The Menzingers - I only caught the last three songs, which was still at least a third of their set, so I'll make a few observations. This Scranton band is signed to Epitaph and plays a tuneful and rollicking modern brand of punk rock. Thankfully, the term positive punk did not stick, but this band reminds me of many of those early eighties tuneful hardcore bands. They also remind me of New Model Army, which is not too bad a band to model yourselves after. They appeared to have opened tonight's proceedings well enough with the really large crowd.
La Dispute - This twin-guitar and lead vocalist outfit is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have all the energy of the previous band, but instantly take their music in many different directions. There is real jangle in the guitar, while the rhythms bounce around between power and more worldly moves. The vocals remind me of Proletariat, sans overt political messages. But even a creative band like Proletariat did not explore this territory as these songs continue to nimbly move between jagged cliffs and clean flowing streams of sound. Wikipedia says post hardcore which is true enough, but the important thing is they are post-adherence to cliches while making comforting hook-oriented rock music. This is absolutely brilliant for the entire 42 minutes they are onstage. And there are a whole lot of people up front who can fairly ask me where I've been, as the crowd was stoked, moving, and singing along without a whole lot of prompting from the singer. It is encouraging to here some of the wonderfully heavy things coming out of post-hardcore and alt-metal scenes. This band reminded me that I have not heard it all before.
Hot Water Music - The show looks sold out by now and the mood is quite positive all around. Fortunately this twin guitar quartet hits the ground running and has no problem whatsoever carrying the energy forward that the previous bands have developed. The music here is somewhat between each of the bands and they are not on the surface, nearly as complex as that of La Dispute. But the underlying rhythms do have a lot going and the guitars do plenty of interesting things beyond the manic riffing and toughness coming out. The two guitarists trade off on lead vocals and the songs are very catchy, street tough and somewhat in the manner of a band like Street Dogs, but more balanced and nuanced. These guys have been around for much of the last twenty years and their experience shows equally with their ability. They command the stage, don't waste time, and easily get and keep the crowd involved. They are definitely one of the better main-stream grown-up punk bands out there that still have the energy but have just enough of a worldly manner in their music as well. This was a welcome invigorating night for me and most of the people here.
Quote of the Night: Actually this is from the classics division here, this was an exchange between a news reporter and one of the more engaging popes...
Reporter: "Your Holiness, how many people work at the Vatican?"
Pope John XXIII: "....About half of them."