With The Downtown recently shut down, a few of its shows from its planned schedule were moved to the ridiculously named/themed Crazy Donkey. Never having attended a show there, I'd heard some disappointing traits about it, but it wasn't too bad. The stage was only a few inches higher than The Downtown's, and the ceiling only five feet or so higher, with no visible barricade in site.
I managed to finagle my way in just as Paramore was to begin the last song of their set. The recent Fueled By Ramen signees are an outright strange band to watch live -- mostly because their singer is a 16-year-old girl. For arena emo -- with screams at all the "right" places -- it wasn't terrible. They knew how to build a song, though Hayley Williams' (the singer in question) voice sounds made for pop but forced into a rock atmosphere. Still, she managed. Lots of headbanging from the members was probably one of the more notable aspects of the song, though the hulking presence of the drummer was up there too.
Augustana came up next to play a confusing but pleasantly short set. They started off sounding like they wanted to be Limbeck but somewhere along the way mistook "alt-country" for "nü-emo." After the first song or so, the lead singer / guitarist sat down at the piano, and remained there for the rest of the set to play a version of piano rock that's sure to land them on multiple tours with Something Corporate and/or Waking Ashland. "Boston" was the only resulting memorable moment essentially.
One of only two bands I was purposely in attendance for that night, Cartel, then took the stage. Now, despite a singer who could be Nick Carter's stunt double (or middle brother of the family) and a pretty sugary pop-punk sound, it seems even dudes really get into the band. While I'm fairly disappointed by the band's new full-length, they're likely one of the better acts of their genre going at the moment, and maybe that's why, aside from the ridiculously HUGE Hot Rod Circuit influence in the guitar work. Everyone in the band was as energetic as one could ask for, and Will Pugh's voice is just as strong live as on record. In fact, their live set here was better than either of their releases. They opened with "Settle Down," with "Burn This City," "Honestly," "The City Never Sleeps," and closer "Luckie St." eventually following. For the second to last song, "The Minstrel's Prayer," the bassist and left stage guitarist each sat down on stools with floor toms in their respective laps. An impressive set, and much more enjoyable than I expected; I may get more out of the full-length, Chroma, than before now due to witnessing them live.
My opinion didn't budge much on the Receiving End of Sirens, though. Not playing their arguably best song, "The War of All Against All," might've contributed to my opinion's immobile state, but still, their brand of atmospheric post-hardcore -- which still sounds like an awful lot like the last Thrice album -- wasn't bad. They were certainly animated with each member (including all three guitarists) rocking out plenty, and they had a few fans in attendance, all of which were going off themselves at many points throughout the set. The burly right stage guitarist handled the majority of the vocals for the set. Opener "Planning a Prison Break" and "Broadcast Quality" found its way into the set among (very) few others.
I gave Acceptance a shot, but wasn't really rewarded. Yes, the band was just about energetic enough. Sure, they play catchy pop-rock. Does it have a whole lot of redeeming qualities or enjoyability? For myself, not quite. If I wanted to hear unenthusiastic Jimmy Eat World outtakes I probably should've stayed home and listened to the new EP, but I was there for signature cuts from the band like "Permanent" and "Take Cover." In the very least, the set was relatively memorable, and there was definitely a few passionate fans in attendance, that was for sure.
All in all, Cartel was quite good, but I wouldn't reccomend attending something like this where you mildly enjoy two of the opening bands, because the result is at best worthy of an asterisk of your month's activities.