Archive for the ‘Liveage’ Category

taco hell sfl

A gig review, we haven’t done one of those in a while! This was a bloody good one as well, albeit bittersweet: Taco Hell’s penultimate show as a band. The indie sad-punx were on their final tour after just releasing their debut LP, the brilliant, gritty and earworm-y Bad at Being Average. This gig was taking place at one of my favourite venues in the UK: the Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham, a basement that was made for shows like these. Ok, so let’s rewind to the beginning of the night…

So, first up was Exeter’s Phaedra’s Love, the project of Jordan White, formerly of Splitsville. I believe that Phaedra’s Love only really started last year, with a debut EP (‘Let Me Think This Way’ on Circle House records) released at the tail end of 2017. This was my first time listening to them. Jordan’s recorded stuff is solo, but he played here with a full band and it gave a very different feeling to the much more intimate and raw material on the EP. I wasn’t mind-blown by the set (and admittedly missed half of it), but I was certainly intrigued to go and listen to more after the gig (which I actually did- yay, go me!). Jordan plays heartfelt and raw, indie, emo-tinged punk, I guess; I often ask two things about a band I listen to: (1) does it make me tap my feet? and (2) does it come from the heart? Phaedra’s Love certainly ticks both of these boxes. Worth checking out.

Coffee Breath was up next, a local, Birmingham-based indie-emo band, who, according to their band profile, have “a mutual love of coffee”. Their set was certainly energetic, I’ll give them that. I knew them already from their ‘Lose Interest in This’ EP. While enjoyable, I feel that it’s live where Coffee Breath really shine. They played a kind of twinkly and math-y American Football-esque indie-emo that is at once intense and spacious. They have that quiet-loud thing going on that so many bands did in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. As well as this, the guitars kind of swirl around, developing a kind of daydream state among the gig-goers. I think you either ‘get’ this sound or you feel it is contrived and silly; I am definitely in the former camp.

Next up on the bill was Leicester’s Kermes. Another band I wasn’t familiar with at all prior to the gig, but they are a great ball of fun. I’m not too sure how to describe them: indie punk, screampop? There is certainly an abundance of melodies going on, as well as an aggressive punk attitude, but it’s not really pop-punk either. They have the bombast, fierce spirit and groove of bands like Pixies, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Julie Ruin. Whatever it is, it’s pretty cool: Kermes are theatrical and wouldn’t look out of place in an arena, but at the same time, are grounded in everyday gender politics.

So, up last, Nottingham’s Taco Hell with their second-to-last ever show. Argh! It’s the first time I had seen them live and, boy, do I regret that now. They were alright. No, wait, they were fucking great! With intensity and a gritty DIY punk feel throughout, but with a ton of melodies and boy-girl dual vocals thrown in, I was pretty captivated. Taco Hell played their latest record Bad at Being Average from front-to-back at break-neck speed, with album highlights “Same City” and “Twin Peaks References & Depression” sing-a-long, crunchy and hook-filled. A few oldies come in at the end, notably ending on the self-deprecating, fan favourite “Hold the Door”. Bittersweet? Ended too soon? Yep and yep, but at least it was sweet and at least it began.



Image result for live bodega nottingham Kevin Devine

So, this was a night of wonderful acoustic strumming and indie rock head-bobbing at the locally renowned Bodega in Nottingham. I liked all of the artists from this night and loved some of them. It was great that everyone put passion and soul into what they do, and put their own spin on the folk genre. So, there was variety on show here, but perhaps a shared vision and spirit.

First up was local folk/indie kid, George Gadd. I’ll admit two things: firstly, I had never heard of George before, despite this being my hometown, and secondly, I only saw about half of his set. However, what I saw was pretty good indeed. I realise that on his demo, he has recorded with a band, but here, it was just George and a guitar. It worked, what he did. There was a beautiful simplicity to it, highlighting his clear adeptness for songwriting. He reminds me, in parts, of early, raw Frank Turner, without the anger and lust for anarchy that Frank had in those days. The crowd were clearly getting pretty into it and the venue was ¾ packed, despite the early time. I would certainly be up for hearing more from Mr. Gadd!

