Mest and Showoff: Hometown Heroes


Riot Fest is the gift that keeps on giving. Each year, the festival boasts one of the best line ups in the country, attracting an older, matured audience that has appreciated their music for years. All the more reason then, to be excited for Mest’s recent show in Chicago at the Concord Theater, sponsored by Riot Fest. Five solid hours of punk rock punctuated by a nearly sold out house supporting Chicago-based and local bands. If there was ever a way to feel the love of the genre, it’s seeing homegrown bands receive the groundswell support of the very city they helped establish the sound for.

I’ve worried for quite some time whether Riot Fest would return to Chicago at all, given the bullshit hassles the festival has had to go through over the last couple of years finding a park to house them for the weekend. How wonderful then, to see the festival sponsoring one-off shows throughout the year as a special treat to keep anticipation high. Much like the main festival, the crowd was filled with a range of ages, from teenage punks, to those in their mid-thirties reliving their youth in the circle pit.

Although all the bands playing were local punk bands, the three stand outs where the last half of the show- Much the Same, Showoff, and Mest. All three bands became success stories in their own way, paving the sound of Chicago punk in the late 90’s and early 2000’s before eventually breaking up sometime near 2005 (coincidence? I think not!). Ten years later, the bands had reformed in their own ways, much to the delight of the city’s thankful fans, who came out on their weekends off of work to see the music they worshiped in their youth.

I’ve made a big deal about Lucky Boys Confusion being the sound of Chicago, but the fact is that any of these bands could have held that title, and depending on who you/ ask, they do. It’s an odd thing to see a show where each band is just as loved as the one before it, all the while the crowd becomes more and more excited just to see any of them play one more time.

Much the Same was the first band to cause a pit to form. I’m fairly unfamiliar with their music, unfortunately, but their brand of high intensity punk shook the room. The band’s stage presence was quiet, maintaining minimal movement while letting the music speak for itself. The more energetic in the crowd made their way deep into the crowd to jump and use up their energy. It felt like a classic punk show, in that there was genuine love for the music regardless of the scene. Maybe it was age, but the band stood firm for the most part, looking out over the crowd calmly over churning guitar chords and the rampant drumming.

Showoff took the stage second to last to roaring applause. Going back to listen to bands that made it big in the late 90’s or early 2000’s, it can sometimes be hard to see why the band made it big when they did. Seeing them live, it entirely made sense before the end of the first song. A smooth mix of pop punk, skate punk and ska, Showoff blasted away to the sound of the entire audience reciting every lyric back to them.

They’ve had ample time to learn; Showoff just released their second album after 15 years. Their fans are a loyal bunch, dancing to “Ralphie” and “Bully” the way they did when they were kids. “Falling Star”, the band’s biggest hit, was a definite highlight of the evening.

Showoff’s appeal is how easily they sway through genre. What can be a common pop punk song can just as soon become a ska fantasy or hard rock. Vocalist Chris Envy peppered in rap elements amongst his singing, perhaps the only feature to remind you that the songs were written in 2000. “The Anti-Song”, one of the fastest songs on their Self-Titled album, closed off the set, sending the crowd into a frenzy before walking off.


Mest headlined the evening, shredding the night away with classic pop punk. A good portion of their set came from their Self-Titled album, as “Until I Met You” and “Jaded (These Years)” met the audience to deafening noise. The band commanded the stage, raging through hometown classics. Lead vocalist Tony Lovato crawled onto a sea of outspread arms, singing while standing on platforms of hands.

Being unfamiliar with Mest for most of my life, I enjoyed the show as another pop punk concert. The people near me though, jumped to each song as though it were their favorite. One man, beer in hand, jumped from group to group, encouraging everyone he saw to dance while shouting, “I love Mest!” while couple of obnoxious fans kept calling for an early hit, “What’s the Dillio?” at every opportunity  between songs (this request thankfully never became fulfilled). Closing out the night was “Rooftops”, a song reflecting on the good times and listening to punk rock.

One of the highlights of pop punk is that it finds you in the formative years, and although there is a drop off with age, the songs you grow up with retain their rebellion and youth for as long as you’re alive to hear them. Mest’s show was a tsunami of nostalgia for the kids who grew up on Chicago’s chugging punk rock, and the basis for which countless bands based themselves on.

Seeing a concert hall packed from the outset, and not just to see the headliner, is something that rarely seems to happen, much less followed by the entire room falling in love with their rebellious spirit again. It’s the perfect spirit to be honed in on by Riot Fest, and the perfect bands to represent Chicago as a city.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and can’t get the taste of pita out of his mouth.


Pop Punk Legends Yellowcard and New Found Glory Rock Concord Music Hall


A New Found Glory show can only be measured in one way: how drenched in sweat you are when it’s over. If you’re dry, you never cared for their music in the first place.

There’s an energy in the air the entire show, no matter who goes on before, or even after. It’s one of the reasons that their legacy and career has endured the rise, fall and rebirth of pop punk. It’s something that seems to emit from the bands that grew from the early 2000’s, and one that only another band from that era can replicate.

