Show Review: The Distillers

This might be the golden age of punk reunions. The last 5 years have brought several bands out of hiding and back to what they do best. There are several listed throughout this blog even. The Distillers have made the list of much-anticipated reunion tours. With these limited dates, there has been a lot of buzz about each show. Most of the week I have been following their press and fans on their journey.

I got to relive the magic at the Mohawk here in Austin, Texas. They didn’t have any local support bands but they choose the L.A. based band The Flytraps for all the tour dates. You can guess their possible inspirations; The Cramps, Joan Jett and the Runaways, and just old school rock and roll. They were a fun opener. Kind of cheesy but it worked on several levels. Kristin Cooper is an amazing bassist and she is a frontwoman extraordinaire. The one thing I couldn’t figure out was if their guitarists looked bored on purpose or was it an act. I have to admit it kept me guessing. Their songs were catchy and had some clever subject matter. I will say they were professionals and got people behind their music. They also got a lot of their merch sold, which bands should take note of their hustle.  Even though they were a great opener for this tour, I think a more street punk type of band would have made the tour even sweeter.

The Distillers came out the gate with “I am a Revenant” which would be my top choice for an opening song. Everything they played was pretty much what I wanted to hear. Their discography is not a large one but every album is great. Setlist below:

  1. I am the Revenant
  2. L.A. Girl
  3. Seneca Falls
  4. Die on a Rope
  5. Sick of it All
  6. The Gallow is God
  7. Oh Serena
  8. Dismantle Me
  9. The Hunger
  10. Love is Paranoid
  11. For Tonight You’re Only Here to Know
  12. Drain the Blood
  13. City of Angels
  14. The Blackest Years

They played a little from each album and my favorite had to be “Die on a Rope”. Unfortunately at the Austin date, Brodie’s voice wasn’t 100%. I think this was to be expected on some level since these albums are intense and have real highs/lows vocally. I think the band did their best collectively to make sure the show went on as planned. I thought her voice sounded beautiful on ” The Hunger” which just starts out with just vocals and guitar. One thought I had originally about this tour was Brodie going to able to sing some of this material since it is very personal and haunting. Luckily it seems liked second nature and the band made it seem effortless.  I was also really thankful to see a ton of women at the show because in most scenes the female gender lacks in representation. I think this is a sign that there needs to be more female fronted/minded bands that represent all of us. This short tour makes me hopeful for the future of women in music and to hear some new tracks from the Distillers themselves.

 

Feel free to comment about other dates on this tour or photos/videos!

Show Review: Millencolin/Success

Millencolin has finally done a legit U.S. tour after all these years. As a fan that has been waiting for a tour on this side of the Atlantic, this one was not to be missed. I saw them on a random date last year in Dallas but that left me wanting more from Millencolin. It was awesome that they came back to Texas and gave Austin a shot this time.

 

 

For myself, seeing a band like Millencolin was a right of passage. There are certain bands we listened to in our punk journey that we dream about seeing live. Basically any band that was on a Fat Wreck compilation or Punk-O-Rama is on that list. Throughout May and June they are joined by Success and MXPX, which are great additions to this tour. They are also doing tour stops during the Punk Rock Bowling Festival (Las Vegas and Denver dates).

 

Let’s begin with their opening band Success on this particular tour date. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what I was about to hear. I just knew they are a band from Seattle. I have read a bunch about them over the past two years since they have been on several festival lineups and have been touring frequently. I was really surprised by their sound because I was built up to believe they were more pop punk than they actually were. When I think of pop punk as a genre, it sometimes can lean on the sugary sweet side. You can tell who their influences are in the punk genre but what was truly fascinating was their overall musical influences they have. They are music nerds and not afraid to show it. They fused their set by playing their songs then would somehow end up playing “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas. These poor guys played their hearts out in the hot Texas humidity and didn’t fail to impress.

Millencolin’s set was everything I expect from them. They played a few songs from their latest release True Brew, thus why the tour is named as such. What I really enjoyed about their set is that I didn’t feel like I saw the same set twice. It consisted of their hits such as “Penguins and Polar Bears”, “Twenty Two”, and “Mr.Clean”. Also my personal favorite “Black Eye”. I know I have seen these songs at the show last year but it honestly felt refreshing rather than repetitive. Especially since this band only does so many releases over the years, it is crucial to stay fresh and innovative for your fans. I definitely feel they keep this idea in mind on their tours and their music. I hope their absence from Texas won’t be the many years it has been and we will get more great music from this band in the future.

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!