Next up was another acoustic guy, who calls himself The Lion and The Wolf. He plays high intensity, but low tempo folk-country musings on subjects clearly close to his heart (such as his father being taken to hospital). I generally prefer my acoustic tales to have more energy to them, but it’s hard not to like The Lion and The Wolf when the songwriting is this good. I would put him sonically in the same ball-park as people like John Allen, Sam Russo or Ducking Punches. The brooding atmospherics of Sam Russo particularly come to mind, trading the gravelly vocals for more high-pitched, optimistic ones. The Lion and The Wolf talked about how he had quit his job a couple of years ago for a life strumming his guitar on the road, and that is always fucking cool to hear!

The penultimate act of the night was the wonderful Laura Stevenson. A Don Giovanni favourite, Laura plays folk with such wonderful emotional outpourings that it is difficult not to get completely invested in her songs. I’ve been a fan for a good few years, but go in and out of phases of listening to her records, but this gig certainly instigated a new listening period. I have seen her live once before a few years ago, with her band ‘the cans’, somewhat bizarrely in a theatre in Grenoble, France, supporting an Australian singer-songwriter (of which I forget the name). The Bodega was much more Laura’s forte and crowd. Without The Cans, Laura stuck to her slower, more intense tracks, avoiding the poppy energy of stuff like “Jellyfish”, which worked well in the environment. A good proportion of her set seemed to be from “The Wheel” album, the one I am least familiar with, but that I have now purchased. “The Move”, particularly stood out with its emotional honesty:  “You’re finally finding out that I’m not supposed to get better, but I said I won’t be quite like this forever, coz I’m a liar and a thief”. I’m also super glad that Laura played an oldie in “Nervous Rex” (one of the best croons ever on record: “And I haven’t left the house in about a hundred years”) as well as ending with what she describes herself as the “only happy song” she has ever written, “Barnacles”. Few folk artists have the vocal range and songwriting intensity as Laura, and seeing her live again reinforced this to me!

So, onto the main act of the night: Kevin Devine and his Goddamn band! This was the first artist of the night that played with a band, turning up the volume a few hundred notches, with their crunchy, but melodic take on indie rock. How to describe Kevin Devine? To simplify things, they remind me of a rougher, punkier version of Nada Surf, with intensely personal lyrics to boot. To be honest, I wasn’t too well-acquainted with Kevin’s work and was astounded to hear that he has just released his 9th album. How is this guy not totally huge? The hooks are massive, the live sound is tight as a gnat’s arse and the songwriting is up there with the best. Kevin book-ended the indie rock crunch with passionate, acoustic jamming, when the band went to take a rest in the back. As much as I like the full-band stuff, I think Kevin was at his best, when he was pouring his heart out with only a guitar and raw vocals. This included the fantastic “Ballgame”, “Brother’s Blood” and closer “I Was Alive Back Then”. A simply great set, and one which has properly brought me into Mr. Devine’s world. I’ve got a fair bit of back catalogue to get through…


Image result for dead kennedys recent pic

So, there I was at the O2 Academy in Islington. The same venue I saw Lagwagon in 2012. A rock music venue at a shopping mall. I had just eaten a Burrito at the fast food joint down the street that sold Mexican food. I guess I had mixed feelings about this concert. When I was 14, I used to think the Dead Kennedys were the ultimate poser band, the band it was cool to like if you wanted to be punk, but that actually wasn’t that good. Now later, I’ve learned to love a lot of their discography, especially their debut Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Jello Biafra’s sarcastic voice and lyrics grew on me as I got older and I also started to get more into the guitar sound as well. Still I’m not a big fan of the band. I also know that they have a new singer now. For a while, Jeff Penalty, writer of the NOFX book The Hepatitis Bathtub, took Biafra’s job. However, now the singer in the band is Ron “Skip” Greer, I was kind of worried the band would be like custard, somewhat good on its own, but pointless without Jello.

