Category Archives: 80’s

Interview: Darius Koski of Swingin’ Utters

Every once in a while, I’ll have a day where I feel like I am just getting too old to love what I love.  I wonder if I should turn it down a notch.

Face it, a lot has changed in 20 years since I was an adolescent teenager just looking for my piece in life.  I picked my crowd, chose my music, and did not have one single regret about any of it.  Hell, I still don’t.

For those of you who really know me, you can see that not much has changed with me in two decades.  I dress the same, act the same and listen to a lot of the same music I did back when I was a teen.

Still, every once in a while I just feel like I am starting to slow down.  Then I think about the bands that have carried me along my punk rock path who are still alive and kicking and suddenly, I stop feeling sorry for myself.  These bands I speak of have been around as long, if not longer than my appreciation for music has, and year after year they release new material and tour.  They’ve aged, become family oriented, made sacrifices and still are able to do what they love to do the most.

Then there’s little ol’ me feeling sorry for myself…  I should kick my own ass right now.  I should be stoked I haven’t lost my own roots and continue on with what makes me who I am.

One of those bands I speak of is Cali’s Swingin Utters.  An O.F.W.C (Original Fat Wreck Chords) band, the Utters decided to drop an all new album last year called Here, Under Protest (check out my review HERE) after a 7 year hiatus.  They may have taken a time out and done their thing for a while, but they jumped right back onto their 20 year career without missing a beat proving age does not mean a damn thing and it’s all about the attitude and passion, you know the things that make you happy.

I got to see the Utters last year at a small (read: tiny) venue in Cleveland last summer and had an absolute blast.  I felt like a kid all over again.  I was happy to be hanging  with good friends while surrounded by great music.  It was a reminder to me that it does not matter how old you are or feel, you are who you are and never should question or change that.

Recently I had the chance to chat with Darius Koski, one of the bands vocalists/guitarists of the Utters.  Darius was kind enough to answer a few questions for me:

BHP: I guess the first question would be, what took so long to drop new a Swingin Utters album?

D.K.: Raising our kids, working, some of us not interested in touring anymore… it was part burnout, part apathy, and partly just kind of losing track of time. We sat down and talked about what we wanted to be: a band that played long weekends here and there, mostly in California, and didn’t do much recording; or more like the band we used to be, which was a touring band that came out with records every couple of years at least… so we chose the latter.

Whose idea was it to throw in Orson Welles saying “here under protest is beef burgers” at the beginning of the first track on Here, Under Protest?

That was Spike’s idea. We’re kind of obsessed with “Celebrities at their Worst” CDs.

Was there a lot of material in the last 7 years previously written that was to be used on the new album or was this all newer songs?

There were a few older ones… “Kick It Over”, “Good Things”, “Time On My Own”, “Blindness Is Kind” and “Effortless Amnesiac” were written maybe 5-6 years ago, and “Heavy Head” was, for the most part, written about 20 years ago–I kind of messed with that one a little bit, with the lyrics and melody, etc. but it’s basically the same song I wrote back then.

Seems as if everyone took turns writing songs this round on the album more so than past releases. Can we expect to see that as a trend to continue with future releases?

Sure! We don’t really plan stuff like that, but I always encourage people to write. I know Jack’s writing a lot right now, and has a lot of stuff waiting around to be finished; I’ve got a load of stuff, and Johnny does as well. I need to work on Spike a bit, and then we’ll all have some songs on the next one. I think that’d be great, to have 4 different writers on the next one. It’s usually mostly me and Johnny.

How did it feel to get the band back together and on the road last year for a more long range tour?

It’s been great, and I’m really happy we’ve started up again. I’ve missed it. It’s a lot harder now that we’re older, though.

I am sure hitting the road these days is a lot harder now that you have a family. Are they cool with you touring?

My relationship with my wife has always incorporated touring–we got together while we were recording Streets of San Francisco, and went on our first US tour 2 months into our relationship, so we know the drill. My kids have gotten relatively used to it as well, but it’s a little bit tough for them at times I think. My wife’s got a lot more shit she has to do when I’m gone as well, so that sucks for her, but we manage.

