Pop Punk’s Not Dead

By Caitlin Varner Nov 20th 2011

Whoever said the Pop Punk phase is no longer clearly didn’t make it to Sunday’s show at the House of Blues in San Diego.  Even in the pouring rain and chill SoCal winds, the line of eager fans wrapped around the corner and continued nearly a block down Broadway. Once inside, it was evident that this was the show to be at with hundreds of screaming fans packing the venue, and even celebrity guests like Jeffree Star were amongst the crowd.

New Found Glory headlined the Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour which hit over 35 cities in just two months. Instead of their usual routine of launching their tours in San Diego, this time they saved the best for last and gave us their final show, and what a show it was! Openers included the bands This Time Next Year, Man Overboard, The Wonder Years and Set Your Goals. This impressive mix of new and seasoned Pop Punk bands gave a show that was anything but short of off the wall energy and electrifying vibes.


This Time Next Year

This Time Next Year started the show off right with hot beats and infectious energy that quickly got the crowd off their feet and begging for more. Man Overboard rocked it while amping up the crowd and bringing roars from fans when they played their hit song “Dead End Dreams”, and, if you ask me, there is something badass about a drummer (Mike Hrycenko) who doesn’t miss a beat in only socks and a Senses Fail t-shirt.  The Wonder Years brought an instant sky of hands and, what seemed like, an endless stream of crowd surfers singing every lyric to every song. Lead vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s zesty performance had the audience hypnotized while they shouted along with him, “All I’ve got left are these handfuls of fuck you!” The energy went colossal with Set Your Goals and their flawless performance. John Ryan made this a stand out show by turning a saxophone into a pop punk necessity while playing in line with the rest of the band, and the fans proved undeniable when a crowd surfer grabbed the mic from singer Matt Wilson and didn’t miss a note!

After three hours of an already powerful show, New Found Glory took their last stage of this tour and brought us all their pop punk best! Even after more than 10 years on the scene, New Found Glory absolutely owned the stage and reminded everyone in the room just why they love pop punk so much. Lead singer Jordan Pundik had the venue roaring and everyone banging their heads right along with him while he belted out old classics like “Hit or Miss” and new tracks off their fresh album, “Radio Surgery”. They rocked covers of Sixpence None the Richer, Green Day, The Ramones and finished the show strong with “My Friend’s Over You” while it rained confetti and the crowd simultaneously let out a deafening cheer.

All five bands put on a show to remember and left the audience wanting more and more. From the instant energy of This Time Next Year to the addicting sounds of New Found Glory and everything in between, they for sure got one thing right: Pop Punk’s Not Dead!


Pop Punks Not Dead Tour

11. 11. 11.

By My Nguyen Nov 11th 2011


Friday, 11.11.11, will perhaps be remembered for a lot of things to a lot of people but for me, the six rows of number one’s will remain as a reminder that good music comes in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes you’d have to bend over backwards in order to find it, but it’s there: sometimes as the backbone to some ridiculously good melody, and surprising lyricisms put together by a team of strong musicians – all of which is intended to be experienced unanimously at one point or another.

It wasn’t until I became singularly one with the crowd gathering around the stage, grooving and sometimes meshing with their particular instinct that I began to realize that I was witnessing something momentous Friday night at San Diego’s Epicentre, a venue located on the edge of a busy intersection that serves as both concert hall and youth center for the hodge-podge of residents that make up Mira Mesa.

The opening act happened to be The Ostentatious Gentlemen, a group of beguiling gentlemen, who with their rather pretentious title, go on to prove that they are more than just your regular batch of dandies.  Rather than leave all the grunt work to the less civilized of nature, they are here to forever alter your musical experience for the long-term.

Formed back in 2009, The Gents have relocated to San Diego, much to the delight of music fans of American’s Finest City.  The night opened with a song from the The Gents titled, “Whiskey,” a number filled with restraint and a mixture of hyper-activity that soon after began to enfold the audience’s senses inside an intensity that was further enhanced by the terrific musicianship of the guitarist and the bass player.  The crowd was pretty soon revved up enough for the ensuing mosh pit that pushed all the bewildered spectators aside, as the inner circle of key revelers pulsated with an unrivaled energy.  The formation that kept that mosh pit alive was a buzzing and uncontainable whirlwind of activity that was, of course, the first of many to follow.

