Concert Review: English Beat w/ Deco Auto 3/24/17

I used to have a long commute to work every day, so my chief companion quickly became my car stereo. It took about a year, but I ended up rage-quitting local radio stations completely once I realized that my local “hard rock” station was garbage and that my local “alternative” station was basically folk music garnished by seemingly mandatory Pearl Jam songs. I bought Sirius XM to alleviate all my radio woes, and immediately fell in love with a channel on there called 1st wave.

Whenever I tell folks that I’m into 80’s new wave music, I think a lot of folks assume I love bands like Hall and Oates or something, but honestly I’m only really into that late 70’s – early 80’s scene that sprang up (mostly) in the UK – great news, that’s what they play! I think one of the first times I was listening to 1st Wave Dave Wakeling (of the English Beat and General Public) was on a talk show segment hosted by Richard Blade and I immediately realized just how much I loved the band, and my love for ska was re-energized.

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Readers may recall a while back I was talking about “trying to see more bands on my ‘musical bucket list'”, so when The English Beat popped up on my Jambase page I had to immediately snag some tickets. I’ve always been a fan of ska music, so getting to hear one of the pioneers of the 80’s second wave of ska/two-tone/reggae was definitely something I’ve wanted to do. Some of these bands rarely come over to the United States anymore, but the good news is that Dave Wakeling happens to live in California, so he tours here all the time.

Before I get into the show itself, I wanted to talk about the venue the show was held in, Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City, MO. This was my first time at this venue, and I was really impressed. I’m not a big blues aficionado, which is the style of music most featured at this venue, but I’d love to come here again –  I’ll have to keep an eye out on acts coming in from time to time. This is a promotional ad, but shows off the Place better than I could attempt to describe it.

The compound is made up of a number of venues, with our concert taking place in “The Garage”. This was a roomy music hall with standing room at the front and back, a bar, and some tables – since we arrived early we were able to score some choice table seats.

The supporting act for this show was a local band called Deco Auto which is a power pop band in the vein of a lot of those early 90’s alternative bands that used to get tons of radio play like Weezer and Superchunk. While their music isn’t really my standard listening, they were pretty good even though they had a few technical difficulties during their set. For a few of their songs, one of the vocalists was sadly muted lower than she should have been so we really couldn’t hear the full impact of their music. The highlight of their set was a cover of the Blondie Song “Hanging on the Telephone”, which is always fun to listen to.

Their Bandcamp page

Oh wait, you thought you had seen all of my crappy concert pictures in previous posts, think again – this is a snap of Deco Auto doing their thing.

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Next up was the main event – finally getting to see The English Beat live! Honestly the band shows absolutely no signs of loosing any steps – the music sounds every bit as good as the original albums from 30+ years ago. The set-list was the following:

Rough Rider, The Tears of a Clown, Hands Off…She’s Mine, Twist & Crawl, Rude Boy Skank, I’ll Take You There, Save It for Later, Whine & Grine/Stand Down Margaret, Too Nice to Talk To, Can’t Get Used to Losing You, Sole Salvation, Tenderness, Ranking Full Stop, Mirror in the Bathroom

There was a LOT of music from their first album which coincidentally is my favorite album of theirs due to the heavy ska and reggae influence. later albums somewhat shifted to arena rock, which is good, but the older stuff is my preference. conspicuously absent was the song “I confess”, perhaps one of their biggest hits, but I’ll gladly trade it for “Tenderness” from General Public.

This iteration of the band is Dave Wakeling on vocals, Nucci Cantrell on drums, Matt Morrish on sax, Kevin Lum and Minh Quan on keyboards, King Schascha on vocals and MC duty, and Brad Engstrom on bass guitar. For those unaware, there are actually two touring versions of the band going around – one helmed by Wakeling and another helmed by Ranking Roger, former bandmate of Wakeling’s in The English Beat and General Public. It seems as though there is no bad blood between the two, as the band originally broke up because the rest of the band wanted to stay in the UK and joined the Fine Young Cannibals, Wakeling moved to the US at some point and it was simply too hard to be a band at that point. Both Roger and Wakeling wanted to tour as themselves, but were always labeled as “The English Beat” so they embraced it.

The cool thing is that both singers bring a bit of a different flavor to the music, so having new albums coming out from both bands this year is a blessing for fans. I recently picked up Bounce, the new album from the UK version of the band – hope to review it on here at some point.

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All-in-all, I had a blast at this show, and hope to get to see the band again next year as they release their new album Here We Go Love. I was also glad to see that despite the age of the band there were fans at the show from pretty much every living generation in attendance. I keep thinking that we’re long overdue for a fourth wave of ska music to get big in the US, seeing so many people supporting a band like this makes me hope that’s true.

