team reasonable is fucking back

returnfinal

I know I killed this blog back in September. I decided to bring it back. Because things are always better when they come back, right? There is a bit of housekeeping to take care of.

  1. I’ve spent the last eight months removing myself from all the PR lists I was on. I never intended to start this back up. That said, I don’t have access to advance stuff. It is what it is.
  2. The Tumblr I used to have as a mirror for this blog is gone. I deleted it a number of months ago and someone else scooped up the name almost immediately. I didn’t intend on bringing this shit back, so chalk that up to my own shortsightedness. There is a Team Reasonable on Tumblr, but it is not me anymore. I messaged them to get it back, but it probably won’t happen.
  3. I’m probably not going to be exclusively covering stuff on the greater punk spectrum. It will still make up the majority of posts, but me feeling limited and stuck was why I stopped to begin with. Don’t be surprised if you see a post outside those bounds.
  4. I’m sticking to just reviews again. Song of the week is on hold for now. I might bring it back once I get in the swing of things.

Other than that, updates occur when they occur. You know how I do.

UPDATE 8/21/18: I have a mirror of this blog up on Tumblr, if anyone still fucks with that site. It’s a slightly different URL than the one I used to have.

FEATURE: My 2014 In Live Music

I went a little over two years without seeing any live music. It certainly wasn’t something I was trying to do, but it happened. This was pretty unforgivable for someone who blogs about music. This is even more unforgivable given my immediate proximity to Chicago. There were literally bands here always.

But, somehow, I went from July 2011 until November 2013 without seeing any live music. It was a pretty big drought. As is forever the story of my life, it was almost always due to money problems, health problems, or scheduling problems. I work 3rd shift on Wednesday through Saturday nights. This means I end up missing damn near every show. That two year span was a lot of disappointment. I’d see a band was coming, only to see the show was on a Friday or Saturday night. Meaning I had to work.

Luckily that streak was broken. I got back into the swing of things this last year. I got to see a pretty fair amount of bands. Here is my 2014 in live music:

March:
NONA / Pet Symmetry / Meah! / The Valenteens
(@ TOWNSHIP)

April:
Dowsing / Donovan Wolfington / Bluebirds / Per Aspera
(@ TOWNSHIP)

May:
Dowsing / Little Big League / Winter Classic / L. Mounts
(@ TOWNSHIP)

June:
Lemuria / Cayetana / PUP / The Menzingers
(@ BOTTOM LOUNGE)

July:
Braid / Jason Douglass Swearingen
(@ TOWNSHIP)

September:
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) / Joie De Vivre / Free Throw
(@ TOWNSHIP)

December:
Lemuria / Lifted Bells / Prince
(@ BEAT KITCHEN)

American Football / Braid
(@ BOTTOM LOUNGE)

Ten of those bands ended up on my year end lists.

Hopefully 2015 is as eventful. Though, with the apparent loss of Township, I feel like Sunday night shows are going to fall by the wayside. That is definitely a bummer.

So, bands I like, you are on notice. Please play Sunday shows when you come to Chicago. You will be my best friends, and you may end up on a year end list on a blog that not very many people read. Deal?

Drinking Pitchfork’s Beer: A Shitty New York Adventure

Crappy picture I took during Waxahatchee's set @ Converse Rubber Tracks

My friend Autumn and I go back a number of years to two different punk houses in the Chicago suburbs. The first house was The Capital, it was in Aurora. The second was in Bartlett. The Bartlett house didn’t have a name, and was the home base of a horror punk band. So, yeah, that was a thing that happened. She moved out to New York after the house broke down.

Anyway, after years of avoiding it, I finally went out to New York to visit for a week this past December. Mostly we just kind of wandered around Brooklyn. It was every bit as hipstery as it is made out to be. Like, one new hipster girl got on the Q for every one that got off of it. It was ridiculous. That really has nothing to do with this story, but it was maybe worth noting (probably not).

I was on the computer looking at show listings on December 14. I found out about a free Waxahatchee/Mutual Benefit show. Totally a thing I would want to see. It was at Converse Rubber Tracks in Williamsburg. So, it was a relativity painless trip. Flatbush to Williamsburg. Really just the Q to the G, then walk a few blocks. This is certainly not a bad trip in general, but for one problem. We had to make that trip in a snow storm. Oh, and also the G train is total bullshit.

