Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Sun Is Not Punk

PUNK ROCK BOWLING (5/22/15 - 5/25/15 @ Las Vegas, NV)

Every year when the Punk Rock Bowling lineup gets announced, I sit there and stare at it and realize just how not Punk I really am. This year was no different. Out of the almost 30 bands playing, there were 3 I wanted to see. So I said screw it, skip PRB and save my money for Fest again. Then they announced the club shows and I saw Frank Turner and Laura Jane Grace were playing together. Well maybe I can make it for one night. Then I got asked to sub in for a bowling team. OK, I can swing 2 nights I guess. Oh great, 88 Fingers Louie is playing a free pool party? FINE. I'll give you 2 and a half days.

So Friday afternoon I hoped in my car and traversed the desert to Punk Rock Mecca. I'll spare you the "boring" party details but just know I drank a bunch of beers and whiskey, hung with a ton of buddies, and met some cool new people. As always, the party part ruled.

3 Drunks and a Driver (Bowling)

Saturday morning I woke up in my car in the parking lot of the Plaza. Why did I wake up in my car you ask? Oh, because I tried to sleep in a hotel room with 2 people who have sleep apnea. Anyway, Kenny and I got breakfast, killed a few hours, met up with Mike and his wife and were on our way to the bowling alley. There we met up with our 4th bowler, a dude Jared knew who was filling in for our buddy G (who couldn't make it from New York). This mother fucker, we should have changed our name to 3 Drunks and a Fuck Up. The first game we bowled, not going to lie, I didn't do so well. Bowled a 111, not my best game ever, but it was a warm up. The second game, Homeboy went to go buy beers and a shot and it took so fucking long that by the time he made it back, we were stuck bowling twice in a row and then waiting 20 minutes for the other 7 people to go (It was league rules were you switch lanes between frames). I did better this game, I think I bowled a 147, not bad, not terrible. Then game 3 all hell broke loose. Dude was spilling drinks, talking shit to the other team, it was bad. The good news is I bowled my second Turkey in my life (3 strikes in a row), and ended with a 173. This wasn't the greatest introduction to the bowling part of Punk Rock Bowling, but I still had so much fun. I really hope I can fill in again next year and fully experience bowling with an entire team of awesome people. 

3 out 4 ain't bad

Frank Turner and Laura Jane Grace

When night fell it was time to walk the 37 miles from the Plaza hotel to the Bunkhouse to get my first taste of actual music. We had to navigate through the KC and the Sunshine Band nightmare crowd and get past the flame throwing metal praying mantis, but eventually we made it. When I walked in Bob Log III was still playing and it was not at all close to what I was expecting. He was wearing a Daft Punkesque helmet and just shredding his guitar. It was bizarre and fascinating at the same time. 

Laura Jane Grace and Atom Willard then took the stage and out of pure habit I followed some random people through the crowd to get as close as I could. I actually ended up next to my buddy Rich. Laura played through her set which kind of went almost in order from old to new. Some of the highlights were: Walking is Still Honest, You Look Like I Need A Drink, Cavalier Eternal, How Low, and Black Me Out. She even played the song she covered with Miley Cyrus, Androgynous, and I half expected Miley to come out too, but no dice. The best part of the entire thing though had to be the super excited group of people in front of me who were screaming along to every song, dancing, moshing and just having a great time. After the set, I tapped one on the shoulder and thanked him for having enough fun to make up for bitter old people like me. He looked terrified.

The Queen

Next up was Mr. Frank Turner. I went and grabbed my friend Jessica who just showed up, and again dragged her to get as close as we could. There have been some late nights where we would just sit in my car and listen to Frank Turner and smoke cigarettes, so it was cool to be able to see him play live with her there. And he did not disappoint, playing a long set full of songs to sing along too. At one point Stacy Dee from Bad Cop/Bad Cop came out and they covered NoFX's Lori Meyers, which was awesome. Then about halfway through he played a new song that he said was about his friend who died, and it got me. Hit me right in the feelings, and a few tears may or may not have been shed. When he was done, he immediately called out how stupid doing encores were and just played a few more songs which I appreciated. 

