This past weekend was a blur. I was in Chicago for Riot Fest and to say I was exhausted and sore would be an understatement. My friends I went with had all gotten home and were surely sleeping off the exhaustion. Good lord that sounded like such a good idea but alas, there was a show and… say it with me this time… I don’t miss shows. Sure, I had just seen the headliner at Riot Fest but seeing a band at a huge outdoor festival versus seeing them in a small club is a completely different experience and one I wasn’t willing to miss. So I grabbed my little brother and we made our way to Amsterdam Bar & Hall in Saint Paul.
I absolutely had to get some food in me that wasn’t mediocre pizza or dust covered “Island Noodles” so, unfortunately, I missed the first band- Life Lessons. My sincerest apologies to the band. My brother was actually super interested in seeing you live but I knew I wasn’t going to make it through the night without some food and a couple Red Bulls (of the vodka variety of course). Please come back soon!
We made it inside the venue just in time for Grayscale. Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Grayscale is a pop punk band that has a true sense of energy and one that I could easily see headlining a giant tour in the very near future. Along with the three bands that followed them at Monday night’s show, they played Riot Fest on Friday but, unfortunately, with an overwhelming line-up to deal with, I was unable to catch their set. What a bummer because after seeing their energy at a small venue like Amsterdam, I would kill to see them at a giant outdoor festival. With two EP’s and two full length releases, Grayscale has a very classic pop punk sound. They have all of the elements you need from a truly heavy-hitting pop punk band including the raw emotions that are emitted through the music. I may have been exhausted and sore but there was nothing stopping me from standing there to watch them power through their quick opening set.
Following Grayscale was Like Pacific from Toronto. This group also has a pop-punk feel to them but seem to lean a bit more towards the side of just straight up rock side of the music world. Since their beginning in 2010, Like Pacific has been doing the tour grind and it’s definitely paying off. They had a sense of professionalism that can sometimes get lost in the genre and their ability to play their songs with precision while still keeping the energy high was a delight. Like Pacific’s debut album “Distant Like You Asked” came out last year so they are definitely due for a new release. Having seen them a couple of times now, it’s easy for me to say that their next album should be the one that truly breaks them into the scene.
Seaway from Ontario was up next and, even though they have only been around since 2011, they have been making waves. Having just released their second album “Vacation” a couple of days ago, Monday night’s show was a perfect chance to highlight their new music. The new songs easily blended into their older songs which was nice to see. They clearly are sticking true to their pop-punk roots and obviously don’t care what’s “in” right now. Their music is fast and full of energy while still having raw emotions being the highlight of their set. With songs that make you want to push and shove a little bit, their set was the perfect preview of what was to come next from the headliner.
Four Year Strong is one of those bands that never gets old for me. I honestly hadn’t even stopped to think about the fact that it had been ten years since they released their influential “Rise Or Die Trying” album. It has been ten years of listening to that album (along with all of their others) to get me out of any funk I find myself in. Their pop-punk sounds are classic yet unique. They are one of those bands where, as soon as you hear one of their songs, you know exactly who it is. That’s something that doesn’t happen much anymore so it was definitely refreshing.
Sure, I saw these guys on Friday at Riot Fest and stayed for a good chunk of their set but, as I mentioned, everything changes when you get to see one of your favorite bands in a small venue you feel at home at versus at a giant festival in a city that you are a stranger to. The energy seemed to be the same as on Friday but, being in a small venue gave the show a sense of tension. As soon as the four-piece took the stage, the crowd swelled towards the front and I instantly got lost in a sea of sweat and smiles.
Did I mention I was tired? My legs felt like they were about to give up and I was still hacking up dust from the outdoor stages over the weekend but there was no stopping me. As soon as they started their set, my brother and I made our way to the front and let the music completely take over. Four Year Strong powered through their sixteen song album all the while the crowd was screaming along to every single word. Honestly, the band didn’t need the microphones… they had the crowd and that was louder than anything coming through the speakers could be. The crowd shoved, pushed, danced, and crowd surfed through the album. Although the audience was full of people my age who have day job and a life to get back to today, everyone turned into a sweaty mess who forgot their age and instantly reverted back to their teenage years where it wasn’t a show unless you left the venue with a limp.
At some point during the set, the crowd randomly started singing Smash Mouth’s “All Star”. Don’t ask me who started it or why because I have no freaking clue but it was absolutely hilarious how, out of nowhere, the entire crowd was singing along. The band just stood on stage kind of dumbfounded as they attempted to find the right notes to play. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite get it and were on a strict time schedule so they switched “All Star” to Semisonic’s “Closing Time” just to get the crowd to shut up. Again, not sure why any of this happened and it probably just sounds dumb if you weren’t there but, if you were there, it was one of those moments that was absolutely hilarious and had you grinning from ear to ear.
Four Year Strong finished their set with “Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)” which has become their anthem and the anthem for many people who have been following this band over the years. As they usually do, the band members stepped back from the microphones and allowed the crowd– yes, the entire crowd– to come up on stage and take it over for the song. I said it last time I saw FYS and will say it again– this is what a concert should be like. I get goosebumps when the line between stage and floor gets blurred and FYS is a band that never fails to do that. My brother and I stood in the empty pit and just watched with giant smiles on our faces and goosebumps on our arms. It was the perfect ending to a perfect set but that was no surprise.
I slept for nearly ten hours last night (which is unheard of for me) and I’m still exhausted. My feet and legs are bruised and carrying groceries from my car to my apartment was almost too painful to handle. All of the blisters on my feet have popped which is making walking a bit of a task. That being said, I am so glad I went to the show last night. There’s no rest for the wicked right?