Bayside and Thrice: An Unexpectedly Joyous Evening

There is an energy in a concert hall that fills the blood with electricity. Hundreds of people being beaten with reverberation and walls of sound. It’s amazing and, until hearing Thrice and Bayside on the stage of the Concord Music Hall, I hadn’t realized I missed it. Every show I’d been to since the pandemic had been outdoors, but it just doesn’t replicate the dark cavernous rooms split with spotlights.

Feeling the floors vibrate in Chicago, it finally dawned on me: music is back. Life feels whole again. A little over halfway through their co-headline tour, Thrice and Bayside entered the stage with full force to a crowd of hundreds who all seemed just as excited to be there as I was.

Opener Anxious found a bridge between the sounds on display for the evening with an emo punk aesthetic. Reminiscent of Chicago favorites Real Friends, Anxious juggled through twinkling guitars, heavy riffs, and layered vocals. Playing songs from their recent release, Little Green House, Anxious feel primed to roll with the best of the acts of the genre, such as Knuckle Puck.

Thrice

Thrice is a band I’ve personally never been too into. Their sound always reminded me of the radio rock that I never enjoyed growing up. However, seeing them live and in a small venue was an eye opening experience. Their presence onstage was measured, the music pulsating. Thrice set a mood for the room that thundered against the walls. As the room sang their songs back to the group, I realized I had been missing out for almost two decades on an extremely talented and varied band. 

Thrice blasted through their singles “Black Honey” and “Stare at the Sun”, and ended with “The Earth Will Shake Us”. 

Between artists, the crowd was filled with an ambient kindness and joy that seemed to fill everyone in equal measure. “This venue is perfect. I’ve seen Bayside play here half a dozen times,” a man told me against the railings of the upper balcony. “They literally just keep getting better.” Down on the floor, a group of women were debating the merits of the album Vacancy versus Interrobang. Another man tapped me on the shoulders and asked in all seriousness, “Are we going to duet ‘Devotion and Desire’ or what?”

Bayside

I’ve seen Bayside at Concord Music Hall many times, usually opening for another band or being the penultimate act of a co-headlining tour. This time, they closed the night vibrantly. For a punk show, there didn’t seem to be the circle pits that I would have expected. Instead there was dancing. Everyone seemed to be dancing or were overcome by singing along to every song. The eruption of noise as they chanted along to “Sick, Sick, Sick” or sang over the roaring vocals of “Montauk” reminded me of my first concert. Foregoing an encore, Bayside finished the night with “Devotion and Desire”, setting the room on fire one last time before walking off. I couldn’t find my duet partner, but I like to think of it as a “we stared at the same moon” situation.

It seemed like every show I tried to see last year and this spring was canceled or delayed. Finally being back in a venue was revitalizing, and it seemed to be a shared experience amongst everyone in attendance. For the first time in two years, the world felt complete while the ground shook and every word of the night was sang in unison by hundreds of people.

by Kyle Schultz

Kyle 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 somehow managed to launch marinara across the room.

A Night with Semler and Relient K

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I’ve very much enjoyed getting back into the swing of live music. Freshly boosted and ready for a taste of the good old days, Jeremiah and I dropped by Paradise Rock Club in Boston to see Relient K. It is a fact universally acknowledged that Jeremiah’s favorite band is Relient K, and I get tickets every time they come around because one day, I know they won’t come around anymore. And I feel as though that day is closer than we all may realize, so I don’t want him to miss a chance to see them.

This is Relient K’s first tour since 2017, when they toured with Switchfoot as every 90s youth kid’s dream lineup. A killer show, one I will always viscerally remember. At that point, I don’t think I was writing for the site, or else you definitely would’ve heard me gush about it. But before that, I saw Relient K for the first time in the same room I saw them in just last week, for the Mmhmm 10th Anniversary Tour in 2014. Jeremiah and I weren’t together yet, so I lured a friend who could drive to take me under the guise of “You’ll get to relive your youth group days.” It all feels very full-circle.

Opening that first night was From Indian Lakes, one of my all time favorites. Opening this past show was Semler, a queer Christian artist. I won’t lie, one of the reasons I got tickets to this Relient K show was to see Semler, who I have followed on social media for a little while now. Something about a person who goes against every religious norm we were raised with, who can still sing truthfully, drew me in. When Relient K announced that Semler would be the opener, the comments on their socials were honestly awful, and I wasn’t sure how it would play out. But the night of the show, there were just as many Semler fans as Relient K fans. I bought a t-shirt, obviously.

Generally the opener is supposed to get you pumped for the main event, but by the time her set was over, there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd. You could feel the church hurt palpably. It was like a therapy session. I fell in love.