Here, Under Protest was an impressive release. I was stoked to hear another folk jam thrown in towards the end of the album. Have you guys ever thought about just dropping an all folk-heavy album?

Not at all, really… That’s what me and Johnny started Filthy Thieving Bastards for.

So when can we expect a new Filthy Thieving Bastards release?

As soon as the Utters decide to take a little break. We’ve got plenty of songs for an album.

What’s going on with your solo material?

Not much. I need to work on it. I need to do something with those fucking songs.

20 years on the scene… Wow, seriously that is impressive. Did you think you would last this long?

Never really thought about it, but it’s pretty crazy that we’ve lasted this long, been as successful as we’ve been. Just to put out a record was a big deal for us, so we’re pretty lucky.

I know you have said in other interviews that you really do not listen to a lot of new punk bands these days. Is there anyone that has caught your ear lately?

Punk-wise, I like the Spits (not new, I know), Modern Action, Sharp Objects… I think the Cobra Skulls are good… Off With Their Heads.

What are some of your all time favorite punk bands?

Black Flag, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, Generation X, Stiff Little Fingers, the Clash, Ramones, X, Wire… I don’t know about a million others. Those come to mind pretty quickly…

What is the term “punk” to you these days, if anything?

Just doing what we know how to do, living our life… I don’t know. I’m punk rock, but I’m not a preacher. I don’t really like talking about “punk rock” and how it “changed my life”, or anything like that. As far as being any sort of real movement, or being “shocking” or anything… I think those days are over. It’s just about doing/saying what you want, DIY, etc.

Was there any certain time that you think back to in the scene that you will never forget? Maybe a favorite show?

Just the early days of our own band. Those were really fun times. Ahhhhhh, to be young again…

How did you get Jack from One Man Army / Dead To Me to jump on board with the band? I think he is a great fit.

I just waited for him to disband One Man Army, then I asked him. I knew he’d say yes, because we’d talked about it… I just didn’t want to be partly responsible for ending One Man Army or anything… He was done with the band and it seemed like he was kind of looking for a way out, but I wasn’t gonna be the one to give it to him! Yes, he’s a perfect fit.

Any comments about Ben Weasel’s blowup at this year’s SXSW?

I think he sounds like a little piece of shit that needs to be punched in the fucking face. I’ve always kind of thought that, though.

What’s next for the Utters? Can Cleveland expect to see you return soon?

I’d love to be back in Cleveland sometime next year, maybe in the spring? We’ll be back soon. Europe in September, some Dropkick (Murphys) dates in October, and a little Texas/west coast thing in November. I’d like to record again within the next year as well.

Any last words you care to mention?

Buy our record!

‘Cause Casey Royer OD’d Himself

So I saw on TMZ.com today that old school punker Casey Royer was arrested last week in Orange County after he OD’d on heroin in front of his 12-year-old son. Apparently he was babysitting his son when he OD’d.

Dumb ass.  I feel sorry for the kid.

Royer is most known as the front man of D.I. as well as was the original drummer for a little band called Social Distortion.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to interview Royer for Blogcritics.org.  No, we did not share needles….

It’s actually kind of sad as he stated in the interview I did with him that he “wised up” when I asked about drug addiction.  Read on if you would like, I really enjoyed interviewing this guy.  He has a ton to say and held nothing back.  I hope he gets out of his funk.


Interview: Casey Royer of ’80s Punk Band D.I. – Published on Blogcritics.Org 10/25/2007

Remember when punk was not glorified and when the scene was almost forbidden?

I know it may come to you as quite a surprise, but punk has come a long way over the past 20 years. A lot of bands today credit the founders of the genre many feared when first created. D.I. was there when punk was growing. You may have never heard of them but I can tell you this, they are punk.

I had the opportunity to chat with Casey Royer, the founder of the punk band D.I. and also the only remaining member of the twenty something year old band. He was also once of the original members of Social Distortion, bet you did not know that. (If you did, props to you.)

