Strike Anywhere / the Lawrence Arms - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Strike Anywhere / the Lawrence Arms

live in New York (2006)

live show

Really, there are bands on Fat Wreck Chords whose music I get little to no enjoyment out of. However, it appeared as though that none would be on their 2006 CMJ showcase. While this did seem like a condensed version compared to the incredible 2004 lineup that featured all-stars the Bouncing Souls (on loan from Epitaph for the show), Avail, Dillinger Four, Strike Anywhere, None More Black and the Soviettes, it was still like a melodic punk buffet to be able to witness Dead to Me, None More Black, Smoke or Fire, the Lawrence Arms and Strike Anywhere in one sitting.

Mildly pumped about seeing Dead to Me as their debut, Cuban Ballerina, is essentially just a followup to One Man Army's split with Alkaline Trio (as it is for many people I'm sure), I could have sworn they were a three-piece, but four graced the stage. Bassist Chicken is responsible for being part of literally the funniest interview I've ever read, so I was sure that in between songs I'd have nothing if not a good laugh -- and I was dead on. Early on he entertained the still small crowd with a short story of being pulled over in Baltimore for speeding (Jack's fault), even dealing with a few Homeland Security officials, but catching a smooth break as Brendan Kelly (the Lawrence Arms) had already done all the band's drugs the night before. A totally solid NYHC joke also made its way into the set later on. Mike Wiebe, former tourmate of the Riverboat Gamblers, even came out to lend a few notes to closer "By the Throat." As for the tunes on the whole, they were good -- I wasn't blown away by any sort of on-stage persona or anything, but the band shows a fair amount of energy and vigor, so if you like the album you'll like the band live, as I do/did. (And yep, that's an OMA cover.)

Set list (6:50-7:21):

  1. Don't Lie
  2. Visiting Day
  3. Still Heartbeat
  4. -----
  5. True Intentions
  6. Cause of My Anger
  7. Writing Letters
  8. -----
  9. Something New
  10. Special Professional
  11. -----
  12. Last Word Spoken [OMA cover]
  13. By the Throat
Many rumblings had occurred around the recent Fest V that the entire vibe made it seem as though None More Black would be calling it quits. That vibe definitely pervaded the band's set here, and while there were a few choice songs I wish they'd played, it could be the best I've seen them -- never have they looked so energetic, so passionate, nor so emotionally "together" as a band. I was happy to see that they were playing the better material off This Is Satire, as it all worked in the live setting remarkably. At the end of "We Dance on the Ruins of the Stupid Stage," loveable guitarist/vocalist Jason Shevchuk was leaning his head into the crowd, eyes clenched and screaming along with the crowd: "It's a struggle, but we're going...!" A little more on this later, but it it was quite an interesting moment during the last break and prior to the band's last two songs: Guitarist Colin McGinniss thanked Fat for everything but also called it an "arm wrestling match -- you've won some, we've won some...," to which bassist Paul Delaney looked at him and smirked. Awk-ward! Whether that's another hint to the abovementioned or one to label movement, it's all merely speculation at this point. In any event, the facts are creating some intriguing scenarios -- but if this really is the end, it was a tremendous one, with the members leaving the stage one by one until the drummer was on his lonesome, playing the sad, final notes of "Drop the Pop."

Set list (7:37-8:12):
  1. We Dance on the Ruins of the Stupid Stage
  2. Banned from Teen Arts
  3. Zing-Pong
  4. -----
  5. 10 Ton Jiggawatts [preceded by an impromptu jam Shevchuk said was a blatant Ugly Kid Joe rip-off]
  6. -----
  7. Oh, There's Legwork
  8. D Is for Doorman (Come on In)
  9. Who Crosses State Lines without a Shirt?
  10. -----
  11. Everyday Balloons
  12. Drop the Pop
None More Black's response was pretty impressive, so it was yet another weird thing that Smoke or Fire would play after them. Yet, I didn't mind this, as it seemed each of the main openers were getting a half-hour anyway, and not only would I say I prefer Above the City over This Is Satire, but SOF's live show has gotten better with each passing time I've seen them -- and this is all within the last two years or so. Though they seemed a little sloppy and tired with their opener "Fire Escapes," things really got rolling with the next one in the fantastic "Filter," with the band pretty much acknowledging the slow start saying "Alright, here we really go now." However, it seemed the real point of the set was to showcase new material from their recently completed sophomore full-length, This Sinking Ship, as five of the 12 songs they played were from it. The first was titled "Patty Hearst Syndrome," which sees the band coloring a little outside the lines of their standard fare; the second seemed to test Joe McMahon's vocal stamina; the third I liked a lot -- it was definitely one of the band's heavier and darker collaborations, with McMahon's emotional please of "We will shine!" driving the ending; the fourth was about the band drinking with each other and having good times during such; the last relied on the hook of "Divided we stand, united we fall!" (NOFX much?). "California's Burning" and "Culture as Given" got the biggest responses, but I was pumped we'll be two full-lengths in soon and the band is still referencing their Worker's Union EP, unlike a wealth of other modern bands who sometimes completely ignore pre-LP material. Obviously I would've loved to hear "Fifty Cent Hearts," but at least "Sunday Pints" is the next best thing off the EP. Great set as usual, and essentially getting an album preview was a good change of pace.

