Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

Anti-Flag, The General Strike February 13, 2012

Review by Angela Blasi

The General Strike is Anti-Flag’s 8th studio album slated for release on March 20, 2012.  Following their last record (The People or the Gun,) The General Strike is the group’s second release on Side One Dummy Records.  Maintaining the politically motivated lyrical content the band is known for, musically the band redefines their lens of interpretation through a more aggressive scope while bringing a force that is defined by the band as, “the sound track for the masses of dissatisfied private citizens that are currently protesting corporate injustice and governmental power around the world.” (anti-flag.com)

The record opens up in the simple, anthemic style any Anti-Flag fan would come to expect on the intro track “Controlled Opposition.”  A mere 22 seconds long, Justin Sane sets the tone for the subsequent tracks while screaming, “No justice in a legal system run by criminals/If you don’t like the court ruling then you shouldn’t be poor./Now, go die.”  Not even an entire minute in and listeners know they’re in for 12 solid tracks of colorful opposition to injustice and oppression.  From this point forward, the album moves with a driving momentum it never seems to lose.

Operating as a sort of call to arms, The General Strike delves into a harder sound for the group.  I really enjoyed this record musically as well as lyrically.  The band hails this as their most aggressive record to date, and I think they have successfully accomplished that.  Although I have always appreciated their consistency of sound, change is a good thing.  Breaking away from past formulas, the band manages to maintain their penchant for catchy riffs and choral lines while steadily keeping the tempo swinging.  Chris #2’s bass lines groove effortlessly from track to track, filling out each songs’ sound with a fullness that provides a punchy backbone.  I could not help but notice the raw edginess that kept on coming song after song.  From the first second of every new track, the intensity never let up on the listener.  It’s as though Anti-Flag sought to sow the seeds of rebellion through the osmosis-like absorption.  Not for nothing, but only a few minutes after listening I could see myself in a mosh pit somewhere, fist in the air and sweat rolling down my face as I continually belted out the lyrics of “The General Strike.”  All those choral chants, one can’t help but want to lift up their voices like a battle cry.

Lyrically, Sane provides us with his witticisms and biting sarcasm designed to dig a thorn in the side of every fat cat and corporate pig conceivable.  Refusing to hold back, the urgency and anger in his lyrics decry publicly the shamefulness of capitalism while making said concepts relatable to listeners.  Young or old, this record doesn’t seek to isolate its listeners, but rather seeks to appeal to a broad spectrum of disenfranchised citizens.  On “Nothing Recedes like Progress,” a sample of the Human Microphone opens the track, giving a nod to the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  I enjoyed this addition, as it so vividly captures the spirit of the bands’ politically charged mission.  (The back story to the Human Microphone is simple; the police banned megaphones under noise ordinances, not to be defeated the OWS folks invented a system of call and response, inadvertently unifying the movement even further.)  Additionally, “Bullshit Opportunities” screams with the voice of a movement in the face capitalist majority, “redefining what success is/redefining what wealth is.”  It’s as though it embodies the restless energy and philosophy of the proverbial 99% in the heavy guitar riffs, rolling floor tom and a bass as punchy and fluid as its players.

My only qualm about this record is that it seems to go by too quickly.  I started listening and before I knew it, I was already back at the first track.  However, it’s the type of record that has cohesion, making it an easy listen from track one through twelve.  Needless to say, I have allowed it to loop on repeat for the better part of a day and I’m not sick of it yet, the true hallmark of a good album.  Make sure to check them out on their record release tour with The Flatliners and The Have Nots.

THE GENERAL STRIKE RECORD RELEASE TOUR
Anti-Flag with The Flatliners and Have Nots

03/06 Philadelphia, PA – The Barbary

03/07 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel

03/08 New York, NY – The Studio

03/09 Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

03/10 Wilkes-Barre, PA – Redwood Art Space

03/11 Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar

03/12 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick

03/13 Chicago, IL – Reggies

03/14 Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop

 

A Walk Through Warped Tour- 7/18/10 @ Monmouth Park Racetrack August 13, 2010

Review by TNT

Bands I saw: AM Taxi, Face to Face, Left Alone, Anarbor, The Sparring, The Casualties, All American Rejects, Sum 41, The Mighty Regis, and Alkaline Trio
Bands I wish I saw: Reel Big Fish, Andrew W.K., The Flatliners, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Middle Finger Salute, and Riverboat Gamblers

It doesn’t feel like summer until the Vans Warped Tour rolls into town.  I’ve gone consecutively since 2003 and before I journey to the tour, I’m always convinced it’s Christmas morning.  Well, at least that’s what it feels like to me.  I describe it as one of the most exciting feelings in the world…knowing you’re going to see a festival that lasts all day with some of the greatest punk and rock n’ roll bands around (from legends to up and coming artists), knowing that you’re going to discover loads of new music, and meet some cool people who actually enjoy the same music as you.  Now, I know there has been an increase in posers at the Warped Tour, but if you think about it like that, you’re not going to experience the same overwhelming excitement-filled feeling.  There are posers everywhere, let’s face the fact that there isn’t much we can do about it other than try to set them on the right path (and perhaps introduce them to this website).