Here lead vocalist Casey Royer takes some time to give me some excellent answers to some questions I have been pondering since I first put D.I.’s latest release On The Western Front into my CD player.

Where have you guys been? And what have you been doing to keep occupied throughout the years?

We haven’t toured internationally since the mid ’90s so, never breaking up, we’ve been playing west coast shows solely. All the members, past and present of D.I. are still based in Orange County [California]. To keep occupied, I surf, play music, and try to set a good example in this confused world.

We also did a Monster Garage episode with the awesome Jessie James; whose favorite band is D.I. We played the Song “O.C. Life” while Jessie Built a Flying Car. As well as [featuring a song in] Tony Hawks Skate Video 2.

You’re one of the pioneers of the 80’s punk rock movement, what obstacles got in your way throughout the years?

Early on, our parents and teachers thought we were freaks, a dangerous sub-culture that was consuming the children, us. Then, the police battling punk by arresting as many people as they could for any violation they could think of. Then the pop-punk movement that ignored the old school punk style with punk looks but soft musical context.

I know Mike Ness [Social Distortion] suffered with a drug addiction that almost
ended his career; did you incur any experiences like this?

When Mike and I made up Social Distortion in 1976/77, in my bedroom at my parent’s house, pretty much all of us were experimenting with drugs. Luckily, I didn’t hit rock bottom before I wised up. My advice… hard drugs will ruin you and your music, unless you live in Amsterdam. Then you will write good music, but die young.

What brought you to disband Social Distortion? Was it really because of original guitarist Dennis Danell’s inability to play?

Mike and I were jamming for a couple years with bass player, Mark Garrett (RIP), with Rikk Agnew on guitar, and Tom Corvin singing. With a couple personnel changes, Mike wanted Dennis to play guitar. Dennis didn’t know how to play guitar, Rikk and I played well and were ready to play gigs, so we joined the Adolescents when Tony Adolescent asked.

So did you leave Social Distortion to pursue the Adolescents?

You have to understand, no one really was famous or trying to achieve rock and roll fame, so the decisions we made were pretty off the wall. A total disconnected new world that we ruled. Mike and I split up and I became the singer of S.D. for about a year with some early D.I. guys in 78. Even though Mike and I were the first S.D. I did make up the name so I went with it. I broke up S.D. and formed the Adolescents with Rikk Agnew. A new S.D. with Dennis Dannel (RIP), Brent Lyles RIP, (replaced by John Mauer) came about in 79; Social Distortion II… A whole new chapter.

What was it like growing up in the OC [Orange County, California] when punk rock was just starting to rise?

I was a junior in high school and it was the coolest movement you could ever imagine. A bunch of creative, upper-middle class, wasted youth terrorizing southern California. All of our parents had good jobs, living the American Dream, a perfect medium to facilitate a bunch of wild kids to do their thing. Hiding behind the middle-class facade with our parents in denial.

How was D.I. conceived?

A friend of mine, Steve Roberts and I jammed the first D.I. music at a place called Brea Beach in 1980. It didn’t re-surface for a few years after, when we practiced behind the pawn shop.

Have you worked with any other bands over the years?

Yea, I played in Agent Orange for a summer at the Hong Kong Café in Chinatown, Los Angeles. Also, Slayer covered a couple songs I wrote, “Richard Hung Himself” and “Spiritual Law”.

What kind of music are you most into?

Classic punk and a little classic rock.

How did you hook up with Suburban Noize records?

I’ve known Brad X and Lou-Dogg since the late 70’s when they were in a punk band called Doggeystyle. We have run into each other periodically throughout the years. When Daddy X heard that we had a new CD available, he immediately came to us with a deal. Knowing Brad personally, like a brother, I felt that it was our duty to join the ranks of Suburban Noize. I feel, even though we have different styles of music, we both
have the same beliefs and convey the same concepts.

You’ve done a couple of songs with the Kottonmouth Kings in the past, any plans on collaborating with KMK again?

We did some tracks on their recent release, Cloud Nine. The future… ? Who knows the sky’s the limit

Any plans for a tour in support for the new release?

