Mustard Plug/Koffin Kats/Hard Lessons - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Mustard Plug / Koffin Kats / Hard Lessons

Live in Grand Rapids (2014)

live show

Mustard Plug had their 12th annual hometown holiday show at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI on December 28th, 2014. After spending too much time with family and eating far too much, it's good to get out and see some old friends and hear some great bands. Many of us look forward to this show every year. You can even skank away those holiday calories if that's your thing. (It's not mine.) Mustard Plug always seems to brings in a great mix of local and national bands for this show, and this year was no exception.

Unfortunately, I missed the local bands, but I'll give them a quick plug anyway. Murder Party! played first with their twisted brand of horror punk. They've released a couple of well received EP's and should soon be working on a full length. I've seen them a handful of times and they've become one of my local favorites. The Campanellis played next with their retro style of 70's rock and pop. It's catchy stuff, even if it has a hipster element. I resisted the urge to buy their cassette.

The Hard Lessons were up next with what they claimed was their last show. The Detroit trio plays an addictive blend of garage, soul, indie and blues, all with a Motown flair. The band is built around the husband and wife team of Augie and Korin Louise Visocchi. Husband Augie's ragged, bluesy guitar playing is the perfect foil for Korin's powerful, soulful voice. Korin's keyboards sometimes stay in the background, thumping out a bassline, and other times carry the melody. When the two of them sing together, it might remind you of art-punk legends X. After more than 11 years and a slew of releases and a mountain of critical acclaim, they've decided to call it a day. They finished their set with just the two of them at the front of the stage playing a stripped down version of the Descendents' "Thank You". It was a potent ending to an enjoyable performance. Their gratitude was undeniable.

The Koffin Kats, also from Detroit, were up next. These guys are road warriors and are always a good draw in GR. They have plenty of supporters in the local rockabilly/psychobilly scene. Their fans are easy pick out, with their evil greaser look. They played a solid show that involved lots of interaction with the stand-up bass. It was stood on, thrust in the air, laid down, switched with the guitar etc.. The Koffin Kats are what it would sound like if Glenn Danzig joined The Stray Cats. Good stuff.

As soon as ska-punk legends Mustard Plug took the stage, the majority of the crowd broke into frantic dance. Their mustard squeeze bottle mascot was there to encourage, also dancing up a storm. The audience was just eating up their high energy sound, and the atmosphere was festive. I especially enjoyed "You" and Fugazi's "Waiting Room" back to back about halfway through the set. They also played "Roots Radicals" from the upcoming Hooligans United Rancid tribute album. Mustard Plug finished their regular set with the fan favorite "Beer(Song)", with many members of the opening acts joining them on stage to help. The crowd kept singing as each person left, and didn't stop until the band came back out. It was really cool to see.

The three song encore included "The Freshman", an upbeat take on the depressing hit by one time multi-platinum alt-rockers and Grand Rapids natives The Verve Pipe. The show closed with the energetic "We're Gunna Take On The World". It was a fun ending to a fun show. When singer Dave Kirchgessner said "The last 23 years were fuckin' awesome", it was easy to believe him. The crowd showed much love and appreciation for the band that has done so much to put Grand Rapids on the punk map. We were really saying thank you for all the great bands you've brought to town, all the great shows you've played, and for being such great ambassadors. See ya next year.