Set list (8:32-9:02):
  1. Fire Escapes
  2. Filter
  3. Cops and Drugs
  4. -----
  5. NEW: Patty Hearst Syndrome
  6. NEW
  7. Sunday Pints
  8. Delawhere
  9. -----
  10. Culture as Given
  11. NEW
  12. -----
  13. NEW
  14. NEW
  15. California's Burning
The Lawrence Arms played show no. 881 before a suddenly swelling crowd, and Brendan Kelly was slurring as soon as he took to the stage. Rolling through 13 songs in just under 45 minutes, it was a usual blast; the audience went nuts, going quieter for the more obscure tracks, but being able to hear clear versions of "Chapter 13: The Hero Appears," "Great Lakes / Great Escapes" and the fantastic "Lose Your Illusion 1" were welcomed. I was disappointed at the lack of "Necrotism...," but an otherwise stellar mix of material from the band's discography was integrated. They even threw the customary slow country interlude jam into "Porno and Snuff Films." Oh, and as for the additional, interesting commentary -- Brendan dedicated a song to None More Black and said "This is [their] big night," before adding, "I hope not too many of you journalists are here..." Sorry Brendan!

Set list (9:31-10:15):
  1. Recovering the Opposable Thumb
  2. The First Eviction Notice
  3. Alert the Audience!
  4. Turnstyles
  5. -----
  6. The Devil's Takin' Names
  7. Great Lakes / Great Escapes
  8. -----
  9. Porno and Snuff Films
  10. 100 Resolutions
  11. -----
  12. Are You There, Margaret? It's Me, God
  13. Lose Your Illusion 1
  14. -----
  15. The Ramblin' Boys of Pleasure
  16. Chapter 13: The Hero Appears
  17. -----
  18. Like a Record Player
So yeah, how many fucking times have I seen Strike Anywhere? Are you as sick of reading these reviews as I am of writing them? Naw, I take that back. I'm actually not quite to the point of breaking, yet. Not so long as they continue to play nearly flawlessly and bring more passion and aggression than most bands with half their age (experience, really) for the entire duration of their set. Honestly, I was a little worried I'd had my fill of them lately when they took the stage, but it was yet another good time, had not just by myself but all. Two things changed up the set a little bit, too, one being Matt Sherwood roaring drunk. Select slurred comments from him included hard shit-talking on CMJ, "That was the faaastest we've ever played that song!" ("Aluminum Union"), and getting the crowd to chant his name in a call-and-response -- pretty hilarious to see such stumbling outgoingness from someone usually a bit quieter on stage. Also, maybe it was just me, but Thomas seemed unusually operatic for a couple songs (including the very first one, "Refusal") -- maybe his occasional outpouring of gravel is getting to his voice a little bit, maybe he took some tips from Ignite's Zoli when the bands were on tour, maybe a bit of both. This could however be one of the first times I did not mind at all a succinct 44-minute set from them, as all four bands prior to them did punch in for (at least) a half-hour each. Plus, the band did include some of their best live cuts (helloooo "Laughter in a Police State"). We all got to hear a steady mix from EP through Dead FM, and the energy was reciprocated all throughout. Another satisfying set, yet one that capped off an expectedly great night.

Set list (10:33-11:17):
  1. Refusal
  2. Lights Go Out
  3. Laughter in a Police State
  4. -----
  5. Sedition
  6. -----
  7. Chorus of One
  8. Hollywood Cemetery
  9. -----
  10. Aluminum Union
  11. -----
  12. Three on a Match
  13. Amplify/Blaze
  14. -----
  15. Instinct
  16. To the World
  17. -----
  18. Prisoner Echoes
  19. -----
  20. You're Fired
  21. Sunset on 32nd