I take the best pictures

88 Finger Louie (Pool Party) 

Sunday morning I again met up with Kenny and crew and we hit the Golden Nugget buffet. Absolutely best terrible idea. I ate one or 2 bites of just about everything and a bowl of mashed potatoes and was good to go for the day. We got to the Plaza pool party in time to catch the tail end of Franks and Deans set. They played a weird mish-mash of original songs that opened and closed with riffs from other bands like NoFX and Alkaline Trio. They also had a scantily clad lady dancing on stage and in the crowd. She almost hit me in the face with a hula hoop at one point. 

Mercy Music played next. I missed them the night before at the Bunkhouse because the set up there was weird, but was glad I caught them this day. Kenny said they shredded and they did. The singer/guitar player made his guitar look like a babies toy, at one point showing off for all the photographers as he casually melted their collective faces off. 

After hanging in the hot ass sun for a few hours, clouds finally formed and 88 Finger Louie took the stage. Kenny noted Joe Principe wasn't playing bass, probably because he was doing Rise Against stuff, and Rise Against only plays on the moon now. They started to play and the crowd was ready to go nuts, but the sound guy didn't have the singers microphone turned on. So they played about half of the song State before that issue got resolved, but once it was on, it was ON. A mosh pit immediately filled with a bunch of pool party people in swim suits and the Mario Bros. Some lady ran in with a brand new expensive looking red slushy drink and immediately spilled it everywhere. It looked like a fucking crime scene. Towards the end of the set it started to rain, which the singer responded with "I thought some of you fuckers were spitting on me. But it was just Jesus spitting on us." The whole thing was awesome. I never even thought I would ever see 88 Fingers Louie play, let alone on a roof top pool, surrounded by a bunch of weirdos.

Not lying, The Mario Bros. Mosh

That was about it. I hung out for a few more hours, but I had to leave at some point because I had stuff to do on Monday. The drive home suuuucked, but in the end, it was all super worth it. There is nothing better then hanging out with your friends in a different state, drinking your asses off and watching awesome bands play. And bowling.

A big thank you to Morgan for giving me a place to stay Saturday, Kenny for hanging out almost non-stop and bowling and letting me stay in your room Friday, Mike for not murdering a certain person, Jared for letting me bowl for him, Jessica for singing along to Frank Turner with me, Kendra for introducing me to Success and bringing Malort even though I never got any, Jesse for curing my heartburn, Jackie for hanging out, and everyone else that I met or hung out with for being awesome. The punk scene is my favorite thing in the entire world and we are all family. See you at the next show.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Good Night Springton! There Will Be No Encores!

Lana Del Rey - Courtney Love (5/16/15 @ Sleep Train Amphitheater, Chula Vista CA)

Yeah. This is a thing that happened.

My sister Stacy's birthday was this past Saturday. She had 3 tickets to see Lana Del Rey and was fully intent on going with 2 of her friends, but one of them bailed at the last minute and since I was sitting around doing absolutely nothing (Punk rock bowling in a few days!) asked me if I wanted to go. I have never been to a pop concert PLUS I figured it could be interesting to write about, so I said fuck it, lets do this. 

First things first, I had to wait for my sister and her friend to get ready. 2 hours later, they said they were ready to roll, which actually meant another half an hour to get fully ready as they debated shit like "tights or no tights?" All the while I was getting nervous we may miss Courtney Love (I'm in no means a fan of Courtney Love, I was just super curious to see that fucking train wreck play. I'm assuming if anyone can rival the Matt Skiba shit show, it would be Courtney Love). Also, it should be mentioned my sister was properly birthday drunk at this point. They poured a few shots of some flavored vodka for all of us, which thankfully no one noticed me pouring mine back into the bottle. I may be a borderline alcoholic, but fuck flavored vodka shots. We finally made it on the road at some point, and of course half way down, we had to stop for a pee break.

