Shows: 9/2006 - Present


25 Sep 2006, 13:00

Who: Strike Anywhere/Ignite/A Global Threat/Modern Life Is War
When: 09/04/06
Where: CBGBs; New York, New York

This was my first and last experience at a legendary venue that is closing its doors in six weeks. Not only is it tiny with no place to hide, but there was no frisking at the door, no metal-detecting wands, no fence in front of the stage, no security guards, and no alcohol policy except that it should be relatively cheap. Stagediving and circle pits were encouraged.

Modern Life Is War opened with a hard and fast set, at times letting their humble Midwestern roots show with excessive amounts of thank you's and crowd appreciation. The crowd went crazy with D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S., First and Ellen, and Young Man On A Spree. They paid tribute to the venue with
Nervous Breakdown.

A Global Threat came out next, with red eyes and noses. This 'spark' led to an energic set with very little crowd interaction. I caught the drummer staring at the same poster on a wall to his left for several minutes straight.

Ignite then pushed through the crowd to start their set. They blended melodic with short stories about communism, immigration, the consequences of drunk driving, and the importance of family. The band then called Vinnie Stigma (Agnostic Front, Madball) onstage to play guitar with the band for a song. They also thanked Mike Ness of Social Distortion for being there to support them. They paid tribute to the East Coast hardcore scene with 20 Eyes. Fans enjoyed Poverty For All, My Judgement Day, Who Sold Out Now?, Bullets Included No Thought Required, and Bleeding.

Strike Anywhere finished the night with an hour-long set spanning their entire discography. They focused on performing the highlights of their upcoming LP release/recently leaked album Dead FM. The album is a good continuation of what they were doing with Exit English. You may not like every track, but I can guarantee that this is not a sell-out album. Highlights included Aluminum Union, To The World, Prisoner Echoes, Amplify, Infrared, and Blaze.

All in all, a great mixed bag of geographically diverse hardcore bands.

New York certainly got a lot of mileage out of the club. There were extreme amounts of DIY repairs to the every object in the building and a clear well-worn feel. I can only imagine how shows were like in the past before the tables were bolted down and beer bottles were thrown, all without the now-standard yellow-shirt wearing security guards.

Who: The Flaming Lips/Deerhoof
When: 9/24/2006
Where: Hammerstein Ballroom; New York, New York

I had an open mind but wasn't looking forward to / act Deerhoof, but the local crowd decidedly ate them up. I recall this not only being the same city, but also the same venue that nearly booed The Dresden Dolls off the stage at a similar point in that band's growth. The audience was treated to most of The Runners Four and such seminal DH tracks as Panda Panda Panda, Flower, Rrrrrrright, and Dog On The Sidewalk. The lyrics (such as "bunny bunny bunny bunny bunny...bunny!," "pork chop pork chop!," and "panda panda panda...chi-NA!") where either genius or cute for a 5-year old child, depending on your stance. The ballady, experimental guitarplay was their strength and the audience could follow along with a a huge screen that spread across the stage, focused on the guitarist's kick pedals.

The Flaming Lips came out in grand fashion--with dozens of bigender Santa Clauses, female aliens, a 'whiteout condition' of confetti, dozens of balloons over the crowd, and Wayne Coyle running on top of the crowd in his clear gerbil ball. They opened with crowdpleaser Race for the Prize with a gigantic timer counting down on the screen previously used by Deerhoof. They followed with Free Radicals and stepped up the distribution of laser pointers. The fifth song was Vein of Stars and the audience was prompted to ain their laser pointers at a gigantic mirror held up by Wayne. Of the crowd of 1,500, about 1,000 had these. The effect was very beautiful, with a couple thousand red beams bouncing off of everything. Apparently, this was the group's first attempt at something that had never been done before.

The group then played songs spanning four albums- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 2, an ultra-extended version of Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, She Don't Use Jelly, The W.A.N.D., My Cosmic Rebellion, and concluded the regular set with Do You Realize??

The encore consisted of A Spoonful Weights A Ton and You Have To Be Joking from 1991's Hit to Death in the Future Head, a rarity live.

The intense party atmosphere and incredibly positive vibes were felt through the entire crowd. I felt bad wearing my division-by-default Against Me! t-shirt. I've never been offered a joint from a kid and a hug from a 50 year old man within 15 minutes before, but somehow it felt perfectly in place. This may go down as my favorite concert ever, ahead of 2005's Nine Inch Nails comeback show at the same venue and a 2002 performance by Weezer in which they picked the setlist out of a hat before the show. But first, I have to let my regularly scheduled life set back in.

Who: Mustard Plug/Against All Authority/Westbound Train/
Bomb the Music Industry!/Third Wave Bandits
When: 10/14/2006
Where: The Knitting Factory; New York, New York

This was my first show ever. The crowd got four and a half hours of ska for $10. Compare that price to going to the movies or renting a video game for a few days and I felt plenty entertained for my money.

The Third Wave Bandits (3wb) opened and looked like a bunch of kids who only went on first because they were afraid that they'd be late for their respective band/computer camps the next morning. My friend and I got a laugh out of saying 'tromboner' the first dozen times. Does exist? If the tag link actually works, then I guess it does.

