The infrequently-updated site blog, featuring a range of content including show reviews, musical musings and off-color ramblings on other varied topics.
The Ghost Inside “Locals Only”
November 6, 2015
Los Angeles-based melodic hardcore band The Ghost Inside dropped their latest album, ‘Dear Youth,’ last year on Epitaph Records. After relentlessly touring to support the new record, the band decided to mix things up this time around by announcing the “Locals Only” Tour. Rather than compiling an all-star lineup to guarantee packed venues and steady income, The Ghost Inside took the risk to allow each city to supply their own local opening acts as an ode to the scenes that have supported the band over the years. On November 6, 2015, the tour stopped in Pittsburgh, PA and I has the opportunity to attend.
I love hardcore. I grew up on bands like Shutdown, Snapcase and Ensign, so I’m kind of tough on newer hardcore bands, like all old guys should be. I’m not alone. After all, the hardcore scene did take a turn for the worse somewhere around 2009, prompting even die hard, living legend Toby Morse to ask, “What Happened to the Passion?” Unlike other bands of hardcore modern-era, The Ghost Inside definitely has the passion.
The band hit the stage swinging with “Move Me”, and the crowd erupted into stage dives as if it were rehearsed. There were no frills, no light shows, and no security up front – typical unfortunate findings in hardcore modern-era. The fans of the band were amazingly loyal, seemingly knowing all of the lyrics to even early records, something I sheepishly admit was not the case for me. The sincerity was truly inspiring.
The Ghost Inside blasted through tracks like “The Great Unknown” and “Sacrifice” with little to no front-man commentator interruption. Unbeknownst to me, this LA hardcore outfit had significant ties to Pittsburgh, even mentioning they recently filmed a video at Altar Bar. The connection was obvious, as the energy from the crowd and band alike never wavered throughout the entire set.
The sincerity paid off, as the band extended their set three extra songs. Not a planned, Axl Rose-esque encore, a sincere ‘thank you’ to the crowd (I’m holding the set list as I write this.) The Ghost Inside ended their set with the incredible sing-along “Engine 45”, and literally half of the crowd joined the band on stage to close out the set. This was a hardcore show, and I left inspired. Good on you, The Ghost Inside. Thank you.
Though usually panned by the majority of film critics – the mainstream ones anyway- horror films seem to be a Hollywood mainstay that just won't go away. This is hardly shocking – if there's one genre of film in which a low budget doesn't seem to be that much of a hindrance, and may actually help a film's chances, this is it. Many of the industry's biggest names got their start in horror – Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson to name but a few – and whole legions of stars were known primarily for their work in films designed to frighten and shock audiences.
The genre has changed substantially over the years, moving through phases where most of the “action” was implied or occurred offscreen, to periods where psychological issues were the focus. Since the 1960s, special effects have not only become an integral part of the typical horror film, but have actually served as a sort of litmus test for genre fans who wanted to see ever more gory and disturbing visuals in these pictures. It's largely the element of one-upmanship that has led to today's (flourishing) “torture porn” subgenre, but the films seem to have suffered as a whole in the process. Horror films are now more reliant on horrific special effects than on any notion of story development or acting chops.
What some people don't realize is that the horror picture has been a part of the bigger history of cinema essentially since day one: Georges Méliès (most famous for A Trip to the Moon) is credited with making the first such picture in 1896. By the 1920s, German filmmakers like F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu) and Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) had established the visual palette used later in America for films like the original Frankenstein and Dracula films. Soundtracks in film at this time were exclusively orchestral – performed live during screenings for most silent pictures – and even the classic Universal horror films (the aforementioned Frankenstein and Dracula, as well as scores of related films and things like The Wolf Man and The Mummy) used music that was more flowing and unobtrusive than what would come to be the norm later.
Arguably, it was Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 Psycho that took the horror genre into the modern age: here was a film that was not only almost intolerably violent for its time, but also introduced very unsavory story material into the mix (fun fact: it the first film to GASP! show a toilet onscreen). Incalculable films have followed suit in the years since, but Bernard Herrmann's intense, jarring music score for the film has to be considered among the reasons the film worked as well as it did.
Sound design is probably one of the most under-appreciated aspects of the typical horror film, and music certainly figures into that design prominently. Though Psycho's piercing strings and Jaws's nerve-rattling two-tone bass are probably the best known horror movie soundtrack cues, having entered the popular consciousness on a level that few pieces of music have, numerous other films have effectively used music to heighten their sinister intentions. Here's are some of some of my favorites:
Extreme warning! Several of the trailers linked in this article are disturbing and very NSFW.
Carnival of Souls (1962) -Made for almost no money by a cast and crew of unknowns, this ghost story's surreal, unsettling atmosphere is complimented by Gene Moore's supremely creepy organ music.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) – The original modern zombie picture. Kind of amazing that director George Romero could find library music that precisely captures the sense of dread and doom in the film.
The Mutations (1974) – A gorgeously-photographed (and downright strange) British-made hybrid sci-fi/horror film about a scientist trying to interbreed plants with people. Contains perhaps one of the wildest soundtracks to ever feature in a genre film, created by experimental musician Basil Kirchin.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – A film more horrific for what it doesn't show than what it does. A creaky, almost industrial soundtrack by director Tobe Hooper only cements the distressing mood.