Yes, of course. We plan to tour the US, Europe, or anywhere else they’d let us play.  We’ve toured Europe a few times before, and have always received great response.

What’s it like being in the scene for over 20 years? How do you feel about the punk scene today?

It’s kind of weird, punk used to be fresh, dangerous, and violent, then it turned trendy and fashionable with watered down music and lyrics. The true old-school hard core still lingered underground in a non-popular, powerful way only to re-surface 20 years later. Weird.

In the 80’s punk movie Suburbia, you played “Richard Hung Himself” an Adolescent cover. Who’s idea was it for you guys to cover that song?

First of all, “Richard Hung Himself” is and always will be a D.I. song. I wrote the song while I was playing drums for the Adolescents. We never played it live and it wasn’t released on vinyl until 2006. Let me put it this way, in the Adolescents, we played the song for 20 minutes, twice.  D.I. has played it for 20 years.

What was it like being behind the camera? Was it more improv or a live show? Was there a lot of takes of your performance during filming?

It was easy being behind camera because they told us all to just be ourselves. There was a script for all the parts in the movie, but all actors and band members fell victim to improv. They shot our performance about 2 or 3 times during filming.

What’s it like to play the movie at home and see yourself on screen as a young punker?

The same as it was when I saw it for the first time. I feel I have never had the chance to grow up and look at myself as old. Being a punk rock singer has locked me into a 20-25 year age bracket, and I can’t get out.

On you latest release On The Western Front, is the song “Punk Rock Suicide” about anyone in particular?

The song is about all the musicians who have given their lives to their musical scene with no regard to their social stature or political persecution. When we lost the Ramones, Joe Strummer, Sid Vicious, Dennis Danell, Brent Lyles, and so many other great artists of the underground, it makes one realize that we don’t seem to appreciate true dedication.
They will be missed but never forgotten.

How long did it take you and crew to record On The Western
Front
?

About a year. We hop-scotched all over Los Angeles and Orange County, drum tracks in one studio, guitar tracks in a different studio, vocals, mixing, I’ve gone cross-eyed.

Will D.I. continue to put out new material?

Yes and a lot of it. We already working on the next CDand we’re having the best times of our lives. With Clinton Calton, guitar; Eddie Tatar, bass; Joe Tatar, drums; and Chicken on guitar, I feel we have the potential to go further than any punk band has gone before. And with Suburban Noize behind us, nothing can stop us. Check it out… www.diunderground.com.

Ok, now this is just kick ass…

Concert Review: Social Distortion / Lucero / Frank Turner – 10/24/2010 – House Of Blues – Cleveland, OH

Three different levels of rock took place last night in Cleveland thanks to Social Distortion and their hand-picked bill.  The punk rock icons made a stop at the House Of Blues Sunday night with special guests Frank Turner and Lucero.  The venue was packed from end to end with tickets selling out weeks ago leaving the last minute fans standing in the rain looking for extras – literally.

It’s been a little over four years since Social D took the stage in Cleveland, far too long of a hiatus.  It was no surprise at the amount of fans who lined up outside of the venue waiting for the doors to open.  Everyone in line looked excited and knew exactly what was going to be happening in just a short time except for a Cleveland police officer who pulled his motorcycle up on E. 9th asking if anyone had an iPod with Social Distortion on it so he could see what they sound like.

Opening act Frank Turner took the stage just after 8 p.m. to a very full and energetic crowd.  This was his second visit to Cleveland ever and this time was much better than before as he was not battling the flu and none of his bandmates slipped on the stage and fell on their ass during the set.

Playing “Try This At Home” it was clear that more people in the crowd this time knew who Turner was as they sang along to his folk rock songs.  Turner excitedly announced a new sing-along called “I Believe” and taught the crowd their parts.  Needless to say, the song was amazing and provided a nice hint of what his new material sounds like.  He continued with “Sons Of Liberty”, the ever catchy “The Road” and also played “Photosynthesis”.  The set was shorter than the crowd would have liked but was enjoyed by all.

