All right then, where to begin when reviewing a show by the all mighty band ALL. This was the Owned and Operated tour, which featured bands on the record label that the members of ALL. I think I would like to say thanks for the club in Freeport, IL that due to insurance problems had to cancel on ALL the day before the show, and thus left them with an open spot on their tour. Instead of taking it off, the punk music machine that is all booked a show in Springfield, IL the night before, playing for $2 bucks a person at a small club that usually only has local bands play. On a personal note, it was weird going back to this club, I spent most of my high school years going to shows their and knew or at least recognized most of the people there, that wasn't the case tonight. For most of the show I think I saw only about 6 people I actually knew, part of this is most of the people my age have either moved away or already headed back to school.
Before the show, most of the bands were walking around and talking with people in the crowd. ALL's guitarist was talking with a small group of people, drinking coffee and telling tales of living on the road, and being in a band. It was really cool, just to see these people who are huge in the punk scene, act like regular people and hang out with kids before the show, talking to them and enjoying and dancing to all the opening bands.
The first band to play was Wretch Like Me, I have only heard about this band from a couple reviews and articles I had seen in an old "Flipside" so I was curious as to what they sounded like. The band plays a type of music that is a really strange mix of sounds. At times they have more of an ALL sound to them, other times they would break into a hardcore sound which had some later Black Flag influences. The music was good, but the stage presence was incredible. Watching the singer on stage was like watching those scenes in "Fight Club" where Edward Norton is fighting himself. The singer was throwing himself all over the stage, jumping up and landing flat on his shins, rolling around and clawing at the other members or the band, and even doing flips where he would stand up straight grab the back of his head and flip himself around and land on his back. This is a band that I will definitely not hesitate to see again. If you melodic bands with hardcore tendencies (more like a hard ALL, not a Thursday or Thrice), check these guys out, I got one of their albums and have been enjoying it all day.
Someday I, followed this up, and to be honest it was a little boring. They played a standard emoish punk. As the set progressed the songs seemed to get a little faster, but with the band just standing there and trying to follow up the performance before them. Near the end of the set, singer seemed to get more emotional as he began screaming more and more at the mic. Overall it was a decent band, I liked the songs on the sampler I picked up, and I wouldn't mind hearing more of them or seeing them again..
"ALL? NO! ALL!" Next up was the all mighty ALL. ALL is nothing less than a finely tuned precision machine, each instrument was set up and tuned and warmed up. After each member set up their equipment, they disappeared into the back room, only to reappear and take the stage. I say take the stage because when they stepped up their everyone got really quite and looked onward anticipating the first note. The lead singer called in the people that were standing around outside by saying "You all might want to come in now, we're playing." For the short time between booking and show time(21 hours) it was surprising how fast word of mouth got around, and by the time ALL took the stage their was a fairly large number of people there. For most of the set there was a small pit, not so much for lack of enthusiasm most of the people were up front against the stage singing along, but many of the people there were older and more into seeing the band than pushing everyone around. The energy in the room seemed to peak during the songs from "Mass Nerder" and "Problematic", which was most of the set, and lessened a degree during some of their older material. During the set the band threw in some old Descendents songs including "I Wanna Be A Bear", "Weinerschnitzel", " Hope", and "Suburban Home". During these songs the crowd went insane, jumping over each other to get near the stage and sing along. After a 19 song set, with no breaks, stage banter, or rests at all, ALL said goodnight and left the stage, but this was a mere break before the real fun began.
The band reappeared on stage, but Bill took the mic and said that they were tired of playing their songs and what did we want to hear. At that point everybody was shouting out their favorite bands and songs, ALL announced that they were going to play some Black Flag for us, the members switched instruments so that the drummer took over guitar, the guitarist took the drums the bassist and the singer traded off on bass, as the singer for WLM, sang "Jealous Again", a kid from the audience took the mic for "Nervous Breakdown", the bassist took the mics back from the audience at this point and sang Billy Idol's "Midnight Hour" and Descendants "Coolidge". During all of this the entire place turned into on huge pit, people were climbing on stage, singing along, jumping off, and singing along as loud as they could. The bassist, now singer, kept leaping into the crowd, and at one point during the Idol song, pulled a girl on stage started dancing with her, and then proceeded to put her on the ground and hump her for awhile. After a couple seconds of that, he helped her up and she took a running leap off the stage. At the end of "Coolidge" the bassist stood on the bass drum mooned the crowd and said good night.
After the show many people stuck around to thank ALL for playing that night and get their chance for photos, autographs, and just a chance to meet the band. As one guy said to them, that was the closest I'll ever get to seeing the Flag, thanks a lot. All in all, ALL puts on a show like no other. I had a blast, and I think one of the reasons this was such a great show, was that it was so small, that it seemed like a local show, there was no security, the bands hung out before, during, and after the show, and they would take the time to talk to anybody and answer all your questions. If you get the chance see ALL they are more than all right they have achieved ALL and displayed its power when they play.