It’s safe to say I was pleasantly surprised. They played all the classics and every song you’d expect them to play, and most of the set existed of Fresh Fruit songs. During the last song, “Holiday in Cambodia” you could hear the entire crowd yell “Pol Pot!” as loud as they could. It’s one of the rare occasions you can do that without it being a bit scary. They also played probably my favorite DK song; “Moon over Marin” and they played it good: the New Wave moment of the show, if you like. Skip was a surprisingly great front man and he kept on egging on the audience, calling American football the real “football” and Soccer a game you would go to after ballet lessons, he also mentioned Brexit and several other somewhat controversial subjects and his egging definitely worked.  There was a great dynamic between him and the audience. It became an almost Americans vs the British battle and I was the Norwegian in the middle enjoying the fuck out of it, but thinking, “ouch, what’s gonna happen now?” at the same time. Another highlight of the show was the re-write of “MTV Get off the Air” called “MP3 Get off the Web”- hey, these guys are also modern!

The band functioned well as a whole, the bass and drums worked well together and East Bay Ray and his checkered belt (it looked a lot like mine!) and signature surfy sound brought the licks! Drummer D.H Peligro had a great speech about the Brixton riots and equality. Let’s also not forget that they played a Taylor Swift cover! (“Shake It Off”). And that was the night I learned that it’s pronounced “Ease-lington” instead of “Isle-Ington”. I thought it was an awesome show!



So, this was the ‘fireball’ tour. It was sponsored by fireball, which is apparently a kind of American whisky. I must say I had never heard of it before the gig. Although it was a sponsored tour, the fireball advertising wasn’t overkill, despite some ‘m ock marketing’ by Less Than Jake during their set (but that was mainly just an excuse to get some fans up on stage and dance). That 5 bands played for just £10 was pretty great, anyway. However, I must start this review by confessing that I actually missed the first band (blame British trains; this wouldn’t happen anywhere else in Europe), but apparently they were a Welsh pop-punk/pop-rock band called AMFX, who got onto part of the tour as competition winners. I have listened to the songs on their bandcamp a little bit (ok, once). They sound like an over-produced Motion City Soundtrack. End of review. Ok, time to move onto the bands I saw…

Right, so onto the second band of the night- Japanese ska-punk legends Kemuri…who I had never heard of before. Apparently, they formed in California in like 1995, but since re-forming, are now based in Tokyo. They are known for their Bad Brains-inspired PMA (positive mental attitude). Their set was pretty good. Fast-paced, energetic and catchy ska-punk; in the same ball-park as LTJ, but they have their own thing going on, too. Some songs are in Japanese and then some are in English. I’m just surprised that despite going a little bit of a ska-punk phase a few years back that I haven’t heard Kemuri before, especially since Roger from LTJ claimed that they were “bigger than Bieber in Japan”. Will be checking out their recorded stuff now!

The Skints were next up. The Skints are a ska-reggae band from London, who integrate soul elements into their sound. I like that they take influence from a number of different genres. There is no explicit ‘punk’ element to their sound, but they are more punk and  DIY in spirit. They definitely hark back to the 2 tone era and The Specials influence is clear. So much so, that I keep thinking that they are actually from Birmingham or Coventry, but then I hear them speak! They played the well-known stuff, like “This Town” and “Rat-a-tat”, and the crowd was definitely into it. Some real dancing contests going on. Their sound does become a little repetitive though and I certainly drifted off towards the end of the set. The lack of obvious hooks or melody is an issue, but overall, I still enjoyed it.

Band number four: Mariachi El Bronx. If you don’t know, this is the mariachi side project of punk band The Bronx. It is all the same band members as The Bronx; it is essentially The Bronx’s Mexican-inspired alter-ego. I have seen them live once before, when they supported, um, The Bronx. A few years back, the band did a tour where they played a mariachi set as Mariachi El Bronx, before going off stage, getting changed and then coming back on and playing a ferocious, intense punk set as The Bronx. It was pretty cool. I saw that in a small side room of a club, so this set by Mariachi El Bronx didn’t have the same intense, personal feeling as before, but it was still a ton of fun. The mariachi thing is a kind of ‘schtick’ I guess, but it’s fun, catchy and brings a smile to your face, so whatever. If you’re in need of cheering up, I would definitely recommending seeing this lot live.