Good ol’ boys Lucero took to the stage after a brief break and did their best to win over the crowd.  Sadly not as many people seemed as excited during their set but there was a nice chunk of true Lucero fans who sang from the beginning till the end as loudly as possible making sure all their surrounding neighbors realize they were missing out on something good.

The southern rock act played through their set including “I’ll Just Fall”, “Sixes & Sevens” as well as “Noon As Dark”.  They sounded amazing live and appeared so happy to be on the stage with lead singer Ben Nichols even saying “This is a dream tour for us.”  “Mom” was a highlight to many in the crowd who all knew the lyrics by heart as was the set ending “Tears Don’t Matter Much.”  Their set flew by entirely too fast and many were wishing that was not the case.

Social D made way to the stage with lead man Mike Ness donning an almost rockabilly / Swingers outfit with baggy khakis and a white button up shirt.  After absorbing the cheers from all over the venue Ness was handed a guitar and the band broke into three classics “The Creeps”, “Another State Of Mind”, and “Mommy’s Little Monster”.  Looking and sounding solid as ever, the band played with great energy and soaked in all the excitement from the crowd.

“Sick Boys” got the fans moving around as Ness and crew thrashed about the stage while everyone sang along – Rock N Roll never sounded so good.  With beers in hand and eyes focused on the stage, Social D continued with “I Was Wrong” as well as played a new song from their upcoming album entitled “Still Alive”.

Moving around their catalog, the band played older and newer tracks including “Ball & Chain”, “Bakersfield” (another song from their upcoming release) and “So Far Away”.  For having been around for 30+ years, the band showed no signs of being too tired to play or any hints that their musical career would be ending anytime soon.  By the sounds of the cheers it was certain that everyone was enjoying themselves at one of the better shows that has come to Cleveland.  Add in “Prison Bound” and Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” and many Social D fans were beyond satisfied with the set.

The only downfall of the show that could be seen were the folk who just didn’t know when to stop throwing back drinks – more so than other recent shows.  It was quite apparent that a lot of Sunday night concert goers would be calling off Monday morning.  A couple fights erupted, one during Lucero, and a select few fans were so piss drunk that they could not stand on their own two feet halfway through the main performance.  Nevertheless the surrounding crowd was unscathed by their actions and paid attention to the real reason they came to the House Of Blues: To take in a Rock N Roll show by one of the best acts out there.

January 18th, 2001, Social Distortion will be releasing Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes, the band’s first release in over six years.  By the show that the band put on last night, it’s evident that excitement for their new album has reached higher levels.

Social Distortion Setlist:

The Creeps
Another State Of Mind
Mommy’s Little Monster
Sick Boys
Don’t Drag Me Down
I Was Wrong
Bye Bye Baby
Still Alive
Ball & Chain
Through These Eyes
Bakersfield
King Of Fools
When She Begins
Making Believe
So Far Away
Prison Bound
Down Here With The Rest Of Us
Cold Feelings
Ring Of Fire

Concert Review: Bad Religion / Bouncing Souls / Off With Their Heads – House Of Blues – Cleveland, OH – 10/12/2010

Anyone who was smart enough to go to the Bad Religion / Bouncing Souls show last night can agree with me on one thing – Best Show Ever.

A trio of punk rock bands with a 20 year gap in age difference treated all the fans to one hell of a show in tropical Cleveland, OH last night at the House Of Blues.  Honestly it was one of the highlight shows of the year for me and I left the venue last night beyond satisfied.  More on that in a second…

30 years ago, a punk rock band by the name of Bad Religion formed.  Seeing how I was only three years old, I had no idea who they were and pretty much had no idea who they were until I was about 12 or 13.  I can tell you this, the first time I heard them I became a fan instantly.  Intelligent and powerful punk rock was exactly what I was looking for at a young age.  I remember I used to take the cassette inserts and read the lyrics and look up the words I could not understand in dictionaries and encyclopedias.  I was a punk rock dork.

Just a little over 15 years ago I saw my first Bad Religion show and immediately knew I would love this band for the rest of my life.  Seeing them take the stage was one of the most important events in my life as a young punker.