After a bunch of boring shit no one cares about, we finally made it. Only we forgot to RSVP for the show. The person doing door was super uncooperative, but finally agreed to let us in. We had gone to the event thinking it was just a free show. It turned out to be the launch party thing for Pitchfork’s print quarterly.

Mutual Benefit was just starting when we got there. Immediately we went to the bar to get some drinks. Turns out the drinks were free. Free drinks being the best drinks (of course). Mutual Benefit were absolutely fantastic.

The editors of Pitchfork did a panel discussion/Q&A about the magazine when Mutual Benefit finished their set. Michael Azerrad was the guy moderating the panel. It was weird. The panel was, more or less, Pitchfork jerking themselves off. Made tolerable only by the free booze.

Waxahatchee played after the panel talk went on for what felt like an eternity. Everyone in the building was talking through her set. It was kind of a bummer. Well, it would be had she not been absolutely great. The set was fantastic. Some old, some new, some Great Thunder stuff worked in, and some covers. Autumn actually grabbed the setlist off the stage when the show was over and gave it to me (sorry). I have it in a folder at home.

So, the show is over and everyone is still hanging out. Mostly it was a bunch of people trying to schmooze and network. I’m much more focused on drinking as much beer as possible, which probably makes me the worst music blogger ever. Totally uninterested in making connections.

The long and short of it is that the night ended with Autumn, her boyfriend, and I getting shit-plowed on free booze. Free booze that was provided by Pitchfork.

Sorry, Pitchfork.

Digging Through the Compilation Shelf.

compgridCompilations were a fucking way of life. They were the best route to find new bands. They were around long before the internet was THE INTERNET. They were around long before Spotify, BandCamp, SoundCloud, and other services made it easy to “try before you buy.” They’re things that don’t really happen anymore. One part is because of the internet. Another is the overall decline of brick and mortar record stores. They’re not financially viable to manufacture and distribute anymore, and it’s kind of bummer.

Without pulling the shitty “back in my day” card, the decline of record stores and readily available physical products has been the biggest change in music that I’ve seen. I’m old enough to remember a time before file sharing, iTunes, and web commerce as a viable option for music existed. Small record labels, if they had websites at all, still lived on mailorder. You printed out a form, mailed them a money order or some shit, and waited. Oh, how you waited. It wasn’t the most conducive way to discover music. You could read liner notes, but if bands didn’t thank any other bands it was a no-go. So you turned to local record store, and their “compilation” section.

I’ve always been broke. That definitely made it hard for me to discover new bands in my teenage years. I couldn’t afford to buy albums all the time, and it had to be worth it if I was going to drop the $16 at Tower Records. So I always dug through the compilations. At around $2 a pop, they were the best things in the world. If i was curious about some new band on Lookout! Records or something, just go grab their most recent one. Same with Asian Man, Epitaph, Fat Wreck, Go Kart, Matador, Hopeless, BYO, Vagrant, Deep Elm, and so on et cetera. You’d get to hear that new band you were wondering about, and probably some unreleased song from a band you liked already. How could you go wrong?

The first compilation cd I ever bought was probably Mailorder Is Still Fun. As I touched on in another thing, Asian Man Records was my jam. I was mail ordering a bunch of records, and decided to get this compilation. As a teenage ska fan, it was the best I could have hoped for. Slow Gherkin, Less Than Jake, The Chinkees, and MU330 were all on it. Through that compilation I got introduced to Korea Girl, who I still believe to be one of the most criminally underrated indie rock bands in the world. I heard Alkaline Trio and The Broadways for the first time. 16 year old me was stoked. And that compilation was already 2 years old by the time I bought it.

