Face to Face / Pegboy / Polar Bear Club

Face to Face / Pegboy / Polar Bear Club: live in New Yorklive in New York (2009)
live show

Reviewer Rating: 4

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

Face to Face and Polar Bear Club book-ending a show in New York City promised to be at least a pretty good time. I hadn't seen the latter all year -- a practical drought for a band whose hometown(s) is/are 5-7 hours away. And I'd never even seen the former, though admittedly, I own a single Face to .

Face to Face and Polar Bear Club book-ending a show in New York City promised to be at least a pretty good time. I hadn't seen the latter all year -- a practical drought for a band whose hometown(s) is/are 5-7 hours away. And I'd never even seen the former, though admittedly, I own a single Face to Face album, and not even a highly lauded one. But why not check out one of my favorite bands, as well as some '90s punk legends to see if they still had it?

A dingy basement; a community center floor; a VFW stage of sorts -- these are some of the past places I've seen Polar Bear Club play. So I knew it would be a little awkward watching them on a pretty huge stage, with a barricade no less. But it wasn't too bad. The floor was empty just before the quintet walked out on stage, but the eight or nine people that would be singing along to every word from their own respective standing spots, as well as a few dozen onlookers, filled out the space quickly. The band launched into "Living Saints," and despite their sizable half-hour set time, would only play one more song from the album they were on tour supporting. It was a little weird that they played double that amount from Sometimes Things Just Disappear and a pleasant surprise to hear two from The Redder, The Better, but as a slightly bigger fan of those two releases, I can't complain. The sound was a little clustered and crunchy, and Jimmy Stadt's vocals were unfortunately not too audible, but their energy was good -- from Stadt's flailing, weird high knee raises to bassist Erik "Goose" Henning's similar jumps and leg pumps. PBC churned out eight favorites, thanked the few of us for coming out and the rest in attendance for checking in and called it a night. There's a few on Sometimes I would've preferred hearing in place of "Burned Out" or "Bug Parade" ("Eat Dinner...," "Hollow Place" or "Convinced I'm Wrong"), but I was happy to see them get just about a full half-hour in the number three slot. Hopefully they made a good impression on the elder crowd; for the first time in a while I was feeling pretty young at a show.

Set list (8:00-8:28): Living Saints Election Day Another Night in the Rock
----- Boxes Parked in the Parking Lot of Your Heart
----- Burned Out in a Jar The Bug Parade Our Ballads

Pegboy was more comical than musically enjoyable, but the Chicago outfit played their worn brand of adequately poppy punk decently enough. Frontman Larry Damore strapped on his guitar for a few songs and drunkenly stumbled around the stage fist-pumping otherwise. He talked a lot about how old he was, which in itself got a little old; his age showed, as during a few of the later songs, Damore merely crouched down besides one of the monitors for a song's entirety. For real. The band also trimmed down their set (seemingly voluntarily) by 15 minutes. But he was an amusing character and the vocal issue was fixed, as his raspy shout was totally clear for the set's duration; he also engaged what few fans the band had in attendance way better than either Stadt or Trevor Keith would do, coming down into the barricade and wrapping his arms around stoked nostalgia trip-takers. A decent interlude of a set that may not have inspired anyone running home and pirating their Touch & Go discography, but hardly an abysmal affair, either.

Set list (8:45-9:25) (I may be off...): Superstar
----- Not What I Want
----- Locomotivelung [?]
----- ?
----- Still Uneasy
----- ?
----- ?
----- Strong Reaction [?]
----- ?
----- Field of Darkness
----- ?

The sound checks, instrument swaps and banner raise took a little longer than desired, but when Face to Face took the stage, all was forgiven. I mean, I know the band's pretty much been back in commission the last year or two, but I was still shocked at how absolutely tight they sounded. All those fast punk songs of theirs were lightning-quick, and they kept the tempos just consistently driven and speedy. Danny Thompson was a goddamn animal on the skins and I think the reason everything moved along at such an excellently urgent clip. Hearing just fast punk songs in this day and age was actually kind of a refreshing treat, especially since they were played so well.

The band put on a show, too. I'm talking all the silly "ohhh-ohh" call-backs and audience participation sing-alongs that seemed to keep everyone's attention in check ("Disconnected" must've been like seven minutes long between the mid-song delay where Keith asked fans to vote on whether they wanted to sing along or not, and the song's fake ending). Keith would often jog around the stage and hype the crowd, too, even as the band bustled through steady quartets of songs that, to the audience's delight, spanned their whole catalog. His vocals sounded great, and it seemed like the band barely missed a note. Total mid-'90s Warped Tour mosh pit action, too, but that wasn't too surprising.

Set list (10:05-11:19): You've Done Nothing In a Big Country Bill of Goods ?
----- Ordinary Blind What's in a Name Disconnected
----- Resignation The Devil You Know (God Is a Man) I Won't Lie Down Pastel
----- Take-Away I'm Not Afraid Velocity Complicated
----- ? I'm Trying -or- Don't Turn Away
----- I Want A-OK
Encore (11:21-11:29): Big Choice It's Not Over

Even for fairweather fans, this might be worthwhile to check out.


