Booze and Glory/The Drowns - Live in San Francisco (Cover Artwork)

Booze and Glory / The Drowns

Live in San Francisco (2022)

live show

Fitting to their name, Booze and Glory made their triumphant return to San Francisco last week, stopping through town on a west coast run alongside their Pirate’s Press Records label mates The Drowns. Their first appearance in the Bay Area since 2017, the West Ham loving, Polish-British street punk band was about mid way through their ten date tour when they took over the top floor of local venue DNA Lounge supported by local act Hunting Lions, (featuring members of another PPR act, The Roadside Bombs) who were already onstage upon my arrival.

The room was surprisingly crowded and energetic for dinner time on a Tuesday night, and once I walked up the steep and creaky wooden staircase to the second floor, I saw one familiar face after another in that “fuck yes I’m at a punk show” sort of way. Eventually I bumped straight into Rev Peters and Andy Drowns of The Drowns, buoyantly lingering by their merch table. Despite their last gig in SF being hardly four months previous, the frontman duo greeted me with big hugs and even bigger smiles, all warm and full the promise that that excited pre-show energy brings. It was great to see them both.

Since the crowd was surprisingly supportive of Hunting Lions, (and I only say surprisingly because I hadn’t heard of them yet) I decided to duck backstage and chat with Mark, Frank, and Kahan of Booze and Glory before they all got busy for the rest of the night with their gig. Sitting with their tour manager in the circus tent-like, black and white vertically striped wall and cushioned banquettes, I noticed how surprisingly mellow they all were, plus the contrasting irony of the decorative setting. I grabbed a beer and sat down with 3/4ths of Booze and Glory (bass player Chema was out running around in the crowd somewhere) and despite their tough facade the lads were very zen like while answering my many questions about the states, tour, family, and their favorite stateside restaurant, Denny’s.

“Everything is so expensive now!” - was basically the common answer when I asked how touring in the states is now as opposed to the last time the band was here pre-pandemic. With towering gas prices, less direct resources for touring bands, and other day to day snafus like the Bad Cop//Bad Cop The Last Gang tour gigging in a lot of the same towns (subsequently going head to head with them most nights) including the evening that I had turned up. Clearly the tour hadn’t been without its own challenges so far, and with a lack of presale tickets being bought overall, lead singer Mark explained, the expected turnout most nights was a complete roll of the dice - enough uncertainty to make even the most seasoned road dogs nervous.

It’s true that from many musician’s perspectives the touring music industry never fully bounced back to post pandemic numbers as expected. But if you ask the fans, however, a lot will say that most live gigs have been better than ever lately. Maybe it’s the abundant new material, or band reunions, maybe it’s all the pent up aggression and emotion of being cooped up inside for two years, but shows have been outrageously good lately - and there’s so many of them to boot. With a barrage of new singles, albums, merch, and sometimes even members, bands have hit the road in 2022 with a veracity once never seen before, and both The Drowns and Booze and Glory are no exception.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see The Drowns live a handful of times now over the years, and despite getting COVID and missing their last run through the Bay Area they put on a show big enough to make up for anything I missed back in June. Well rehearsed and enthusiastically energized, the boys had a certain sparkle in their eyes I hadn’t seen before and don’t get me wrong - their hyper supportive, sentimental crowds and singalong friendly setlists always make their gigs some of the best I go to every year. A few months back when I reviewed their most recent EP Lunatics for Punk News, I had mentioned a certain coming of age with their sound that is definitely apparent in their stage show now. A rollicking party right from the very beginning, The Drowns all but burst off the stage with a larger than life presence bringing an almost vintage arena rock energy to their showmanship.

Touring with a new guitar player (whose permanence in the band is unknown to me) who more than held his own on a gorgeous Telecaster, Rev, Jake, and Andy (who is looking more like a reincarnated glam rocker each time I see him) kicked off their set with “Hold Fast” from their 2020 mega debut album Under Tension, then proceeded to pummel their way through most of the tracks off that album plus their aforementioned EP dropped back in March.

Rev and Andy look like they’ve been playing together their whole lives at this point, a natural brotherhood is obvious between them both as they hoist their rigs up to the sky, backs pressed together as if they were basking in the beams of their own created sunlight. Impossible to miss, Jake Margulis (The Briggs) flexes his technically precise yet earnestly charismatic drumming style from the back throughout the set, creating a powerful percussive container for the three lads positioned in front of him to springboard off of.

