Punk Rock Bowling 2015: A Survivor's Guide

Categories: live review

John Gilhooley
These guys are obviously Turbonegro fans...
Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 17 years, Las Vegas has hosted the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival. With hordes of punks flocking to a small corner lot of Downtown, music fans from all over the country and world come to join in on the four days of diverse live punk rock in an outdoor setting. Aside from a bowling tournament and contests held offsite at various hotels in the city, the numerous tiny bars in the area throw late night club shows, many of which were immediately sold out.

This year, over 100 bands performed each day throughout the shows and main festival with Saturday's headliners including Rancid, Sick Of It All, The Mighty Mighty Bostones, Anti-Flag and local heroes TSOL. Sunday night, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo Bay School of Medicine, Turbonegro, Murder City Devils, and Refused headlined, and finally Monday was closed with Dropkick Murphys, Conflict, Agnostic Front, The Business, and Swinging Utters. Each day and evening had slam pits that could rival any LA/OC show, and saw furies of human bodies with spiked, dyed Mohawks and leather jackets flying and stage diving.

Given that we love punk rock and outdoor multi-venue music festivals, this was just another easy excuse to head to Vegas. In any case, Here are 10 highlights and considerations to make, if you're planning on attending next year's Punk Rock Bowling festivities.

See also: Punk Rock Bowling Creates the Ultimate Backyard Bash in Sin City

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Refused Were Fucking Alive in Santa Ana

Categories: live review

David Le
The only time you'll see Refused standing still on a stage.
The Observatory

If you think there's no room for business-casual attire and dancing in hardcore music, Dennis Lyxzen of Refused would probably like to have a word with you.

The band's blazer-clad lead singer danced around the stage for much of their hour-long set at the Observatory on Monday night, often ditching the microphone during the hardcore band's extended bridges and breakdowns to be able to move more freely.

His scissor kicks, moonwalks, shimmies, and general rhythmic chaos were greeted with cheers and screams of glee by a venue packed with a crowd spanning at least three decades in age.

See also: The Resurrection of Refused is Good News for the Revolution!

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Hiatus Kaiyote Prove They're Ready For a Bigger Stage

Categories: live review

Kyle Cavaness
Telling people you're off to see an Australian soul band might lead to a few raised eyebrows. But Melbourne's Grammy-nominated Hiatus Kaiyote continue to make believers out of music fans and skeptics worldwide, and they brought their own version of the Thunder from Down Under to the Constellation Room on Thursday night.

The show was the band's latest stop in an American tour supporting their new album, Choose Your Weapon, which was released earlier this month. While the Constellation Room inside the Observatory is usually reserved for smaller acts, the packed show proved that the band is primed for a bigger audience.

See also: Hiatus Kaiyote Do Some Future Soul Searching

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Tyrone Wells Delivers a Master Class in Audience Connection

Categories: live review

Sina Araghi
Tyrone Wells
By: Christine Terrisse

Tyrone Wells with Emily Hearn and Dominic Balli
House of Blues Anaheim

In his three pronged career strategy--songwriting, recording and regular live performance--Tyrone Wells lays out a blueprint for today's working musician. Central to this blueprint is a precept that flies in the face of fickle music trends: If you maintain a relationship with your audience and consistently give them what they want, they will quite literally support you.

That relationship was on full display Saturday night at the House of Blues. Although not entirely sold out, both ground and balcony levels of the concert seemed packed. It was a remarkably mixed group of Boomers and bonafide Millennials, (no doubt the current offspring of the coffee shop crowd of his past.)

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The Cult of Ministry is Alive and Well in Anaheim

Categories: live review

Scott Feinblatt
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
City National Grove of Anaheim

Once upon a time, in the mid-80s, an electronic pop outfit called Ministry endeared itself to goth culture with a song called "Every Day is Halloween." Within the span of about five years, the group abandoned the new waviness of their original sound and morphed into a sonic frightfest of thrashing guitars, jackhammer drums, and guttural vocals. Lead singer / songwriter Al Jourgensen continues to lead various incarnations of the band on an Industrial metal rampage with themes that have essentially gone for the throat of the various Bush administrations.

Though Jourgensen is perhaps rivaling The Who in terms of how many farewell tours he's done with Ministry, a decent crowd from the greater Los Angeles area heeded the call and headed down to Anaheim to experience the band's routinely vicious attack on right-wing America. The fact that Ministry had not put out a new album since 2013's From Beer to Eternity was not lost on fans who remarked that the setlist was essentially the same as it's been for the last three years. Perhaps it is the band's energy that draws them; perhaps it is the dark imagery; or, perhaps it is just that there's still plenty of angst left over from George W. Bush's reign to merit a revivalist purge of angry head banging. Then again, some of the institutions which "Uncle Al" rails against, like Fox News (in the song "Fairly Unbalanced"), still exist.

