The infamous Triple Rock Social Club may have closed down last November but the spirit of the club has been alive and kicking ever since and last night was proof of that. When walking into the sold out Propagandhi Fine Line show, I was instantly greeted by familiar faces of my Triple Rock family. The mood and the vibe threw me into the arms of a venue that I miss more than words can describe. The only thing missing? Pete, the door guy, reading on his Kindle.
La Armada was the first band to take the stage and to say I was excited to see this group would be an understatement. Originally from the Dominican Republic but currently based out of Chicago, La Armada has a very unique sound to them and it’s a sound that I’ve always wanted to pair a live show to. They didn’t disappoint and within the first song I came to the realization that their live show was even better than their recordings that I’ve been obsessing over for over ten years now. The singer’s vocals are intense and heavy while keeping an oddly piercing sound about them. If you aren’t stuck watching the larger than life (I’m going with 8’4 but my photographer is guessing 6’4) guitarist as his dreadlocks whip around the stage, then chances are you were watching the singer as he led the band through their quick thirty minute set. The aggression of their blend of metal, punk, and hardcore sounds didn’t seem to be lost in the crowd but the crowd seemed to be saving their energy for the headlining act. Regardless, La Armada’s set wasn’t ignored by anyone in the audience last night and for an opening band playing to a group of people that could have easily spent the thirty minutes catching up over lost time and reminiscing over the loss of The Triple Rock, La Armada absolutely killed it leading to one of the best opening sets I’ve seen yet this year.
As great as it was it finally be able to cross La Armada off of my bucket list, I was most excited for the second band of the night- Iron Chic. These guys have been a favorite of mine for awhile now and having seen them live for the first time just in December, I had been craving another visit from this pop-punk band. Okay, it’s not the pop-punk sound that just popped into your head but it’s along the lines. I think my photographer put it best when he called them an ’emo band for dads’ (okay Markus, I owe you ten cents for using your line– just put it on my tab). That may sound like a put down but it really isn’t and truly encapsulates the sound of this band. It’s that classic pop-punk sound but with cynical lyrics that only come from years on this messed up planet. There’s a sense of maturity about them while they keep that fun-spirit of pop-punk music alive. Their sound makes you want to bob your head and maybe push your neighbor around a little bit but it’s nothing too brutal or extreme. Honestly, they were the perfect band to place between the aggression of La Armada and the nostalgic sing-a-longs that came with headliner Propagandhi.
Iron Chic’s set list was full of new and old songs. I loved the variety in, not only the age of the tracks, but the style. They played their notable fast songs that I, of course, screamed along to, but they also played one of their slower, sad songs (a member of the audience asked the singer to play the sad one to which the singer responded ‘Dude, they’re all sad!’). It was a strange song choice for such an upbeat and intense show but the audience seemed to welcome it with open arms and a sense of respect. Regardless of how great Iron Chic was and how stoked I was to see them live again, there was no denying that there was a sense of anticipation in the air. As the house lights went on, hordes of people headed outside for their final smoke of the night while the rest of the sold out audience tightened up near the front of the stage.
After a longer than usual stage change-over for Propagandhi (okay, maybe it wasn’t abnormally long but the sense of anticipation made it feel like it took forever) the members of this legendary Canadian punk band took the stage and the crowd instantly erupted into a sweaty mess of bodies and limbs. Calling this group legendary is not a stretch at all. With seven full length albums that date back to 1993 and two original band members still trucking along in the group, Propagandhi is one of those bands that has stayed relevant throughout all of the years and even though their music has changed throughout the years, their message of activism and change has not.
Propagandhi’s set was definitely one big nostalgic sing-a-long for the older crowd. Although I was unable to sing along to every single word like the people huddled in around me, I felt like I was truly part of something special. With lyrics speaking out about human rights violations, sexism, racism, homophobia– basically everything bad– it was next to impossible to not find yourself getting wrapped up in all of it. With fists in the air when there weren’t bodies being throw above the heads of the audience members, Propagandhi’s set had a bit of a protest feel to it but everyone was on the same side. It was truly a reminder of how the punk scene (both locally and nationally) may be full of a bunch of outcasts but when it comes to brass tax, we’re all one big happy dysfunctional family and I was honored to be a part of that last night.
I’ve always praised the many different scenes in the Twin Cities. You have the amazing hip-hop/rap community that is amazing enough to make me get a Doomtree tattoo on my arm. The indie-pop scene is alive and well with many acts that you’ve heard of but maybe never knew they were from the Twin Cities. Then there’s the punk scene– I mean, come on, we have Dillinger Four. It seemed like the bands that performed on Thursday night were well aware of where they were and the amazing musicians we have here. Whether it was on purpose or was just a coincidence, the lead singers of both La Armada and Iron Chic were representing Twin Cities based bands on their shirts (La Armada’s singer was repping No Skin and Iron Chic’s was Off With Their Heads). If this doesn’t say something about the Twin Cities scene, I really don’t know what will.
The Triple Rock closed in November and I cried like a little baby. It was hard to see that legendary punk club and second home close their doors. Although it’s been months, the spirit of that club has been alive and well at many shows that I’ve been to since but last night I could have been fooled into thinking I was back in The Triple Rock (although the lack of spilled beer smell was a constant reminder that I was not there). Thursday night was one of those shows where, even if you showed up alone, you were surrounded by family and it was absolutely perfect.