So, onto the main event: the imperious Less Than Jake. I was super excited to see them. One of my all-time favourite bands. A little like Ramones or NOFX, I don’t actually listen to them so much these days, but they remain what I consider to be one of my ‘classic’ bands. So, yes, I was pretty pumped for this and Less Than Jake met or even exceeded my already high expectations. It was an absolute classic set, filled with all the ‘hits’: “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”, “All My Best Friends…”, “Look What Happened”, “The History of a Boring Town”. I don’t think they missed out a song I really wanted to hear live. 90% of the set was basically comprised of Losing Streak and Hello Rockview, which was incredible. That is where their best stuff is to be found, something Roger from LTJ acknowledged on stage. He basically admitted that their best material was their early stuff and that because of this, they form their set around tracks from that era. Unlike some bands, they don’t feel pressure to focus on their more recent material. LTJ used Green Day as an example of a band who have distanced themselves from their earlier songs!

LTJ were super-energetic, fun and didn’t mess about too much between songs. The sound was amazing for their set; I haven’t really noticed that before about this venue, but the guitars were crunchy and the vocals clear. They started their encore with just the singer acoustically playing “Rest of my Life”, before the full band came on during the second verse, which was pretty perfect. I’m not even a huge fan of the song, but done this way, it was fantastic. This was followed by: “All my best friends…” and “Look What Happened”. A perfect end to a perfect set.



Folk gigs can often be a tad overlong and wearisome, but this one was compact, varied and involved three great acts in Chuck Ragan, Skinny Lister and Tim Vantol. Dutch folk singer Tim Vantol was up first, playing to a fairly sizable crowd at the Institute, despite it being only 7.30pm. Vantol made the most of it, initiating sing-a-longs and encouraging the crowd to get involved. I have only relatively recently begun listening to him and while I’ve enjoyed him fine on record, he kind of blew me away live. Tim plays sometimes with a full band (and he said that he will be coming back to the UK with full-band shows, indeed), but here he played solo, yet that did not lessen the power of his show. He plays with an earnestness and heart-on-sleeve attitude not dissimilar to Chuck Ragan himself or Frank Turner in his earlier days. His voice is arguably as strong as Chuck’s, too, though nowhere near as gravelly or gruff. Tim largely focused on playing songs from his new record “If We Go Down, We’ll Go Together” (which will be reviewed on this site in the coming weeks), and the personal highlights of that included the title track and “Apologies, I Have Some”. Certainly an artist worth seeing live!

And then the party started! I had never previously heard of Skinny Lister before, but safe to say I was impressed with their party folk-punk shanty sing-alongs. Skinny Lister are a six piece, London-based traditional folk band, including an accordion player and a female lead singer, who has a perfect voice for this kind of music. This is campfire punk rock done well, with a tune and a party atmosphere; as Skinny Lister pass around their flagon of rum, you may not be able to resist jigging along to their little folk ditties. I like that they have diversity in their songs so it doesn’t get boring. There are slow-paced, vocal-centric, almost showtunes, as well as the fast-paced traditional folk sing-alongs. Highly enjoyable!

And then came on who most had been waiting for: the one and only Chuck Ragan, in support of his latest album “Till Midnight”. The last time I saw him live (supporting Frank Turner), he was great, but didn’t have too long to play for, so it was satisfying to see him (along with the Camaraderie) as the main act and play a proper set. Chuck played plenty of songs from his new album, but there was time for 2 or 3 songs from the classic Feast or Famine album back from 2007, which are a bit grittier in comparison to the newer material. I was pretty happy when he played “The Boat” from that album as the penultimate song, as I regard that as probably his best tune. Chuck’s voice is as strong as ever; I don’t know how he can carry that intensity and power throughout an hour long gig. All in all, this was a hell of an evening, managing to see Chuck for the first time in years, and discovering two relatively new folk artists.