Relient K came on not much later, opening with “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been”. They played an energetic, career-spanning set. Obviously, we couldn’t get enough. One of the things that made the show even more fun than it could have already been (if that was possible) was the audience. It really was just a bunch of us having a great time vibing and remembering how it used to be. We met up with a couple of friends and just generally danced all night. The band has as much energy as ever, and Matt Thiessen somehow hasn’t aged a day.

Noticeably (or not noticeably) missing were any tracks from Collapsible Lung, but there was a great rep from Forget and Not Slow Down, one of my top Relient K albums. They obviously played all the popular tracks and saved “Be My Escape” for last. When I first saw them, I captioned my instagram post, “It’s funny how you find you enjoy your life / When you’re happy to be alive” and it still rings true. I don’t know if I’ll have another chance to see Relient K before they finally hang it up for good, but what I do know is that they made me who I am today, and it’s always a joy to be in a room where we all have that in common.

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Knuckle Puck – Disposable Life EP

When I was 15, I remember coming to understand politics for the first time and not knowing how to navigate it. I knew I would have to make decisions about the world outside of what I could see within the next few years. And while most of the music I listened to didn’t focus on this, I knew I had to discover how to figure my way through this mess. Years later, and having worked in the field of research, the feeling that simple information is filtered and given with an agenda is something that not only frustrates me, it affects my job.  

Disposable Life, Knuckle Puck’s latest release, is a reflection on looking outside of the box. It rages against agenda over honesty (“Gasoline”), and that breaking free and putting objective thought toward individual struggles is how to avoid being looked over (“In The Bag”).

You can buy or stream Disposable Life on Apple Music

Knuckle Puck have been slowly evolving their sound from the midwestern emo scene that influenced their early albums, but Disposable Life doubles down on the influences of the early naughts. The guitars are heavy but melodic, the vocals crisp and dark.

Disposable Life is a sonic history lesson of pop punk, taking influence from the early days of The Starting Line and Senses Fail, but incorporating the lessons learned in the time since those bands released their debuts. Rather than harp on relationships, Knuckle Puck have focused on being smarter as people and making better decisions as a whole.

Although the guitars could have been influential 20 years ago, they sound incredibly fresh in the moment. While Disposable Life could be written off as a throw-back EP, the lyrics bring it to a modern perspective and bridges the gaps between decades of genre. 

Opener “Gasoline” ignites the anger of realizing that the source of information you have trusted has been feeding you a narrative (“We’ve all been force fed lies / While each bull and bear bets against the truth / All told we’re free to choose, but all thoughts get drowned out in the noise”), while simultaneously taking pride in not only overcoming narratives but directing information to benefiting your own life, such as in “Levitate” (“There used to be demons hanging over me / But now they can’t touch me / Don’t you see me levitating?”)

Perhaps most telling is closer, “Here’s You Letter”, where the band comments on the lack of real conversation between people and the misunderstandings that haunt us all (“Here’s a letter for you, but the words get confused, and the conversation dies / Apologize for the past, talk some shit, take it back, are we cursed to this life?”). 

Disposable Life documents the feelings of a generation that feel lied to by their elders and are forced to learn harsh lessons on their own. Meanwhile, it explores the sound of a genre decades old that influenced the band in the present day. 

Knuckle Puck continue to prove themselves one of the most influential bands in the emo scene by simultaneously paying homage to the pop punks bands of old while forging new ground lyrically with ideas most people develop years beyond the band’s age. Disposable Life serves as both a reflection and a warning for the generations influences by them.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

Kyle 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 is freezing to death like an old hen left out in the backyard.

Most Anticipated of 2022: The Rejuvenation of Real Friends

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Ever since the addition of lead singer Cody Muraro to the band’s lineup, Real Friends have been on an absolute tear. Shortly after release of the stellar Torn in Two EP last year, the band embarked on a full autumn tour. Not only are the band preparing for another full tour with Mayday Parade and Magnolia Park, they’ve been in the studio all winter recording new material.

Real Friends seem to be utterly rejuvenated and at a creative peak in their career that many bands seem to lose after their first couple of releases. If their new music even remotely compares to the quality of emotion and blazing guitar riffs of Torn in Two, Real Friends are preparing for a release that will be known as a career highlight for the band.

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 is currently braving the coldest of winters, snuggled close to his cat.

Most Anticipated of 2022: A New Album from Paramore (Please?)

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This is my wild card album that I always toss into the Most Anticipated. I got it right with Lorde last year, but I doubt I’ll have the same luck with Paramore. My actual prediction is next year, but it only feels right that they would come back and grace us with another Paramore album after Hayley and Zac have had such blockbuster years with their own solo albums. My other bold prediction is that this will be the final Paramore album. As much as I don’t want that to be true, as Paramore has been a true constant in my life, it feels like a natural ending for what has been an incredible movement in both the scene and modern music as a whole. 