When we made it to Chula Vista where the event was, the exit to get off the freeway was backed up and not moving for at least 4 miles. Me being slightly smarter then the average motorist, blew past the normal exit, turned around and came at it from the south. Still though, it took us easily 2 hours to get from the freeway to the venue (Which was a measly 2 and a half miles down the road). My sisters friend was in the backseat yelling random shit out the window at the other cars stuck in this hellscape, and convinced my sister to hop in the back and moon everyone for a solid 5 minutes straight. I used this opportunity to smoke cigarettes and blast The Dopamines as loud as I possibly could to drown out the nightmare happening in the back.

By the time we parked and got into the place, I could hear Courtney playing her last song, her band Hole's (only?) popular song Celebrity Skin. It sounded absolutely awful, and kind of bummed me out we missed it. It was standing in line for super overpriced beers that I first started to notice the people surrounding me. To the right of us was a group of men dressed in american flag tights and denim vests (I bought my sister a pair of American flag vans for her birthday which she was wearing) so naturally she popped in the middle of them and demanded a picture


Mostly everyone else at this place looked like Coachella rejects. White flowy hippie dresses, half shirts and high waisted pants, those weird hats gold miners wore, it was all here in the biggest crowd of fucking people I have ever seen. Seriously, I didn't even know that many people liked Lana Del Rey, let alone just in San Diego. And 90% of them seemed to be wearing flower crowns (So many people in fact, I thought they might have been handing them out at the entrance and I somehow missed getting mine). My absolute favorite person I saw though had to be the girl wearing a Native American head dress with an American flag draped around her shoulders. Bravo douche bag, bravo.

Lana Del Rey eventually played and it was whatever. She sounded good, she has a decent enough voice, but the slow pop music combined with everyone just kind of standing there like statues, I just don't get it. It would have been exactly the same to stay at home and listen to her CD with the bass turned all the way up. Initially, we were at the very very top and couldn't even see the stage, but slowly we started creeping closer and closer to the front, talking our way through security until eventually we were a step away from the floor area, which was heavily guarded by a dude who clearly took his job way too seriously. So we figured we did well enough and watched the last song from our new vantage point. Then it was over. Just like that. Everyone on stage just kind of packed it up and bounced and the lights came on and everyone was herded out the gates to the parking lot. It was kind of weird. 

Moving on up

We made it back to the car and it was a fucking nightmare trying to leave. Not a single car was moving. So instead of trying to fight traffic, we all just kind of took a nap for an hour or so until we could jet the fuck out of there and get Jack in the Box. My only regret is we didn't make it to North Park to see DFMK afterwards, and show these girls what a real show is like. Well that, and I didn't buy the $30 Courtney Love tank top they had for sale. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

SURPRISE! You're Going to Pomona on a Wednesday!

Thrice (5/13/15 @ The Glass House, Pomona CA)

I'm a Thrice fan. I have been ever since I heard them on my friend Duffy's stereo back in high school. They remain one of those constant bands I can listen to a trillion times and not get sick of. Their first 3 albums are fucking gold. Then Vheissu came along, and it was different and weird, but far from terrible. But then they took that one step further by releasing a 4 disc concept record called The Alchemy Index, each disc representing a different element: Hard as fuck, Digital as fuck, Acoustic as fuck, and Soft Rock as fuck (Or Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. Whatever). I still liked it, not the greatest, but not the worst. Then they put out 2 more increasingly mediocre records and called it quits.

3 years later and here they are playing shows again. Last time I saw Thrice was a decade ago. So obviously when Duffy asked if I wanted tickets to go see them in Pomona, I laced up my giant Osiris shoes, and jumped at the chance.

Normally the drive to Pomona isn't that bad. Today, it decided to be a fucking dick. When we got on the 57 north, it turned into an anarchist parking lot. Seriously, no one was moving. Cars were trying to drive sideways across the freeway, blocking lanes trying to cut off other vehicles that were also not moving. It was madness. Eventually, after driving about 3 miles in 1 hour, and fighting the stupidest drivers to merge down to one lane, we discovered why. Apparently a semi truck carrying a fork lift, had a tire blow out and it hit the center divide, throwing the fork lift over into the opposite lanes and taking out 6 or 7 vehicles, then smashed through into oncoming traffic and collided head on with a car (Sadly, I read, the driver of the car died). When we finally drove past the carnage, it looked like it was staged. Maybe a shitty publicity stunt for the new Mad Max movie, or like it was a set for the new Walking Dead spin off. It was nuts. But we eventually made it through and got to the Glasshouse with almost perfect timing (If you can call having all your pre-show drinking time eaten up "perfect").