In case you’ve never seen this band:


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Concert Review: Voodoo Glow Skulls w/ The Uncouth 3-5-17

Any Concert that lets me where a ridiculous Lucha Libre mask during the show (see above picture), is an A+ in my book! Thankfully, the Voodoo Glow Skulls happened to have some at their merch table, so I was all set. In fact, Lucha masks should really become the new hot fashion tend, I think it’s well past time for it to fall into popularity. All Joking aside, I was able to attend a outdoor night show at a local music venue called The Riot Room this past weekend, one of my first punk shows (I usually do metal shows). I don’t normally attend punk shows, mostly because the type of punk I like is largely not super popular anymore. I’ve never been a huge fan of hardcore, despite liking a few bands, and that pop-punk explosion in the nineties was something I think most old-school punks would have utterly hated as it was basically Hot-Topic in audio form. Thankfully, this show happened to be both types I actually like listening to conveniently in one small package.

This was a very short show for two bands (two hours and some change) so I don’t have a ton to talk about, so think of this as a punk version of one of my reviews on here – short and sweet. As usual, get ready for bad cellphone pictures galore.


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Opener: The Uncouth

 

Here is the band’s Facebook Page

Bandcamp page

Oi! is the old-school UK punk music scene that popped up in the working class areas back in the late 1970’s and 1980’s with the direct goal of uniting all working class punks. The prevalent ideology of the original Oi! movement was a rough brand of working-class rebellion. Lyrical topics included unemployment, workers’ rights, harassment by police and other authorities, and oppression by the government. This is exactly the sort of music the Uncouth specializes in. Being a big fan of eighties music, I was amazed that a modern band could capture that sound so well as this concert.

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Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, The Uncouth take the banner of all of their predecessors, and add a mid-western American flair to it – while the accent is different the sentiment is the same. One reason I don’t enjoy a lot of modern punk music is that it’s a bunch of songs about being a tough guy or losing a girlfriend, and thankfully this sort of band takes everything back to it’s roots. For instance, a song like Jonesy’s War is about a veteran of the Afghanistan war coming home to find that he can’t readjust to his old life. Resorting to drinking and other self-destructive tendencies, Jonesy is still basically at war, and as the chorus shouts, “Jonesy’s a prisoner of war!” It’s a far cry from bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182.


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Headliner: The Voodoo Glow Skulls

Their website

The other kind of punk music I like is ska-punk because I’m a huge fan of old-school ska music (and I’ll be getting to see The English beat in a few weeks). When most folks think of this type of music, they tehy of the sort of stuff that always plays at the Van’s Warped Tour every year, bands like Reel Big Fish. Not being a fan of those guys, I wwas pumped to see The Voodoo Glow Skulls coming to Kansas City after a buddy of mine showed me some of their stuff a while back. And honestly, any band where the lead singer sings a few songs wearing a lucha mask is great.

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Outside of California, this Mexican-American ska punk band is perhaps best known for having some of their songs pop up in movie soundtracks.The song “Shoot the Moon” from the band’s Firme album was used in the Pauly Shore movie Bio-Dome and the band’s version of “Used to Love Her” (originally written and recorded by Guns N’ Roses) is featured in the Mr. & Mrs. Smith soundtrack. They mix a lot of old school ska styling (they sort of remind me a bit of Bad Manners) with their Latino heritage into something  awesome. I feel like the United States is due to another ska revival after the one in the mid 90’s fizzled out – here’s hoping they sound like these guys!

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This show had a small, but great crowd, and I saw my first ska version of a mosh pit. Since I’m too old to jump in there (I usually mess my back up moshing) I admired it from afar, doing my standard head-banging that I usually bust out at shows. I will have to keep tabs on the local punk scene more, because if bands like this are starting to get big in Kansas City, I may have to attend more shows.


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Concert Review: Overkill w/ Nile and Whoracle 2/19/17

 

These past few weeks have been super busy for me, so I have been unable to get this typed up until now – I sat there with a page open on here and saved a draft with the title and that was about it. Before my memories slip away, I figure it might be a good idea to finish this. A few weeks ago, a friend and I made the trek over the state line to see a packed show at the Granada theater in Lawrence, Kansas. The headliner was Overkill – legendary New York / New Jersey thrash band, followed up by Nile – prominent death metal pioneers, and Whoracle, a local band. So far, I’ve really enjoyed seeing acts at The Granada in the past, Behemoth was easily one of my favorite shows I’ve ever attended, and that was there last year. Overkill was easily the act I was most excited to see, while I haven’t heard their entire discography, I always enjoy what I’ve heard by them, and I’m always confused that they don’t get the same props that other contemporary thrash bands, such as Anthrax, seem to get.