Hey, look, it’s another Amp Session live! Three different bands to last time, but the quality was still as good. Kicking off the evening were Staring Out The Sun, a relatively new rock band from London, whose debut EP came out last month. It is difficult to say exactly, but I think Staring Out The Sun probably stole the show. Their brand of emphatic, energetic rock, complete with cool breakdowns, chugging guitars and powerful vocals, works so well in the live setting. The lead singer, in particular, really interacted well with the audience (an already packed venue by this point). It reminded me at points of mid-00s alt rock like Fightstar or Thrice! Next up were Affairs, an altogether different proposition, synth-y, ethereal indie rock, in the vein of Interpol, Bloc Party or a dancier Smiths. The memorable part of their performance was perhaps not the music itself, but the theatrical performance of the lead singer, as he swayed/danced about on stage. Along with his vocals, he is reminiscent of Ian Curtis or Morrisey. Of their set, their latest single “Blood Science” stood out as the most powerful song. Van Susans were the final band on of the night, showcasing their poppy, folk-y rock, with keyboard and violin sounds to boot. They have built a decent sized fan base already and you can see why. The five-piece band are very tight and are clearly very comfortable playing together. You can totally see their stuff being played regularly on Radio 2! All in all, another successful Amp Session night then, helped by the sheer variety of bands on display.

Check out The Amp Session here:


I will open this review by admitting that this is only a partial review of the pop-punk all-dayer in Manchester, as, thanks to train delays and sleeping too much, I missed the first four bands. So, if you want a comprehensive review of this gig, look away now, but I’m sure that Munters, Junior Vice President, Werecats and Get Human were all awesome. The good thing is that at such a packed gig, I still had SIX bands left to see, so all was not too bad in the world.

Anyway, back to what I actually saw, and band number five came on the stage: Andrew Cream, backed by a full band. I knew very few songs by Mr. Cream before this gig, but I’ve listened to pretty much everything since. They were really excellent. He has been gigging on the DIY punk circuit for a while, but only recently has he been backed by a full band. I’m not sure if this is going to be a permanent thing or not, but it really worked to bring out his sound better. The sound, if you were wondering, is passionate, yet melodic, personal folk-punk ditties. Andrew joked that he was the odd-one out in a pop-punk all-dayer, but when it works this well, who gives a shit? Next up were local pop-punkers and crowd favourites Don Blake, who play fast and melodically. All of their songs are short, sharp segments of poppy fun. The vocal melodies remind me quite a bit of Mike TV. They apparently rattled through 17 songs in their set, and I felt quite worn out by the end just watching them.

Surf’s up with The Lemonaids! This is Glasgow’s best (and only) surf-punk band. They have described themselves as Beach Boys meets The Ramones and that is not far off wrong. They play super-happy, super-melodic, highly-energetic pop-punk, all clad in Hawaiian shirts with a focus on all things surf. Yes, it is pretty generic Ramonescore, and admittedly, I found listening to the album a bit much when I first heard it, but The Lemonaids rule live. They are full of the energy perhaps lacking in their recorded material (which I find with much Ramonescore). So much fun. Most of the hits played here are from their most recent album Back to the Beach. Next up were The Kimberely Steaks, and more pop-punk from Glasgow (and indeed include at least one member of The Lemonaids in their line-up). But rather than surfing and beach babes, The ‘Steaks deal with isolation, boredom, alcohol dependency and Streets of Rage. Much more suited to Glasgow. To Live and Die in West Central Scotland is one of my favourite punk releases of 2014 and they did not disappoint live. All of the best songs off that were played, including “On My Mind” and “My Quarter Life Crisis”. Live, they do not mess about and shred through their set-list at super-speed. It may be the Billie-Joe like vocals, but they remind me of, even more so live, early Green Day at twice the tempo. Like if your Kerplunk cassette had got caught and started playing at the wrong speed. But yes, this was ace and when I felt like the All-Dayer really started to get MENTAL.