I’d also like to note that Kevin Lyman, creator of the Warped Tour, does not pick the bands based on what YOU listen to.  When you create your own US/Canada tour, you can choose whoever you want to play.  If the bands were the same every single year or there was a limited variety of genres or if unsigned bands weren’t given a chance, I think it would get pretty boring and repetitive.  I also understand that if he didn’t go somewhat of the corporate route (mainly finding such huge sponsors in addition to Vans), this tour would not be able to go so far.  If you have beef with the tour because you think it “went corporate” or “sold out” then you obviously don’t know how expensive it is to financially support a tour of this size.  I would also like to thank Lyman for keeping the price of a ticket as low as possible and getting the tour to think and act green.

With all that being said, I did have a couple of gripes with the tour this year.  First of all, the NJ/NY dates were gypped out of seeing practically all the worth-while headliners: Anti-Flag, Big D and the Kid’s Table, The Dickies, Dropkick Murphys, Everclear, Street Sweeper Social Club, Streetlight Manifesto (they’re from NJ!) and The Bouncing Souls (also from the NJ/NYC area) were NOT in attendance.  What the fuck?  Without these acts, I feel like our ticket prices should have been cut in half.  Big freakin’ whoop; All American Rejects and Sum 41 don’t even compare to the bands I just listed.  I’m hoping some of them have upcoming concerts in the area, at least that would justify why they skipped NJ.  Secondly, due to an immense amount of traffic (half was from tour congestion and the other half was shore traffic), I was unable to see two of the greatest acts to play the NJ date.  Andrew W.K. and Reel Big Fish were the first acts to play.  I know I’m the only one to blame for this, since the acts are randomly picked for time slots on said day throughout the tour, but it still grinds my gears.  At least we snagged an interview with Andrew W.K. (will be posted soon).

Trying not to let the NJ line up bother me, my hungry ears and I were on the hunt for some new music.  The first band I stumbled upon was AM Taxi, a punk rock band from Chicago.  Let me explain filing AM Taxi under the punk rock category…they have both elements, in their natural form.  Punk lyrics are noted with simple chords and the guitar riffs are pure rock n’ roll, with driving drums beats that bring it all together.  There is also somewhat of a modern pop hook here, an edge that pulls you in.  I was impressed, especially with their lyrics and energy.  “The Mistake” is extremely well written with lyrics that stun you, (much like Brand New did for me back in the day) and the keys really bring this song together.  It’s hard to say punk music has a heart, but AM Taxi does, their music just hits home.  Right after their set, I made a personal note to pick up their latest album We Don’t Stand A Chance.

Coming back from an ever-changing line up and a long hiatus, Face to Face was the next band I sought out.  What a performance!  It’s been way too long and I was so excited to see them play.  I file Face to Face as one of the original Warped Tour bands, also included are Bad Religion, Anti-Flag, NOFX, and The Casualties.  Face to Face is fucking back and they’re releasing a new album this fall entitled Laugh Now, Laugh Later.  It was great to hear them play again and I pray they’re on the tour in 2011.  SoCal punk rock (F2F since 1991) will never die.

Left Alone was up next.  They remind me of Rancid so much; people look at me like I’m crazy when I say this, but that’s what I hear!  I guess Tim Armstrong and I have similar ears because after hearing Lonely Starts and Broken Hearts in 2004, he signed this band to his label, Hellcat Records.  Straight up, Left Alone is fast punk music with three chords and ska influences.  “Out of Tune Melody” made for a perfect circle pit.  I think I relate with Left Alone so well because they are a true DIY band.  Frontman Elvis Cortez started off as a roadie on the 2003 Warped Tour and when Lyman heard some music from the band, he appointed the band as the official Warped Tour BBQ band in 2004 and 2005.  I’m happy to see their hard work has paid off, as they officially played the tour this year.  See?  Sometimes all you need is good music and the rest will follow.