I think that Zac and Hayley will move on to do illustrious things on their own, and they’ll let Paramore rest easy very soon. As for an album? I want it to head back to their scene roots and give us some headbangers, but I know this is almost impossible given the moves they’ve made artistically since 2017’s After Laughter. But at this point, I’m willing to latch on to anything they offer me.

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

The Wonder Years (and Friends) Pack a Punch

The Wonder Years Providence Splash

I’m a sucker for opening bands. Oftentimes I will leave a show with a shirt from every band, and that’s a testament to my lack of self-control, but it’s also a testament to the caliber that opening bands are at these days. Long gone are the lineups that exist to sound gross to make the headliner look good. Sometimes, the artists get added to my regular roster, and other times, I let them pass me by, just grateful for the live experience they offered. Last night’s lineup was one of those shows where everyone was incredible and at the top of their game.

The first band of the night was proper., a band from Brooklyn. The band was kind enough to respond to my Instagram message asking for their setlist – love y’all. A three-piece that packed a huge punch, and the lead singer Erik’s stage presence was great. For their first time in the city, they were able to really connect with us in the crowd and everyone fell in love with them. Musically, they have a frenetic punk sound, but there was nothing chaotic about them as a band. Everything was tight, and even though they “hadn’t practiced in the past calendar week,” their set was solid and I wish they had been able to play more. 

PRONOUN from Boston was next, and she also graciously allowed me her setlist after I sent her a DM. I’ve seen her play before, at a Turnover show in 2017, but she was a one-woman show at that point. She has added two more members to the outfit, and a whole lot of experience as well. The first time I had seen her, she didn’t really stick with me for some reason. This time around, she has a few more releases under her belt, and a lot more confidence. With easy vibes, and song titles like “I wanna die but I can’t (cuz I gotta keep living)”, it’s clear that she has found both her niche, and the perfect genre for those of us who use guitars to soothe our mental illnesses.

After a brief intermission and rousing crowd rendition of “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire courtesy of the venue playlist, it was time for band three of the night. At this point in my concert career I’ve usually disassociated and want to head home, but of course, I always push through. The sweaty people, the smattering of conversation, and the alcohol seeping through my sneakers is a lot to handle, especially after so long out of the game. But onto the stage steps Future Teens.

Another Boston native band, Future Teens was the perfect act to be third. Not only because of their acclaim in the scene, but for their ability to bring everyone back together. Everyone was dancing to these songs about Boston being overrated and crying in traffic, and the togetherness was palpable. There has been such a disconnect in the scene because of the pandemic and every time a crowd unites – old fans and newly budding fans alike – it feels like old times. Future Teens did just that. It’s always interesting to me when I get to see a band that I’ve only heard about, and sometimes I will deliberately not dive in, and just let the music wash over me that night. Future Teens has made a lifelong fan of me with their show last night. Endlessly energetic, and great music to boot. I didn’t grab a t-shirt from the merch table last night because of how crowded it was, but I have one of their  90’s inspired t-shirts coming in the mail to rep my new faves.

And of course, eventually we make it to the ones we’ve all been aching to see: The Wonder Years. This was my second time seeing the band play (the first was with Tiny Moving Parts, Microwave, and letlive.), but my third time seeing Dan Campbell play – I caught an Aaron West show in 2017. The energy in the room as they finished setting up was undeniable, and as the guys stepped out and Dan said “this is our first headlining show in 21 months,” we knew we were in for a treat. They played tracks from all of their albums, as well as their new Christmas song “Threadbare” for the first time. They pulled out “Christmas at 22” from their back pockets, and according to some fellow attendees who updated the setlist.fm page for the show, they hadn’t played that one since 2014. I’m past my pit days now, but the crowd went wild, and security let up on the no-crowd-surfing rule and let the chips (and the people) fall where they may. 

This was my second venture back into live music, and it’s one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. The Wonder Years have mastered how to put together both a perfect lineup and a perfect setlist, and it’s a joy to see them when they come in from Philly. After this run of shows, they are headed out on a tour where they will be playing both The Upsides and Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing in their entireties.

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Grayscale – Umbra

Every once in a while, a band just finds their sound. For Grayscale, this came in the form of the single “In Violet”, a song that stood out against the rest of their album Nella Vita. Although the album itself was stellar, there is a magic to “In Violet”. The song is a vortex of moody melodies and dark lyrical subject matter that swirls around a joyful chorus and the swelling of celebratory horns. For their newest album, Umbra, Grayscale have fully leaned into the ideas that gave birth to “In Violet”. The results of this is an album that is over-the-top, stylish, fun and arguably unlike anything else currently in the scene. 

