D4th of July 2018 - Live at Grumpy's Bar (Cover Artwork)

D4th of July 2018

Live at Grumpy's Bar (2018)

live show

For most everyone in America, the Fourth of July is a splendid occasion for celebrating patriotism and our privileged way of life by sucking down hotdogs and watching fake explosions. For a Minnesota punk rock fan, the birth of our nation is synonymous with the mighty Dillinger Four. What started as a small affair well over a decade ago, the D4th of July festivities have had its ups and downs. At one point, this celebration of punk music and drunken shenanigans was a three day event, featuring dozens of bands from all over the country. This year, things got back to the basics. One evening with five bands in the parking lot of downtown Minneapolis' Grumpy's Bar.

After the recent closing of The Triple Rock Social Club, which was co-owned by D4's Erik Funk and usually featured Billy from the band tending bar and Paddy drinking from said bar, the summer party needed a new home. Scheduled to also close later this year to make way for more yuppie condos, Grumpy's temporarily served as a great home for the alcohol induced shindig. As an added bonus, there happened to be a pretty fancy looking wedding party directly next door. As the local band Speedweed opened the night, the uncomfortable confusion of the wedding goers was priceless. I like to imagine that the undoubtedly rich father who booked his daughter's wedding immediately shit himself during the heavy thrasher's first song. These local gals brought a dark and dirty sound that went along perfectly with the cloudy overcast. For a pretty new band without a huge following yet, Speedweed got things started off right. The punks from inside Grumpy's came out in numbers while the wedding goers next door looked on at the mohawks, tattoos, and beer cans shrouded in clouds of cigarette smoke.

Next up were the theatrical, RoboCop obsessed Minneapolis outfit, MURF. With a lead singer painted in blue, gangly looking guitar players and bassist, and two badass drummers, people who have never heard these hardcore heathens had no idea what to expect. At times, the band is reminiscent of Minneapolis hardcore acts from yesteryear, like Code-13 and Misery. At other times, MURF's metal influences take center stage. Regardless of how these guys are musically skull-fucking the crowd, they always bring a healthy amount of humor along for the ride. Maybe the people next door at the wedding party were busy listening to clichéd speeches that will hold no relevance in a few years or perhaps they were stuffing their faces with catered meals that cost three times more than a ticket to the D4th, but the confused guests were nowhere to be found after the band's set. They really missed out because with fun stage banter, fake money and various other things thrown into the audience, and an onslaught of fake blood, MURF quite possibly stole the entire show.

Off With Their Heads went on next. My mama always said, "life is like an Off With Their Heads show, you never know what you're going to get." With a rotating door of members, the band's sound changes a lot over the years. This current version of OWTH were tighter than ever. After starting things out with the first half of "Jackie Lee" from 2006's Hospitals, frontman Ryan Young looked fit and was thoroughly enjoying himself through a set of mostly newer songs (well, the last two albums are not exactly new anymore, but whatever). With the latest addition to the band, drummer extraordinaire Kyle, OWTH has a newfound energy to them. It would have been nice to hear some more old songs, but the Epitaph-era material never sounded so good. The absent wedding party missed a decent set from what are steadily becoming a Twin Cities punk rock staple. Following taking his guitar off and jumping into the crowd during "Clear The Air", Ryan and company finished with the rest of "Jackie Lee". This was a cool and equally satisfying way to layer out a set and I look forward to the new material from this constant evolving band.

D4th of July celebrations sometimes feature something special. A few years back, the festivities included reunion shows from Scared of Chaka and Lifter Puller. This year, Green Bay Wisconsin's Boris the Sprinkler got back together to shock and entertain. For a very inactive band, they sounded tight as ever. Frontman Reverend Nørb came out in one of his signature crazy costumes, leading his circus of insanity while entertaining the sweaty audience. Boris the Sprinkler sounded pretty much how they do on their recordings. Rev. Nørb had some fun onstage banter between songs, but nothing too special really stood out. Well, except the fact that it is 2018 and Boris the fucking Sprinkler is still playing and sounding good as ever. Yet, when it comes to stage theatrics and putting on a weird and entertaining show, I'd say the point goes to MURF.

The final act of the night was of course Dillinger Four. For a band that was once infamous for getting naked on stage and getting too drunk to play more than a few coherent songs, D4's live show has calmed down over the years. Every time I see them, they seem to be drinking less and playing better. Perhaps bittersweet, the more mature D4 still put on a hell of a show which resonated with the crowd and the reemerged wedding party alike. The band opened with "The Great American Going Out of Business Sale", which is absolutely perfect for such a patriotic occasion. They followed it up with the usual live staples, such as "Noble Stabbings!!", "Mosh For Jesus", "A Jingle For The Product", "Let Them Eat Thomas Paine", "Doublewhiskeycokenoice", and "Gainesville". With the exception of not playing any songs from This Shit is Genius, the set is always a pretty great run through of their entire catalogue. Paddy's onstage rants were a little tame in comparison to his usual drunken speeches, but I particularly loved his story about how he quit his job at a printing press while the band was recording Versus God and how at the time, he thought it would make a good John Hughes movie. This naturally led in to the best song ever written about stealing from your boss, "A Floater Left With Pleasure In The Executive Washroom." Whether it is watching them play drunk in a dark, dirty club or seeing them relatively sober outside while the sun is still out, D4 never disappoints. For that brief set, everyone is part of something bigger than themselves, reminding us all why we love this music in the first place.

After finishing, D4 came back out for a brief encore that included "O.K. F.M. D.O.A" and "D4 = Putting The 'F' Back In 'Art'". With fists in the air and everyone singing along, D4's set serves as a testament to these timeless songs. The Triple Rock is gone. Grumpy's will be gone soon. Most of D4's original contemporaries have broken up. Yet, these guys still carry on. It's also worth noting that the members never really seem to age. Every time they play it is like watching a fresh, new band, putting everything they have in their carefully crafted songs. They were the perfect closer to a fun and equally diverse evening. Uncle Sam would be proud of these true American patriots.