Like A Fine Wine- Lagwagon and Face To Face Keep Getting Better With Time


Yesterday at my day job was agonizing. Not because it was slow and I was struggling to stay awake, but because I was unable to listen to some of the bands that have become staples in my daily playlist. I know, stupid, but I have this silly rule that I don’t listen to the bands I’m going to see at night during the day. Again, silly and stupid, I know, but it keeps me from getting sick of a band or having too high of expectations for a band to sound exactly like their recordings. I wanted so badly to listen to all three of the bands that performed last night but I couldn’t let myself. Now, the morning after, I realize how silly my fears of any of the three bands not being able to pull off their sound at a live performance was.

MakeWar was the first band to take the stage. I had the honor of catching these guys last April when they came through with The Lillingtons and instantly fell in love with everything about them. From their sound to their energy to their message, this is a band that gained a spot in my daily playlist just from catching them open up that show last year and my obsession with them hasn’t stopped. The trio may have not been playing to the biggest crowd of all time a people were still funneling through the doors into the theater but that didn’t stop them from provided the audience that was there with a flawless set. As their social media states, “MakeWar is one word. It’s a state of mind, not a statement.” Honestly, that’s the best way to describe this band. They are making a statement with their music and their lyrics and it’s a statement that I whole-heartedly back. I can’t wait to see more from this band.

Friday was a special day for Lagwagon- the next band to take the stage. It was the official release date for their ninth full-length album ‘Railer’. Like it so often goes, the album was unofficially leaked earlier so I had already listened through the album around a million times and was excited to get a set that was full of some of these new songs along with some of their iconic skate-punk anthems that date back to 1992. Lagwagon is one of those mega-influential bands if you are in the scene. They are pretty much legends and have influenced so many bands that have come after them. The only other times I have been able to catch these legends live have been at festival dates where my head is typically lost in an alcohol induced fury and my mind is a ball of anxiety due to trying to catch multiple bands at the same time. What I’m trying to say is that I have seen these guys before but haven’t really seen them.

To say that Lagwagon was entertaining throughout their twenty song set would be an understatement. From the jokes being cracked by frontman Joey Cape about guitarist Chris Flippin’s height and resembling a Yeti (Chris is tall…. like really tall) to the way Joey used his microphone as a jump rope at one point (he only got around six jumps in and seemed pretty disappointed about that number), there was just something completely fun and free about Lagwagon’s set that I wasn’t quite expecting but was so thankful for. It’s not that this band’s upbeat punk anthems don’t lend themselves perfectly to goofy personas on stage but more that this band has been doing this for years and usually, at this point, that magic is band and most bands are just going through the motions. It was so amazing to watch this band still come off as goofy and fun as I had heard my friends who had seen them years ago talk about them being. Even with a couple of hiatus’ in there and a couple of line-up changes, Lagwagon is still a force in the scene and to finally be able to witness their majesty with my own [sober] eyes was a dream come true.

Being a co-headlining tour, Lagwagon and Face to Face have been swapping who closes out the night. Although I love both bands, Face to Face was the perfect end to an already perfect night so I was super excited when they closed out the show. Much like Lagwagon, Face to Face has been through more breakups, haitus’, and line-up changes than I have time to get into but, through all of the years and all eleven albums that they have out, they have always stayed true to their punk sound and unique styling of said punk sound. Although it sometimes comes off a bit calmer than other skate-punk bands, Face to Face’s music is highly energetic and the band has a live show to match. The first time I saw this band was back in June of 2017 when they made a stop at the Uptown VFW just down the street my apartment. I remember the shock of being able to catch this band live as I never thought I would. Fast forward to now and I’ve actually be able to catch Face To Face a couple of times sense (including a stunning acoustic performance at Red Rocks in Colorado when they played with Lucero) and they never fail to leave me impressed. Last night was no different.

Within the first couple of songs, vocalist Trever Keith called out a guy from the front row that was at their last acoustic show in town. He explained that the guy had treated that acoustic show like it was a full blown punk show and that the band expected that yet again. That’s exactly what they got. Although the crowd never got to the point of sold out or me even being comfortable calling it packed, the crowd wasn’t going to miss a single word of Face To Face’s set and spent the set pushing and shoving their way up against the rail with their fists in the air. The energy in the room was electric and the music flowing off the stage, flawless. Although the crowd was older and it was way past all of our bedtimes (Trever mentioned how late it was a couple of times just proving that we are all getting older and going to be at a decent hour seems to get more and more enticing with every passing day), Face to Face put on a hell of a show and the audience ate up every single note and beat. 

As I was leaving, the line for one of the other shows happening in the same building (the Skyway Theatre has multiple rooms and venues) was growing with bright eyed and bushy tailed youths surely just then going out for the night. I couldn’t help but laugh at how the times have changed. Just a couple of years ago that would have been me but now, I was that old person walking to my car about to get a full night’s sleep on a Friday and be up at a respectable time. This used to bug me but not last night. I walked to my car with a smile on my face knowing that I had just seen an amazing show full of legends.