. In fact I really felt this year’s tour flew by be and before I knew it, it was over.

As I stood outside of the venue I had to remind myself that this was it for me. The towel was thrown in and I stand by my decision. I’ll keep my eye on next year’s line-up and years to come because I know this festival has the capability to go on for another 15 years easily. Who would have thought such a tour could last a decade and a half?

I really need to thank Kevin Lyman for creating the Warped Tour as well as his crew, the promoters, and especially all of the bands devoted to playing on the tours over the years. His insane idea of taking punk rock music and everything good about it on a tour all over the United States and beyond has kept me entertained since I was a teenager just looking for something to do.

NOFX – Coaster – CD Review

Not too many bands out there would make fun of the struggling music industry by naming their latest release after what CDs are almost becoming, but NOFX had no problem doing so. After just celebrating their 25th anniversary as a self-regulating punk-rock foursome, the band has just released a new album entitled Coaster on CD (as well as the limited edition Frisbee on vinyl).

This is the band’s eleventh studio release under front man Fat Mike’s self created label Fat Wreck Chords. The CD is almost like a career journey with taking some sounds of their younger years with a harder rough feel but also incorporating their current more mature style making for a well rounded listen.

In the beginning NOFX was more of a hardcore, skate-punk, disorder band of the eighties. Throughout the years they added elements of punk rock, pop punk, and even ska into their musical style, almost creating a unique genre of their own. With methods of trying everything once and asking questions later, the band has changed their style on more than one occasion including adding their personal views on America and the government but never leaving out their incredible sense of humor.

Getting wasted and popping pills were things the band never thought twice about nor was what ever spilled out of their mouths. Speaking their mind about religion and government were just a couple topics the band was not afraid of singing about and something the fans looked up to. It appears that this time though, perhaps now that GWB isn’t office anymore, the band has decided to focus on the less obvious on at least a couple of the tracks. It might also be that most of the band are now family men who may be still young at heart but getting up there in age.

With just a brief interaction with MTV in the past, the band has always been quick to show their middle finger to corporate marketing and do things themselves. They built their own success without the help of others. Their hard work and dedication paid off over the years as they still remain one of the most important punk rock acts out there.

Recently the band toyed with going commercial as their FUSE hit rockumentary series was released on DVD entitled NOFX: Backstage Passport. The series was a huge hit with many fans old and young as it featured NOFX on one of the craziest world tours in areas most bands would never set foot at. Not even a month later now Coaster has been released. NOFX fans all over the world are shaking with excitement.

The CD started off just like any other NOFX CD enticing the listener immediately with the pop punk powerful “We Called It America”.  Next up was “Quitter” which basically nailed all the folk out there who have given up on codependency.  At only two songs in NOFX seemed to have not lost their touch at all.

The very personal, and almost tear jerking, “My Orphan Year” talked about the loss of Fat Mike’s parents in 2006 with the death of a non-existent father and the passing of an angel of a mother. The line alone “I bet if you had been there, there wouldn’t be this song” really shows a more emotional side to the band that usually is all about slapstick.

Hands down the funniest song on the CD was “Creeping Out Sara” speaking of Canadian sisters Tegan and Sara. The lesbian punk rock song almost sounds like an actual conversation but the truth remains to be told. Continuing the fun was “Eddie, Bruce and Paul” a fast fun punk rock song with a sick guitar solo and hammering bass. The song has nothing to do in the aspect of “Liza and Louise” as some might suspect due to the three dude title, but is more of an ode to Iron Maiden with a NOFX twist.

“Best God In Show” pokes fun at over exaggerated religious shout outs with a more ska punk feel backing it up. The song seemed to be aimed at the punk rockers who are growing up and still laughing at the way things are. “I AM An Alcoholic” pretty much sums up the type of song you would expect to hear with a title about addiction. “One Million Coasters” ended the CD strongly with an array of music playing including an bass clarinet. The song slowly faded out ending this first-rate crack of a release.

For anyone worried that Coaster might not be all that, there is nothing to worry about. This CD is really a great listen and NOFX proves that it does not matter how old you are, just how you do it. Even if the band has been around for 25 years they still have it and show no signs of slowing down. They will be doing all that they can to entertain their fans and themselves with every release issued for hopefully years to come. Look for the band this summer as they return to stage at the Van’s Warped Tour once again.

DOWNLOAD THIS!“Creeping Out Sara”

In April NOFX announced a contest of sorts asking fans to create a DIY video for “Creeping out Sara” after the band found this fan made video on YouTube:

The contest has already ended and NOFX is to pick a winner shortly.

Blink 182 To Reunite

Pop punk is back…well it never went anywhere but today pop punk pioneers Blink 182 announced at the Grammy Awards that they were getting back together.  Perhaps the near death experience that drummer Travis Barker lived to tell brought the three back together.  Regardless, I am excited.  I like them boys, they make me laugh.

Taken from ALTpress.com:

The boys are back.
The boys are back.

Posted by Tim Karan on 08-Feb-09 @ 09:14 PM

Pop-punk legends Blink-182 are reuniting. Vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge, bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker made the announcement Sunday night as presenters at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Barker said, “We used to play music together, and we decided we’re gonna play music together again.” Hoppus said, “Blink-182 is back.”

Blink-182 went on indefinite hiatus in 2005, leading to the formation of DeLonge’s Angels & Airwaves and Hoppus and Barker’s (+44). The new album will be the band’s sixth full-length and their first since their self-titled 2003 album.

UPDATED 10:17 P.M. EST: The band has concurrently posted a message at their website stating that they are currently in the studio writing and recording a record. “Summer 2009” is also mentioned, implying either a release of that record or perhaps a tour. The band also have new merch for sale.

Here is the band’s statement in full:

“Hi. We’re blink-182. This past week there’ve been a lot of questions about the current status of the band, and we wanted you to hear it straight from us. To put it simply, We’re back. We mean, really back. Picking up where we left off and then some. In the studio writing and recording a new album. Preparing to tour the world yet again. Friendships reformed. 17 years deep in our legacy.

Summer 2009.
Thanks and get ready…”