The Dicks from Texas Documentary Release


This documentary was a long time coming. After 16 years, the documentary film project is finally done and is going to be shown this weekend at the Dick’s hometown. The documentary is called “The Dicks From Texas” directed by Cindy Marabito. The reason this film is getting so much regard is because of what the Dicks really meant to the Austin punk scene in the 1980s. The Dicks were a larger than life punk-hardcore band that pushed the envelope of sexuality, politics, and music. They are best known for their songs such as “Hate the Police” and “Kills from the Heart”.

The reason this documentary is important to watch is because it is a piece of Austin’s music history and a pivotal moment in the punk scene. They rocked against Reagan. They played alongside MDC and the Big Boys. Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, and Mike Watt all want to talk about how great this band was. I don’t think I really have to sell much more here.

They are also releasing a tribute album with such bands as The Bulimics, Black Irish Texas, The Fuckemos, and much more. It is currently streaming here: The Dicks From Texas and Friends

Also here is the link to the event April 1st at the North Door: https://www.facebook.com/events/1042028645817597/

Pre-orders and additional information on the documentary can be found here:http://www.thedicksfromtexas.com/dicks.html

Tiger Army is Back! (Finally)

Tiger Army’s mantra is “Never Die” and for a while I thought they might actually die off. In 2013, the band acted like they were disbanding.After the departing of Geoff Kresge in February 2014, there seems to be a radio silience of what was to come next. Also the fact that Tiger Army hadn’t been to Texas since 2008, it seemed pretty damn bleak. As always though, founding and constant member, Nick 13 said the band would continue.

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Tiger Army (Dropkick Murphy Tour 2016)

After all the drama this band has seen over the decades, I was still pretty excited when I heard they would be touring with the great Dropkick Murphys. I was expecting they would play it safe and play old hits. The set was actually a little bit of everything. They stuck to their roots and also debuted some of their new material. They had been gone so long I forgot how much I truly love Nick 13’s voice. I rarely can hear the crispness of a vocalist, especially at a big venue like Stubbs. I am not gonna sugar coat it but I do miss Geoff Kresge as the bassist because I loved his style of playing but Djordje Stijepovic is definitely up to par. They also have another drummer Mike Fasano, who has played on a previous album. Nick 13 has definitely planned this revamp carefully. By getting top musicians such as Dave Roe and Mitch Marine, that have worked with other artists such as Dwight Yokham and  Johnny Cash, the new record will have a rich vintage sound. Also the fact that it was recorded by Grammy winner Ted Hutt, who also records Dropkick Murphys, Old Crow Medicine Show, and The Gaslight Anthem. Check out the new song “Prisoner of the Night” which they are debuting on this current tour:

This new and improved Tiger Army will also be returning to Texas again for Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest on June 4-5 this summer. An the obvious statement here is that: Tiger Army Never Dies.

Editor’s Note: The original post was modified to name the correct musicians in the current touring band and on the album. Apologizes for the mix up and the correction was made. Thanks for reading and the kind words.

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.

The Austin Punk Scene Renaissance

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Austin Chronicle Week of February 4-10 2016

 

Austin is stereotypically known as the “Live Music Capital of the World”. You see it plastered all over 6th street and in ads on television. I wish it were more true. When you think about Austin’s love affair with music, it is a beautiful and poetic one. We have the days of the Amardillo World Headquarters, the golden days of blues at Antone’s, and the Austin City Limits show. The brief punk wave happened here in Austin around 1978 with such bands as The Violators, The Dicks, The Skunks, and Big Boys. Austin became an important touring stop for punk/new wave bands during this era.

Travel forward to today. It is very hard to get bands from the East and West coasts to tour in Texas due to costs. This isn’t that stop anymore. Sometimes when I see a movie at the Ritz Alamo Drafthouse, I look at the pictures of Black Flag on the wall. I think, “why can’t we have that again?” They say that desperation is the mother of invention. I believe this is why in the past few years the punk scene in Austin has truly grown. It might be due to punks that moved here from other places in our current population surge. Or maybe there might be another punk wave to about to happen.

The truth is the Austin punk community has had it rough in this town lately. Living in an Indie/EDM scene, we are still the outcasts. Which is fine, we are used to it. But what is making life difficult is the city shutting down our fine establishments for condos and big business money. Since punk is about DIY and resilience, we have decided to join forces in certain ways. There are many advocates out there that booking shows, bars letting us have a weekly spot, and friends supporting each other’s bands. Recently this state of affairs was covered in the Austin Chronicle. Thanks to the help of Tim Segall, writer and member of the band The Hormones, wrote a piece on our scene. See article below:

Austin Chronicle

I just wanted to add more bands to the list to watch. There are a ton of hard working punks in this town. Unfortunately, print media has a maximum paper size and word count. But here are some more awesome local bands to check out: