The Dopamines - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Dopamines

Live in Grand Rapids (2017)

live show

Is there a worse way to start the work week than a Monday night bar show? I had a serious internal struggle about whether or not to leave the house for this. I had just spent the whole weekend in Milwaukee at Dummerfest, and hadn’t really had time to catch up with Mrs.Trauma or the kids. In the end, the pull of seeing The Dopamines and two great local bands for free won out. The show was on Monday June 26th at Mulligan’s Pub in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids, a good half hour from my place. Mulligan’s has become one of the most consistent live venues in GR, with always free punk, metal and indie shows every weekend.

We were promised an early 9pm start time. (Normally it’s 10pm.) The female fronted Bloody Lips went on (almost) promptly at 9:10, and played their typical, frantic 20 minute set. Krystal sang (screamed) from the floor in front of the stage, but no one got too close for fear of taking one of her wild elbows to the face. The relatively new band played most of the songs from their debut album B-Side Noise, which came out earlier this year. The music is mostly hardcore, with just a touch of ska thrown in for good measure. These guys (and girl) are one of my favorite newer locals, and I always enjoy seeing them.

Next up was The Hex Bombs from nearby Kalamazoo. The long running street-punk quintet has been a favorite of mine for the better part of a decade. After laying low for the last couple of years, they seem to be back with a vengeance. A new guitar player has put a little extra pep in their step. Their energetic 35 minute set included sing along favorites from all three of their LP’s. They even played a new anti-crowdfunding song called “Get in the Van”.I think performing live is a fountain of youth for these guys. They forget what a bunch of old farts they are and play with reckless abandon. If you’re into street-punk, OI! or even celt-punk, do yourself a favor and check out The Hex Bombs.

I had never seen The Dopamines, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I did know of their reputation, and they definitely lived up (down?) to it. I can’t remember the last time I saw a band drink so much beer on stage. They were guzzling it straight from the pitcher and people were even spitting it on them. I was a couple rows back and still managed to get plenty on me. (I was drinking in moderation, but it wouldn’t have smelled like it if I had been pulled over by the GRPD.) It was also Taylor from The Bloody Lips birthday, so at one point he joined The Dopamines on stage to break his piñata. Unfortunately it was full of candy, not beer or other drugs. Still, it added to the festiveness of the evening.

The Dopamines are a much rawer punk band live than on their sometimes overproduced records. Recently added guitarist Josh Goldman helps thicken the former trio’s sound. (He also owns their new label, Rad Girlfriend Records.) They were also funny, self deprecating and probably drunk. A typical intro was ‘this song is dumb’. They played a handful of darker tracks from the just released Tales of Interest. A few rowdy fans up front went wild every time they played an older one. There was a pretty good crowd for a Monday night, and they were treated to a fun 40 plus minute performance. Overall, it was a really solid show. I’m really glad I went, even if I was tired for the rest of the work week.