Direct Hit! - Stream from Milwaukee (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Direct Hit!

Stream from Milwaukee (2020)

live show

Direct Hit!, one of the best bands in pop-punk today, gave us two chances to see them live this week, live streamed from frontman Nick Woods’ own garage. It also gave us a chance to see the new lineup for the band which, to the best of my knowledge, marks the first lineup of the band to be co-ed. The first such chance was through something called Social Distance Party, a livestream from that claimed to be putting on their “holiday” party. Which holiday? Well, all of them, of course. Every holiday you could possibly imagine morphed into one mega-holiday, as the host—who looked like Pee Wee Herman hosting a late-night movie—explained to us. The Social Distance Holiday Party included performances by Parallels, a Madonna style 80’s pop band, House of Harm, a pure post-punk throwback ala The Cure or Flock of Seagulls, Terror Pigeon, a bizarre one-man band who seemed like a cross between AJJ and Weird Al Yankovic and was at one point dancing with a road flare in front of an audience of inflatable holiday balloons, Diet Cig, and an artist named Jason Anderson who played emo acoustic guitar with the assistance of a Grinch puppet.

Direct Hit!’s set came in the middle of this ensuing chaos, as the band played “Forced to Sleep,” “Werewolf Shame,” “Hospital for Heroes,” and “Have You Seen It?” It was a bit of an odd set up to have the band in a circle with the cameras in the middle, and one of the cameras was horribly out of focus. But the band did a sloppy but impassioned performance and even pulled off the two songs from Wasted Mind, despite my previous comments in earlier reviews that the songs off Wasted Mind don’t sound right without the additional studio musicians that were hired to play on the album. Those studio musicians were replaced on this performance with little more than unbridled enthusiasm that added a different, but exciting, element to the songs.

Night two came as the band took over Fat Wreck’s YouTube channel on Sunday night with a similar set-up from Nick Woods’ garage. Gone was the terribly out of focus camera, but in its place was the camera focused on Woods that was seriously lagging behind the rest of the cameras until the band figured out the problem and adjusted accordingly. It was a seat-of-your-pants kind of affair with the band working out technical problems and deciding songs to play while on camera. The set started out with two of the newly released singles before launching into such classics as “Was it the Acid?,” “Snickers or Reese’s?,” “Werewolf Shame,” and “Hospital for Heroes.” Nick Woods was happy to end on “Do the Sick” in honor of the pandemic, especially since his young daughter kept poking her head in trying to avoid going to bed, but the band, and the people sending in requests in the YouTube chat, convinced him to do a quick encore of “Villain Alcoholic.”

One thing we learned about the new DIrect Hit! lineup is that they certainly have chemistry, so much so that they can easily get side-tracked into irrelevant conversations and forget that they’re supposed to be playing. But that’s mostly a good thing as it adds a social aspect that the previous lineup mostly lacked. Their new songs sound really tight and the old songs have a new energy to them, even if it’s not the exact same energy that went into the studio recording. But overall, Direct Hit! proved this weekend that they haven’t missed a step with their new lineup, that they’re just as good—if not better—at playing their old songs, and that the new material is going to be great. This new beginning is going to be a great one for Direct Hit!