Beloved punk rock institution the Lawrence Arms hit the road to support their new “greatest hits” compilation (heavy on the quotation marks), We Are the Champions of the World. They brought out like-minded followers Red City Radio, as well as solo acoustic act Sincere Engineer. The latter opened this first date of the tour at Cambridge, Massachusetts’ lovely Sinclair venue, playing a rousing half-hour or so of fairly typical acoustic punk stuff. It didn’t particularly do much for me, but the crowd seemed to be into it enough.
Red City Radio was supporting a fresh release as well, their SkyTigers EP on Red Scare. They played most of it and dug into their back catalog of favorites. They had a pretty decent following there on the floor shouting along and jumping around a bit to said favorites. Frontman Garrett Dale was quite the showman, with lots of gesticulating, dancing and declaring posi rock phrases throughout the set. The band had a pretty major change with the departure a few years back of co-vocalist/guitarist Paul Pendley, but they’ve really seem to progressed without a hitch. The live show remains tight and energetic, and the old stuff sounds pretty much just as good, with former Nothington member Ryan Donovan on guitar and helping out with some backup vocals. They were a nice complement to the Lawrence Arms, especially if you think of the latter’s more drunkenly upbeat Buttsweat and Tears style specifically.
Set list (8:43-9:26):
- Rest Easy
- Two for Flinching
- If You Want Blood (Be My Guest)
- Two Out of Three Ain’t Rad
- I’ll Still Be Around
- In the Shadows
- In the Meantime…
- Show Me on the Doll Where the Music Touched You
- Joy Comes with the Morning
The Lawrence Arms played a very fitting, circusy waltz instrumental version of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” on the PA before coming out, and then launched into arguably their most aggressive (and certainly one of their best) songs, “On with the Show”, the same way their new comp opens. They followed its track listing for a couple more tracks actually, making for a great opening four-fecta. They proceeded to play about half the previously released tracks that make up the comp, actually, which is totally cool as it’s indeed some of their best material. (And much of it comes from their crown jewel, 2003’s The Greatest Story Ever Told.) The trio were in classic form, with Brendan Kelly a little drunk and getting touchy-feely with Chris McCaughan and the band adding just a touch of slop to both the rousing, upbeat shout-alongs (“The Devil’s Takin’ Names”, “The Slowest Drink…”) and more dramatic, wistful tunes (“You Are Here”, “Chapter 13: The Hero Appears”). The sprawl and yet consistent quality of their catalog was shown off and lovely to sink into. They sounded choppy at times and yearning at others. Drummer Neil Hennessy even got some rally chants. It was clearly a good time had by all, and even without any new material in a few years, it was a welcomed return for the Larry Arms who we can only hope will at least keep hitting the road every few years, even if they’re just bringing along the classics.
Set list (9:45-10:34):
- On with the Show
- Great Lakes/Great Escapes
- Alert the Audience!
- You Are Here
- The Devil’s Takin’ Names
- There’s No Place Like a Stranger’s Floor
- Recovering the Opposable Thumb
- Chapter 13: The Hero Appears
- Seventeener (17th and 37th)
- The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City
- The Ramblin’ Boys of Pleasure
- Northside, The L&L, And Any Number of Crappy Apartments
- Like a Record Player
- Beautiful Things
- 100 Resolutions
- Are You There, Margaret? It’s Me, God.
circus waltz version of Queens’ “We Are the Champions”