And then the Zatopeks came on. This was the band I was probably most excited about seeing. I had seen them before live, but when I wasn’t totally aware of just how awesome they are. Plus, I realised how much of a rarity this live show would be these days, with a high percentage of Zatopeks members now residing outside of the UK. Anyway, this was great. The set was full of energy and passion, with singer Will de Niro spending most of the time off the stage. And the hits were played, oh yes they were. I like that there was a decent variety of stuff played, spanning over all three of their albums, including “City Lights”, “Turkish Bread Chronicle” and the ‘political section’, which comprised of “The Daily Mail” and “Politics”. I hope it’s not too long before they are back. And finally to the headliners Lipstick Homicide on their first ever European tour. It took me a long time to get properly into this band, and I realised during watching them here that I now definitely was pretty fucking into them. LipHo killed it. Energy, passion and precision: it was all there. There was not an ounce of fat on their set. Most of the songs played were from their latest LP Out Utero, with the main exception being a cover of “Today the World, Tomorrow the Girl”, during their spontaneous encore. This is one of the few times when I have felt that an encore has been deserved. An awesome end to an awesome day. I think pop-punk is still doing alright, y’know.



I have already written about the awesomeness of The Amp Session on these very virtual pages, so I will say little more about the internet radio station, except that this was their first organised gig. The bands involved in the debut Amp Session Live! were diverse and stimulating. First up were The Landed, which I missed the majority of, thanks to London Midland and ‘unforeseen delays’. However, that song and a half I heard were pretty great, and what I’ve heard since on Soundcloud proved that it wasn’t the beer distorting my hearing. The Landed play traditional blues-y rock, but are clearly influenced by ‘70s and ‘80s power-pop, with melodic choruses a-plenty. It’s energetic, toe-tapping stuff, and I would like to actually hear a full set next time. Next up were Surray’s Rival Empires, a female-fronted, anthemic rock band full of vigour and passion. They look like a band already made for a big stage at a festival, and that is partly down to the stage presence and ‘cool’ factor of lead singer Lucy Albury. I usually try to avoid lazy comparisons, but Paramore definitely came to mind when watching Rival Empires: big rock choruses, soaring vocals and sing-a-long parts, it’s all there. And then the main band came on, in the form of something completely original and alternative: pirate music. That’s right. Completely clad from head to toe in pirate gear, the aptly named Peerless Pirates tore up the stage with their folk-based ditties about their pirate lives. Things kicked up a gear dance floor wise at this point, as their swashbuckling groupies got merry and danced the night away. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but it’s a damn fun one and Peerless Pirates fit in perfectly in a pub environment. And that marked the end of an awesome, but musically and stylistically diverse night of music. Arr, mateys, cheers to that!


Day Two

The second day was less stressful and there built up a bit of a nervous excitement for Screeching weasel; I just couldn’t believe I was gonna see this band, that had affected my life in so many ways, live. The first band to be seen this Saturday was Snuff, the great British Punk band that has horn sections in their arrangement with a singing drummer and who made one of the best albums last year; .5-4-3-2-1 perhaps. They finished the set with “Arsehole” which might be their catchiest song and even though it was early in the evening a few people sang along. The next band would be ALL, a band that I haven’t paid much attention to except Mass nerder, but they played some great songs including “Until I say so”. I got two beers to drink before the screeching weasel set, which might not have been the best idea. I chugged the rest of the second beer when Ben went into their opening number “I’m Gonna Strangle You”. I had gotten a fanny pack to keep under my hoodie this time so that I could jump around as much as I could without losing my shit. I probably looked quite far right there, with my beer gut that was actually a fanny pack, chugging half my beer. I even got a shout out “This song goes out to a chubby little boy from Norway called René” and I got “Ashtray”; it was an amazing experience. The band played fantastically and Ben was on fire; well I mean that metaphorically, even though there was smoke in the pit and everyone had soot in their faces and we all left with black lungs and a cough, I have no idea what happened. Screeching weasel played for 50 minutes and tried to squeeze in as many classics as possible and the crowd were, even though a bit fewer people, about as energetic as at the NOFX set the night before and Screeching weasel did top them in performance too. This was the best show I’ve seen in my life and I’m sure few things can actually top this. We got to hear “My Brain Hurts”, “Science of Myth”, “Hey Suburbia”, “Joannie Loves Johnny”, “My Right” and the fantastic “I Wanna Be With You Tonight”. They finished with “Cool Kids” as a “fuck you” to all the punk rock scenesters. I never thought anyone would top NOFX, but Screeching weasel definitely did!

