Masked Intruder/The Lippies/Murder Party - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Masked Intruder / The Lippies / Murder Party

Live in Grand Rapids (2015)

live show

Three is the perfect number of bands for a show, especially on a weeknight. The best bills have an established national headliner, an up and coming regional band in the middle, and a local opener. This was the case for Masked Intruder’s first visit to Grand Rapids at The Pyramid Scheme on Thursday December 10, 2015. Strictly speaking, The Lippies are a local band, but they’ve been making waves regionally and seem poised to do the same thing nationally. I had been looking forward to this show since it was first announced. It’s not very often that I’m excited to see all three bands. There was just no way this wasn’t going to be a good time. When I got there and learned that PBR was half price, I just knew I was in pop-punk heaven.

Murder Party! led off the show with a 25 minute set of catchy horror-punk. In a sense, it was strange that a bunch of self-described serial killers were opening for a bunch of self-described thieves. Homicide would definitely rank higher than larceny on the criminal scale. Either way, it was an inspired pairing. Best of all, they played a couple of songs that weren't from their EPs. It gives me hope that we might finally get some new Murder Party! music. I’ve been a fan of this band for quite a while and am looking forward to hearing some fresh stuff. Check them out, if you dare.

The Lippies seemed to be having technical difficulties at the beginning of their 35 minute set. They actually opened with one of Tonia Broucek’s solo ukulele songs. It might have been called “Basic,” and I wouldn’t like to be the young man she wrote it about. It’s been a pleasure to watch this band develop over the last year or so. Their sound is feminist pop-punk, and their performances just keep getting better. They draw a good crowd and seem to have a great, natural chemistry. Broucek has an unconventional but undeniable charisma. You might call it a charming awkwardness. The Lippies have generated a lot of excitement in GR, and their debut LP comes out early next year on Red Scare. They played a couple of new songs, and there’s every indication that the new record’s going to be really good. I can’t wait.

It had been a couple of years since I’d seen Masked Intruder, and I’d actually never seen them do a proper headlining set. They opened with “Stick ‘em Up,” “How Do I Get to You,” “I Don’t Wanna be Alone Tonight,” “25 to Life” and “Unrequited Love.” They played the first five songs in rapid succession without a break in between. After that they started interacting with the infamous Officer Bradford. He had previously been standing on the the stage with his arms crossed, scowling at the crowd. He danced like a maniac to “I Fought the Law” and “Crime Spree.” Officer Bradford also took to the mic to point out various audience infractions. Bad hats, bad haircuts and questionable wardrobe choices were the main culprits. Maybe it was the PBR, but I thought it was pretty funny (and I think everybody else did too).

After a bunch of cajoling from some woman in the front row, Masked Intruder played their solid take on The Outfield’s 1985 classic “Your Love.” (I actually love the original unironically.) A lot of people in the audience, myself included, probably expected Tonia from The Lippies to join MI for “Heart-Shaped Guitar.” Instead, Rayne Klar came out to help with the duet. She was a familiar face to many in the crowd, as she regularly works merch for Murder Party! and The Lippies (and makes some awesome show flyers). She did a great job, and seemed to have a blast. “Crazy” and “Wish You Were Mine” fired up the audience, and Officer Bradford worked to keep people dancing. He stripped down from his cop outfit to a wrestling singlet, and eventually to a tight pair of briefs with ‘Sick Pig’ embroidered into the waistband. I couldn’t help but smile every time I laid eyes on his epic mustache.

Masked Intruder’s encore included “Breakin’,” “Saturday Night Alone” and finally, “I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye to You Tonight.” No one in the crowd wanted to say goodbye either after their 50 minute set. I guess I once thought that the band’s gimmick would get old after awhile, but they’ve surprised me with their staying power. They continue writing memorable songs and wearing those stinky, sweaty, itchy ski-masks for our amusement. It turns out that a feminist band sandwiched between two bands of criminals makes for a nearly perfect bill. All three bands were great, and the only thing they were guilty of is putting on a thoroughly entertaining show.