The Lawrence Arms / A Wilhelm Scream - live in Portland (Cover Artwork)

The Lawrence Arms / A Wilhelm Scream

live in Portland (2005)

live show

Ah, Portland, Oregon. I really don't know much about it. It's my first night in town after moving from the southeastern U.S. I know Al Burian wrote a lot about Portland in Burn Collector. I read a bit about it in a book by Chuck Palahniuk. So, for my first night in town, I'm quite excited to see the Lawrence Arms are playing in a tiny, crowded room. I can tell I'll like it here.

Enemy You started off the night with a great set. Fairly standard 'Lookout Records' sound, but it sure as hell beats the emopopcore that floods opening acts these days. Even with technical difficulties, the band was nice, easygoing, and made a good impression on the crowd. I highly recommend them if you're into the pretty standard fast-paced California skate punk style of the 90's.

Smoke Or Fire. I can't say enough about this band. I love the new disc and the live show really brought it to a new level of intensity. While some of the production on the album seemed out of sync with the songs, somehow making them a tad less 'full,' the live act really poured it all out and the guys put everything they had into it. Starting with the ferocious "California's Burning," they played a majority of the new album (but for shame, no "Culture As Given," one of my favorite tracks) and a couple old tunes. They absolutely stormed through the set and they're coming back to town with Against Me! pretty soon, and it isn't soon enough.

A Wilhelm Scream is a band I've always had mixed feelings about because Mute Print is both incredibly strong but also has some parts that I just can't get into, but I was pleasantly surprised by the live show. The songs off the upcoming Ruiner sounded fantastic. While the set and intensity didn't match that of Smoke Or Fire, they certainly were still entertaining.

The Lawrence Arms are just one of the bands out there today that I think everybody loves. They did a quick sound check (for the absent sound guy) and then disappeared into the crowd, re-entering to the theme music of the Chicago Bulls. They stormed through a set that included a terrific variety of new and old, but doing well to not just duplicate what's on Cocktails And Dreams. While not in order, the set consisted of "Intransit," "Turnstiles," "100 Resolutions," "Necrotism...," "The North Side...," "Porno And Snuff Films," "Brickwall Views," "On With The Show," "Alert The Audience!," "Chapter 13...," "The Ramblin' Boys of Pleasure," and I think two more that I can't recall.

The boys put on an incredibly energetic show, Brendan doing most of the talking in half-slurs, unable to finish sentences but made a quip about blink-182 wiping their asses with $100 bills and how Oregon is strange for making it a rule you can't pump your own gas. All the songs were right on and the guys seemed genuinely appreciative of the crowd, also commenting on how they prefer playing small venues. While an encore was cheered for, instead they invited everyone to go drinking, promising a strip show.

In the end, it's probably one of the better tours going on right now. If it comes by your area, be sure to check it out. All the band are certainly worth the $10 it costs to get in.