Not to get all “when the punx are united” or anything, but the crowd assembled for the Flatliners/Holy Mess show at Philadelphia’s The Fire on Tues., June 14 was a great one in spite of technical issues throughout the night. Kids got rowdy without getting masochistic. There was much singing and back-patting. Also drinking. We did a lot of drinking.
Even without the social lubrication of Yards ‘n’ Schmidt’s, this was a good show. Local act Ah, Horse Hockey kicked off the night with a rousing round of Latterman-esque punk. It was fun posi stuff; I just wish the band had gotten a tighter lock on its tuning. It felt like every song would end to big applause, only to have any audience momentum lost by the guitarists re-tuning.
Emo act Daytrader (very Saves the Day-ish) had problems of a different sort: They were missing half a band. The group soldiered on acoustically, and even delivered a solid cover of Alkaline Trio’s “Cooking Wine”, but overall the group’s earnest emo/pop-punk came off a little much on the wrong side of Dashboard Confessional for my taste—pained howls and acoustic guitars just don’t get me amped anymore.
Local up-and-comers the Holy Mess broke a guitar cable one song in. Luckily, the members of the Holy Mess are trained professionals, and they stalled for time with expert comic timing. Or, at least they tried. Just when the band seemed like they’d run out of stories (sample quote: “Fuck man, I love to fuck”), the group finally got their instruments up and running and they plowed through a set of new old tunes recently collected on a self-titled compilation for Red Scare. Highlights included all three tunes from last year’s Benefit Sesh seven-inch. For a band that fucks around a lot, the Holy Mess sure is awfully tight live, ripping through brief bursts of gruff, RVIVR-esque punk before heading back to the bar.
By this point The Fire had filled up considerably to welcome Canada’s beloved ska-lovin’, punk-playin’ boys the Flatliners. The audience had been enthusiastic but physically reserved before the Flatliners came on. But once the group launched into opener “Here Comes Treble”, from last year’s stellar Cavalcade, people went off, and the pit alternated between moshing and skanking on a whim. Crowd surfing was constant, but outside of the occasional belly flop, the kids took care of each other.
While the Flatliners generally focused on Cavalcade (“Carry the Banner”, “Monumental”), they made their set up on the fly, soliciting fan suggestions throughout the night. Frontman Chris Cresswell wasn't feeling too well (“I feel like Satan took a shit in my throat”), but he kept up the pace all the same. The songs kind of blurred together after a while, but the band still hit the highlights from Cavalcade and 2007's The Great Awake. The act wisely bowed out with “Eulogy”, arguably their catchiest tune, and the crowd certainly helped out with vocal duties. It was a fun show, although I encountered a technical difficulty of my own: Maoz on South Street closes early on weeknights now.