After that I got a Screeching weasel shirt even though they only had it in XXL and put it on top of my Descendents hoodie and felt even bigger, it was great! Next band up were New Found glory and I went around thirsty and tried to get the soot out of my face and out of my lungs and I started to get a little drunk and I tried to drink from the spring water at the festival and the guards said I could get sick the next day, but I didn’t seem to care much. I was shocked these guards hadn’t listened to Screeching weasel. New found glory played basically all the songs I wanted to hear from them and 13 year old René came to life again and this time he was old enough to get drunk. He would sing along to songs like “Sincerely Me”, “My Friends Over You” and “Forget My Name”, in fact “Forget My Name” was stuck in my head for weeks. It started to get dark quickly and on the Macbeth stage the Ska band The Toaster played and they put on a great show even though I had never heard any of their songs before. The last band of the entire festival were The Offspring, which had as large of an audience as NOFX, but people didn’t to me seem to go as nuts. Like NOFX the Offspring played their classic album from 1994, and for them that was Smash. For some reason, they played it in order, but put “Self esteem” last. The band sounded pretty good, but you could tell they were more “rockstars” than the rest of the bands playing with their “we love you guys” and “we’re so horny for you guys” speeches, that seemed kind of scripted, but their performance was pretty good even though it was far from the best one at the festival and they finished what was a great weekend full of cold beer, great music and nice food. The Currywürst and the Mexicano burger were awesome! An unforgettable time for sure, I can imagine myself still remembering Groezrock even when I sit around chewing my false teeth, shitting my pants and struggling to even remember my own name.


Groezrock is a punk, hardcore, metalcore, emo festival with some other stuff included, it’s held in April every year in the small village of Meerhout in Belgium. This was the first time I went to the festival, mainly because four of my favorite bands were playing from four different eras of my life. The Descendents which I discovered when I was 14 and Cool to be you was in my CD-player for almost all of the summer of 2004. NOFX, whom I sort of started listening to when I was 13, but which I really got into and basically obsessed with at 15 and who still holds a special place in my punk rock heart. Screeching weasel, which was the band that made being seventeen somewhat bearable! And Alkaline Trio which I had listened to a bit since I was 12, but when I became 18 I went nuts and got From Here to Infirmary” followed by Goddamnit and started getting into all the others as I waited for “Agony and irony” and couldn’t believe all the good tunes I had missed. Of all these bands Screeching Weasel was of course the band which I was looking forward to the most, with a discography that in few years had shaped my life almost as much as Blink-182 had done in my earlier teens. The festival was packed with other bands too, but these bands sure seems most important to me.

Of course there was also The Offspring that I had an ambivalent relationship with in my childhood. “Why don’t you get a job?” always made me wonder why this dude hated the beach so much and what that had to do with him having a girlfriend and “Pretty fly (for a white guy)” made a guy who basically hated the radio, sing along to a nr 1 hit. The album Conspiracy of One freaked me out and I was afraid to put it in the CD-player because it had a skull on it and of course the CD-player broke after the first song, but I thought the album was surprisingly good, even though everyone else liked it and I was more into parody boy bands and the Beatles. What I really hated at the time were energy drinks and when they had energy drinks in their video for “Want You Bad” even if I loved the song, I couldn’t like that band anymore and I knew they stood for exactly all I hated! I would later as I got into punk rock get into them more and in 2004 Ixnay on the Hombre would often replace Cool to be you in the CD-player for a while. And of course there’s New Found Glory, who I thought sounded like a boy band playing way too loud punk music when I was younger, but couldn’t help getting into them and one of my favorite albums by them no Catalyst had to be put down at the record shop when I saw Cool to be you and found out how amazing it was. I of course got Catalyst a few weeks later, see it’s all connected? So I don’t know if this counts as a review, as I am probably way too biased for that, so this will be more of a mix of storytelling, reviewing and sharing my experience.


