Smoking Popes - live in Minneapolis (Cover Artwork)

Smoking Popes

Smoking Popes: live in Minneapolislive in Minneapolis (2008)
Smoking Popes

Reviewer Rating: 4.5

Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Very, very rarely do I ever contemplate not going to see one of my favorite bands. Especially if I don't have to travel very far. But the day the Smoking Popes came to town, I spent just about every minute up until the 9:00 p.m. showtime deciding whether or not to go. The main reasons were something.

Very, very rarely do I ever contemplate not going to see one of my favorite bands. Especially if I don't have to travel very far. But the day the Smoking Popes came to town, I spent just about every minute up until the 9:00 p.m. showtime deciding whether or not to go. The main reasons were something along the lines of just having moved to Minneapolis, having no job, no friends to go with and certainly no money to be throwing around on luxuries like punk shows. Then there was also the deterrent that not only had I already seen the Popes once (for their sold-out reunion at the Metro in Chicago) plus Josh Caterer on his solo tour with the Local H guy, but what kind of a hapless moron goes to a Smoking Popes show without a date? You know you're either going to be hearing painfully cute songs about love and devotion or bittersweet breakup songs that make you want to curl up in a ball and cry for days about the one that got away. I'm still not sure why, but by the time 8:45 rolled around, I hopped on my new vintage hipster 10-speed and headed across town towards the Triple Rock.

The local openers were a band of Wisconsin high-schoolers called Melange. If you already know the origin of this name, you are a nerd and you would probably like this band. They played a heavy, mathy style of prog with very few vocals and looong compositions. They weren't what I was expecting from a Smoking Popes opener, but they certainly weren't bad for 18-year-olds.

The Fast Track followed and were what I was expecting for an opener. While they were fairly competent in their catchy pop-rock/emo songwriting, their stature suggested a bit of overgrown high-schooler syndrome, and the lead singer's protruding nipples from his tight white shirt were somewhat of a painful distraction. Nevertheless, the band's ambition was apparent, as their newest material was recorded (produced?) by local semi-icon Jamie Wolford of Animal Chin and the Stereo fame (who has apparently still not paid his debt to MPLS), while their sense of humor shined, joking about their live cover being their best song because they didn't write it. At the very least, they were able to draw some applause and audience participation (read as "clapping along") from Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack who was in attendance, which if you're a local band with bigger aspirations never hurts.

As the Smoking Popes prepared to go on, I realized that it was not Mike Felumlee gearing up behind the kit as billed, but Neil Hennessy of the beloved Lawrence Arms! (Plus, I remembered reading about it on the ??Org from a few weeks back.) This made sense since Eli Caterer of the Smoking Popes filled in on guitar with the Falcon the last time I saw them, and only helped to make the experience all the more memorable. Opening with the "new" song "If You Don't Care" that I've been listening to MySpace streams of for over a year, the Caterer brothers (plus Neil) plugged through a variety of Popes favorites for the attentive but disappointingly modest-sized crowd. Granted, it was a "Monday night / +18 / 9:00 p.m. doors" show, but I feel like more people should be into the Smoking Popes as much as I am. Among the highlights were personal favorites that often goes unappreciated in "Under the Blanket" and "Writing a Letter," heart-wrenchers "Paul," "Let's Hear It for Love" and "Megan," (to which Josh Caterer gave a shout-out to Bayside for their cover, though I think Bad Astronaut's is much better) new material like the retooled version of "Stefanie" and the Truman Capote-inspired "The Corner" and an encore that included the beautifully crushing "Pretty Pathetic" before ending on an uplifting note with "Brand New Hairstyle" (the extended version with more soloing than Ramblin' Rose) and "I Know You Love Me."

All things considered, I was happy I'd invested 12 of my very small collection of dollars in the show, having come out even less depressed than when I entered, despite still being jobless, dateless and friendless. My only regret is that I didn't have more money to pick up their new CD, which will be one of the first things on my list if/when I get hired.