NOTE: As always, get ready for terrible pictures I took with my camera, I actually just got a new one, so lets hope future posts like this will be better!


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Opener: Whoracle

Here is the band’s Facebook page

Named after an In Flames song of the same name, Whoracle is a thrashy Melodic death metal band from Topeka, Kansas. The line-up is Matt Gibbs-Lead Vocals and Guitars, Alex Measmer-Drums, Toby Sanders-Bass, and Tyler Shuford-Guitars. The thing that really stood to me in regards to this band was the lead singer doing double duty as lead guitarist and singer, you really don’t see this a lot because both things are super challenging alone, much less at the same time. There are weirdos like Geddy Lee that tries to somehow sing, play the guitar, and keyboards at the same time, but that’s just showing off. Despite a few distortion pedal related incidents (neither of which were that bad), the band played a very solid set, and impressed the crowd.

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The highlight for pretty much every song was Gibbs ripping out some crazy shred guitar riffs. While the band lacks stage presence that most bands end up getting after years of years of touring, they make for it with their playing. I have seen a LOT of opening acts at various concerts that were either so bad that I have blocked them out, or so bland that I don’t even remember seeing them at a show, Whoracle was not like this. This is one of those bands that I plan to keep an eye on just in case they come rolling in again as an opener for another band.

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Supporting act – Nile

I will confess here that prior to this concert I wasn’t really the biggest fan of South Carolina based, Technical Death metal band, Nile. I recall buying one of their first albums back when I was in high school, and while loving the music, I was not a fan of the vocals. This may seem hypocritical of me, considering my love for black metal’s shrieking vocals, but I am not a huge fan of the style of vocals that most death metal bands employ. Another worrying fact going into this show was that the longtime lead singer of Nile, Dallas Toler-Wade, quit the band literally one week prior to the show!  Replacing Toler-Wade was Brian Kingsland who was the vocalist and guitarist in a band called Enthean. How did he stack up?

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Well, the vocals were pretty good – and it was interesting that it wasn’t just Kingsland singing. Karl Sanders and Brad Parris also did parts of various songs, so the new guy didn’t stand out a ton on his own. One song in particular, Sarcophogus, got an extended live version that had a crazy guitar solo and other enhancements that I wish was in the recorded song on the actual album. This was easily the highlight of the set, and I was glad they saved it for near the end. While I won’t say that I’m a Nile fan now, I will check out their next album, and at the very least I know that they are a GREAT live band – no matter how the albums sound to me.

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Headliner: Overkill

Highlight of the night for me was getting to see Overkill, especially since Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, lead singer, has not lost a step whatsoever in the past thirty some years. His age even became a joke at one point when two rowdy fans started a fight in the pit, and he exclaimed “come up here and let me kick your ass! who wants to get their ass kicked by grandpa!” best banter of the year so far. I have yet to listen to Overkill’s new album in full, but if his concert was any indication, it’s a solid release. Songs like “Mean, Green, Killing Machine” and “Goddamn Trouble” had the crowd really going. People were moshing just as hard, and if not harder, than a lot of heavier shows I’ve attended that made it a point to get folks to mosh.

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This concert didn’t have any gimmicks or theatrics to get everyone excited, it was pure simple, face obliterating thrash goodness. Everyone in the band was awesome, but Derek “The Skull” Tailer and D.D. Blaze really impressed me considering, in Blaze’s case, that a lot of metal drowns the bass guitar out so much you honestly can’t tell it’s there sometimes. Instead everyone had time to really shine and you could tell the band was having a blast.

Honestly, the only quibble I had with the entire show was the merch stand. For some unknown reason, like 85% of their stuff was out of stock, leaving shirts in sizing ranging from small to small in many cases. Since about the only use a small shirt would have on my body would be a headband, I was annoyed that I couldn’t get a tour shirt. Hopefully they end up putting this on their website,  or nuclear blasts website soon, so I can attempt to get one again. Instead I went for my standard patches that I have been collecting, so aat least there was that.

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All in all, solid show – if you are in any town that these guys will be appearing in, Overkill is well worth ticket price alone. And while I’m not a huge Nile fan, they really impressed me live, and I’ll have to give them another chance at some point. Stay tuned for more terrible cellphone pictures and other fun oddities, as I plan to do another concert review very soon.


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