w/ Ignite, A Global Threat, Modern Life is War
09.14.06 @ Temple Club, Lansing, MI
For a fourteen dollar cover charge, everyone who stepped into the club that night got their money’s worth. Spotlighting a five-band bill that transitioned back and forth perfectly from street punk to hardcore, there was something for everyone- because even if you didn’t like any of the bands, the drink specials were generous enough to help you forget that.
Local talent Thrashing in the Streets delivered the first short set, ten minutes of generic street punk, followed by one of the best things to come out of Iowa since homemade wheat bread, Modern Life Is War. These guys deserve copious credit for putting on a decent show with all members apparently stricken with some sort of flu or virus.
Most of the area’s pretentious punks had the art of being fashionably late down to a science, and strutted in just in time to crowd the club and destroy anything in sight for A Global Threat’s set. Their best live song being “Free Will,” AGT’s set shined as the angriest of the night. Their pissed off energy transferred into the veins of anyone who had participated in a vocal lamentation earlier on the death of punk, who all seemed to don the same Aus Rotten shirt, two of which who had dented my car earlier that night in a drunken skateboarding wreck. To whoever you were, you’re lucky you all had the same exact blond mohawks and I couldn’t tell you apart.
After being knocked off a bar table by a stagediver while trying to get some “aerial” photos (thanks, “cute guy with dreadlocks” who caught me, by the way), I entertained the thought of maybe watching Ignite’s set from a comfortable stool by the bar, where I wouldn’t have to worry about potential injuries. But the second they walked onstage, Ignite blew me away, and I was drawn like a moth to a flame. This band poured their hearts out; dedicating melodic, well-played, beautiful hardcore songs to fathers who refused to be deadbeats, fallen friends, and the other bands on the tour. They sounded exceptionally crisp, clear and collected live, which is more than I can say for the three previous acts. Vocalist Zoli Teglas spoke smartly in between songs about drunk driving and politics, without coming across as just another psuedo-scholar musician trying to preach to disinterested fans. In fact, people I had spoken to earlier who expressed repulsion for hardcore were openmouthed during Ignite’s set. Personally, I hung onto Teglas’ every word (spoken, screamed or sang) along with everyone else around me- and even the AGT fanatics who migrated to the back corner to show their distrust for any band who couldn’t be on a compilation with the Casualties- I know I saw some of their eyes wander over in intrigue to look at the band behind the intelligent commentary. At their ending song, some people bowed their heads, a couple pulled out lighters, and others raised their beers to show respect.
Headliners Strike Anywhere finished off their unprecedented venture into Lansing, Michigan with a strong set. The tracks they played off of new release Dead FM were the best received, and the band’s energy and genuine kindness was undeniable. Guitarist Matt Sherwood not only put up with, but smiled and laughed with me when I crouched a foot away from his mic stand to blind him with my flash and snap a photo. They had an interesting story between songs about how their RV had broken down and the other bands on the tour had picked them up. Regardless, they couldn’t captivate my attention as well as Ignite had, so me and my companion favored starting a drunken “To The World” sing-a-long towards the back of the club, even though he and I weren’t in the best shape for remembering lyrics.
By the end of the night, it was pretty obvious that although about half of the show goers had arrived solely to see Strike Anywhere, supporting band Ignite stole their thunder. Most of the conversation that could be heard pouring out of the mouths of roadies, journalists, fans, and club staff alike seemed to revolve around Ignite’s powerful show … with the exception of a few self-important mohawk aficionados still railing about how the voice of our generation lies only in identical Punkcore Records bands. But you know what? Those are the kinds of kids who will never allow themselves to admit the existence of passion when a band like Ignite radiates it. Those are the kinds of kids concerned more about appearance than the actual show. Those are the kinds of kids who dent other people’s cars. And to them, I say, quit denying yourself the opportunity to appreciate music you may not have expected. And if I can’t pop that dent back out … oh, shit, you have no idea…
Photos by Becky Fritter
Crossed Keys – Saviors
Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds
Philadelphia’s Crossed Keys are an interesting intersection between melodic hardcore and punk, taking an earnest approach to the sound that made its way from the underground in the late 90s and early 2000s. This relatively new outfit is the result of Kid Dynamite and Samiam in a blender- in the best way possible. The Kid Dynamite influence may be a given since Crossed Eyes features KD’s drummer Dave Wagenschutz, but the band’s pedigree also includes members of bands like Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer and The Curse, all backing the melancholic vocal work of frontman Joshua Alvarez (Halo of Snakes). So while Crossed Keys are somewhat new, its members have been cutting their teeth within their respective circles for years, and their new EP Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds.
Saviors is backboned by the furious urgency and energy that Kid Dynamite showed through their history, but while Jason Shevchuk’s vocals were beautifully abrasive, Alvarez takes a more restrained, wistful approach to singing. Songs like the opening “Times of Grace” are musically up-tempo percussions and razor-sharp guitars, but are buoyed by Alvarez’s more melodic vocals. His vocals rest at a good place between Samiam’s Jason Beebout and that NYHC tone exhibited by bands like Token Entry and Grey Area. In songs like “R.J.A” and the closing title track, Crossed Keys find more success with their brand of blistering speed meets harmony- slowing down only for the kind of melancholic punk that made Samiam a noted name. While much of Saviors is built on pace, it wasn’t always this way for the band. In fact, their 2017 EP, I’m Just Happy That You’re Here, leans closer to Samiam than it does to Kid Dynamite (the song “Jeff Pelly vs. The Empire” is particularly fantastic), so there’s been an uptick of urgency with Saviors.
For fans of any of the aforementioned bands here, there is plenty to like with Crossed Keys and plenty to like in Saviors. It’s succinct, to the point, but filled with ample reflection and exploration that gives the EP depth and resonance. Any band that has found influence from Kid Dynamite is most certainly OK by us (this site is named after a KD song after all), but Crossed Keys does more than just tip their cap. This one’s a really good one, and worth your time.
Every last time: Revisiting Gameface’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”
A glorious sound of a time gone by
Southern California’s Gameface were always a band that seemed perfect just below the cusp. Their brand of pop-tinged punk was somewhere in between the melancholy driven emo of the early 1990s to what would become of radio-friendly punk bands evolving from the Jimmy Eat Worlds of the… world.
I loved this band. It was songs like “My Star” and “When You’ve Had Enough” that captured my attention. They didn’t fit in with the punk explosion of the mid-90s and had more melodic chops than those that remained in the underground with bands like Quicksand and Texas is the Reason (the latter being the most musically similar).
To this day, I count their track “How Far Is Goodbye?” as one I can listen to on any given day and still feel the same way about it as I did years ago. It’s a glorious sound of a time gone by, and Jeff Caudill, who has been the backbone of their songwriting since the beginning, has still got the chops his ilk can only dream of. There’s a tinge of melancholy that conjures up a certain sadness, a scene in a movie where the protagonist is making their exit into the distance as the scene closes. Something about the song, the sentiment, and the lyrics that always reminds of driving away while looking at the rear view mirror.
Five years ago Gameface released a new album, Now Is What Matters, an album that perfectly encapsulated their ability to write with emotion, melody, and magnetism that only a select few seem to possess. I interviewed frontman Jeff Caudill before the album came out to chat about the band, an interview I think still holds up. Caudill has been busy since then with a lot of solo material, while the band themselves have been releasing music sporadically (mostly singles) since 2014.
While their catalog is deep, there’s one song I keep coming back to, and that’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”. Originally released on the split 10″ vinyl with Errortype: 11 in 2000, the song received an update in 2018, which you can hear below.
Gameface photo from Gameface facebook page.