If there was any genre term that has been cast with feelings of disgust and lack of respect (besides New Age or Dubstep), it would be Pop-Punk. Although those other two genres rightfully deserve the immense distaste for them, Pop-Punk is slightly different. Let us go back a decade and see why.
Since the year 2000, various bands have littered the market with horrific musical attempts and called it Pop-Punk. The universe bestowed upon mankind mistakes like Good Charlotte and All-American Rejects. From there Pop-Punk became an umbrella term that covered an array of bad bands. At one point, I can clearly recall a girl telling me that she listened to Pop-Punk bands like Evanescence. And no, I did not make that up. A piece of me died that day.
Now fast forward to the present day…Thankfully, most of those bands and their popularity have rotted and dissolved, like a sandwich I found lodged behind a friend’s nightstand years ago. Still though, that bad image of Pop-Punk is still there. Bands like The Wonder Years and The Story So Far carry the label with pride. They aspire to bring back what Pop-Punk is meant to be – an upbeat, yet aggressive form of music, and not just some bubblegum fad to be tossed to the side.
As I walked into The Masquerade and observed the downstairs room, I could probably say that I have never seen so many people packed into Hell. There must have been as many people there as would be in Heaven on a decent night. Essentially you couldn’t really move around too much, but to me, that’s a good sign. It shows that people actually care about music, instead of just traversing through various tattoo shops, trying to get a cheap tattoo on Friday the 13th with the scene kid they’ve been dating for two weeks. The downside to all those people packed together though would be the intensifying smell as the night went on. High energy shows and heat never go well together.
The show opened with a high energy blast from The Story So Far. Even though these guys aren’t doing anything new and innovative, the style they play is certainly one that would make any Melodic Hardcore fan happy. They were followed by a rising band known by the name of A Loss For Words. To say the least, they haven’t really shined too much to me before and still don’t sit well with me. Although their music is decent, the vocals lay in the realm of those really bad scene bands that just drip with lame. Their live show is not too thrilling either, more or less a stiff shamble on the stage.
Moving on to more advanced acts, Transit cleared the bad taste in my mouth. Their emotional outbursts brought back memories of bands such as Texas Is the Reason and Name Taken. It was no trouble for them to get everyone pumped back up and ready for the remainder of the evening. Their songs and stage performance burned with an emotional output similar to the Emo bands of the 90s. The crowd took quite well to them by thrashing about as much as possible in the little amount of space each person had. They are still growing as a band, morphing into a mature group of musicians, and they are certainly something to look out for.
Polar Bear Club picked up right where Transit left off, with their unique blend of Indie and Hardcore. Singer Jimmy Stadt rallied the crowd during each song. He tore around stage like a cat in a bag, keeping everything moving the whole time and not once dropping the ball. Each song was played to perfection, like a machine that is consistently maintained. The raspy vocals of Jimmy got the crowd moving and jumping on top of each other. It is clear that even with three albums under their belt, Polar Bear Club is not slowing down one bit; they’re just an avalanche on an endless mountain.
Finishing off the show were The Wonder Years. These rising stars in the scene are sure to end up as important as bands such as New Found Glory and Lifetime. As soon as they took stage, you could see a twinkle of excitement in everyone’s eyes, like that of a kid on Christmas morning. They came out swinging, playing with an intensity that would knock any Pop-Punk naysayer in the dirt. Throughout the entire performance, wave after wave of crowd surfers hit the stage. While kids created a whirlwind of a pit in the middle of it all, nothing let up, and it was an all-out explosion of teenage angst. Each song punched you in the gut and made you want to get into it, with the ferocity of cavemen battling over a fresh animal carcass. The Wonder Years have a spark that Pop-Punk has been missing for a very long time, and it is clear that spark is not extinguishing anytime soon. To say the least, don’t get in the way of someone trying to go see The Wonder Years, because you will get trampled. Their fans are that rabid and it’s totally understandable as to why.
Overall the entire show was pretty stellar. It showed that people still care for true Pop-Punk, music that is fueled by teenage angst. Each one of these bands are leaving a mark that will be in kids’ memories for a long time.
Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad
Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.
Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”
Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.
The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.
Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair
The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.
What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.
Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.
Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.” The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.
Years & Years at Royale Boston
During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.
Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.
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