Eraserhead (1977) – The nightmares of a young married man come to life in this utterly unique cult classic. Dark ambient soundtrack ranges from grating industrial noise to the innocent yet worrisome old-time pop song “In Heaven.”
Suspiria (1977) – Hallucinogenic tale about a coven of witches running a dance academy in Germany. A tough choice to pick Goblin's best horror soundtrack, but this one gets my vote...
Dawn of the Dead (1978) - ...yet I can't make a list of this nature without including this one. Second in Romero's Living Dead saga, with an unbeatable combination of pounding Goblin compositions and comical, frequently bizarre stock music selections.
Halloween (1978) – The defining moment of John Carpenter's career, the film that set the ground rules for American-made '80s horror, and one of the best horror themes ever laid down.
Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) – Incredibly bleak Italian-made zombie ripoff that may just one up the Romero films in terms of outrageous violence. Fabio Frizzi's music is one of the best, most influential synth scores of its day.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980) – The infamous “found footage” film that goes way beyond anything made since. Composer Riz Ortolani has a tendency to use the most pleasant, gorgeously orchestrated themes right when something truly horrible is onscreen – which only makes the film more shocking.
The Shining (1980) – The opening scene of this film is more genuinely ominous than whole films made today despite the fact that it's made up of nothing more than landscape photography and music by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind. The music selections actually get even more distressing from there.
The Thing (1982) – For my money, the greatest film composer to have ever lived, Ennio Morricone made hundreds of movies better solely because of his participation in them. Every one of his scores is fascinating in its own way, but this is my favorite of his work. The main title gives me goosebumps every time.
Razorback (1984) – Universally hailed as a Jaws ripoff, this super-stylish Australian film is actually most frightening for to its deranged outback characters, not the giant, man-eating boar it centers around. Iva Davies's music, made with then-state-of-the-art synthesizer tech, is definitively haunting and moody to the extreme.
Certainly, there are many other outstanding horror soundtracks out there. Any number of obscure movies have soundtracks that are fun or effective in their own way, and individual moments of genius occur in many genre films. Though I prefer the stomping, disco-funk main title of Part III to anything in the original, 1980 Friday the 13th, Harry Manfredini's famous “ch-ch-ch-ha-ha-ha” has to be acknowledged for what it is - brilliant. Other inspired uses of music include the end title theme from 1983's Sleepaway Camp, a film that boasts one of the most jaw-dropping endings in horror movie history, the positively sublime, piano-based “love theme” from Nekromantik, and the use of Iron Butterfly's “In-A-Godda-Da-Vida” in the wild 1986 film Manhunter, the first to include the character of Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lector. Considering the creative bankruptcy that has strangled the horror genre in recent decades (how many sequels, remakes, and retreads can Hollywood produce?), I suppose it's no surprise that most modern horror films don't quite measure up to the best the genre has offered in terms of soundtrack music. With any luck, a new breed of filmmakers – and musicians - will eventually breathe new life into the genre, one that seems unwilling to simply fade into the ether.
Made in 1957, director Roger Corman's typically efficient low-budget sci-fi flick Not of This Earth came to be regarded as a minor genre classic in the years to come – and mostly for good reason. Dealing with an alien who's come to Earth to evaluate whether human blood can save his dying species, the film boasted special effects that ranged from impressive (faces and bodies disappearing in a device similar to Star Trek's famous transporters) to not-so-hot (a flying monster that looks suspiciously like an elaborately adorned dust cover), but packed precisely the sort of material drive-in audiences of the time would have wanted to see into a slim and trim 67 minutes. It's also instantly apparent that, from its opening scene where a couple necking in a parked car chatter back and forth with as much “hip” dialogue as could be crammed into thirty seconds to a fiery climax and wonderfully ambiguous conclusion, Not of This Earth is nothing less than prime Mystery Science Theater 3000 type material.
Thirty years after the release of the original film, Corman (by then an incredibly prolific film producer) accepted a bet from director Jim Wynorski (perhaps best known for 1986's Chopping Mall) that a remake could be made for the same amount of money, inflation being considered. The resulting film (completed in just twelve days) hit theaters in mid 1988 with a thud, but grew a reputation mostly due to the fact that it was quintessential video store fare.
Wynorski's remake closely mirrors the action of Corman's original, again revolving around a mysterious, sunglasses-clad man (identified simply as “Mr. Johnson” and played by an admirably stoic Arthur Roberts) who waltzes into a clinic demanding an immediate blood transfusion. After forcing his will on the doctor with some sort of mind control, Johnson insists that one of the nurses on staff takes up a position as his permanent medical adviser, moving into his rather extravagant estate across town. As it turns out, young nurse Nadine Story (ex-underage-porn actress Traci Lords, in her first mainstream gig) settles into her new position nicely, but quickly becomes aware of the fact that something's not quite right about her all-too-generous new employer. Johnson's caretaker Jeremy (an enjoyably sleazy role for Lenny Juliano) informs Nadine that people enter the house but never leave, and Johnson also refuses food, instead seeming to get nourishment from a sort of supplement he adds to water. Eventually, it's up to Nadine and motorcycle cop Harry (portrayed by a hammy Roger Lodge) to uncover the truth before Johnson gets to enact “phase VI” of his nefarious plan – which involves the harvesting of the human race.
