After over a year of being slayed by multiple melodic and technical punk rock songs by A Wilhelm Scream, I was finally able to experience it in the live setting for the first time.
Locals the Fad opened things up, and, being local, encompassed plenty aspects to which are common for local bands: pop, punk, rock, ska upstrokes, fun, energy, and halfway tongue-in-cheek hardcore punk moments. However, what separated them a bit was how professional they sounded. It's hard to draw comparisons, but something like a more emotional take on Steal This Record-era Suicide Machines came to mind (and no, not neccessarily meaning self-titled era). The lead singer, who was a dead ringer for Matthew Lawrence circa his "Boy Meets World" years, was rather peppy throughout the set, usually skanking in place or making sure the band's loyal following there (moving about and moshing aplenty) was getting their vocal takes in. A fairly inspired cover of the Minutemen's "History Lesson, Pt II" was included, and their last song was joined by JT of fellow locals Arrogant Sons Of Bitches for his rapped contribution to the song, to which he performed rather admirably. Not a bad set.
Florida's Whole Wheat Bread, as most of you likely know by now, are a three-piece pop-punk band who convey their race -- African-American -- rather bluntly. After the first time you see them live, the novelty (initial press releases for the band's record, the aptly titled Minority Rules, made sure to highlight their race noticeably) has worn off, and it's at best a gimmick act offering very little substance. Sure, if nothing else, they were competent musicians who knew how to work a crowd, offering mildly catchy pop-punk numbers and employing multiple call and response chants of "whole wheat-" / "bread,!" which resulted in a ridiculously receptive audience of kids who wouldn't stop the continued "mosh" brought over from the previous set. Seriously, 75% of the room slammed into each other's 15-year-old bodies chord after chord, non-stop. It didn't stop the fact that WWB sound like one of the 5000 Blink-182 clones that materialized post-"What's My Age Again?" with Simple Plan's throwaway lyrics and really didn't offer anything new despite some gangster rap segues (and one rather dark-sounding song made up most of that). "Broke," "Old Man Samson," and "Police Song" found its way into the set amongst other college theses.
Finally, A Wilhelm Scream took the stage, and blasted into "Killing It," and the song title had a nearly literate effect on the crowd: They were dead. For the band's first two songs, this one and the immediate followup in "The King Is Dead" (the quiet intro of which was cut straight out), every person was about as stationary as could be. I and one stranger in the room at best seemed to know the words, but there was nary a movement from anyone else. No mosh. No jumping. No singing. No head-bobbing. It had to be one of the most disheartening views at a show in quite some time. Even when things started to pick up after said second song, it was due to several crowd surfers and the people's below general response. At least the band was, indeed, killing it. They were completely on performance-wise, even if there was a solo completely boggled in one song in particular. The energy was there and the left stage guitarist always had a smile on his face as he sang out the words to open air. And on top of that, a splendid mix of Mute Print and Ruiner was played. However, the final disappointment of the set (again out of the band's respective hands) was yet to come, as upon the finish of "The Kids Can Eat A Bag Of Dicks" (a sentiment I was in full agreeance with at the moment), the sound guy could be heard muttering "one more, guys." Apparently he hadn't realized the band had a 45-minute set scheduled, and not just a half hour, as I would learn after the set. I would also learn upon acquiring the planned set list that "Mute Print" and "Me Vs. Morrissey...," easily two of my five favorite AWS songs in their short catalog, had been cut out. Bogus. That "one more song" message frazzled the band a bit; vocalist Nuno Pererira said something along the lines "oh, that changes our plans," and he asked the crowd whether they'd prefer "The Rip" or "Morrissey." Now, personally, I love the former, but not to the point of its mass popularity amongst fans, and firmly voted on the latter, which is an official pick for my year-end mix tape (as well as plenty others, I'm sure); however, several fans came out of the woodwork shouting for "The Rip," and thus, it was played, with more fingerpointing than the band had seen the entire night. Regardless, it was a fantastic set, and a lackluster crowd response didn't detract too much from it. Plus, who am I to bitch, as this coming Thursday will present one of the most consistently awesome live lineups I'll ever see (Bullet Train to Vegas / AWS / No Trigger / Crime in Stereo).
Set list (straight from the paper and accurate):
- SOFT SELL
- BAG O' DIX
- MORRISSEY [offed]
- MUTE [offed]
Oh yeah, Catch 22, who I enjoy, headlined this, but something about the idea of standing by myself in the back of the crowd in a fairly healthy coating of my own sweat singing along to coarsely-performed ska-punk songs just didn't seem all that appealing, so I hit the road.
As a side note, I was informed by AWS's merch guy that the band would be back in November with Alexisonfire. Being that Alexisonfire is based out of Canada, and AWS Massachusetts, it's highly unlikely this is a one-off, so I'd expect a tour announcement for that soon.