Show Review: Lemuria/Cayetana/Mikey Erg

This show lineup is where music fans that love punk and indie rock live and coincide. From the Against Me! and The Menzingers t-shirts to the fashion clad hipsters; there is something for everyone. This was my first show of the year and I have to say it was a good pick. Nothing to crazy or heavy but a true quintessential classic.

All of my friends were excited to see Mikey Erg. Personally, I missed this part of the punk history. Like most of the great pop punk we have heard out the New Jersey area, Mikey Erg is definitely is keeping those great songs alive. He does a solo set that is similar to an acoustic solo set. But he is not exactly an “acoustic” guy (sorry Chuck Ragan) so he plays with a guitar and an amp. This is unorthodox but the songs are well written and catchy, exactly what you can expect from 1/3 of The Ergs! His band had a short-lived reunion but I think that might be it for now. His solo stuff is worth checking out if you are getting over a breakup, driving through the east coast, or riding your bicycle in Converse on a Wednesday.

What really sold me on this show was the band Cayetana. I have been annoying my partner by playing this band over and over in the apartment for the past year. I highly believe that “Hot Dad Calendar” is a perfectly written pop song. The lyrics are catchy, the guitar and bass are in synch, and vocals are silly and intense all at the same time. I was glad I was able to see this band live and it definitely made me more of a fan. They have a new album coming out this year which I can’t wait to check out, especially if it is as great as Nervous Like Me. Check out more below:

Speaking of classic albums, Lemuria has mastered this art. Get Better is having its 10th anniversary and it is an album I like to revisit time to time. The best things about Lemuria is there layered vocals and harmonies, riffy guitars, and their self-doubt lyrics with splashes of optimism. Living in a place between pop music and with a dash of punk is a

hard stunt to pull off as a band but Lemuria really makes it work. They probably over think everything as a band but that is something that always pays off for them. From their song structure to the merch they sell, every piece is given care and thought. I think more bands need to over care and get to be this professional. This is why a lot of their fan base (and indie labels) care about what this band does next. I was really glad to see all these artists finally in my hometown and in one of my favorite local venues. 2017 is going to be a great year in music if artists like these keep making pop music in these dark times.

 

Festivals: Riot Fest Denver 2016 Day 2

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Day Two of Riot Fest Denver was full of new and classic bands. I got out of the rodeo arena finally and out into the mountain air. I forget that Denver is actually closer to the sun and I was dying. So take note when traveling to this festival that the altitude is higher, the sun is closer, and there is not too much shade outside the arena.

imageBack to bands though. Tigers Jaw was my first band of the day. I was super psyched to see this band. They have been a favorite of mine for the past few years but they have not quite made out on tour to Texas (at least that I was aware of). I wasn’t disappointed. They have a really good live presence and they play with precision. Their fans weren’t annoying which is something I worry about with younger bands. A lot of people knew the lyrics and loved their set. I wish they had a bit longer to play but that comes with paying your dues. I also loved their aesthetic and staging. Hope to see them again in the near future.

imageI have seen the band name Meat Puppets for years. I have read countless articles about how they influence Kurt Cobain and many other bands from the 90s. I honestly couldn’t name a song by them. I am super glad I could catch them at Riot Fest. They played during the day in a middle slot. In my opinion, an established band could have been on at a later time but you never know if that is something the band requested. Regardless, they are still pretty damn amazing. I haven’t seen that kind of guitar skill in a very long time and I can tell why people worship this band. Their lyrics are poignant and creative. Their fans love them, so all in all they are a great damn band.

imageThe one band I REALLY wanted to see live was Violent Soho. I have been listening to Hungry Ghost for almost two years now. It is seriously one of my favorite discoveries. I was in a real music slump and this band revived my senses. I love how they shred, play the loudest, and have a 90s kind of throwback sound. I had no clue they were from Australia which explains their lack of touring since its obviously far. Their live show was epic and worth the trip. Violent Soho doesn’t sound like a carbon copy of their recordings. Seriously they are one of best bands in the festival lineup. They have a new release called Waco and I can’t wait for this band to blow up.

Against me! is one of my favorite bands. This band is fascinating due to the fact they are changing like a chameleon to adapt to ever-changing culture landscapeimage. I like that they don’t do the same thing every album and their classic songs are solid. My favorite album by them is the Crime EP. I love its rawness and I felt it was recorded right as they grew exponentially. They have changed band members and even have survived a transgender announcement. What is great about this band is that nothing has phased the music and the band continues to grow as just as strong. I have seen Against Me! in tiny venues and now I have seen them on major festivals. I am glad that their fans have grown with them and hold them up when they need it the most. I am super excited to listen to the new album Shape Shift With Me that came out the past week. Their set was stellar and there is much more to see when it comes to this band. I also got a sweet Against Me! shirt.

I have seen Leftover Crack more in these past few years than when I was first listening to them many years ago. I remember being a teen and seeing the album cover for Fuck World imageTrade and thinking how shocking it was. I was compelled to buy that album and it was like nothing I had ever heard before. Stza voice is erratic but once you realize what messages and stories these songs tell you get it immediately. They are still relevent and important to the punk community since a lot of the issues this band brings to the forefront haven’t gone away. I love their mix of dance, metal, and ska. You wouldn’t think these genres go together so well but that is what gives them their unique sound. It was by far the best pit to be in at Riot Fest.

