My buddy that I took with me last night pointed out that last night was part of a string of shows where I had never seen any of the performers before. I know that sounds like a strange thing to point out but, with so many shows under my belt, chances are that I’ve seen at least one of the bands on every line up. Since Monday, every single band I have seen live has been a new one and that, mixed with the fact that every single show has been amazing thus far, has created a truly great week for me. That streak continued last night and, although I had heard about the hype surrounding headliner The Lillingtons, I really hadn’t spent much timing diving into their albums. The element of surprise when it comes to shows is something I enjoy and something that keeps life interesting… right?
Local duo New Rocket Union kicked off the night. The first words out of John’s (the singer) mouth were, “I wanna take you to the record store!” and I instantly knew that this band would be a new favorite of mine. The duo powered through their quick set with a sense of fury while keeping the set from feeling frantic. Bruce kept the beat steady but brisk behind the drumset and I watched in amazement as John strummed along on the guitar while singing relatable lyrics that made you smile. For just a two piece, these guys had an enormous amount of energy. Although the crowd was still filling into the Entry as New Rocket Union played through their set, it seemed as if everyone who walked in the door b-lined closer to the stage before going to the bar to get a drink. There was something about this band that made you want to be right by the stage bobbing along to the beat. I never heard of this local group prior to last night’s show but after experiencing everything they had to give, I plan on spending a portion of my day clearing out my schedule to catch them again.
Up next was Brooklyn based trio- MakeWar. Just like New Rocket Union, I found myself falling in love with this group within the first song. There was a sense of conviction about their performance that had me pretty much frozen in my spot. Vocalist Jose seemed to approach the microphone with a feeling of tenderness and brutality at the same time which created a very tortured sound to the band. When that distinct vocal style collided with the very punk guitar, drum, and bass sound, the packed audience was left with a sound that was so very MakeWar. In a day and age where it seems like everyone’s brother is in a band, MakeWar is effortlessly standing out just because of their creativity and conviction. When all three members addressed the crowd, there was a feeling of talking to your best friends instead of talking to a touring band. They were very informal, very fun, and just super down to earth as they joked around the crowd.
My favorite moment was when Jose explained the meaning behind their song “Don’t Panic”. He explained that it was a song about those that fight with anxiety and panic attacks. He went on to explain exactly how it feels to have a panic attack explaining how everything can be great in your life– good job, great friend, amazing girlfriend– but NOPE! here comes anxiety to ruin it all and make you worry about absolutely every little thing going wrong. As a person that has panic attacks on the daily, I found this charming and comforting to hear. It just added to that feeling of watching your friends perform, not a group from New York City that you’ve never met before.
Closing out the night was The Lillingtons from Wyoming. The Lillingtons’ first album ‘Shit Out Of Luck’ came out in 1996 and, even with multiple breakups and reformations throughout the years, they are still a force to be reckoned with with the punk scene. Their signature fast and dirty sound instantly had the packed venue moving around to the beat as the band kicked off their set at 11PM. With super short punk-styled songs, The Lillingtons easily blasted through what had to have been over twenty songs. Although each song had a very distinct ‘Lillingtons’ vibe about it, each one also brought a different dimension to the band. There’s definitely something to be said for bands that can pull this off. Far too many bands have songs that all sound completely the same or songs that sound so different that it’s hard to find the unique style of a group in all of it. That’s not a problem for this group at all.
With candles and incense going throughout their set, the ambiance in the room didn’t quite match the punk rock sound blaring through the speakers but it somehow created the perfect atmosphere in the room. Much like the feeling I got while watching MakeWar, there was a sense of home that came with the smell of incense and the flickering candles lined up on the amps and cabs. I may have walked into a show I knew very little about but I felt more than comfortable in my surroundings because of the attitudes of the band members and audience. Although the band wasn’t super chatty when it came to banter between band and audience, there was still this feeling of a connection between band and audience. There was excitement in the air but nothing over the top and, although people were moving around on the floor, nothing got out of hand. As far as punk shows go, this was one of the most calm ones I’ve ever been to but, with a start time for the headliner of 11PM, I was more than okay with that. Although I was exhausted by the time the show finally ended, I was happy because of just how great the show had been.
Last night’s show would have been the perfect show for The Triple Rock and although it’s always a bit of a bummer to remember that we no longer have The Triple Rock, shows like last night are a nice reminder that as long as we have the music and spirit, The Triple Rock and the sense of family it provided for a lot of people will always be alive and well.