“Punk rock shows aren’t supposed to be this packed.” That was a comment my friend Stuart made Saturday, January 29 at the CD release show for The Father Figures. He is right you know! I haven’t seen a crowd at a show of this nature since the old Mad Gardens / Temple / Metro days here in town. Oh wait, most of you aren’t old enough to remember those venues. 😉
It was great to see the Sunnyslope Crew there at the gig in double-digit capacity, better seeing plenty of friends outside that group of people and even better seeing so many people whom I did not recognize. Rips was beyond packed, kudos to the bar for doing a great job keeping the drinks going and doing a fabulous job hosting a very special evening of music.
First off, apologies to Dephinger. This old man was spent by the time The Father Figures were done playing, so I skipped out after their set. Dephinger played the last set of the evening. Second, major kudos to Rob Locker of AZPX, he was outstanding as the MC and made plenty of, shall we say, “interesting” comments when giving out AZPX and Father Figures merchandise during the evening.
The Killed Kids led off the festivities with a pretty impressive set of garage rock. It was my first time seeing these guys, definitely plan on seeing them again. That style of 60’s garage is so much fun to listen to live, a great way to start this evening.
Robot Tank was up next. I have seen them before, including another show opening for The Father Figures at The Rogue nearly one year ago. These guys continue to impress me more each time I see them play. I categorized them as indie pop before, which in retrospect is probably a wrong assessment. Robot Tank is much more of an indie ROCK band with a serious punk edge to them. They smoke live and really throw themselves into a show. They killed on this evening, keeping the momentum going well leading up to the main event. Great job, can’t wait to see you again!
Before the Father Figures set, a video was played showing the band skating, playing music and engaging in some general shenanigans. Fun video to watch, but the gavrones right in front of the video screen were too dang tall for me to really see much. However, this was a cool way to begin things, because the end of the video was a nice transition into “Caviar” from the band.
Anyone that reads this blog at all knows I have ranted and raved about this band now for a year and a half. I saw their first show when they played to celebrate guitarist / backing vocalist Michael Cornelius’s 50th birthday party (the cake was delic that night), have listened to demo versions of songs and interviewed the band twice, once for their website, the second time for my blog the week of the CD release show.
This show was absolutely dynamite, a sheer rush of energy from the moment the first chord of the lead track from their new CD Lesson Number One was struck. “Caviar” is an older song from the band, one they have played live since 2009. It was delivered with typical Father Figures power and precision this night, a perfect way to start the show.
All thirteen tracks from the album were played, in order, much to the delight of this writer. I am a huge fan of these types of shows, and more and more bands are doing the “play an entire album live” thing today. It really was the proper way for The Father Figures to present this album live during the release party. Every song was delivered with the style of passionate, controlled fury that has become a trademark for this band. Here are just a few highlights:
Song #2 – “Butterfly” is one of the band’s signature tunes, a brutal offering that focuses on the butterfly effect and features some of bassist / lead singer Tom Reardon’s darkest lyrics put down on paper. The bass line and initial drum sequence from drummer / backing vocalist Bobby Lerma immediately hooked the crowd and Michael lays down some of his nastiest guitar work on this track. Live the song is absolutely insane.
Song #3 – The inherent poppiness of “Falling Down” is equally matched by the power the band poured into the tune on this evening. Tom’s vocals really shined through on this song, and the harmonies from all three were outstanding.
Song #4 – “Typical Bible Beating Hypocrites” is a song the band played during its first show back in July 2009 at The Ruby Room. The song sounded as fresh this evening as it did back then, but more important with the addition of the backing vocals Michael and Bobby delivered, as well as months of practice, this song was tighter than ever. That opening drum beat and bass line to the song were delivered in effortless, precise fashion and the band’s harmonies during the chorus shook the room. Awesome.
Song #7 – “Total Fakery” is a tune that has snuck up on me and is now becoming one of my favorites. Tom started things out with a very simple, deliberate bass line, then Michael and Bobby joined in as the band played without any vocals for approximately two minutes. The song continued to build in tempo and intensity until all three shouted, “Hey! Hey!” into their mikes. Tom’s vocals for the remainder of the song were gutteral screams of fury, with Michael and Bobby continuing the “Hey! Hey!” chorus. A great song, exponentially better delivered live.
Song #12 – “Lesson Number One” is the title track to the album and a killer song to boot. Tom’s vocals were all over the place on this song, at times a tranquil spoken word delivery, other times incendiary in its tone and passion. Bobby did some of his finest work on the drums during this song, efficiently dispelling the myth that solid drum work is simply about speed. There were some really cool and very different styles that he delivered during the course of the track, totally dependent on what the tempo was during that particular juncture of the song.
Song #13 – I still have not decided if “Fe Fi Fo” is my favorite Father Figures song, or if it still “TBBH”. What I do know is Michael’s most pulverizing (yet he says simple) guitar work is on “Fe Fi Fo”. This song kills on disc, but when delivered live it completely overwhelms the audience. Some of my favorite lyrics from The Father Figures are delivered during this song about the legend of Jack and the Beanstalk. Once again, Tom’s lead vocals were complemented well with Michael and Bobby’s work on backing vox. That is one of the characteristics of this band that was virtually nonexistent when they began to play shows.
“Fe Fi Fo” signaled the end of Lesson Number One, but the band was not done yet. Song number one of the “encore”, although the band never left the stage, was the “AZPX Theme”. Lesson Number One is on AZPX Records, and the “AZPX Theme” is a song that was written by Michael some time ago. Now that is has been “Father Figured up”, it is a staple at their shows. The song was given special treatment on this evening, with host Rob Locker and Patrick McGinnis joining the band onstage to sing the chorus to the song. The band added a little country theme to the beginning of the song with this set of lyrics as part of the fun:
- Just some good ol’ boys
Never meaning no harm
Ain’t got no worries in life but
Face plants, shark bites, and 40 ounce curls
Then the punk rock portion of the song started with all five guys onstage screaming “AZPX!” during the chorus. Great fun!
Song number two of the encore was one of the outtakes from the Lesson Number One sessions, one of the band’s most intense tracks “Thumper”. This is skate punk that brings back memories of classic J.F.A., Aggression and The Faction. When Tom bellowed, “West Side! We’re gonna freak out! We’re gonna party!” into his mike, the floor exploded into some semblance of a mosh pit. Hmm …
- Slam dancing was cool. Moshing is not.
- Moshing is trendy and lame. At least I think so.
I’m glad this happened at the end of the night, because I am way too old to tolerate the BS of a mosh pit. But those people were having fun and I did not see anyone get hurt, so all is well.
A successful evening folks! That place was so packed, it was overwhelming for me and had to be overwhelming for all the bands there. The three bands I had the opportunity to see played stellar sets, the crowd was really into things and The Father Figures fed off that energy very well. It was obvious the fact the crowd was so into things inspired the band and helped them to play even harder. If you missed this show I feel bad for you.
You know what? No I don’t. You blew it, but you can still buy Lesson Number One from Stinkweeds Records. Do it. Now.