Highlights include Under Tension’s kickoff track “Black Lung”, new banger “She’s The Knife” and “Cue The Violins” - always a favorite among the “Pirates” crowd. On a personal note, one of the best things to see was just how much everyone was smiling that night, and I mean both on the stage and in the crowd. Every band dude out there wants to be a rockstar, but the reality of it is that touring is a tough gig. You don’t get to eat what you want, sleep where you want, see who you want, all the driving stresses you out, there’s repetitive physical labor that makes your body ache, plus you have to do a ton of it year after year to get anywhere at all. You’re especially lucky if you have friends and family who support you by holding it all down while you’re gone. There are… so many variables to success on the road. That being said, these guys are cut out for it. It’s always interesting to see who that next generation of road dogs will be, and with another run over in Europe during the entirety of November, The Drowns are well on their way to becoming a regular on the festival circuits both foreign and domestic and I’d love to see them on the road supporting larger acts like The Bouncing Soles or CockSparrer.

Earlier this year Booze and Glory released a stunning EP that had a grip on me from the very first time I was able to preview it. Raising The Roof is full of rousing, anthemic hooligan rock and roll with each track delivering a post pandemic comeback energy that’s equal parts refreshing and inspiring to hear. Well warmed up by The Drowns, the crowd gave the quartet an overwhelmingly enthusiastic welcome, and by the time the first three songs were finished, (tracks off their last two albums, respectively) it seemed like half the room was making up the “front row”, and they knew the all words to every song.

With running lyrical themes of hometown pride, not forgetting where you came from, accepting what you can't change, and moving forward despite it all, the tracks off of Raising the Roof blended seamlessly into their setlist, and the veteran showman flexed their well earned chops with much assistance from tri-hawked bass player Chema’s hyperactive, old school hard core punk playing style, (not to mention his look) plus Mark’s signature grinning frontman enthusiasm, a veritable embodiment of the PMA he personifies in real life. Frank Pellegrino (who looks an eerily lot like a combination of both Mike Gallo *and* Vinnie Stigma from Agnostic Front) intensely thwacked away on his kit in the back, with a tight and hard hitting drum style a dead giveaway to his hardcore kid roots and the other bands he tours with when not on the road with Booze and Glory..

HIghlights from the show include tracks both old and new including: “Betrayed”, “Raising The Roof”, “C’est La Vie”, “Blood From A Stone” and “Streets I Call My Own”. My only complaint about the set list isn’t really a complaint so much as I wish they would have thrown one of the tracks off their infamous ska album in there somewhere but as their song title states: c’est la vie, because there’s always next time. I was so glad to hear that Booze and Glory had signed with a larger booking agency just a day or two after that show, so hopefully 2023 will find them in larger venues should they come stateside or at the very least, landing those coveted opening slots for legacy touring bands like The Dropkick Murphys or Sick Of It All. As of this week the boys in Booze and Glory are already back in Europe putting in miles on yet another run where I’m positive they’re pulling (appropriately) much larger crowds and guarantees, as most bands do when touring across the pond.

One thing that’s for sure is that Mark, Frank, Chema, and Kahan are great examples of old school guys who are not only young at heart, but approach every run with that same fresh faced enthusiasm and gratitude they had the very first time they got in a van and hit the road. You can see them giving 1000% up there on stage, something I admire and respect very much not only as a journalist but also as a woman in punk. Here’s to many more successful runs for Booze and Glory - and for crying out loud, buy your tickets ahead of time as it’s good for the collective morale.

Sure, we’re all a little older and more traumatized now after COVID, things are still somewhat uncertain in the music industry and everything is definitely more expensive, but something tells me that these guys appreciate all the little things that come along after two years off the road: getting to tour with your label mates, finally seeing your friends in each city, Denny’s Southwestern Skillet Scrambles, (Mark’s favorite) then going home to take a breath before you head out to do it all over again. Is it a good life? I suppose that’s subjective. But one thing I can say for sure is: on that random Tuesday night in San Francisco, everyone in that building was unquestionably, undeniably *living*, and we all had The Drowns and Booze and Glory to thank for that.