It all spiraled from there. The first time I heard Camber, Planes Mistaken For Stars, and Brandtson was on Deep Elm Sampler #3 (Sound Spirit Fury Fire). The first time I heard The Mr. T Experience, Bratmobile, and Common Rider was on Lookout! Freakout Episode 2. And Hopelessly Devoted To You Vol. 3 was where I first heard Dillinger Four, The Queers, and The Weakerthans (it also sparked me into buying one of my all time favorite records, Left And Leaving). Marc’s A Dick And Gar’s A Drunk: The Johann’s Face Story is where I first heard the Traitors and No Empathy. What I’m saying is that compilations were always important to me. In that spirit, I wanted to make a quick list of my favorite compilations. I’ve linked them to their respective page on Discogs. In no particular order.

Honorable mentions go to Short Music For Short People and Fat Music Volume 5: Live Fat, Die Young (both Fat Wreck Chords). The former for absolutely fucking nailing the gimmick. The latter for having one of my favorite Propagandhi songs.

If this kind of stuff had a resurgence, I’d be right there ready to go.

September 20, 2003 – Thursday/Death By Stereo/Murder By Death

thursdayticketOn September 20, 2003, I got on the train to Chicago to go see Thursday. I don’t really remember the show very much. I’ve been to a whole lot of shows in the intervening 10 years. I do remember certain things about it though. Some things are more superficial than others. I was just a few months out of high school, and had really only gone to locals shows. The shows I went to were either at the venue I volunteered at, garages, backyards, or basements. Going to see a post-hardcore band in Chicago at a major venue was a huge adjustment, especially when you’re used to seeing crusty ska/punk bands in a garage in Wheaton. But, if nothing else, it kind of affirmed my belief in the music I listened to. None of my friend’s gave a shit about that kind of music. Even the punks were too busy being “punks” to even attempt to listen to something more involved than power/barre chords and vague sloganeering lyrics (Bush administration era punks were TERRIBLE [myself included]).

My friend Lamarr and I got to the House Of Blues late. We actually ended up missing most of Murder By Death’s set. This was a month before Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them? came out. I ended up buying a copy of Like The Exorcist, But More Breakdancing. That record was fantastic. Murder By Death kind of lost me when they more or less became a country band. Not as a slight against them, but it just hasn’t done much for me.

Death By Stereo were the other opener. I always thought that was weird. I was never really stoked on them. Not even as a shitty punk teenager. They did put on a great show though. I remember Efrem jumping from the stage to the floor, and doing a song in the middle of the pit that had formed. It was a great thing to see, even for a non-fan.

As far as Thursday went, I was bummed that their set was heavy on songs from War All The Time. It made sense, seeing as that record had just been released less than a week prior. I guess I was kind of bummed because I hadn’t had time to really listen to the album. It hadn’t connected to me quite the way Waiting and Full Collapse had. Shit, it still hasn’t. That aside, they played a great set.

What I remember most was the overall atmosphere. The House Of Blues has a shitty layout. The floor is boxed in, and there’s limited access to the it. Those access points are hard to get to on a half full show, never mind a sold out one. But, I was still straight edge at the time, so having to stand around by the bar wasn’t my idea of a great night. Eventually, through force of will (and being generally larger than most people at the show), I worked my way down to the main floor. The crowd was moving as one singular being. It was remarkable because no one was trying to mosh. If there is one thing Chicago fans love doing, it’s moshing at inappropriate times to things that don’t need it. I had worked my way up to the front left of the floor, but ended up at the rear right by the end of the show. The main hall is on the second floor of the building, so you could feel the floor shift under your feet as the crown moved. It constantly felt like the floor could have buckled at any time.

So, you know, that was pretty great.

(Originally posted on Tumblr)

Misfits Of Ska

Sorry I missed a review this last week. I have one coming up in the next few days. To make up for that, here is a thing I wrote about Skankin’ Pickle over on my Tumblr:

One year in high school I ended up having two art classes and a math class with this cute girl who listened to great music. I tried so hard to be cool in front of her. Which was difficult for a fat dude in a Rancid t-shirt. We’d talk about The Brady Bunch, starting a cult, how creepy Patrick Duffy (not the actor) was. Obviously we would also talk about music. Like how great Operation Ivy was, or how Pinkerton was the best Weezer album. I was still a little shit, but I knew about enough punk and ska bands to hold my own.

I think we were talking about the Suicide Machines or something. Somehow we got on the topic of Skankin’ Pickle. She asked if I’d heard of them. I totally hadn’t. But, not wanting to look like a total dummy, I said “oh yeah of course.” I totally lied, but had gotten away with it.

