The Living End / Bombers / Days of Rage - live in Levittown (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Living End / Bombers / Days of Rage

live in Levittown (2006)

live show

The Living End delivered a mild disappointment with their middling new album, State of Emergency, but still, it was hard to deter me from going to see a band I once considered (and still do to an extent) an all-time favorite in such a mind-bogglingly intimate state. The last time I'd seen the Australian trio it was May 2001 opening for Green Day at one of New York City's biggest indoor concert venues with a standing room floor (Hammerstein Ballroom). Here at Club Ritual in Levittown, NY, they played a stage that was no more than two feet high and 20 feet wide, under a ceiling that couldn't have been higher than eight to 10 feet -- along with a crowd that couldn't have been much higher than 60 at its peak. For this type of setting it was rather surreal to watch a band I'd been a fan of for so long that's essentially the Green Day of their home country.

It seems as though the band hasn't brought along a real support act with them on this current U.S. tour, so a meager two area bands got the chance to open for the punkabilly stars. Usually the booking companies around these parts will load up the show with a staggering number of openers, so it was refreshing to have a simple three-act lineup.

First up was Days of Rage. I was getting a weird Boys Night Out / iffy nü-emo vibe at first, which lingered a little bit through the set, but after a few songs it was clear the band's modus operandi was more melodic punk/hardcore in the vein of major label-era Rise Against. That and the four-piece's frontman was practically Tom Rheault's (No Trigger) vocal doppelgänger. The songs were a little raw and pretty scrappy, but I didn't mind the 32-minute set, and they seemed to have a solid political fervor about them as well.

Next was Bombers. Coincidentally enough I'd just heard of them earlier in the day after receiving a press release regarding their support dates with Bayside. I didn't actually listen to them at the time, but their MySpace had listed them as "indie / pop / punk;" thus I assumed they played some type of unassuming indie pop. I'd also say that was pretty far off base. The first couple songs from the three-piece sounded sort of like the album Alkaline Trio is on pace to make in another five years; one of the guys sounded so much like (albeit, a little underdeveloped) Bayside's Anthony Raneri I was convinced it was either him or a direct relative. Their drummer even looked like Dan Andriano -- complete with Andriano's new snazzy glasses. But here's the thing: halfway through they played some weird power-pop song that began with a line talking about alligators -- and the next had dance beats. I didn't really know what to think. While they promised two more songs, I suppose their time was up and the set was forced to end abruptly. I bet their 10-15 friends and family that left immediately after they played were pretty pissed; I couldn't really remotely give a shit, obviously. Not horrible per se, but I've spent better 15 minutes.

At this point I still hadn't a clue to the actual lineup going down that night, but once I caught a surprising glimpse of that black stand-up bass I was thrilled; the Living End's instruments were taking their respective places on the stage. At 9:04 the trio modestly walked on to rousing applause for the crowd of 40 -- the number of people standing anywhere in or near the vicinity of the stage. Honestly, it's been a while since I've seen a band play as flawless as them; I was well aware I was witnessing one of punk's most talented acts, but it wasn't until a song in the encore that it sounded like they actually missed a note -- and I think even that was due to an out of tune guitar. They played what I felt were the better songs off State of Emergency too, and all came off splendid in the live setting -- even the quasi-ballad "Nothing Lasts Forever" thanks to its ridiculous hook. The audience benefited from the intimate setting in more ways than one: The band acknowledged and played two requests, both of which were from a single patron; "Fuck the set list," cracked Chris Cheney before tearing into "Monday" with the rest of the band. In the other request, the band offered a long, methodical pause before launching into the big stomp of "Uncle Harry." "All Torn Down" found the band delivering a fantastic, extended bridge, Cheney wailing away like a modern day Johnny B. Goode there and during an instrumental (which may or may not have been "Hellbound," doubtful though) where he held a foaming beer in one hand and his dancing pick in the other. Scott Owen rode his big bass effortlessly during "Second Solution," and Cheney even hopped on without a hitch for the final cut, "West End Riot" (though I'd have preferred another riot, the one on Broadway). Andy Strachan deserves a mention too for holding it down so consistently too.

The Living End is great in any setting, granted, but for an hour and 20 minutes in a tiny club in America's premier suburban town, you won't often get better parameters.

Set list (9:04-10:04):

  1. 'Til the End
  2. Roll On
  3. We Want More
  4. Who's Gonna Save Us?
  5. What's on Your Radio?
  6. All Torn Down
  7. Into the Red
  8. Nothing Lasts Forever
  9. Second Solution
  10. Monday [request]
  11. instrumental
  12. Long Live the Weekend
  13. Prisoner of Society
    Encore (10:07-10:24):
  14. Wake Up
  15. Uncle Harry [request]
  16. West End Riot