What the fuck is this thing?

Pretty much when we got there Thrice started playing. The place was packed, a sold out crowd, and we were regulated to standing on the left side of the stage in the back. Now, don't get me wrong, Thrice is very very good live, but I think I have been spoiled with the normal bar shows I attend because there was just something off. I guess I'm just used to seeing pop punk bands that get drunk and have a good time. Thrice is the opposite of that. Very technical, very precise, with almost no crowd interaction (I think they stopped playing 3 times, once for the standard "How you doing Pomona?") They show up, play their songs, and that's about it. That's not to say they are bad live or anything. They actually kill it. Teppei is one of the best guitar players out there, Dustin sounded great, and Riley drummed. Ed was the only one moving around and bobbing to his bass the ENTIRE time. Then their was the set list. I don't know who decided it, but they played like 6 slow songs in a row which you can tell kind of took something out of the crowd. But as soon as they started playing The Artist in the Ambulance they came back alive. I even saw a crowd surfer! They also ended on another pretty slow song which was weird, but thankfully came back out for a 2 song encore (Can we please stop the stupid fucking encore? No one even chants or anything anymore, they kind of just stand there until they come back out) but then AGAIN ended on a fucking slow song (It's not that I don't like the slow songs, it's just, mix them up a little bit, maybe go out on a high note). Again, it's not that it was terrible (the opposite) it's just so not what I'm used to seeing anymore. 

Also, all Thrice fans are 6'2" or taller

All in all, it was an OK time. Keri bought me a beer (Thanks!) and they played Paper Tiger at least. I will give them credit for having one of the best shirts for sale, it just says on the front "Play Deadbolt." They know their fans. Oh, and we also hit more traffic on the way home because the Punk gods hate me and don't want me to go to sleep before 1am on school days.

Set list:
Firebreather (Alchemy Index: Fire)
Paper Tigers (The Artist in the Ambulance)
Stare at the Sun (The Artist in the Ambulance)
All That's Left (The Artist in the Ambulance)
The Weight (Beggars)
In Exile (Beggars)
Words on the Water (Major/Minor)
Blur (Major/Minor)
Daedalus (Alchemy Index: Air)
Red Sky (Vheissu)
Come All You Weary (Alchemy Index: Earth)
Promises (Major/Minor)
The Artist in the Ambulance (The Artist in the Ambulance)
Silhouette (The Artist in the Ambulance)
Deadbolt (The Illusion of Safety)
The Arsonist (Alchemy Index: Fire)
Anthology (Major/Minor)

The Earth Will Shake (Vheissu)
Beggars (Beggars)

Thanks Duffy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

This Guys Mohawk Smells Surprisingly Good

La Escalera 4 Year Anniversary Show (5/3/15 @ Til-Two Club, San Diego CA)

Hello there! It's good to see you friend! It's been too long.

This past weekend was a fucking blast. San Diego's own La Escalera Records celebrated being around for 4 years! So much good music, so many good friends, so many good hugs. I needed a full day to recover from the madness.

The Briggs (Slidebar, Fullerton)

First things first. Saturday night Kenny and I rolled up to Fullerton to check out True Rivals, Caskitt, and The Briggs. I missed most of True Rivals set because I was, as Kenny put it, "Bro-ing down pretty hard with some dudes from San Bernardino." But I did manage to catch a few songs and liked what I heard. I did however watch all of Caskitt's set, because duh, Bro's before other new bro's. Somewhere in the middle of Caskitt's set, that old man rumble must have ended, because the Slidebar was all of a sudden packed with people. It still trips me out that the back room of this place can be packed with gross sweaty punks, while the front bar is flooded with with the douchiest of the douche (Ladies can be douches too. GENDER EQUALITY!) Anyways, The Briggs played and the crowd went wild. A pit even got started with not one, but two shirtless sweaty dudes! I stayed as far in the back as I possibly could as they ripped through their set. During their last song, Joey had something around his neck, which turned out to be his daughter (with ear protection, calm down) which I thought was pretty rad. Then it started to get a little nuts and she had to leave when a million punks jumped on stage to help sing This is L.A. Awesome show, the perfect way to warm up for the actual party.