Set list:
Look to the right for your viewing pleasure
(courtesy of Neil Hennessy)


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
pleasekillyourself (June 30, 2008)

it was a great show sans openers.

melange would have been great if i was there to see russian circles or some shit, but i wasn't. i was there to see the popes. i honestly felt like i was being forced to sit through 45 minutes of masturbation. when it came down to it, they played two songs. at least that's the way my buddy and i saw it... seeing as they only stopped playing for about 40 seconds of their 45 minute set. honestly, they were great at what they did... especially for their age, but i'm not sure who the hell listens to that stuff.

the second band... the second band sounded like new found glory. .. and i fucking hate new found glory. they played generic, safe hot topic / mtv2 pop rock 13 year old girls love. the jumped up and down, wore tight shirts, sideways hats... the bass player had a hulk hogan lunch box on his amp. no thanks. the sound guy was playing an old megadeth album before the show started and the guitar player walked buy us with the bass player and we heard him say "maybe i should start hating my parents and listen to this shit." asshole.

the popes were great... and sadly, the crowd was much better than the one they had at the 400 bar a few months earlier. neil was a great edition... i liked ryan's drumming... and i liked rob's drumming... but neil is awesome.

to all those that are wondering, eli told me after the show they'll have a national release sometime in the next few months. they're still working on distribution, i guess.

greg0rb (June 30, 2008)

Bad Astronaut's cover of Megan is indeed outstanding. I need to see the Popes, and grab this new album for the love of god!!!

baseball (June 29, 2008)

You can get this album off emusic too. Looks like it's VBR.

http://www.emusic.com/album/Smoking-Popes-Stay-Down-MP3-D ownload/11231771.html

hubitcherkokov (June 29, 2008)

Whatever Caterer was with The Falcon last fall was so painfully awkward. I haven't seen anyone look that uncomfortable playing guitar since I last went to a high school rock off.

Redscare (June 29, 2008)

Neil! Eli! Together the are...NEILI.

Apeman_On_The_Moon (June 27, 2008)

I live in St. Paul, and have never been to a concert.............to quote Bigwig, I'm really not living, I'm barely existing.

leecorsoisapenis (June 27, 2008)

God, the new album is so good. It doesn't have any huge classics like a "Megan" or "Pretty Pathetic" but every song is a gem. It's like they never parted. Agree on the Duvall think below as well.

bytheslice (June 27, 2008)

I love the 'Popes, but not many people seem to have given their current band DUVALL as much of a chance, even though both bands share singer Josh Caterer and guitarist/bassist Eli Caterer.

DUVALL are amazing, and their album "Volume & Density" on Asian Man Records is just as good, if not better, than the Smoking Popes.

"Between The Lines" is one of the best songs J. Caterer has ever written, in my opinion.

andrethegiant (June 27, 2008)

I bought tickets for this show and I forgot to go. I fucking forgot to go. I'm an idiot.

Fresnoska (June 27, 2008)

It fucking sucks that their cd is nowhere to be found. What the hell? I've only seen it on itunes and I would like to have a physical copy before they roll through CA. Can their fucking label get on the ball?

SloaneDaley (June 27, 2008)

this sounds exactly like my experience when I went to go see them (except for the new city thing) I was poor broke and lonely and going alone and the crowd was modest to put it lightly but still had a fun time. They sound great live and the guitar and vocal work is fantastic.

GlassPipeMurder (June 27, 2008)

What are some songs to check out for someone who has never heard anything by them?

the first two songs i heard (and subsequently got hooked on) were "Writing a Letter" and "Let's Hear it for Love." there's not really anything you can go wrong with, but if you like more mellow/sad stuff try "Megan" or "Pretty Pathetic." also, their cover of "Pure Imagination" is phenomenal. really, anything on their myspace should do just fine.

defianceohioequalslove (June 27, 2008)

So for some odd reason, this band has completely evaded me. What are some songs to check out for someone who has never heard anything by them?

red_eye_inc (June 27, 2008)

hey, nice review. I was debating whether to go see them on Sunday but now I probably will.

Here's a very serious issue regarding them:
Their new album is out, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere in any format. You can't order from the label or the band. They only have it at Laurie's Planet of Sound in Lincoln Square in Chicago and it's only on cd. And I really like "The Corner" so I want to get it.

Score is for when they played the new album all the way through at Schubas.

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