You can buy or stream Umbra on Apple Music.

For Umbra, Grayscale have thrown everything at what made “In Violet” stand out at each song. In a way, it almost sounds overwhelming. There are extensive saxophone solos (“Motown”), gospel choruses (“Live Again”), glitzy guitar solos (“Dirty Bombs”) and songs that include literally all of the above (”Without You”). While these elements could easily be overdone, they’re presented in a way that sounds modernly creative as well as like a long-forgotten soundtrack to an 80’s blockbuster. Simply put, Umbra is exciting because it seems like almost anything can appear throughout the album’s 11 tracks. 

What ties these elements together and reigns them in is a retro-style guitar, courtesy of guitarists Dallas Molster and Andrew Kyne. Opener “Without You” carries a heavy vibe reminiscent of Rick Astley. However, much like “In Violet”, the energetic music hides the bitter lyrical subject matter. Amidst the roaring saxophone and guitar solos, vocalist Collin Walsh sings about the freedom he feels after leaving a toxic relationship (“How could I find love in a car crash? / I was pinned down with my hands back / I’m finally without you”). 

Bassist Nick Ventimiglia stands out most during the quieter moments (“Carolina Skies”), while percussionist Nick Veno finds a healthy restraint amidst the melody of songs, and switches up from a heavily produced sound (“Motown”), to what seems to be some nostalgic gated reverb (“Babylon (Say It To My Face)”).

Walsh’s vocals carry stories of loss and coping with darkness throughout Umbra, such as “King of Everything”, which chronicles the loss of a someone who seems to have left their marriage and friends in a type of mid-life crisis (“Yeah, you’re still a part of me / See the life you threw away, wedding bells and silver rings / No more pain and suffering / So go be the man you want to be”).

Meanwhile, closer “Light” sees Walsh mourning the loss of someone he loves as they pursue their dreams and leaves him stranded in place (“Hearts, they never heal in a straight line / Twelve weeks since you had to go and break mine / Sinking here like a stone / Sad to say, yeah, I know / It’s dark here, spinning deep into my head”). 

Umbra seems like too much, sonically, yet it works. Part of this is that all of the extravagant elements on the album are spread out, providing a taste of each from song to song. As such, the album somehow manages to weave an experience of sound that seems more fitting to mainstream pop than indie rock, but fits with the mood of the band. Umbra explores the darkness of relationships and the aftermath that haunts those stuck trying to find a new adventure. “In Violet” seems to have sprung a surge of creativity from Grayscale that heavily influenced this album, and the band is better for it.

4.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

Kyle 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 is slowly baking in the humidity like a potato. A mighty Idaho potato.

Podcast: The Wonder Years’ “Suburbia” Turns 10

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It’s been 10 years since The Wonder Years staked their claim as the flagship band of the 2010’s pop punk revival. Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing is officially a decade old but still just as powerful and impactful as the day it was released. Kiel Hauck is joined by Kyle Schultz to discuss their memories of the album’s release and how it took the scene by storm. During the discussion, they break down some of the album’s best tracks and a few of Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s best lines. They also debate where the album stands among the best pop punk releases of all time. Take a listen!

Subscribe to our Podcast on Apple or Spotify

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Podcast: Mike Herrera Talks Livestream Performances and (Almost) 30 Years of MxPx

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Thought we were done talking MxPx? Think again! Mike Herrera stopped by the podcast to talk with Kiel Hauck about the band’s current livestream series, Between This World and the Next, and how the band has stayed innovative when it comes to connecting with their fans. Mike also reflects on the upcoming 30th anniversary of MxPx and shares about the experience of exploring the band’s deep catalogue across their recent livestream setlists. Finally, he discusses the ebbs and flows of fan response to the band’s music over the years and the prospect of a new MxPx album. Take a listen!

You can grab tickets to the band’s next livestream performance on their website.

Subscribe to our Podcast on Apple or Spotify

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Photo Credit: Jered Scott

Podcast: The Best of MxPx with Jason Tate

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This one has been a long time coming, folks. We welcome Jason Tate, founder of Chorus.fm, to the podcast to talk all things MxPx. Jason and Kiel Hauck break down the band’s history and legacy before diving into an extensive ranking of the band’s 10 studio albums. They also discuss the biggest “What if?” in the band’s career, their favorite MxPx concert memories, and why the band is still so vital and relevant almost three decades into their career.

It’s safe to say that It’s All Dead and this podcast wouldn’t exist without MxPx and the impact they’ve made on the scene. We had an absolute blast diving into the band’s legacy and discography and we hope you enjoy this (rather long!) episode. Long Live Left Coast Punk Rawk.

Subscribe to our Podcast on Apple or Spotify

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Photo Credit: Jered Scott