Consistent with a film that was thrown together with this much haste, Wynorski's film is capably made but largely unremarkable from a technical standpoint. Cinematographer Zoran Hochstätter merely seems to be getting the job done, the hectic production schedule not affording him any time to craft something truly special with regard to the various shots in the film. I also should point out that there are numerous errors visible in the final production – no less than twice, one can easily see the reflection of the film crew in the polished finish of Johnson's Cadillac. Viewers familiar with previous Roger Corman productions will also notice several instances where stock footage is used in Not of This Earth: the credits sequence is made up entirely of special effects shots pulled from other films (including the infamous tentacle rape from 1981's Galaxy of Terror), and fright scenes taken from Hollywood Boulevard and Humanoids From the Deep are also utilized.
Without doubt, this recycling adds to the campiness of this tongue-in-cheek production. There are numerous in-jokes for the attentive viewer to enjoy, and Lords in particular seems to be having a good time playing up the inherent goofiness of the story. Special effects in the film are obviously dated but fun in a nostalgic sort of way - I especially liked Johnson's “burned in” eye effects – and rather abundant nudity only adds to the film's B-movie appeal. Considering Lords's previous occupation, it's not surprising that she not only parades around in very revealing costumes, but also drops trou on two occasions (and, it must be said, looks great naked). Wynorski, who's makes his living these days with Skinamax-type movies which play late-night on the pay channels, doesn't stop there however, throwing in various other completely gratuitous nude scenes for the sole purpose of appealing to the youthful, predominantly male audience that a film of this nature would have.
Honestly, Not of This Earth is unexceptional in most every regard but remains entirely watchable – and maybe even quietly enjoyable - throughout. Some credit for that must be directed towards composer Chuck Cirino, who was responsible for the film's soundtrack. Cirino's music packs the energy that the film itself often lacks, making various sequences which would otherwise have seemed bland and forgettable genuinely exciting or at least tolerable. I don't think anyone is going to confuse Cirino's vintage electronic soundscapes with the sweeping, orchestral compositions one would expect during masterpiece theater, but his music works perfectly in context, adding significantly to one's enjoyment of the film. At the end of the day, the 1988 Not of This Earth remake (the story would, inexplicably, be remade again in 1995) plays as a prime example of '80s genre cinema, the sort of film that video stores were made for. It's hardly something that would positively need to be seen, but I could think of worse ways to spend eighty minutes. Best enjoyed with some friends and some adult refreshments.
Blood & Guts = 4/10
Smack Talk = 2/10
Fap Factor = 8/10
Cult Appeal = 6/10
The More You Know = “I was jacking you before. Now I'm just telling you something.”
In the midst of the opening credits sequence for Italian director Dario Argento's 1975 Profondo Rosso (a.k.a. Deep Red), the viewer is treated to a truncated scene appearing to show two figures in shadow in front of a Christmas tree. One pulls a knife and appears to stab the other, the bloody instrument then dropping to the floor where it's approached by shoes of a child. This sequence establishes much of the framework for the rest of the picture: a mystery centered around an English-born jazz pianist named Marcus Daly (played by David Hemmings, best known for 1966's Blow-Up, a picture somewhat similar to this one) who witnesses the violent murder of a clairvoyant woman in his apartment building. While attempting to put the pieces together to solve the murder along with a plucky reporter (Daria Nicolodi in a role that's largely an annoyance), Marc stumbles upon a legend about a haunted house, and after locating the building and digging around its decrepit interior, finds a drawing that seems to represent the Christmas-time murder depicted at the beginning of the film. This all leads to the expected showdown with the murderer, but the guilty party may not be the one the viewer was expecting.
Sometimes titled as The Hatchet Murders in its English-language prints since its killer occasionally uses a heavy butcher's cleaver as a murder instrument, Profondo Rosso clearly displays a mesmerizing, idiosyncratic visual style that would be utilized to perfection in Argento's later, undisputed classic Suspiria. Puzzling montages appear intermittently to provide a glimpse into the mindset of the killer, and the actual stalking/murder sequences are jarring and considerably violent (remember – this film was made before the explosion of slasher films in the early '80s). Clairvoyant Helga Ulmann's murder features several brief but graphic special effects shots of a cleaver being sunk into soft human flesh, and a later murder sequence features a man's face being bashed off the woodwork around a fireplace before a close-up of his teeth slamming into the pointed edge of a table. The final minutes also feature a gloriously grotesque death scene involving an elevator, but the film's best moment isn't so much disgusting as plain creepy. After being startled by noise while on the phone in his study, a man is rushed by a flailing robot designed to look like a smiling young boy. Forget the fact that it's illogical – this is about as unexpected a situation as could be imaginable, and definitely the film's most genuinely unforgettable moment.
Aside from providing unique vantage points throughout the film (the extreme high-angle views of a mysterious figure rushing through an abandoned town square after dark are especially good), Argento's camera frequently seems to “know” more than the characters or audience does, focusing on seemingly inconsequential detail that will shortly be of the utmost importance. Easily the best example of this occurs in a scene where Daly hurries through the Helga's apartment in an attempt to save her from her murderer. As he hastens down a hallway, the viewer's eye is drawn to a series of paintings, one of which looks substantially more life-like and bizarre than the others. Showing a groups of faces, only one of which truly appears to be human, the painting lingers in the viewer's mind even though its only seen onscreen for a second or so. Ultimately, solving the mystery comes down to this fleeting image – Daly's convinced it reveals the murderer's face.
