The Ergs! marked the second-to-last date on their last tour before breaking up by playing a free show in Columbus, OH with locals Tin Armor and Delay, and New Jersey brethren Static Radio NJ. From start to finish, it was a great show that was a proper sendoff for what I believe to be one of the best bands of the last five years.
Up first was Tin Armor who, after starting out with an awkward cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” played an enjoyable but familiar sounding take on late `90s poppy emo. They seemed to combine the basic sound of the Nothing Feels Good-era Promise Ring with elements of the modern indie movement with mixed results, but to their credit the four-piece was often catchy.
Local favorites, Delay were up next and positively lit up the venue with their high-energy and catchy old-school pop-punk. I had been hearing about this band for awhile and had yet to catch them, but their set was a huge highlight of the night. After picking up the new CD double pressing (two albums on one CD) of their last two full-lengths, I have found a new favorite that I feel should take their place among the pop-punk elite like Teenage Bottlerocket, Dillinger Four and the Ergs!. They should appeal to fans of those bands and especially to fans of pre-Dookie Green Day.
Static Radio NJ followed Delay with a fast and poppy hardcore-esqe sound that immediately reminded me of Lifetime. As I watched them I realized that not only did they sound like Lifetime, but with their singer’s shaved head and guitar player wearing a soccer jersey, they even looked Lifetime. They played a long-ish set highlighted by a cover of Minor Threat’s “Small Man, Big Mouth” (which, by the way, went unrecognized by the straight-edge dude next to me wearing a Let Down shirt).
The Ergs! took the stage last at around 12:30 without much fanfare by setting up and doing a shortened instrumental cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” even nailing the instrumental break. If you have listened to this band, but have never seen them live, you might miss the fact that all three of these dudes are great at their instruments. Of course, they were in full force, especially with Joey Erg shredding pop-punk basslines all night. Their set list was heavy on Dorkrockcorkrod, only hitting one track from Jersey’s Best Prancers and three songs from their last full-length, Upstairs/Downstairs (I failed to write down the set list as I wanted to enjoy the last time I saw one of my favorite bands rather than be geekboy in the back with a pen and paper), but did include two new songs to be on their final 7”, That’s It, Bye.
On par with a typical Ergs! show, the band played everything faster than on the record and with no breaks between many of the songs, allowing them to tightly blast through a ton of songs that, in turn, just feels like hit after hit. They did take a few breaks to tell jokes and talk about how Columbus was always an important stop for them during their time as a band. After what seemed like 40 songs, they did a few encores, including a rousing rendition of fan favorite, “Books About Miles Davis."
The Ergs!'s break-up is without a doubt one of the great losses of 2008 in terms of punk bands breaking up. In many ways they never got their due and proper credit for being as good as they are, but those who knew loved them and will continue to. Without a doubt they will be remembered and I think it’s a definite possibility that they could be one of those bands that gets more popular with time as younger generations discover them. If you never saw the Ergs!, do you what you can to check them out before it’s over.