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 1

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It is said that “Riot Fest Sucks” (at least that’s what they want you think). I think setting the bar really low on expectations takes the edge off when it comes to impressing your audience. When it comes to Riot Fest, this festival has done such great lineups the past few years I am officially a repeat customer. I went to Chicago two years ago and this time I went to Denver. The Denver Riot Fest is almost a literal rodeo. Being from Texas, I understand this setting. It is almost too familiar. The festival set up was part rodeo, part Warped Tour parking lot.

Since I got there a bit late, I went straight to see my favorite fest band: Fucked Up. I think I love this band even more as they progress into their albums. I also enjoy Damian’s podcast.They played a short set but did not disappoint. They played classics like “Crooked Head” and  “Black Albino Bones”. I learned that “Black Albino Bones” is about record collecting and I am going to revisit that song. I think Fucked Up is really well thought out music but doesn’t take itself that serious either. The highlight of their live show was when Damian carried out armfuls of water for the audience and was still screaming into the mic.

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Damian Abraham of Fucked Up

I spent the rest of the fest in the literal rodeo ring. I got to see the Aquabats! I love that they are live action super heroes of sorts. I  have enjoyed their shows and have been a fan for years. Their fan base is literally little kids and way too old adults. But we are all on the same page here. We love to party and fight villains. Their stage show was the best in the sense that 1.) their songs are catchy 2.) they had dancing sharks like Katy Perry super bowl style 3.) they had inflatable pizza slices to crowd surf on: Surf’s UP!

My favorite highlight of the Aquabats set was when MC Bat Commander taught children to circle pit, literally. Yes they literally just ran in a circle but this will be an important concept they will learn later down the line. The children are our future after all. They also had some funny musical jokes where they would play parts of other people’s song you wouldn’t think the Aquabats would know. They are a lot more hip than you think for guys dressed in costumes.

The rest of the festival was a perfect trifecta of Fat Wreck Chords bands: Lagwagon, NOFX, and Descendents.Lagwagon is still one of favorites. They play each song with such precision and heart. I love their last album Hang a lot and was stoked to hear “Cog in the Machine” again live. They played their classics such as “Violins” and “Making Friends”. The only thing about big festivals is that you only get mostly classics from a band like Lagwagon but each one of theirs is a gem.

I was anticipating the NOFX set. The band has had a crazy year. They wrote a book. They did a tour. Fat Mike did a detox. I feel like this show would be a bit of a regroup for this band. Once NOFX took stage that rodeo arena was packed to brim with punk fans. I had to watch from the seats since the arena was getting too full. That’s great for NOFX though. I feel they did a great set and played newish songs such as “72 Hookers” and “I Believe in Goddess”. They debuted “Six Years on Dope” from their new album First Ditch Effort coming out in October. I am digging their new release so it was cool to get a preview. Their set was mediocre but I kind of want that from a NOFX. I only come to this conclusion from other NOFX fans at Riot Fest. I eavesdropped on a lot of conversations that either loved the set or thought it wasn’t their best. NOFX is not about perfection but they still know how to entertain.

The Descendents are one of my top ten favorite bands. I don’t think I could give them a bad review since I am super bias on the subject. I will say that I loved seeing them at Riot Fest Chicago two-year ago because they did Milo Goes to College front to back and that was a real musical moment. I was also excited to hear their new release Hypercaffium Spazzinate live for the first time. I believe their new album holds up live. They played a very good mix of all their albums and I can’t wait to see them in my hometown for Sound on Sound festival in November.

I also got to check out the half of the Deftones set. I still sweat that band a lot and I am not ashamed. By the end of the night I was all rodeo-ed out.

Show Review: Murder City Devils

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As a music junkie, I listen to music day in and day out. I have been to countless tours and have probably spent almost million dollars on this music fanaticism. I regret nothing.

Since I have worked in the industry and have listened to so many hours of music, I rarely get overly excited about a band. One weekend of my life, my asshole friends got married on the same weekend as Fun Fun Fun Fest. I was sad that I wasn’t at the fest but then there is real life. I bought a ticket for last day of the fest and I thought at the very least I can see one solid day of music.

I want to thank the sound guy at Neutral Milk Hotel for being awful. If he wasn’t so bad and the band wasn’t so depressing, I would have never discovered one of my all time favorite bands: Murder City Devils. I had never heard a single song by them but I thought anything would be better than the horribly mixed sound (I am an audio engineer). I watched the rest of Murder City Devils set and I couldn’t remove my eyes or ears. It felt like a piece of my life that had not be fullfilled was suddenly over full. I felt the electricity that gives you goosebumps and makes you feel suddenly alive. I didn’t even know what I had been missing all this time.

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I devoured all the albums I could after that weekend. They are so dark, beautiful, and had this raw emotion that is very hard to describe. They have been a band 1996 and are on SubPop. They did break up for a moment back in 2001 but go back together in 2006 to play a few festivals. Their last album was in 2014, which was titled “The White Ghost Has Blood on its Hands Again”.

I have seen them as much as I could in recent years. I saw them play in a lightning storm at Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas. I recently saw them in a club venue, the Mohawk in Austin. Texas was blessed to have their tour dates this year, which included San Antonio and Dallas. I didn’t really know what to expect since every show I have seen them in had been a unique experience. Their set list was mixed with old and new songs, which is to be expected. But what really sold me on this show was watching the audience. Their fans are devoted and they get it. They get the darkness and the tougue & cheek of it all. Part of the set Spencer had the mic literally in his mouth because no one should ever take themselves that seriously. I think the best quote about Murder City Devils would be the one from that FFF fest handout that said “Murder City Devils are like the drunk uncle you invite over for Thanksgiving. He ends getting drunk and crashing into a china cabinet.” Maybe it’s a simplified meaning, but they have the allegory just right.