Along with the tantalizing visual clues, Profondo Rosso also offers up a series of strange plot twists and turns. Indisputably, the painting being a key element in solving the mystery is the script's most masterful idea, but I also rather liked the moment when, while combing through the supposedly haunted house, Daly spies a drawing covered up by drywall and proceeds to chip away at it, slowly revealing the picture. That being said, the script by Argento and Bernardino Zapponi seems overlong: running 126 minutes in its uncut version, the picture has noticeably sluggish pace to it, with distracting moments of comic relief and romance interrupting the unfolding mystery. It's not at all surprising that some 22 minutes were hacked from the original Italian version of the film when it was imported to the US.
Profondo Rosso's almost dream-like atmosphere is complimented by truly magnificent sound design. Squeaking shoes, the ringing of phones, blustery wind, cackling birds, wailing childrens voices, and more figure into the ambient soundscape of various key scenes, and it's typically these background sounds that create the dark and unsettling mood which hangs over the film. Especially nifty are a few moments in which Daly attempts to talk on a phone – it seems the man can't get a word out without being interrupted by racket of every sort.
Also worth mentioning is the film's soundtrack. Originally, composer Giorgio Gaslini was attached to the picture, but a disagreement with Argento led to progressive rock band The Cherry Five being brought in to record the music. The band permanently changed their name to Goblin around this time and the rest is history: Goblin went on to provide extremely memorable scores for numerous horror and action-oriented films, and Profondo Rosso became one of the best-selling horror movie soundtracks of all time. The music here ranges from typical '70s progressive rock to more spooky cues. I think the main title is probably the best track – when the rhythm kicks in, the viewer knows something bad is about to happen...
All in all, Profondo Rosso is a worthwhile flick and a prototypical giallo that stands as one of the best of the genre. Still, it's overlong in my opinion, and isn't nearly as much fun as either Argento's best (the very spooky, if somewhat incomprehensible, Suspiria) or my favorite giallos (among which would be Umberto Lenzi's Seven Blood-Stained Orchids and Spasmo, the proto-slashers Bay of Blood and Torso, and the super-sleazy 1972 Delirium). Fans of Argento's work or Italian genre cinema should absolutely check this film out though: its combination of mystery elements with graphic horror violence helped solidify the path that many subsequent horror films (Halloween and Friday the 13th among them) would follow.
Blood & Guts = 7/10
Smack Talk = 1/10
Fap Factor = 1/10
Cult Appeal = 6/10
The More You Know = “But... I'm just trying to understand, because... You know, sometimes what you actually see and what you imagine... get mixed up in your memory like a cocktail... from which you can no longer distinguish one flavor from another.”
Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA
October 15, 2015
Like any show I’m excited about, I was really scared of disappointment while driving to this Boston Titus Andronicus (hereafter +@) concert. Since The Monitor, +@ has been one of my favorite bands. They combine dynamic, epic rock songs with to-the-point chord progressions embedded in punk rock history; and Patrick Stickles delivers growly, Joyceanly specific lyrics that are nonetheless deeply relatable. I fell in love with their latest album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy (a punk rock opera about manic depression, in classic +@ style), and there haven't been many weeks since 2010 when I don’t listen to them at least once. On top of all this, my girlfriend - who has a tendency to shout +@ songs in their entirety whenever she hears a single word of a lyric - was going to the show, too. There was a lot of hype, and we weren’t the only ones - the show sold out months before. The comfy Brighton Music Hall was packed, and nearly everyone jumped, yelled, and danced in unison as +@ delivered a fantastic 90-minute set. There was loud, pit-inducing punk rock. There were quiet, somber moments. There were everyone-come-together anthems. It was one of the best concerts I’ve been to.
The show started with frontman Patrick Stickles and keyboardist Elio DeLuca coming on stage. Stickles was wearing that olive green jacket and 18th-century-German-philosopher beard we’ve seen him in lately and the classic black +@ shirt. Casually strumming his guitar, he looked into the crowd and said, “You know, I guess this is when I give a really long speech about how punk rock is about freedom, and having fun doing whatever you want, and being American. But those speeches are usually really boring. And I don’t have to say that anyway, because it’s already said up there.” He pointed to a sign that’s always been up at Brighton, and read it: “‘No moshing or stage diving. Keep your feet on the ground and have a good time. Violators will be ejected without refund.’ We don’t want anyone to get EJECTED, now do we?” Stickles went on for several more minutes, talking about punk rock and the idea of putting on a concert, and occasionally saying, “Those long speeches are so boring…”
Eventually Stickles started playing his guitar, but with only DeLuca on stage. It was quickly apparent that Stickles was playing a solo version of “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With the Flood of Detritus,” a usually bolting, foot-stomping song about driving around the country and seeing people die on the highways while traffickers “sit and grit their teeth, hating that which comes between them and their coffee.” The room sounded like half the audience was sitting and gritting their teeth, hating that which comes between them and +@’s MAD RIFFS, while the other half sounded silently affected by Stickles whiningly crying out, “There are a thousand dreams never to come to pass, because dreams can’t be, nor people, indeed, built to last.” Regardless of which half of the audience you were, everyone chanted that last line, “Built to last,” over and over with Stickles.