Blurry Punk Wolverine and friends

Sunday morning when I woke up I had 2 things on my mind, whiskey and bowling. There is only 2 weeks until Punk Rock Bowling and it is time to practice in all aspects. Oh, did I mention this year I am filling in for Jared on the 3 Drunks and a Driver team? Because I am, and I couldn't be more stoked. So after rolling a few games and dranking a few dranks, Kenny, Jared and I picked up Jessica and headed south to keep the party momentum going. 


The first band I actively watched was Caskitt. It has been years since I had the chance to see these fellas play, and to be honest, I kind of forgot they were a band. They were pioneers in the Nu-Metal Country Rap Rock scene, and seeing them play live you can see why. Mattholomew Caskitti sings and plays the electric drums reminiscent of Lars Ulrich in another 25 years from now, while Stefan Urquelle shreds the Keytar and provides the crowd with some eye candy, and newcomer Jesse brings a breathe of fresh air and his impressive Harpsichord skills. Well played sirs. 

You know, or whatever


This is only the second time I have seen DFMK and there is seriously something amazing about them. I still have no idea what any of their songs are about, but it doesn't even matter. Just being able to see them be so animated and giving 125% shirks any kind of language barrier that exists. I'm not one to judge anyone, but if you have a chance to see them play and don't you are a fucking idiot.

Missing from this picture: Your stupid ass

I skipped watching Gentlemen Prefer Blood to go eat a Ziggy Love Chicken Burrito he was cooking up in front of Til-Two. The thing was so massive I had to split it with Jess. It was also so fucking good. Chicken Burrito, you the real hero.

Western Settings

This was Western Settings first show back home after a 16 day tour supporting their awesome new record Yes It Is. Even being on the road for over 2 weeks straight couldn't make them suck. Impressive as always. Will see again.

Not impressive? My drunken photography skills

Black Dots

I came in about halfway through their set and, like everyone else there, was blown away by how good they were. My brain started going on the fritz, probably from drinking whiskey for 9 hours straight, but the one thought I remember having was make sure you check these guys out. Which I am doing right now as I am typing this, and I must say, drunk Kevin has good taste.

His only redeemable quality

Civil War Rust

This is it. This was the band I was most excited to see play, and they did not disappoint. I downloaded their album The Fun and the Lonely a while ago off the recommendation of...someone... Keri maybe? And I liked it. But I had this feeling in the back of my head that if I saw them play live, I would like it way more. That's usually how it works with me, some bands are good recorded, but you can't fully appreciate them until you see them play live. I listened to that album probably 5 times in a row yesterday after seeing them, and then got pissed because they didn't have any more albums. That's a good thing. So yes, their set ruled and it made me bummed I didn't go to VLHS the night before and see them there too. Also, I fucking forgot to see if they had a copy of their album on vinyl. 

Go Angels

It was around this time I finally got proper drunk. I'm not the biggest fan of day drinking, but I feel like I made it a pretty decent amount of time. I am kind of bummed I didn't watch Breaker Breaker One Niner, as Ziggy was nice enough to cook burritos for everyone and seems to have a hand in every show in San Diego that I enjoy so much, or Vena Cava because I heard they were super good too, but I did watch Bastards of Young play 3 or 4 songs while Kenny was trying to herd or group of drunks together to go home, and they were pretty impressive. But I did have to go home so I could get some sort of sleep before I had to work on Monday morning. You know it was a good weekend when you zombie your way through a full day of working and have to pass out in your car at lunch to avoid just dropping dead from treating your body like the decaying piece of shit it is. Or maybe that's just me. 

Next up is Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas. It's going to get weird.