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Slacktone Open Surfin' Sundays Concert Series in Huntington Beach

Categories: live review

Jackie Connor
Despite windy conditions at Huntington Beach Pier, classic surf punk band Slacktone warmed things up with bright surf guitar riffs and flawless drum solos backed by...(shall I say it?)...a gnarly swell combing through the pier pilings. Once a month, the International Surfing Museum will host a summer concert series featuring classic surf tunes, this event being the first of one of seven.

Since 1995, Slacktone have been ringing into the ears of surf culture geeks across the nation. Primarily instrumental tracks added an original throwback feel to Surf City U.S.A.'s vibe as guys with surfboards underarm sprinted towards the breezy shore. This month, the band will celebrate it's 20th year together.

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Summer Meltdown's Reggae Party Outlasts the Weekend Rain

Categories: live review

Matt Corkill
Pepper performing at Summer Meltdown in front of a kid who was smart enough to wear a jacket.
By: David Garcia
Summer Meltdown
Santa Clarita Skate Park

This past Saturday, the Santa Clarita Skate Park hosted another monumental event consisting of reggae music, live art and positive inspiration coming together in support of Autism Awareness. This annual event is known as the Summer Meltdown Arts and Music Festival and is presented by students of the Yes I Can social inclusion program held at Canyon High School in the Santa Clarita Valley. Now in its 12th consecutive year, the event has grown to include three stages with nearly 40 different bands, 30 live artists, major sponsors and a variety of supporters coming together for this special occasion.

The students of Yes I Can work together all year piecing together the event by contacting sponsors, stage equipment providers, artists, musicians, vendors and more to ensure a smooth running festival for concert-goers of all ages to enjoy. Although the weather was gloomy and cold, the event grounds began to warm up as soon as the first band hit the stage at approximately 11am.

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High on Fire - The Constellation Room - April 8, 2015

Categories: live review

Alex Distefano
High on Fire
High on Fire and Saviours
The Constellation Room

Even though most of the massive crowd at the Observatory was there for the sold out emo pop punk band, The Used, the real heavy shit went down in the smaller, Constellation Room, where High on Fire and Saviours performed to an intimate crowd of onlookers and tattooed, longhaired head bangers.

Now that the corner office buildings are used by an urgent care center, a chunk of the once free parking in the back of the venue off limits. The early bird will definitely get the worm, if the worms are parking spaces at the Observatory.

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The Used - The Observatory - April 8, 2014

Courtesy Of: Anthony Duty of People and Things Photography
The Used
The Observatory
A radio broadcast voice blares through the speakers and the room turns dark, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" fans scream at the tops of their lungs as The Used walk on the stage to face The Observatory's sold out show, for the second night in a row. The broadcast continues, "We live in a land of impunity especially for those in power." Lights begin to flicker exposing a wall of televisions with a cutout mid-center for drummer, Dan Whitesides, who sits on an elevated platform. Bert McCracken, lead vocalist, begins to sing "Maybe Memories" and red and white lights flash on the TV's exposing distorted faces with red lines across their eyes, nodding to their most recent album Imaginary Enemy.

The intro to "Take It Away" plays "You're about to see and hear one of the most significant messages given to us from God." McCracken stands with his back to the audience and his hands point upward in a v-shape. When the guitar and drums hit, after the iconic cocking of a gun, he spits a sea of water towards the ceiling and the crowd goes apeshit with bodies diving towards the stage, and security braces the fall of one fan after another. They move on to perform "The Bird And The Worm" and "Listening" as Justin Shekoski and Jeph Howard kill it on the guitar and bass respectively.

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Wiener Mania Offers a Sweaty Appetizer to Burgerama

Categories: live review

Jessie Schiewe
Step Panther
By: Jessie Schiewe
The Australian band Step Panther arrived in Fullerton a few hours before their show at The Continental Room, so they decided to head to Costco. "We thought maybe they had guns there," explained singer Stephen Bourke. "Yeah, we just wanted to see some guns," the guitarist, Zach Stephenson added.

They'd flown in from a city "near Sydney" a few days earlier and were staying in an Air Bnb in Los Angeles. So far, they'd visited Santa Monica and Venice beaches and, of course, Hollywood. It was their first visit to the City of Angeles, let alone the West Coast, and it kind of reminded them of a mash-up of Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, "just with more freeways and wider roads," said Bourke.

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