After the odd-but-moving solo, the whole band came out - including Adam Reich, who I recognized as playing guitar for the So So Glos show I saw at Paradise a while back. The lights turned green and purple, and the band played the first three songs of The Most Lamentable Tragedy straight through, and then immediately jumped into “Still Life With Hot Deuce And Silver Platter.” At this point, the room was going nuts, and you could already hear people’s dry throats trying to keep up with Stickles you-gotta-sing-along growls. The only reason Stickles wasn’t totally dead after “Hot Deuce” was probably because he was chugging a water bottle after each song.
“Oooh, Dasani!” Stickles commercially said, taking a breather with everyone else. “You know, people come up to me and they say, ‘Yo Patrick, how do you stay so thin and tight?” He rolled up his sleeves, to show that he really was a twig of a man. “You want me to tell you how I keep it so tight? It’s all because my life is a FOOD FIGHT!!!”
The band jumped into the one-two punch combo “Food Fight!” and “My Eating Disorder,” which is one of my favorite +@ songs. It really was something else to have a dreadfully skinny bearded Patrick Stickles shout with hair covering his eyes, “I know the world’s a scary place, that’s why I hide behind a hairy face” and then constantly croon “My eating disorder, my eating disorder, my eating disorder it’s inside me!!” Already it's a rare treasure to have a songwriter pour out his emotional struggles in front of you - but to see hairy, skinny reflection of struggle staring and shouting at you is moves you to the point of terrified paralysis.
If everyone wrote down all the songs they hoped +@ played that night, I doubt many would leave without a checked-off list. There was the trio "Fired Up," "Dimed Out," and "More Perfect Union" that finishes off the first half of The Most Lamentable Tragedy; that eponymous song from their debut; "No Future" Part III" from The Monitor; "In A Big City" from Local Business. And looking back at that checked-off list: If +@ ever put out a Greatest Hits, a suitable title might be Anthems for Losers: Many +@ hits involve repeatedly shouting lines like “YOUR LIFE IS OVER,” “YOU’LL ALWAYS BE A LOSER,” and “I HATE TO BE AWAKE,” which have a self-deprecating euphoria that made the show feel like a Shaker worship service for unfulfilled twenty-somethings.
One of the best moments was “A More Perfect Union” (not to be confused with the aforementioned "More Perfect Union"). “Now let’s travel back in time, back to 2008!” Stickles shouted. “I was 23 years old, and - true story - I lived here in Somerville, MA for a brief but formative period of my life. I was living with this girl and commuting to New Jersey every day, which was plenty of thoughtful time to write lyrics. Then one day the girl broke up with me, and I fled Somerville, never to return again, except to rock you guys. Yeah...There isn’t really a convenient punchline to this story, but it’s true, all true.” Then the band started that perfect opener to The Monitor, and Stickles’ lyrics resonated with me more than they ever did playing through my headphones, as he yelled about “waiting for the Fung Wah bus” and standing “beneath the lights of the Fenway.” The whole place went crazy as people screamed “Give me a brutal Somerville summer, give me a cruel New England winter!” For a place to be stamped into the opener of an album that so many people love, and then to be in that place...I’ll never forget that moment.
Before their last song, Stickles idly said, “Yeah, rock is cool...Baseball is pretty cool, too. Let’s go Mets!” He pointed to the back of the venue, through the window, to the bar across the street, where you could see the Mets vs Dodgers game on a big TV. You could also see a few people trying to watch +@ in the Somerville cold. “And look at those sad faces in the window. We’re just going to play one more song. Can we let those people in? Just for one song??” Sure enough, they let those ten people in for “To Old Friends and New,” one of the softer songs on The Monitor with that final, Velvet-Underground-influenced chant “Well it’s alright, the way that you live - it’s alright, the way that you live” that’s perfect for a final +@ moment.
The band left the stage, and I really wasn’t expecting an encore. The band already played a fantastic 90-minute set, and I figured +@ was above cramming in a bunch of hits into another 20-minute encore. The audience kept shouting, though, and +@ came back. “Alright,” Stickles said, “One more, but that’s all you get! It’s the bottom of the eighth inning - we gotta get outta here. Here’s one more song for you, Boston!” Stickles yanked off his shirt, revealing his incredibly pale, nearly emaciated body, and danced as the band burst into a cover of The Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner,” by far the most fitting song for the end of a Boston punk show (and, fun fact, the song I got my first speeding ticket to). And they kept their word, walking off stage after that - and Stickles got to see the Mets beat the Dodgers a minute or two later, who went on to win the NCLS and play the Royals in the World Series.
+@ is one of the fun bands keeping rockin’, fervent punk alive, along with their buds The So So Glos and Diarrhea Planet. Please keep coming to Boston, +@ - I’ll always see you.
