Look around little brother. Can you tell me what you see?
You're a big boy now, so take responsibility.
You never had it hard, but now it's getting tough.
So you whine, whine, whine and you say you've had enough.
You say I'm full of shit.
I shouldn't talk, when I can't take the advice that I give?
Well maybe you're right, but open your eyes.
The main difference here is that I try, try, try.
Tomas Kalnoky, "1234 1234"
When Tomas Kalnoky first lay down that memorable verse from "1234 1234" for Catch 22 nearly half a decade ago, he probably didn't envision how prophetic his words would play out in the history of the band. Ever since the seemingly "sub-par" releases of Alone In The Crowd, Washed Up and its "re-release" Washed Up and Through The Ringer!, many have written off Catch 22 as just that: a mediocre ska band who persevere without three core members. Nevertheless, Ryan, Kevin, Pat, and company have developed a reputation for an intense live show and with a new album soon to be released, Catch 22 have persisted through difficulty in an attempt at the impossible: to top Keasbey Nights.
But first, fellow New Jersey hopefuls Worthless United wished to win over the audience at the start of their set as they took the stage to tune their own instruments and asked anyone who happened to be seated (i.e. the majority of the audience) to take to their feet. Worthless United proceeded to rock through an eight song set. At first, the band seemed a bit stationary but would loosen up as their set wore on as they hopped a bit around stage and the audience became particularly receptive to special "guest" Ryan Eldred of Catch 22 who played saxophone on one song. Vocally, Worthless United sound a lot like Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame but I also sensed a subtle Mike Roche influence in terms of bass, read: the bassist was really good. As their scant 34 minute set came to a close, Worthless United played "Say Goodbye" second to last and then closed with "Oh Sweetheart." Though the initial crowd response was somewhat lukewarm, Worthless United had won over many new converts (myself included) as evidenced by the positive vibes exhibited by a mass of bodies who had left their comfortable seats to rock out with the band on the floor.
Boys Night Out soon took the stage to do a few last second, sound checks. Their lead singer, who was wearing sunglasses throughout the show, announced something like, "Hey, we're Boys Night Out from Vancouver, British Columbia" before tearing through a really heavy song as many in the crowd started to mosh and/or slam dance. For those of you who've never heard Boys Night Out, they sort of sound like
a Deftones/Cure/Misfits hybrid if that makes any sense. For all that has been made of the band's love for alliteration, I really didn't pick up on any lyrical subtleties seeing how the group opted to play loud and hard with screaming the only real consistency of the set. Furthermore, it didn't seem very obvious
when each song had actually ended as many sure-fire hits lost their luster after too many starts and stops. Nevertheless, Boys Night Out played a fairly fantastic set composed of a mix of new and old songs, such as their finale, "A Torrid Love Affair."
Since I was still a bit bitter that Slick Shoes were the "main" support act of the night, I opted to skip out on their set but could hear some heavily influenced, poppy NOFX influenced punk (talk about a paradox) as I walked about the Ascot Room. During this time, I chatted with a few fellow writers (so to speak) and we agreed that "Riding The Fourth Wave" would be a cool opener. If anything, our nice little chat proved that a lot of younger "punk" rock kids aren't the Hurley/Atticus wearing poseurs that you might see at the upcoming Blink 182 show on the Quest's main stage, rather very intelligent people who enjoy "cooler" bands like NOFX and the Bouncing Souls.
That being said, the mood for Catch 22 was incredibly surreal. For those who don't know, the Quest's Ascot Room is truly an "intimate" venue. Unlike the band's stint on Mest's Destination Unknown Tour a mere year ago, Catch 22 were now the main act rather then openers for Homegrown and one could
even argue that an extra year of practice with the "new" line-up would be revealed immediately by a rousing rendition of either "Dear Sergio," "Day In Day Out," or a tease of "Blowin' In The Wind" that segued into "On & On & On" a la the infamous live, Washed Up version. But, Catch 22 took the stage to jam along to an instrumental that was NOT "Riding The Fourth Wave." I wondered how long this improbable jam would last but soon enough, the band segued into what very well might be "Rocky" off Dinosaur Sounds (thanks to InaGreendase for pointing this out in his review). The new song was really energetic with a mantra along the lines of "I start with me!" and seemed to utilize the metaphor for an "over-the hill" boxer and a "declining" ska band quite well. Whether or not Dinosaur Sounds will further Catch 22's career in the same way that Rocky I jump started Sylvester Stallone's career or serve as an embarrassment to a storied tradition (i.e. Rocky V) remains to be seen. Though the first taste of new material was openly welcomed, the crowd didn't really liven up until the intro of "On & On & On"-and yes, they did speed the song up to an incredible tempo that lacked Tomas' multi-syllabic shout of "Fi-ii-ii-ine." Despite this error, they did play the nice little classical interlude particularly slow to accentuate the song's mood. Ryan introduced the next song as a "dancing" one and wanted to see us all dancing. Of course, the band broke into "It Takes Some Time," one of my least favorite tracks though I must say it was fun to see everyone (including the band) dancing and/or bouncing around merrily.