After Left Alone, I decided to check out what the hype was about with the band Anarbor.  Until today, I never gave the band a fair chance, but I’m glad I caught some songs.  I loved “You and I”; I feel that majority of pop rock bands would make this way more whiny and annoying.  Kudos.  I loved the lyrics in “Always Dirty, Never Clean” – ‘I’ve got bruises on my hands and knees/And a list of failures in between/Always dirty, I am never clean/Music is what you hear, and not what you see.’  When I get older and start doing needle-points and other old lady shit, I’m going to stitch this on a pillow.  “Gypsy Woman” has a great beat that makes it hard to stand still, but its not my favorite song.  I just hear Cage the Elephant and nothing else.  Anarbor released their first full length album on Hopeless records, 4/20/2010.

As I was getting read for Warped Tour this year, pre-listening to the bands, I came across The Sparring (Old Shoe Records) and knew they could not be missed.  Lead singer Joel Bourne cleared a space for himself to perform in front of the stage, stopping festival goers to stay for some music and pouring Monster Energy Drink on fans waiting in line for some meet n’ greet.  He stated that you can’t enjoy live music if you’re waiting in line for an autograph.  I say right on brother!  Borne had much to say, screaming his sarcastic punk lyrics.  This trio is powerful and I predict a solid future for them in the DIY punk rock community.  I recommend catching a live show soon.  Fair warning, the pit will be dangerous so be sure to bring it!

Being crunched for time, I was only able to catch one song from The Casualties.  Watching from the side of the stage, I felt like I was experiencing The Casualties (and the tour) for the first time all over again.

All American Rejects and Sum 41 performances left me with one question: Why?  I love the singles by All American Rejects, but never listened to the rest of their music.  Their big hits were of course covered; “Dirty Little Secrets,” “Swing, Swing,” and “Gives You Hell” were all played.  It was a good performance, but I felt like the members were distant, didn’t feel a connection.  It wasn’t an absent of energy, that was there, it just felt a little forced.  Perhaps the weight of touring has gotten the best of them on this particular date.  Lead Singer Tyson Ritter was promoting the campaign “Don’t Hate on Haiti”, spray painted on his white suit, with a clear mission statement being that if you forget about this disaster, its hatred.  He stated that he was touring to help raise money to build clean water wells for the people of Haiti.  Very noble.

With Sum 41, it felt like they were trying to relive their glory days with hits like “Fat Lip,” “All To Blame” and “The Hell Song”.  Their latest album, All the Good Shit: 14 Solid Gold Hits 2000-2008, was released in November 2008 and rumors of a new album in 2011 are buzzing around too.  Honestly, I miss Dave Baksh.  He brought a heavier punk sound to the group with his guitar style and it is missed.  I was less than thrilled with Sum 41.  I do wish Deryck Whibley a speedy recover though.  In Japan, where the band was set to play the Summer Sonic Rock Festival, Whibley was attacked on 8/6/10 in a bar by three men (and police) and aggravated a slipped disk injury in his back from 2007.

I wanted to like The Mighty Regis, but I just couldn’t.  They had a great performance, but for me it felt too much like they were impersonating Flogging Molly.  Both bands have seven members (6 male, 1 female), play the same instruments, and are both Celtic punk rock bands from Los Angeles.  It’s similar to the great debate of The Grateful Dead vs. Phish.  I was never able to get into Phish because I’m a deadhead and never saw (or heard) the point of getting into practically the same band.

Finally!  It was time to check out Alkaline Trio!  What a stellar performance, as usual!  I was happy to hear “Armageddon” and “Private Eye”, as From Here to Infirmary is an all-time favorite album of mine.  Personally, I haven’t seen Alkaline Trio live in some time, so every song was amazing to me; tons of energy, guts and love.  Also, the crowd was huge.  On their speakers, they stenciled on “Free the WM3” and “WM3.org”.  I am so touched that bands today are still supporting the West Memphis Three but furious that they’re still in jail.  Please visit WM3.org to find out what you can do to support and free the WM3.

In final summation, here are my thoughts on the tour this year:  Although I missed the majority of the bands I was excited to see, I made the most of the day.  I understand that set times are randomly selected every day of the tour, but it still stinks that I missed out on a few great acts.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  I discovered a lot of new music and look forward to checking out more music by said bands.  Nevermind the Posers has attended Vans Warped Tour since 2003 and we’re looking forward to the lineup in 2011.

Don’t forget, to check out the bands mentioned in this review simply click on their names; they are linked to their MySpace pages.