A few weeks later I was on my way to school. My car wasn’t working, I missed the bus, it was winter, and I was running late. It was a classic four alarm clusterfuck. About 10 minutes into a half hour walk to school a car pulls over. It was the girl from my classes. I get in the car and “Skatanic” by Reel Big Fish had just finished playing. Then I hear a guy talking briefly about whether they got “Degrassi Junior High” in Petaluma. The band then goes into the beginning “O Canada,” and then it then tore into this quick ska-punk song.

It’s so damn catchy. I ask who it was. She just kind of looks at me and said “Skankin’ Pickle,” like I had just asked the dumbest question ever. Here I was, after saying I knew who that band was (and how much I liked them), asking who sings one of their MOST WELL KNOW SONGS. What a dummy. The song was “I’m In Love With A Girl Named Spike.” The record was Misfits Of Ska.

That day I learned to never pretend to know about bands that you really don’t. You just end up looking like a dummy. This situation also birthed my undying love of all things Asian Man Records and bands featuring Mike Park.

Emo Is Not Dead

Music, like everything else, is cyclical. A genre will come out, get over saturated, bastardized, and generally turned into a joke. The real aspect of that scene will go underground, and the scene will thrive again. This happened with ska (rather, ska-punk). That scene blew the fuck up due to pop acts like No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, and the like. Due to the commercial expansion, and later collapse, lots of things of the scene were lost. Moon Ska Records closed it’s doors. Ska became a punchline. Music for band geeks to cover cheesy 80’s songs. It became a joke. However, with bands like Streetlight Manifesto, The Chinkees, The Slackers, and The Toasters (holy fuck, those dudes have been around forever), the scene managed to stay active. If not more underground.

The same is true for emo music. Like many people my age, I was first exposed to the genre via the early/mid 2000’s explosion of popularity. Shit, Jimmy Eat World managed to get a hit record. I was exposed through bands like The Get Up Kids, Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, and At The Drive-In. Those bands put out some great records. In some cases, I do not consider them “emo,” but they were certainly influenced by it.

Meanwhile, there was another big thing happening in the scene. It was the Drive-Thru Records era. That label was putting out record after record of radio ready “pop-punk” that was constantly getting classified as emo. Bands like New Found Glory, The Starting Line, The Movielife, and Something Corporate (ugh), were all getting tagged as being emo bands. Those bands were to emo what Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris were to ska. Ok for what they were, but totally muddying the scene. From the Drive-Thru bands, you had the further bastardization of what was emo. Most notably with bands like My Chemical Romance and Fallout Boy. The genre tag was getting applied to things that had nothing to do with the genre, and in some cases nothing to do with the greater punk scene in general.

Well, as is wont to happen, the scene became a joke. It became more of a term to describe bands catering to kids with shitty haircuts, a penchant for self-harm, and day-glo shirts. Bands like Braid, Mineral, I Hate Myself, Heroin, and the extended family of bands stemming from Cap’n Jazz fell by the wayside. Now it was shit like “I wish my grass was emo, so it would cut itself” or “how many emo kids does it take to change a light bulb? None, they would rather cry in the dark.” What the fuck happened?

Well, the real scene went underground. The mainstream thought it understood what emo was, while being totally unaware. Through labels like Count Your Lucky Stars Records, Square Of Opposition Records, and Tiny Engines Records, we are finally seeing good records coming out to wide release. There is a bunch of talk about there being a “Midwest emo revival.” I disagree with the phrase because, for some of us, the scene never died. There were always bands we could stand behind. But, of the newer crop, there is Snowing, Castevet (now CSTVT), Grown Ups, Perfect Future, and Football, Etc. They are plenty more, but those are my personal favourites.

It seems unlikely that the mainstream definition will ever change to being realistic of what the scene historically was (and currently is), but I do not think anyone expects it to. But, at least we can take back what is ours.

See also: Article  @ Chicago’s Newcity Music:
The New Emo: It’s back, living underground and thriving in Chicago

*the picture for this entry is of CSTVT. I do not know the source, but I got it from the band page for them on Punknews.org. Sorry.