"Wine Stained Lips" was INDEED played with the first of a few plugs for Dinosaur Sounds and I really didn't care too much for that particular song or the next tune, "Sincerely Yours." But the latter was finished within the span of 90 seconds or so. At this point in the show, Ryan commented that the crowd was a bit tame and asked us to sing along as an eerily familiar, amorphous orgy of guitar, bass, drum, and horns that morphed together to compose "Bloomfield Avenue." Unlike the album version, the live "Bloomfield Avenue" lacked its calm, serene intro but as several hundred people shouted,
"Down! Down! Down!" while throwing their raised fists in the air, I appreciated the live rendition for creating an even MORE chaotic rush than any recorded version could ever muster. What seemed to be "To Be Continued" followed which has apparently been renamed on Dinosaur Sounds. It was a quite confusing and senseless detour especially after the early set favorite of "Bloomfield Avenue." But "Day In Day Out" soon provided a welcome remedy for this aforementioned lull as many shouted along to the song's amazing chorus. Ryan took notice to everyone's effort and asked if we were sweaty before breaking into "Good Times," a reggae-tinged number off the new album. Alone In The Crowd's "Intro"
was played LIVE and predictably segued into "Point The Blame" before two new songs (one about a love triangle, the other about one's teenage years) sandwiched the frantic "9mm And A Three Piece Suit", which adopted a proficient drum solo. "Straight Forward" was a rather unexpected but welcome treat as the 15th song in the set but was particularly funny when Ryan and Kevin quickly sped through the Coolie Ranx part. Finally, "Keasbey Nights" was introduced as the last song of the night as the microphone was pointed into the audience as the crowd recklessly kept pace with the sped-up tempo of the song while also happily chanting a suicidal mantra. There was a faint murmur of disappointment since many naturally assumed the show was already over. But if there's one thing I've learned from seeing the "new" Misfits, it's that you should NEVER trust a punk band from New Jersey. Naturally, Catch 22 did a two song "encore" of sorts and first dove into "Chasing The Moon", a "drinking" song off Dinosaur Sounds with a discernable Flogging Molly influence. Nearly everyone in the audience knew what song would close the night. As a matter of fact, a fan had shouted out a request for this Keasbey-era masterpiece earlier to the show and Ryan replied, "Oh, we're going to play that one much later. It will give you something to look forward to." Catch 22 then SLOWLY started the intro to none other than "1234 1234." Nearly everyone in the venue took the opportunity to bounce up and down or sing-along with the band as the crowd NEARLY drowned out Ryan and Kevin. Both were in high spirits due to such an amazing display of unity and frenzy before finally concluding the show by saying something like, "We're Catch 22 and we'll see you in hell!"
So Catch 22 might very well be blasphemers seeing how they've ascertained quite a huge following through Tomas' work. But this particular show proved that they still can play with the best of any live band. True, they may never top the sheer brilliance of Keasbey Nights. Nevertheless, they still provided a welcome respite from an otherwise dreary and dull monotonous world. For day in and day out, the "new" Catch 22 weren't so bad and they just happened to alleviate the worries that they've had enough.
Worthless United (5:30 P.M.-6:04 P.M.)
God, The Devil, And the Worthless
On And On (no NOT a Catch 22 cover)
That Song (no, NOT a Bouncing Souls cover)
Boys Night Out (6:14 P.M.-6:47 P.M.)
unknown (something about "promise missing")
either another song or extended jam
The Subtleties That Make Mass Murderers Out Of Otherwise Decent Human Beings
The Only Honest Lovesong (possibly, think it was this one)
New Song (didn't catch the title)
Slick Shoes (6:47 P.M.-7:23 P.M.)
Catch 22 (7:40 P.M.-8:35 P.M.)
New Instrumental Intro (Interlude perhaps?)
New Song (Rocky- "start with me" verse?)
Bloomfield Avenue (more metal sans the cool intro)
To Be Continued (weird part added)
Day In Day Out (sans yelling at the beginning)
New Song (something about a "love triangle"; your guess is as good as mine)
9mm And A Three Piece Suit (possible extra little drum solo)
New Song (something about "youth")
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