Yellowcard is one of those bands, and one of the most engaging. After almost two decades, the kids who grew up on these bands have refused to give up on them; a full house at the Concord Music Hall in Chicago consisted of everyone between the ages of 18 and 35 ready to open a circle pit.  As Yellowcard’s Ryan Key himself said, “If we had done this same tour in 2003, it would have been magical. But it’s 2015, and you’re still here.”

It was the first time Yellowcard and New Found Glory have toured North America together in their careers. If the first of their two night stay in Chicago was any indication, fans have been waiting a long time for this team up. Before opening band Tigers Jaw even took the stage, the room was packed. The sleek interior of the theater spaced people out nicely while filling the center, the entire eclipsing balcony full of onlookers. When Tigers Jaw finally emerged, they had a nearly full house.

Tigers Jaw mesmerized the room, jamming to a somber indie sounding version of pop punk. Dual vocalists, Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh trading and sharing vocals held firm against the popping guitar and hypnotic keyboard. Being unfamiliar with the band, I had no idea what any of their songs were or which album they could have come from. But they were wonderful. Their music took me back to a simplified style of songwriting that still managed to hit every correct note that hooked you in and refused to let go. I could understand why they had been around so long as a band, and why so many people had arrived early to see them.

Though they never hit the high mark of energy or noise of the rest of the night, their relaxed and steady stage presence paved their own path. The biggest mistake bands that tour with behemoths like Yellowcard or NFG can make is to sound like a pale imitation of either one, which is a trap that Tigers Jaw never fell into.



Yellowcard took the middle spot, demolishing the room upon entry. Guitars blazing and violin ripping, they tore immediately into the early catalog from Ocean Avenue with songs “Way Away” and “Breathing”. Every major single was hit, from “Lights and Sounds” to “Always Summer” and yet another riotous performance of “Ocean Avenue” enveloped the crowd, encouraging violinist Sean Mackin to do a back flip mid-song early on. One of the highlights of their set included vocalist Ryan Key alone on stage playing the keyboard for a softer, intimate version of fan favorite “Empty Apartment”.

The biggest detriment to Yellowcard is their range in discography. Each album has its favorites, and no concert will ever be able to cover everything fans want to hear. Aside from the hits, the band focused on two albums specifically; Ocean Avenue and Lift a Sail. “Crash the Gates” and “Lift a Sail” sound much better and harder in person than they ever could on an album, and it breathes new life into a record that sounds unlike anything else the band has put out.

While the band themselves put on an amazing performance, of note is current drummer Tucker Rue, formerly of Thursday. Longineu W. Parsons III is a brilliant drummer (my personal favorite), and filling his shoes is no small feat. Obviously a veteran, Rue managed to engage and make missing Parsons not hurt quite as bad.

New Found Glory

New Found Glory

New Found Glory headlined the evening, opening with a scorching rendition of “Resurrection”. From there, it didn’t matter what they played; each song might as well have been their big hit. Fan favorite “Hit or Miss” jolted the crowd early (rather than be a closing song) and spurred multiple circle and mosh pits. “All Downhill From Here”, “Selfless” and “Vicious Love” with a guest appearance by Brianna from Tigers Jaw were a few of the highlights, but the energy never so much as wavered throughout the set.

The only thing that paused the band from jumping across the stage at any time was when they pointed to a fan in the front row named Brad and not only invited him on stage, but asked him to pick a song that wasn’t on their set list and sing it was Jordan. He chose “Second to Last” from the band’s self-titled album, prompting the crowd to chant “Brad! Brad! Brad!” and guitarist Chad Gilbert to momentarily throw quick glances at the rest of the band to make sure they all remembered how to play it before rampaging through the song as though it were their big single.

New Found Glory remains one of the few bands that have not only retained their fanbase the entirety of their career, they have also kept their core sound intact while making each release sound new and intimidating among a new generation of musicians inspired by and evolving off of NFG. Every song they play, regardless of which record, sounds just as important as any song that could have made them a radio phenomenon. The audience jumped as though they had seen the band a dozen times before, and would see them again a dozen more. One man held his young daughter up on his shoulders in the back for her to see, and although she couldn’t have been more than five years old, NFG was already shaping her to be a new generation raised on their music.

Pop punk is a scene meant to push its way into your life, and immediately leave to some degree. Whether that means that you outgrow the sound, or the bands you love dissolve after an album or two, its rare to see a group stay together for a 10-year reunion tour, much less two bands together and better than ever after almost 20. Yellowcard and New Found Glory have carved their way into legendary status within music. Both have evolved with a generation of music that they helped shape and mold, and remain at the forefront.

I only managed to see the first of a two night headlining gig in Chicago, allegedly with different songs played each night for New Found Glory. But the fact that these bands can manage two nights worth of shows for fanatic listeners means something. Thankfully, it seems like they’re here to stay.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and New Found Glory was his first major band. Long live NFG!