Bomb the Music Industry! came out next and the crowd surged forward. They opened with Dude, Get With the Program. Jeff Rosenstock spoke briefly about growing up on Long Island and then moving to Georgia as well as their three album set available for free on their website. Other highlights included Congratulations, John, on Joining Every Time I Die, and all four parts of King of Minneapolis Pts. I & II and King of Minneapolis Pts. III & IV in a row. The crowd asked for an encore and chanted "One more song!," the first time I've ever seen that happen to an opening act. I got more of an Against Me! feel instead of a The Mighty Mighty Bosstones feel from them and they could have been much higher on the concert bill.

Westbound Train came on next with ska that sounded like elevator music or -influenced soft rock. A and influence was also evident. The crowd ate it up with slow circle pits, 'pseudo-pits,' and pogoing, especially during Seven Ways to Sunday and their ode to their hometown, Boston.

Against All Authority had a fast-paced, punk-first-ska-later style set. The horns augmented the songs instead of carrying them, making them more accessable to individuals who would not normally be at a ska show (aka: me). I got an early Anti-Flag feel from listening to their discrography before the show, but was presented with more of a hardcore punk and late-90's punk rock (including Anti-Flag) driven at the show. Their set looked exhausting and the crowd was as rough as it was during the entire show. The audience also got greedy and asked for an encore from this group too.

Mustard Plug came on next with classic third wave-style ska, in the same vein as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Highlights included Mr. Smiley, The Freshmen, as well as "Rat Bastard," a new song advertised as the theme song to "the next Jim Carrey movie." My friend and I left during the encore to get outside for a DIY BTMI! t-shirt.

We got outside and met up with Jeff. They had already done the t-shirt thing and his hands were covered in blue paint. I told him that we were here tonight specifically to see his group and he told us that we got the best show of the tour. We had a long conversation about his move to Georgia and the upcoming vinyl release. He took our t-shirts and promised (with a 65% probability) to mail them back when he gets home from the tour. We also learned that he made $50 from ticket receipts and donations that night.

Couple observations for ska kids:
1. Don't stagedive with a backpack on and jump backpack first into the crowd. If you bring a backpack to a show, you lose the right to stagedive.
2. Don't stagedive if you're morbidly obese. If you're 150+ pounds overweight, you lose the right to stagedive.
3. The circle pits were the equivalent of a sloppy preteen handjob; awkward but hopefully, character-building.
4. Use the word 'tromboner' more. Ska can be hilarious sometimes.

So, the Skank and Destroy Tour provided a ton of entertainment for the price of going to a movie. It was a fun show and allowed me to further discover Bomb the Music Industry! and Against All Authority. BTMI! now has two extra fans, eagerly awaiting their tee's. It's incredible that Jeff would spend 12% of the show's profits on sending two guys stenciled t-shirts in the mail.

Who: Thursday/Rise Against/Circa Survive/Billy Talent

Who: Glassjaw/This Is Hell/Crime In Stereo
Where: Webster Hall; NY, NY
When: 12/29/2006

We arrived at the end of This Is Hell's set, missing Crime In Stereo's set entirely. They played hard with a ton of energy, as we were approaching the end of the tour. As is the common complaint about This Is Hell--is that what they do has been done so many times before. Close your eyes and you're listening to a poor man's Strike Anywhere or Modern Life Is War. They thanked Glassjaw for the opportunity to open for them and they promptly filed off the stage.

Oddly selected beats were selected for the waiting-between-sets music. This would be fine if Webster Hall was having one of it's regular shows--the venue specializes in dance, , , and shows--but it felt out of place for a show in the Bowery. At this point I was still on the second floor, looking across into the VIP section which contained other bands, such as New Brunswick's Thursday.

I made my way down to the barrier just before Glassjaw's set and caught the whole thing from the front row. Daryl Palumbo managed to keep his tough-as-nails appearance even as an 95-pound stickfigure battling Crohn's Disease and drug addiction. They had great stage prescence, even missing their fifth member. Having only four members made each play at a higher, more intricate level. They started off with the brutal "(You Think You're) John Fucking Lennon" demo, a nod towards their Long Island origins. "Jesus Glue" and Natural Born Farmer were more on the side, with the latter an older gj song that just never made it to recording. They played material from every album, including Star Above My Bed from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Song highlights were dominated by tracks off of Worship and Tribute, especially Tip Your Bartender, which led directly into Mu Empire, Ape Dos Mil, and a surprisingly stripped-down the gillete cavalcade of sports. Pretty Lush, Siberian Kiss, and Babe came off of Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence. All in all, a chaotic, brutal set of 14 songs.

This was my favorite post-hardcore/screamo show of the year. 2007 will feature an EP by Palumbo's Head Automatica side-project and an LP by Glassjaw, a potentially banner year for GJ fans. The multi-year wait (with multiple metro-New York area tour cancellations) was worth it and this show ranks up there somewhere in between the Nine Inch Nails' 2005 comeback show and The Flaming Lips 2006 show, both at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and the early Thursday and Against Me! shows of the past.


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