Sleater Kinney is the soundtrack of my life. I used to paint their lyrics on my walls and scribble their band name on my notebooks. I seriously cried when they called it quits. Luckilyimage they reconsidered their retirement and gave us the album No Cities to Love this past year. I honestly thought I would never see them live but this is the second time seeing them live at Riot Fest. I loved their set. I think every single member has an amazing musical skill. They played a mix of their hits and a few new songs. I had a hard time loving their set because I knew it was going to be short. I just wanted them to play a whole concert, let’s be real. I was also sad because I hope they continue to play as Sleater Kinney and make music in the future. It was a bittersweet end of the day for me in Denver.

I caught a bit of Ween. I do like them but I had to save my energy for the Misfits. But I will say that Ween has the most unique fan base I have ever seen in my entire life and will be forever fascinated with that.

 

Punk Rock Festivals 2016: Lineups, Reunions, and Hang Overs

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Photo by Tyson Heder

This time of year, in my opinion, is the beginning of punk festival season. I think between Punk Rock Bowling and Fest is the prime picking for festivals in the United States. With these amazing lineups and the Misfits reunion, we can all see the money flying out of our bank accounts. Just remember there is no price on memories even if we might black out and forget….

Here is the break down for every major punk lineup in the U.S. and a few international mentions:

Punk Rock Bowling: Las Vegas, NV( May 26-30), Denver, CO (June 2-4), and Ashbury, NJ (June 10-12)

I am VERY bias when I say this is my favorite festival. I have been several times now and it is the quintessential punk rock festival. All the punk kids having fun against the glitzy Las Vegas lights is a sight to be seen. This festival also brings cool and unique club after shows. Did I mention there is a bowling tournament too? With the gambling, pool parties, and karaoke, the fun never stops in this 24 hour festival. This year they are attempting to branch out by having dates in Ashbury and Denver. Here is the lineups for each date:

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Riot Fest: Chicago, IL (Sept. 16-18) and Denver, CO (Sept. 2-4)

Riot Fest REALLY brought the surprise of the year by only announcing the Misfits reunion in their initial band. They didn’t mention any of their other stellar artists and let us just freak out for a moment because hell froze over for a second. Of course, in our heart of hearts, we could see this happening but no one was holding their breath. But it’s happening! I will be there this September to give all the details of this reunion for you guys. This might be my favorite lineup of all the festivals this year. It has such punk gems as Bad Religion, Lagwagon, NOFX, The Aquabats, Against Me!, and Leftover Crack to name just a few. Both lineups are very similar but it depends on how much you want to see certain headliners and old school favorites. They are still announcing more to each lineup so stay tuned:

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Fest 15: Gainesville, FL (Oct. 28-30)

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Fest is on my bucket list of punk festivals to go to before I die. I think it should be on yours as well. Anyone that I have discussed Fest with says that it is a place where new punk bands are made and found. This year is very special since it is an anniversary for the festival. They have a heavy lineup of alumni playing, which makes it harder to decide who you want to see. This is a great problem to have. So cancel all your Halloween plans now and make it out to Fest 15 this year, check out the official lineup below:Image-14-05-2016-at-01.02.jpg

Remember the Punks Fest: San Antonio, TX (October 1, 2016)

A super surprise for the state of Texas. As a punker growing up in Texas, we tend to miss out on bands from the other coasts that can’t afford to tour here often. So when this festival popped up, the internet lit up! I feel the lineup is equal parts street punk, pop punk, and ska. It will be amazing to see Bigwig, Slapshot, The Exploited again since it has been a hot minute. I think this festival will do well since the venues will cater to every kind of punk. I will also be covering this festival since it is in my backyard, which in Texas means a 2-hour drive.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest: Austin, TX (Nov 6-8)

This has been my favorite local festival for many years now. This 10 year festival is uniquely Austin. These festival people love bands such as the Descendents, GWAR, and Fat Wreck bands, and reunions. And don’t forget tacos. I hope this is not the end of road for this festival since the company has changed owners this past month. It is a great festival that is equal parts electronic, hip hop, comedy, punk, metal, hardcore, and indie rock. Every year they do a recap video and I think it gives a good depiction of what good times to expect. Fingers crossed for another great year and lineup to come!

Other Honorable Mentions:

Since some of these festivals are overseas or have already happened, here is a quick list of festivals to hit up outside the U.S. Get those passports ready!

Get FESTING in 2016 and feel free to share local festivals within the comments. See you out there!

Against Me! Going to Perform in North Carolina

Through the past month, artists from all genres have been publicing speaking out against House Bill 2. Some artist like Bruce Springsteen have decided to cancel their dates in North Carolina. Which makes sense to a degree, since why would you want to pay tax money in a state passing this type of legislation. But on the other hand, people might need a place to vent their anger and frustration. I believe this is why Against Me! is still keeping their tour dates their.

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The band plans to have local LGBT organizations to table their show and give people much needed information. Also they are planning to use gender neutral bathrooms as a sign of protest. I also believe their will be a heart felt statement at the show. To me this a true punk band in the traditonal sense. In the days of going against opposition, it is most effective in the moment. Punk music is a place to vent your frustrations and have a community voice. I can’t wait to see the footage of this show and I hope it gives people the voice they need.