Monday, July 27, 2015

Thieves Are Watching/Open Box Policy/Say It Ain't So/Pinehurst
Friday, July 17th 2015
The Market on 7th, Ybor, FL

Originally published at Suburban Apologist

The Market On 7th is a place where you can get tasty pizza, alcohol and live music all at the same time. That's not the only way it's muddled. On the Ybor brick walls there's an ad for old furniture, surfboards, butterflies. highly original naked women in the name of art, and Tiki poles. In the back parking lot you'll find chickens in the trees like some ethological CBS programme. Even the TV on this night has lost it's centre: America vs Man United? What? (Turns out it's not "America" but Club América, a hugely successful Mexican soccer team.)

Like the venue, first act Pinehurst are something of a mutt, but I'm not necessarily being critical of them for it. In fact, they were my most anticipated and favourite band of the evening. They quickly reassure anyone worried about the acoustics of a place filled with circles of dough. Flitting between third wave (what some might call whiny) emo/screamo vocals and a melodic hardcore sound overall. There's soft instrumental parts that come and go seamlessly too, and all this takes place within the songs rather than between them. Although Pinehurst may remind you of the likes of Small Brown Bike they pull off the difficult task of original songwriting. Pressured by the need to get one of their members to work early the next morning, they play just 20 practically nonstop minutes. Pining for more is not just a bad pun at this point. 

Named after a Blink lyric, Say It Ain't So also mix a few interesting influences, throwing metallic minded guitar solos in with the pop-punk. But that isn't enough to sedate their time jumping desires. SIAS cover a track from almost every decade of modern music: The Beatles, The Ramones, The Romantics, Green Day and current radio friendlies Walk The Moon. Even old posi hardcore makes an appearance, with the line "it starts tonight" trailing off a song, 7 Seconds style. Early in the set singer Jack Eppink's voice seems to be breaking. I wouldn't make note of this, seeing as it's normally raised in a pejorative manner, implying some sort of BS punk seniority, but it works very well for them. He uses his voice to give a shout out to Let's Get Fired Promotions, incorporating them into one of the bands' tracks, and to increasingly display a circus ringmaster showmanship.  There's lots of without further ado's and an attempt to carve out a ring for himself on the floor while doing a spinning chicken walk. 

On the subject of the promoter, this debut gig of theirs had a couple of bands drop out. Luckily Let's Get Fired kept it cohesive with an open slot policy making room for Open Box Policy, yet another Tampa Bay act. The most striking aspect of watching this 3-piece as opposed to listening to their recordings is just how much vocalist Vinny Suffredini sounds like Billy Joe Armstrong, going so far as to mimic his silly face warp expressions. 'When I Come Around' mega confirms that this isn't a coincidence (dedicated to Say It Ain't So). The Green Day/Blink-182 sandwich filling of the show is completed with a rendition of 'Dammit' sung by a guest singer, with neither the guest or the inclusion of a verse from TLC's 'No Scrubs' being explained whatsoever. Their open box policy might account for that particular innovation, but the band is hardly thinking outside the box, with stage talk rarely rising above the tired level of evil girls and grandmas giving blowjobs. Their new bassist is covered in patches for Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot and Lamb of God though, so maybe as just a fun side project we can allow for some laziness. 

I wonder if Thieves Are Watching are on the NSA's radar? Aside from the fact that damn well everyone is on the NSA's radar, the irony of this privacy-stealing organisation listening to this band might make their fancy vacuum cleaner computers short circuit. Using their Batman-undermining technology they'd have a good view right now, judging by all the people on their phones. If being nice in a world of impersonal economic relations is dangerous to the authorities, Thieves Are Watching fit the bill. This self-deprecating band ("this song needed a pointless breakdown, so we put one in") came all the way from Ft. Lauderdale at rather short notice, and the sadly diminishing crowd does not do them justice. Swinging his carrot inspired microphone scarily close to my head, singer Ryan Camuto, like Shawn Renfroe of Pinehurst, occasionally goes a little high for some tastes, but it's backed up by enough slabs of heavy that it works. Between 5 dudes there is not a single band t-shirt. They show that there's a way to not take yourself too seriously without acting clumsily adolescent. It's pop-punk, it's hardcore, it's intriguing. Give Thieves Are Watching a listen -- even if you can't easily watch them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Introducing: Let's Get Fired Promotions 
St. Petersburg pop punk specialists 
Upcoming Events, July - October

Pop punk music has a subtle, subversive nature which can teach us something important about progressive politics. It's less in your face than many other sub-genres but reminds you that fun is critical -- nay, essential.  Quit your job!  Do an immature Tyler Durden style act of rebellion in the bathrooms!  Or at least improve your work-life balance, you yuppie.  St. Pete's new promotions team Let's Get Fired (LGF) is here to assist you.