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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.
paulrulzdood (September 28, 2009)

Scott, Pittsburgh probably had about 300 strong

maverick (September 25, 2009)

What's the attendance been like for these F2F shows? Really curious.


inagreendase (September 24, 2009)

Word, Gramercy. I probably should've mentioned that but assumed people would guess it since I posted this review before the Irving show even took place.

apunkybrewster (September 24, 2009)

Maybe you said it and I missed it, but which New York show was this? The Thursday show @ Gramercy? The set lists seem different than the Tuesday show @ Irving Plaza...

facetofacereunion08 (September 23, 2009)

sounds like a great show...surprised they played a song from ignorance is bliss. i like that record though

welcome_to_1984 (September 23, 2009)

I emailed you to see about that drink, but you never emailed me back. That show was friggin awesome. I couldn't believe seeing Chad out front before the show. The best I've seen them in YEARS!!

oldpunkerforever (September 22, 2009)

paulrulzdood, forgot to mention that Chad Yaro fact as well, indeed he provides that "punch" that is F2F, again, welcome back F2F, you were missed-oldpunker-

necktattoo (September 22, 2009)

new album ya say? (jizz)

scruffy (September 22, 2009)

They're playing songs off of IIB?! Rad!

inagreendase (September 22, 2009)

Side note, how many times did Larry flick off the crowd?

Yeah, totally forgot to mention that. Probably around 5.

paulrulzdood (September 22, 2009)

we got pretty much the same set in Pittsburgh last night:

Face to Face @ Mr. Smalls 9/21/09 10:05-11:15
You??ve Done Nothing
Bill of Goods
You Lied
What??s in a Name?
I Won??t Lie Down
I??m Not Afraid
I??m Trying
I Want
Bikeage (Descendents cover)
It??s Not Over

As solid as I??ve ever seen them, a really rock-solid and energetic performance?they haven??t missed a step?and Chad Yaro is back in the band on guitar, so they had the more full 4-piece sound as compared to the other times I??ve seen them just as a 3-piece. They announced that they??re going to record a new album after this tour, so a 7th Face to Face album will drop in 2010 and ??how to ruin everything? (2002) will no longer be their final album. Nice distribution of songs, catering to the old-school fans, 6 off their first album, 6 off Big Choice, 5 off the S/T and just one song each off of Reactionary and How to Ruin Everything.

Jelone (September 22, 2009)

Jesus Christ got-damn. First off, Big Country rules. Second, you got tunes from Ignorance is Bliss? I saw F2F twice pre-break up, never got squat save for a snippet of "Fairly Impossible" at the farewell show. And "God is a Man" is the song that got me into 'em, thanks to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack. Clam flammit. Third off, How to Ruin Everything is a great album. Not their best, but I love the grittiness and the title track gets me all types of verklempt. Fourth-ish, I'm even more mad myself now for not going to the band's Philly show.

OK I'm done.

thatsyouth (September 22, 2009)

I have never understood why the play Another Night In The Rock live. It's such an album song, not a live song. Pretty ok set list. Surprised/pleased there wasn't more Chasing Hamburg. But they better play One Hit Back when I see them. And I know they must get tired of it being requested every time, but damn, you HAVE to play Most Miserable Life. Probably the best live song I've ever seen. I feel like that's their Deadbolt or May 16th or King Is Dead.

Oh yeah Jimmy's vocals are never good but I still love seeing them.

Score is for Polar Bear Club and those 3 kick ass songs I just named.

theonetruebill (September 22, 2009)

Larry should really invest in an oxygen tank or something. A couple weeks ago he had to take a breather for two songs while Darryl from the Bollweevils sang two Bad Brains covers with the rest of the guys. I don't think there were too many complaints though.

Side note, how many times did Larry flick off the crowd? One time we had a three dollar pool going to see how many times he'd do it in a 30 minute set and he disappointed us by only throwing 'em up seven times. I lost because I was on the high end and predicted an even dozen.

preston (September 22, 2009)

Shit. Too bad about Pegboy. I opted for the Weakerthans show, but I would've been there primarily to see Pegboy.

necktattoo (September 22, 2009)

In A Big Country? what the f.
good to see God is A Man

oldpunkerforever (September 22, 2009)

F2F sounds better than ever, great to hear them live again, soooo good-oldpunker-

LeightonESmith (September 22, 2009)

I saw Face to face back in Feb. I have to agree with the reviewer - fuck it was good to hear some tight fast punk music in this day and age.

pricey123 (September 22, 2009)

reactionary is an underrated face to face album. score is for that

mikexdude (September 22, 2009)

No most miserable life? That's their best song to see live!

mikexdude (September 22, 2009)

Wow... too short of a PBC set. No most miserable life? I guess I suck because I would kill to see them play every single one of their songs live.

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