Although I'd been running on 2.5 hours of sleep (due in part to a 2:30 a.m. phone call to Frank Turner), I made it to The Media Club with a smile. Once there, I interviewed Chris and Scott from the evening's headlining act, the Flatliners. I went and grabbed some grub, thinking I'd be back just as Party at the Moontower hit the stage. Not even close. Apparently Cobra Skulls (second band on the bill and a personal fave) had border troubles, much like they did the last time they came around. Luckily, the vibe was cool and all was well during our wait for things to get rollin'.
Starting a little later may have worked in Party at the Moontower's favor. By this time the place was filling up more and more by the minute. Their blend of melodic and aggressive style got things moving very quickly. Although the over-usage of background-meets-lead vocal melodies weren't my cup of tea, these boys played the fuck out of their instruments. It is too bad each guitar wasn't more defined in the overall mix but it was clearly not their fault. I've seen a handful of ball-lacking, disappointing local bands lately but not here. It was very refreshing to see such a high-energy, cohesive clan.
The gents from Cobra Skulls may have thought they were in the clear but when it rains, it pours. This time, delays did unfortunately kill a bit of momentum. After much cable replacing, amp cabinet swapping and finally a bass guitar switch, the Skulls were ready. Kickstarting their set with "Back to the Youth" introduced any that were unfamiliar with (arguably) the strongest selection from 2009's American Rubicon. The sound was thankfully spot-on, which only complemented their solid delivery of political sing-alongs. The set was heavy on Rubicon tracks that included "Honorary D.U.I.", "Overpopulated" and "Rebel Fate," but early classics such as "Never Be a Machine" were thrown in for good measure. Near the end of the set I was thinking that it lacked some Sitting Army quality. But, then they whipped out ""!Hasta Los Cobra Skulls Siempre!"--and to my pleasant surprise--"Cobracoustic," which had me sittin' pretty. The evening's difficulties can be easily forgotten and leave one relatively unscathed when you're one of the strongest, relevant punk rock bands today. No harm, no foul and always a pleasure.
I was open to checking out Broadway Calls in spite of their brand of emotional-tinged rock. A song or two in I thought they'd exceeded my expectations, but when nearly every song that followed sounded like the same thing over and over I wasn't shocked (though a little disappointed). I'm sure there's a reason to justify why many a girl and a handful of boys yearned for every predictable hook, clap and heart-wrenching gasp; it just didn't speak to me...at all. Had it, I'm sure I'd have more to say. The heavy booming in the mix didn't help. I initially thought varying styles tonight might have been a strong point, and as far as a lineup for the cross-country tour--it might be. But you just can't please everyone.
This was my first time to witness the self-proclaimed "four horsemen of the apocalypse" perform, but was confident I was in for a treat. "Meanwhile, In Hell" rang out first, followed by "The Calming Collection." The latter--a tune about those who take their own life when they've broken the bank--acts as the lead track on Cavalcade (which drops this week). Expectedly, it was received well by the sold-out crowd. They put on their skanking shoes as the set recalled some early ska-punk favorites.
The band played out their hearts and the crowd out-moshed theirs. Together they formed a unity of over a hundred voices heard shouting "tired of waiting" during "Mother Teresa Chokeslams the World" from 2007's The Great Awake. During fan favorite "July! August! Reno!", also from said album, Scott told a fake-blood face-painted patron to "grow up" after mistaking his shtick for a genuine injury.
Chris explained that he and Devin from Cobra Skulls tied each other for who could fit the most Doritos in their mouth. This--combined with the Flatliners' adoration of the band--warranted a nod of approval in the form of a song dedication (not to mention Chris' Cobra Skull beer koozie).
Shortly after a couple gals took it upon themselves to strut their stuff on stage during "Mastering the World's Smallest Violin," it was clear that Chris was missing something vital from the stage. He called on a search for his white tuning pedal, which was thankfully found, avoiding any major disruption. He then forged on with head-turning lyrical speed on the power-ska flavored "Spill Your Guts"--a classic from their 2002 demo, prior to their full-length debut.
A career-spanning trifecta played out as they closed the well-rounded evening with their new single "Carry the Banner," followed by "Fred's Got Slacks," and finally "Eulogy." These young Canucks bang out an eclectic mix of punk, pop and ska, but one thing's for sure: They continue to rock harder and harder. When it comes to pop-punk these days, it's refreshing to be able to write that with confidence as it's certainly not often the case.
Review w/ pro-shot photo album