Day 1

The first day was hectic and a late arrival at the festival due to not finding the hotel made me miss bands like Bodyjar, Saves the day and Lawrence arms (which I had already seen before, so that wasn’t that much of a big deal) So the first band which I would see were Alkaline trio, which were weirdly placed at quarter to eight and played for fifty minutes even though they are the only band except for the Offspring and New Found glory whose had Billboard top twenty albums. They started off as usual with their classic from Good mourning; “This could be love” which made the crowd sing along, and so did I. They played a lot of their classics like “Stupid kid” and “Private eye” and “Sadie” and ended with another sing along; “Radio”. There were however a bunch of numbers that seemed kind of stale, especially Dan’s considering how many great songs he sings like “Message to Kathleen”, “Love love love, kiss kiss” and “I’m dying tomorrow” or “Only love” from My shame is true, but still sang songs that were just OK.

All in all it was a great show, speaking of All, the next band up were the Descendents, before the show I went and got a Descendents hoodie to keep my stuff in. This wasn’t the best idea. When the Descendents started I was in the middle of the pit, they started the set with “Everything Sux” and I decided to go wild in da pit! Afterwards I was gonna check my phone and realized it wasn’t there and laughed to myself “imagine losing my phone at a Descendents show?” I then realized it was a fact, I had indeed lost my phone in the pit during the first song. After that I got sort of frustrated and held on to my belongings while I got my frustration out while singing along to the Descendents classics. For a few moments I forgot that I was in deep shit. The setlist was pretty cool. However, I think it’s the same setlist they played last time they were at Groezrock, except in a different order (according to Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are so many great songs they could’ve played like “In Love This Way” or “Cheer” or “Christmas Vacation” or “Anchor Grill” or “Cool to Be You”. Hell, even “Cameage” would be cool to hear! But still this show had all the classics like “Silly girl”, “Get the Time”, “Suburban Home”, “Descendents” (which ended the show) and it was great hearing the crowd sing along to “Nothing With You” which was the first Descendents song I heard and the song that made me buy Cool to be you and one of my favorite songs of all time. It was also pretty cool how they brought the tablet of stone with the “all-o-gistics” when they played the song. And the performance was pretty sweet through and through! After the show I was rather bummed out that I had lost my phone and felt like the whole trip might be ruined.

About an hour before NOFX went on stage a couple of dudes from the Netherlands had found my phone and taken bunch of pictures of themselves on it (even one where they were mooning). I was quite happy my phone had ended in the hands of such nice and funny people. I felt such a relief and it was the greatest feeling I had felt in a long time, it’s true what they say, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and you don’t appreciate happiness until you find something you’ve lost. This made me really stoked for the NOFX show. They had promised to play Punk in Drublic in its entirety, which they had done before while dropping a few songs, so I figured this would be the deal here. They started up with “60%” their proclamation of always playing a bit over half-assed, but still having fun. Funnily enough, this song was their first false start (which there would be a lot of during their set) they then went into play some more recent classics and Milo from the Descendents came in and did the vocals on “Quart in Session”(he also did “Champs Elysées” with them) and Bill Stevenson also stopped by. And after “Seeing Double at the Triple Rock” Fat Mike announced that it was time to do Punk in Drublic and that they might miss a few songs and they were not gonna do it in order(because apparently Eric Melvin didn’t want to). There were lots of songs they hadn’t done much and hadn’t practiced, and there were lots of false starts, which to me made the band, seem more authentic instead of just being a robot band. However, Fat Mike’s vocals were perfect, and so were El Hefe’s (as usual, I guess). They spat out hit after hit and I and all the other motherfuckers sang along and the pit never stopped moving, the pit also equaled the entire area, basically. Fat Mike also said they had never played it before when they went into “Dig”, which was wrong as they had played it at Punk rock bowling 2012 (just being a fucking nerd here), but “Happy Guy” they played live for the first time and they played it great and at that moment I went absolutely nuts, for a moment I was right up with the stage and looked Fat Mike right in the eyes and probably freaked him out. They ended the set with their cover of “The Shortest Pier” by Tony Sly as a tribute to him. When the show was over I thought it was the greatest show I had ever seen and wondered “How could something possibly top this?”