I've been to several punk shows in Gainesville and I can say fairly that when it rains, it cuts the attendance in half. Bad for the bands who are hoping to get a good amount of gas and food money on their way to the next stop, but good for those of us who are there to see a long-time and new favorite. Plus, the fact that this was one of the few nights the lineup didn't included house-packer NOFX.
If you haven't heard the Loved Ones, I would say this past week's review of them is pretty dead on: fast and fun punk rock with more emphasis on the 'rock' element. Dave's voice was as good as, if not better than the album, and I can easily say the band gave 100% of a performance to a group of about 50 kids that did no more than stand still and politely clap after each song.
Hitting the more rocking songs off of Keep Your Heart, the Loved Ones didn't let up for a minute, even when Dave's strap broke on his guitar (which he decidedly threw to the ground and continued singing). Blazing out of the gates with "Suture Self," the band played the majority of the new album: "Breathe In," "Living Will Get You Dead," "Hurry Up and Wait," "100K," and "Jane" along with select songs off of their Jade Tree EP. The most suprising song was an emotional, from-the-heart version of "Sickening" which was formerly my least favorite song on the record.
Anyone who has seen the Lawrence Arms knows just what to expect at their live shows: Brendan drunk, tons of kids up front pointing fingers in the air, and a nice selection of songs from all their albums. Well, this was exactly what it was. No more than 2 songs into the set, Brendan was asking for a bourbon and water, and there was a mess of teenagers up front grinding on each other at every word, Brendan screeching and Chris power chord strumming. Choice cuts included "First Eviction Notice," "Necrotism...," "On With the Show," "Chapter 13...," "Brickwall Views," and a rousing rendition of "Porno and Snuff Films."
I'll admit it: I already have Oh! Calcutta! off the internet. I know, that makes me a terrible person, but at least I recognized some of the new songs they played, although it was easy to tell which of the kids had gotten their free MP3 from Fat and put it into constant rotation. "Recovering the Opposable Thumb" and "Lose Your Illusion 1" were two of the newest I can remember hearing and they sounded damn good live.
The last time I saw the Lawrence Arms live, Brendan stole the show with his enthusiasm, commentary between songs, and stumbling all over the stage. But I have to point out that Neil is by far the most energetic member of the three. Without him behind the set, the band in no way could sound as powerful live as they do. The reason I drove 2 hours to see them this time will be the same reason I drive 4 hours next: They put on an amazing live show.
Lastly was the Draft, or "Hot Water Music 2.0" as some kid was pointing out to his friend next to me. I kind of felt sorry for the band, as most of the people in attendance left after the Lawrence Arms. Maybe this was because it was already 12:30, but I really think Gainesville just wasn't up for supporting its latest "big" local band that night. Even when Dave Hause was asking "who's ready to see the Draft?," most people kinda mumbled before erupting when he asked about the Lawrence Arms.
Luckily for the Draft, their pedigree has enabled them to already book tours and shows with Avail, Bouncing Souls, Alkaline Trio, etc., all without releasing even an EP, which is pretty amazing. The remaining crowd seemed disinterested, except for "Bordering" which will most likely be their set closer from this day on. My overall impression of the Draft's set was "lackluster," as I'm already familiar with three-fourths of the members and what they bring to the table musically. George and Jason are still tight as hell as a rhythm section and that really is what saves the band's performance. Other than that, it seemed they were going through the motions, playing all of their "web-released" songs and a few others that once in a while had a few heads nodding. I believe the Draft just fell victim to an improper headlining appearance.
All three bands are still on tour for the next few weeks and I would strongly recommend seeing the Loved Ones out of all of them. I'm predicting big things for the band in the year and expect their fanbase to skyrocket after this tour. Also, you can grab a copy of the new Larry Arms disc before it comes out, which I did in order to make up for my "illegal" downloading.