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Fuckface Unstoppable Manning Bar Sydney, AUS May 7, 2015 It’s about 6 years ago and I am sitting on the balcony of a stilted house right by Cambodia’s Tonlé ... read more
Mastodon Big Top Luna Park Sydney, AUS March 28, 2015 The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region of the city of Tequila is particularly well suited to the ... read more
Steel Panther, Slash (feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators) Hordern Pavilion Sydney, AUS February 24, 2015 Satire is a lesson, parody is a game: Steel Panther are seasoned performers ... read more
Now that was a band that I did not really think I would hear from again. Named after the description of the Elder God, Azathoth, in H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmos, this ... read more
Bombay Sweets, Pink Mink, Swami John & The Blind Shake Turf Club St. Paul, MN February 19, 2015 No review, see photo gallery below. read more
Shonen Knife @ The Factory Theatre Sydney, AUS January 24, 2015 Grin-inducing Japanese energetic, upbeat and catchy all-girl pop punk entertainment with the ingredients of a classic rock show: Shonen Knife ... read more
How does one go to a show of a band that has been around consistently for longer that you have been alive and not have expectations? This along with possible ... read more
Tex Perkins and the Dark Horses @ The Enmore Theatre Sydney, AUS November 23, 2014 The Newtown area was part of the land of the Cadigal band of the Eora people, who ranged across ... read more
The Dwarves @ The Bald Faced Stag Hotel Sydney, AUS October 8, 2015 Parramatta Road is the east-west artery of metropolitan Sydney. On its 23 kilometers long strip, the road is ... read more
While it may be a bit grandiose to title a tour "Black Metal Warfare" or really any kind of warfare after witnessing a show on the tour in question it ... read more
It seems as though we are in a period of time where we read of a famous musician dying almost daily, this tour was supposed to have Ian McLagan in ... read more
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds State Theatre Sydney, AUS December 11, 2014 "All that has dark sounds has duende, that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher ... read more
Run The Jewels, Ratking The Fine Line Music Café Minneapolis, MN November 20, 2014 Earlier this week I attended an artist’s talk/writer’s workshop-type thing here in Minneapolis. Kevin Bowe, who’s ... read more
The Gaslight Anthem, Against Me!, Cory Brannan First Avenue Minneapolis, MN October 15, 2014 It had been many a year since I’d seen Against Me! and I hadn’t seen Gaslight ... read more
The Pixies, Royal Blood State Theatre Minneapolis, MN October 11, 2014 There’s a lot that can be said about The Pixies and their 2014 tour—well, about any tour of ... read more
Lethbridge is a suburb of sorts to Calgary to give you, the reader an idea of the towns size. Usually the Enmax (where this show took place) is host to ... read more
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know Arcade Fire are currently shaking up North America with an enchanting spectacle of a tour. I caught the tour in Los ... read more
Too Many Rappers: July 2014 7/18/14 - Minneapolis, MN Commuting earlier than usual this morning means it’s nice and cool. I ride by a kid who’s wearing an old 3rd ... read more
Guided By Voices, Crystal Stilts Irving Plaza New York, NY July 11, 2014 Photo courtesy of Gerald McBoing-Boing See Guided By Voices before you die. ... read more
Agalloch, Jex Thoth Irving Plaza New York, NY June 30, 2014 Agalloch were one of the first metal bands to combine black/doom’s monsoon of carnage with ambient, ... read more
Eyehategod, Ringworm, Enabler, Shitkill Club Europa Brooklyn, New York June 7, 2014 This past weekend, the mega-festival Governors Ball hit hard in NYC. People from all ... read more
Boston Calling Music Festival 2014 City Hall Plaza in Boston, MA May 23-25 2014 (All concert photos courtesy of Mike Diskin) Over Memorial Day weekend, I experienced the ... read more
As my friend David and I were being hurled around the mosh pit at the Terminal 5 show of legendary post-rock ensemble Mogwai, I thought back to how earlier ... read more
Chuck Ragan, White Buffalo, Jonny Two BagsTriple Rock Social ClubMinneapolis, MNApril 15, 2014 It had been many a year since I’d seen Chuck Ragan perform, and that was with his ... read more
Written by Eli ZegerPhotos by Hadar Sagi From Indian Lakes From Indian Lakes is a group of five pretty boys who make poppy emo music, but with post-rock riffs ... read more
Russian Circles, KEN Mode, Inter Arma at Underground Arts, Philadelphia, 2/19/14 Last week, Chicago's Russian Circles touched down in Philadelphia as a part of their current tour with Ontario's KEN ... read more
Too Many Rappers: Fall Roundup The Minnehaha Creek is just one of the many places I do my thinking. I mean, as a human being with a fully functional brain, ... read more
HIM, Caspian Southampton GuildhallSouthampton, Hampshire, UKOctober 28, 2013 It has been three years since HIM last played on the shores of the UK, with a lot of uncertainty whether they ... read more
Beacons Festival 2013 North Yorkshire August 16-18, 2013 Beacons Festival is a pretty novel addition to the British concert scene. Taking place in Skipton (Lancs > Yorks) away from the ... read more
Elliott Smith at his last-ever NYC show, January 29th 2003. He killed himself that October.Photo: Alexis I have this friend, let's call her L. We "met" on a music messageboard ... read more
October 12, 2013 Calgary, Alberta @ THE GOLDEN AGE CLUB After a few hiccups in the booking process (venue issues, etc.) the day finally came for Terror to come back ... read more
A couple weeks ago, I went on a trip to the middle of the country to see my favorite band, AFI, play shows up and down the midwest. Some of ... read more
A couple weeks ago, I went on a trip to the middle of the country to see my favorite band, AFI, play shows up and down the midwest. Some ... read more
FLAG, T.S.O.L., Cerbral Ballzy, Off WithTheir Heads First Avenue Minneapolis, MN September 13, 2013 After spending a few hours in a sports bar down the street, where my compadres and ... read more
Caïna, Hordes, Barshasketh The Unicorn London, UK September 6 2013 We've been talking a lot about the rebirth of Caïna of late and we'll soon have a review of the new ... read more
