Escape from the Zoo /  Voice of Addiction - Live in Austin, Tx (Cover Artwork)

Escape from the Zoo / Voice of Addiction

Live in Austin, Tx (2020)

live show

I’ve made a promise to myself that in 2020 I will be attending more live music than in my previous years as a dad. My son is old enough now to join me if he wants to come, and that makes him old enough to stay home if he doesn’t want to come. For this show, I found myself solo, but honestly it was probably for the best. Three of my favorite bands, coupled with two bands I’d never heard of, a local Austin legend, and a Chicago band I only knew from a documentary that they put out a few years back, is a recipe for a long night. Though the show was an early starter at 6pm, I still felt I was going to regret a 7 band show on a school night.

The show started with my absolute favorite singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Marissa. Sibling to Jesse Sendejas of Days N Daze, Marissa has carved her own lane in the Folk Punk scene, and for good reasons. Deep blues filled vocals atop varying stringed instruments infect your brain while the simple yet intricate tunes take you away. A great way to start any Folk Punk show, in my opinion, and with the talent Marissa holds, there is no stopping the great things that are coming.

Immediately after finishing the solo set, Marissa grabbed yet another instrument, her washboard, and joined Chatterbox and the Latter Day Satanists for another quick set. Micah and Marissa working together to deliver politically charged folk punk tunes definitely picked up the pace of the night, getting the blood flowing for all in attendance. Micah’s voice is reminiscent of a few other vocalists in the scene, yet I’m drawn more to the work of Chatterbox than I am to Spoonboy or any of the others that sing in that similar key. Add to that a message that anyone fighting against the Trump administration would appreciate, and your in for a pretty good time.

BondBreakr took the stage next. I have to say I was a bit shocked when they started their first tune. I honestly thought they were still warming up until I realized I recognized what the lead singer was singing. “No Scrubs”, the tune from TLC, was being spoken over loud angry noises, and some sampling, with the occasional scream of the lead singer breaking up the monotony of the spoken word piece. I have to say that I was impressed with the attempt, though I’m not sure it was pulled off to perfection. For the rest of the set, I couldn’t help but think “This is the kind of thing that John G. would be eating up right now.” Maybe I’ve spent too much time with my punknews counterparts, but with the constant goofy sampling, the chaotic nature of the band, the overdone HUGE riffs, who wouldn’t be telling John G. that his next crazy band is waiting for him. They definitely weren’t my cup of tea, but not everything has to be.

The next band I didn’t know was Stuck on 45. They were straightforward, 90’s melodic punk, in the vein of Pennywise, NOFX, or about half of the epifat bands. Being a child of this punk rock, I have to say they brought me to a place of comfort, which was much needed after the spectacle I had witnessed directly before them. And just as I was getting comfortable with the band, they totally blew my mind. The bassist switched instruments with the guitarist, and the drummer took over vocal duties. Apparently, I’m easily amused, but this was an unexpected, and welcomed change mid set that I really thought showed the versatility of the band. If I liked them prior, my enjoyment only went up with the quick change.

Austin’s heavyweights, Worm Suicide, took the stage next. They are classic punk rockers, having been a band for over 20 years, and they brought a stage show that proved that it takes more than good tunes to have a band last over 20 years. They truly enjoyed every second they were on stage, and while their tunes are a bit too street punk for me, this was one of their better shows I’ve been witness to. With his Lucha Libre mask in tow, the lead singer made sure everyone in attendance knew where there eyes should be focusing for the entirety of their 45 minute set.

Finally, Voice of Addiction took the stage. Again, this band I had only known from their documentary about touring life, but I knew enough that had me pleased to see them added to this line-up. What started out as a typical folk punk show, with two of my favorites getting things kicked off, it had definitely evolved to a much more classic punk crowd. Plenty of crusties with their leather jackets were around, but the crowd had also diversified, and more of the mainstream punk fans had shown up to give their love to this established Chicago three piece. While their line-up has changed since the documentary, the music remains very similar to everything they were showcasing on the film: straightforward chicago punk rock. If you’re a fan of 88 Fingers Louie, Alkaline Trio, or any of the other Chi-Town bands from that era, you’ll likely enjoy their tunes. They’ll likely never be my favorite band, but I’d come out to see them again if they come back through Austin.

The final act, and my Spotify 2019 most listened to band, was Escape from the Zoo. Jesse Sendejas has this ability to write lyrics that feel like they were written specifically for me. That said, at least 20 fans I know say the same thing about his lyrics. Couple that with a sonic fusion of ska, punk, and folk punk sounds that blow anyone out of the water, and you have Escape from the Zoo’s live show. The guitar and mandolin work together so well on the records, I was honestly a bit fearful of the band’s ability to pull off such tight work on the strings, but they did anything but let me down. Despite needing to leave only half way through the set, I have to say that it will be tough for a band to beat this performance as my favorite for 2020, and we’re only two months in!

All in all, it was a good night, and welcomed vacation from the folk punk scene, if only for a few bands. I’ll probably still find myself at more folk punk shows than anything else, but it was good to know that my ears hadn’t forgotten that they enjoy a bit of old school punk as well. And, come on, who else can say they saw a band’s interpretation of “No Scrubs” at a punk rock show?