Stealing is a good way to start your liberation mission, so the first headlining band of LGF’s life are the shoplifters’ advocates, Thieves Are Watching. Yeah, they can watch back!  This band play a heavy-tinged tribute to some of the more respectable music of emo’s early third wave.  They will be supported by Open Box Policy of New Port Richey, an appropriately labeled revival band who incorporate chugging guitars, emo and alt-rock into songs with titles reminiscent of pop punk legends ('Boredom,' 'Hello Suburbia').  Tampa's Pinehurst will come with the strained heaviness and emotional subject matter of Small Brown Bike and the vocal variations of Smoke or Fire, while Say It Ain't So invite you to enjoy a universe of high-pitched nostalgia inspired by Tom DeLonge.  This show is Friday, July 17th at 8pm, at The Market On 7th in Ybor.

The latter band -- who are implanting Weezer in my head repeatedly despite not sounding like them -- will also be playing at LGF's second gig on July 31st at The Neptune Lounge (Tarpon Springs).  Weekend-loving Atari types Saved By Friday will be there, as will the sparkly, summery, golden age emo punk of Starlight Envy from St. Petersburg.  Anthemic-but-warbly-vocalled Gainseville band Former Planets provide LGF with their second underdog-rooting headliner in a row. (Pluto, y'see -- last hired, first fired.)  They'll have a new, self-titled album for sale.  Last-minute addition The Casey Little Band will provide various variety due to their interesting combination of ska and folk.

Both of these gigs are $7 and all ages.  Let's Get Fired also has shows in the punky crock-pot for August 30th, September 1st, September 11th, September 19th and October 3rd.  So whenever it is that you happen to find yourself getting the corporate elbow, you can spend one of those final minimum wage hours on a good night out.  

These events not brought to you by Donald Fucking Trump.

Let's Get Fired on Facebook:
Let's Get Fired Tickets:

PS. His headline band dropped out of the first show, so here's the cut bonus footage if you're interested.

"And just as the deaths of our youth jobs are often the end of one phase of life, and the start of somethin
g better, coming first for LGF is Finish Last. On tour from Rochester and the impetus behind the promotions company, Finish Last play modern, catchy pop punk with a great amount of skate and punk rock underlying it all. They're promoting their EP Never Settle on this, their first tour venturing south."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

mewithoutYou/Foxing/Field Mouse
Saturday, July 4th 2015
Local 662, St. Petersburg, FL

Originally published at Suburban Apologist

Benjamin Franklin may well never have meant it, but the wilderness beats a safe imprisonment. That seems to be the message as mewithoutYou plan a trip to town with timid, roaming creatures such as Foxing, Field Mouse and Pale Horses (their new album) in tow. It's mewithoutZoo. 

Yet as many a would-be rebel has rationalised, in order to be free you must also be captive. As Field Mouse begin playing it is rather like a zoo at this crowded, sold out gig, surrounded by double the regular number of bars and hand-scrawled no smoking signs to accommodate the numbers. Will singer Rachel Browne be drowned out as their moniker implies, or is the name an ironic label over mob-silencing mammoth broadcasts? The weirdly satisfying truth turns out to be neither. While Browne has a soft voice it is by no means mousey; it rides a wave of keyboard and alt-rock guitar snarls comfortably and confidently. Think Garbage circa Version 2.0, the female nonchalance of L7 and a heavy shoegaze influence (maybe that ground level view is the origin of the name Field Mouse). With these comparisons it's needless to say that the band is cool, but The Local 662 is currently not and it's hard to tell whether your brain is meandering or the set itself.

Field Mouse dedicate their first night on the tour to Foxing, the Missouri band who had $27,000 of equipment and possessions stolen in Austin three days earlier. Information had been conflicting in the afternoon about whether the band would appear; having smashed a $5000 goal on gofundme in just 4 hours and then doubling it, there were hopes of a bittersweet performance. But, because of some opportunistic dildos in Texas, Foxing missed Florida entirely, picking themselves up only in time for the Atlanta date on the 6th. It's a shame that the promoter couldn't find a replacement local act for us. It's mainly a shame that the St. Pete audience was denied a chance to witness their combo of modern nightclub indie and emo-influenced post-rock (something like fellow Midwesterners Appleseed Cast). The band is about to spend August on a UK tour with their new equipment, where they will perhaps be glad to hear that despite a recent government wobble, foxhunting remains banned (their song titles and artwork seem to indicate an interest).

mewithoutYou are clearly also upset to be without Foxing. They open with a forlorn, slow, short intro (the Pale Horses title track) before anything vaguely hardcore; lay down some comforting bedding for all their animal friends in the form of 'Timothy Hay'; and play a few songs from the album that today we might title Catch For the Foxes Those Thieving Bastards. There's even a gap with a mic in the middle of the stage, not assigned to any of the members, as if representing something. Singer Aaron Weiss delivers the kind of lyrics that require quiet bedroom contemplation, not analysis in some rowdy bar. Still, the continuing lack of cooling in the 662 does make for a sort of heady dizziness that fits the bands sharp-angled style, even if the goal is simply to make people buy more beer. Both the bars seem oddly barren -- is art-core rock the nuanced descendant of straight edge? The audience is sober, still and enthusiastic as mewithoutYou utilise everything from a piano accordion to what from a distance appears to be a vodka bottle (but is most likely a tambourine stick). Weiss, as he has done periodically, does some triple spins as the set spirals towards an end, before finally using the open microphone.