It's that time once again! The fabled Progressive Music Awards are tomorrow night, and I've spent the last few weeks getting myself familiar with the best of the best in ... read more
Holy crap, has this summer been hot or what? Like, hot as in temperature hot. Like, literally hot. Which might be confusing now that Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries as well ... read more
The NINES Festival Devens, MA I must admit I was anxious to attend this festival when I heard the lineup featured none other than Shuggie Otis. I have had ... read more
It's a tray in a hotel room, fairly unremarkable when put back to basics. The tray is littered with cigarettes, beer bottles, a can of coke, a crumpled McDonald's ... read more
Die Kruezen, Hepa/Titus, Mudhoney, Gay Witch Abortion, Negative Approach, Honky, Melvins Grumpys Downtown Minneapolis, MN July 20, 2013 It’s a shame that Amphetamine Reptile Records quit putting out new ... read more
The Postal Service are making their rounds again in support in the Deluxe Edition re-release of their 2003 album, Give Up. Scene Point Blank had a chance to check'em out ... read more
Dave Hause @ Cabooze Plaza Social Distortion, Cheap Time, Dave HauseCabooze PlazaMinneapolis, MNJuly 2, 2013 Dave Hause is a busy guy. I swear I get an email a week here ... read more
Well here we are into the first part of May, and I'm wondering where the fuck March and April went. I apologize for dropping the F bomb on you in ... read more
Minneapolis, MN, 4/20/13 Despite being fairly worn out from the previous evening—one which had me visiting three different venues, seeing six different bands, and imbibing at least twice as many ... read more
The Men 7th St Entry Minneapolis, MN June 12, 2013 On just the third night of their North American tour, Brooklyn-based band The Men landed in Minneapolis for a packed-in ... read more
(This review contains copious spoilers: if you intend to read the novel yourself, proceed with caution. We're posting it as a blog since it's not strictly music-related, despite being written by ... read more
Tegan and Sara were appreciated by Albany, NY last month when they came to the Upstate Concert Hall, the first time they've visited since the duo released So Jealous, which ... read more
Anthrax, Exodus, High On Fire, Municipal Waste, Holy Grail First Avenue Minneapolis, MN April 4th, 2013 Continuing their recent-ish trend of performing classic albums in their entirety, Anthrax rolled into ... read more
In the days following Adam Yauch’s passing in May of last year, many of us nostalgia-stricken fans were searching for words to express how deeply saddened we were by not ... read more
February 28th, 2013 As I write this, I am overlooking the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula from the balcony of my room at a vacation resort outside of ... read more
This hip-hop train just keeps on rolling. And although I would like to think I’m fully on board, it feels more like I’m running beside it, trying to keep up, ... read more
Well, here we are, a whole month into the New Year, and as usual January was spent catching up on all the music I slept on last year. Normally the ... read more
The tiny Black Heart in Camden holds court to an evening of droned out sludge, traditional heavy doom, and more English black metal than you can shake a stick at ... read more
The Unicorn is suffering from a severe lack of air con tonight, the tension in the air made all the palpable by the insane levels of heat and the anticipation ... read more
The view that Scene Point Blank has been afforded for tonight’s performance is beautiful, and the sea of heads below on the floor is all the more astonishing seen from ... read more
Minus the Bear and Cursive have been on tour for the past few months in support of their 2012 releases. Minus the Bear put out Infinity Overhead in August, while ... read more
Murder by Death have just begun to tour for their new album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, by supporting pop-punk troop, Say Anything. It's an interesting combo and Murder by Death ... read more
It's rare that you attend a show that feels like it has the weight of history riding on it, but seeing At The Drive-In play what is likely to be ... read more
Fun. are back on the road selling out shows again. This time however, they didn't just sell out one show, but 3 nights at the illustrious Wiltern Theater in Los ... read more
Murder by Death are preparing the release of their 6th studio album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, while celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their first LP, Like The Exorcist, but More ... read more
Well, it's high time that progressive music got a good, high-ish-profile awards show, and now, thanks to Prog Magazine, we have one. The bad news is that it stlil shows ... read more
Japandroids 7th St. Entry Minneapolis, MN July 7, 2012 When a touring band starts their set by saying, “It feels like we’re back home, Minneapolis”, the natural instinct is to go ... read more
LeBron James is Four Titles and a Rape Allegation Away From Becoming Kobe Bryant: How the Miami Heat Winning is Bad for Basketball Now I know that we here at ... read more
Royal Headache, The Arrivals, Condominium Triple Rock Social Club Minneapolis, MN June 9, 2012 It was with some intrigue and, admittedly, mostly trepidation that I made my way to ... read more
Hot Water Music just released their new album, Exister, and recently spent a couple nights in So-Cal to warm up the new songs before they head out to Europe this ... read more
There are a few cultural constants we all come to understand depending on where we come from, and growing up in Vermont is no exception. Amongst other things, many develop ... read more
Once again, fun. are on the road and Scene Point Blank was there to catch another great show. The band's playing the clubs in support of their sophomore record, Some ... read more
I had the pleasure of attending the 5th annual Musink Fest in Costa Mesa, CA--a festival blending live music and an appreciation for tattoo art--hosted by LA Ink star, Kat ... read more
Cursive recently began touring in support of their 7th studio album, I Am Gemini. I had the privilege of catching their show in Pomona, CA where they played a great ... read more