The under-current of energy that was running through the crowd was electrifying.  Those who were standing nearest the stage could feel that the air was charged with something that neared intoxication.  And part of that was owed to the showmanship of vocalist and former-frontman to The Gents, David Baqi, with his gritty and edgy performance that night.  The nearly raw back-beat, with David spitting out vocals that shows he is not afraid to groove along with a slam poetry-nuanced set, made four-people sound like eight.

But while nothing in this world is perfect, The Gents’ are, of course, of no exception.  Gritty, sweaty, and wrought with lots of spunk, those in the audience that night could definitely see that The Ostentatious Gentlemen are still on the cusp of transformation.  The changes in modulations in regards to song-pace, and The Gents’ hard to pinpoint sound, makes them seem a little unfocused.  But whether they are jazz-influenced, with a bluesy-soul, afro-back-beat and with a tinge of metal-funk, The Ostentatious Gentlemens’ genre-breaking altitudes are definitely something you must experience for yourself.  With a sound close to cathartic, The Ostentatious Gentlemen are true gents when it comes down to their live art, but other than that they’re the closest thing to being true blue-blooded rockers in your local music scene.

Shoot Z Pier was the third act to follow, and the all ages show at the Mira Mesan venue continued to draw crowds from all types of musical tastes and backdrops.  There was many a stand-alone tune that night, with lots of funk and lots of fun.  Kids and adults alike revved together and danced to the reggae and surf tunes, forming and disbanding in flux with the waves of surf and psychedelic vibes.   At one point the lead-vocalist and guitarist, Connor Hancock, stripped to his waist, does a reggae rendition that has the crowd blown over by the push and pull of the strangely esoteric music.  Indeed as Connor comes offstage to jam alongside his friends, they duly pay homage to him and his outstanding grooves.

The songs that Shoot Z Pier performed that night were definitely shorter examples of the bands’ craft.  Though the songs Shoot Z Pier chose to perform to audiences were each 1-2 minutes max, the quality and range of talent evident in the tracks previewed were equal in greatness to the opening bands.

For more info of either bands, please visit: http://www.reverbnation.com/shootzpier or http://www.thegentsband.net/


The Felice Brothers

By Chris Skrypack Oct 30, 2011

A Halloween Hootenanny is what was advertised at San Diego’s historic Casbah Sunday night.   There may not be a better band to headline such an event than The Felice Brothers.  The group made their annual stop in San Diego off a tour which will take them across the United States, as well as through the UK, Germany and Ireland.

Their roots have been described as white country blues, a sound originating from the snow covered Catskill Mountains of upstate New York.  The timeless vocals of Ian and James Felice once placed the band solidly in the genre of Americana.  However, Celebration, Florida, their newestalbum, almost purposely exceeds any genre that could encompass the band’s current sound.  Fortunately, for The Felice Brothers they have built a following so loyal that they find it difficult to do wrong in their fans’ eyes.

The intimacy of the Casbah suits the band well as they put the venue’s sound limitations to the test.  James Felice’s accordion created a soothing vibration, which possessed all in attendance to sway along as he did.  Without a sound check, the band joined in and the group opened with “Murder by Mistletoe” a love ballad off of their self-titled album.

Their high-energy performance displays their versatility by incorporating an electronic drum machine on top of the 5-piece band. The shows extensive set list, although predominantly made up of songs off the new album, incorporated fan favorites from all Six Felice Brother albums. The Casbah crowd hung on each word of lyricist Ian Felice as if they were being told a bedtime story, in a sense they were. The group’s songwriting could be read as poetry.   Their enduring themes run as prevalent today as they would ever, signifying tales about old souls and modern condemnation.

Perhaps it’s the band’s virtuousness and non-pretentious illumination that draws their comparison to Bob Dylan and The Band’s Basement Tapes era, or maybe it’s the fact they grew up outside Woodstock, New York and are complacent being at the helm of their own destiny. Regardless, The Felice Brothers started out simple, self-taught, and patient in their musical appetite and those along for the journey have seen a simple folk band transform into an electric amalgam of styles.  The satisfaction of the audience after their show Sunday night created a pilfering feeling as we exited the venue knowing all the Casbah charged was 14 dollars.