I’ve grown up with this band and I have seen them well over a dozen times.  Ask me what my top 5 bands are of all time and Bad Religion will be one of them, if not number one.  I guess you would be correct in saying that I kind of like these guys.

Any fan of Bad Religion can agree, they are that amazing.

When Bad Religion posted that they were coming to Cleveland once again I was just as excited as I when I was granted permission by my folks to see them in the mid-nineties.  Add Bouncing Souls and Off With Their Heads to the bill, and I was even more pumped to be at the show.

When I arrived to the House Of Blues, the place was already crowded and Off With Their Heads were already rocking through their set.  From what I heard, they sounded good.  The crowd was getting a kick out of them too as they just pushed through their 30 minute set.

New Jersey heroes The Bouncing Souls took the stage to their adoring fans and blew threw a fun set including old and new tunes.  The foursome was impressed with Cleveland on a Tuesday night and did their best to keep the excitement overflowing.  They sounded better live this time as they played “True Believer”, “Lean on Sheena”, “Gasoline” and a hilarious screw up of “East Coast! Fuck You!” that had lead singer Greg Attontio on his knees laughing his ass off while the crowd took over vocal duties for him.

The band was all smiles on stage and I would have to assume much more excited to not be playing a Warped Tour.  Having seen them earlier this summer at the 100 degree nightmare of a festival, not only did the band look more comfortable this round, but there was also twice as many fans packed at the venue to see them.

Finally the punk rock godfathers most had gathered to see, Bad Religion, took their rightful place on stage to what looked like an almost sold out crowd.  Pacing the stage, the band took in their well deserved applauds from their fans of all ages.  Without hesitation the band ripped into “Do What You Want” and the place went insane.

Rather than focusing on their recently released album The Dissent Of Man, the band played select tracks from their 30 year catalog including “Only Gonna Die”, “Conquer The World”, and “A Walk”.  They sounded better than ever to my ears and seemed focused on only one thing – playing the best show that they could for their fans.

In between a couple of songs Greg Graffin talked about their 30 year career and at one time said “when you’ve been in a band for 30 years, every night could be our last show.”  Graffin also recalled the first time Bad Religion played Cleveland in the 80’s at some place called Peabody’s.

It was evident that the band was aging, well not Greg Hetson, but the others showed signs of aging. Graffin wore a more “dad-like” outfit while Jay Bentley’s beard was more salt and pepper.  The band though did not let age play a part in their performance.  In all the times I have ever seen Bad Religion, this was my favorite show.

I was not in the pit this time thrashing around screaming lyrics I held so close to my heart.  I sure as hell was not crowd surfing.  Instead I perched myself to the side of the stage anticipating which song the band would play next while gently rocking my head throughout.

The continued their set with “Suffer”, “Atomic Garden”, “Wrong Way Kids”, and two of my all time favorites back to back: “You” and “Fuck Armageddon”.  They finished their set with “American Jesus” and exited the stage.

The crowd knew an encore was going to happen and no one moved.  Instead, they cheered as loudly as possible letting the band know they wanted more.  Not even a minute, Bad Religion was back on the stage and Graffin joked “how’d you know we were going to play an encore?”

The encore consisted of three more tracks including two more of my favorite songs, “Infected” and “Sorrow”.  Everyone packed in the venue sang as loudly as possible through each song with arms raised high in the air.

It was an amazing night of punk rock goodness.  This show was one of the better shows I have seen in my time and I am thrilled to have been a part of it.  Punk’s not dead at all.  Trust me, I know this.

Bad Religion Set List:
Do What You Want
Sinister
Only Gonna Die
Recipe For Hate
Flat Earth
Before You Die
The Resist-Stance
Conquer The World
Digital Boy
New Dark Ages
The Devil In Stitches
Requiem For Dissent
A Walk
No Control
No Direction
Avalon
Suffer
Atomic Garden
Wrong Way Kids
Meeting Of The Minds
You
Fuck Armageddon
Generator
American Jesus
Encore:
Infected
Los Angeles Is Burning
Sorrow

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.