I know we don't usually review websites here at Scene Point Blank, but we just couldn't help ourselves after our editor in chief Loren received the following request: Hi,I'm Pheiné, ... read more
The piece ended rather suddenly, almost completely without warning. The conductor held his position for a moment, then slowly brought his arms down. The theater erupted with applause as the ... read more
Saves the Day and Bayside decided to team up this Fall to deliver a thrilling show fans of either could appreciate. Joining them on the tour are I Am ... read more
The World/Inferno Friendship Society recently started their US tour supporting their new album, The Anarchy and The Ecstasy, with sci-fi-psychobilly (psy-fi?) band, The Phenomenauts. You could not ask for a ... read more
Last Thursday, The Purple Turtle in London's infamous Camden held what is likely to be the most fun headlining show I've seen this year. Cannabis Corpse, fresh off the back ... read more
Motley Crue and Poison live, Target Center, Mpls, MN, 6/24/11 The New York Dolls opened the show but I couldn’t tell you damn thing about them. The girlfriend and I literally ... read more
Read Midwest Hell Fest Wrapup-Day 1 here. Despite intermittent sleep, I wake up feeling fairly well rested. If memory serves correctly, I’m somewhere deep within the confines of enemy territory—Wisconsin. ... read more
After losing a year of my life behind the wheel, I finally arrive at my destination: Kimberly, Wisconsin. Upon walking into the hotel—and I use this term loosely—lobby, I am ... read more
After a long wait and two opening acts—the clock struck 9:30 and Fun took the stage, while the boys and girls cheered. Suddenly, the beautiful overture to “Be Calm” opens ... read more
200 bands, seemingly as many beers, and only three nights. Where do I begin my recap? My stomach is still shrunken from not eating right, and I continue to drink ... read more
Let me start off by saying that I love all three of these bands, and I have been looking forward to this show since I got confirmed to photograph it. ... read more
Portugal. the Man is a Portland, Oregon based experimental indie-rock band, fronted by native Alaskan John Gourley. If you haven’t heard the story about this up and coming group, Gourley’s ... read more
I don't know how many of you have heard of Moving Mountains. A band from Westchester, NY, they are fresh off a tour with Thursday, about to embark on a ... read more
I hit the 500 review mark last week with my Narrows review. That's a lot of reviews. Sometimes I get burnt out with all the stuff coming through, especially when ... read more
So I just got done watching the season finale of Scrubs. It was Zach Braff's final episode. His character is saying goodbye, but I think they gave it a nice ... read more
Two months ago I had high hopes for the Cleveland Browns. Now I am left with a fairly mediocre season. We shall see how the remainder plays out. I'm looking ... read more
Might as well has this here too, it's been three years since I wrote it. I think it still holds true. Space for rent. Your ad here. My name is ... read more
I forgot to post this prior to week one, but given the outcome of that game, maybe it was for the best. Anyway, the Browns season is underway and that ... read more
Over the weekend a band that was very dear to my heart announced their sudden breakup and played their final show. I first became acquainted with Life Long Tragedy over ... read more
I was yelled at again for writing this, and since I am applying for a job at a local newspaper, I don't really want this hanging over my head. Sorry ... read more
Last night my band played with Souvenir's Young America, City of Ships, and Monolith at Siren Records in Doylestown, PA; it was a fun time all the bands played real ... read more
If you didn't hear the news, Roy Scheider died this week at the age of 75. Jaws is one of my all-time favorite films. I am extremely sad. I fully ... read more
They could make me look not so good to certain people. Nobody read them anyways. read more
So, back when Cave In's Until Your Heart Stops dropped on the hardcore masses several years back, I had the chance of catching the band at Middlesex County Community College. ... read more
I broke out my CD for the Gehenna- The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness and saw something that always made me smile. Allow me ... read more
Hello. Some of you might remember (or have participated in) my experiment over the summer collecting people's wishes on this page. I got over 160 entries and published them all ... read more
Imagine being in this kid's place... Interview w/ Henry Rollins read more
Even though it is just a joke, I'd still vote for Stephen Colbert for president before I'd vote for anyone else for running, outside of the longshots that have no ... read more
Dear Atreyu, Please stop. No seriously, please stop...now. - File has been removed. It was up for a month. It was the band's cover of Faith No More's "Epic." - ... read more
I woke up today at 5:30am to get my ass to the store to open it for what I figured would be another boring Sunday at work. Work has been ... read more
So the man that founded Factory Records and helped Joy Division become as huge as they did through hype died today. Not alot of people repect what Wilson did for ... read more
Yesterday during rush hour traffic on 35W the bridge than spans the mighty Mississippi fell. There was no earthquake. There was no terrorist attack. The bridge just buckled and toppled ... read more
Part 1: Mission Statement, Introduction, and first terribly nostalgic musing A number of years ago, a few friends of mine, myself, and people who would quickly become my friends used ... read more
Shook Ones, for the uninitiated, are a melodic hardcore band from Seattle, Washington. Their debut LP, Sixteen, had some serious Kid Dynamite aping going on, without a doubt, but it ... read more
Remember when the idea of Friday the 13th used to be scary? Maybe its because I am a grown adult, but there just does not seem to be any horror ... read more
You have no idea how wonderful it is to be finally typing these words. Not that my work is done: a SPB staffer's work is never done! But seriously: typing ... read more
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