Fest 11 – Part 2

The continuation of the Fest 11 saga, in which our heroes finally, actually discuss a band or two that played during fest.


Like I said in an earlier post, we mostly stuck to the same one-block area of Gainesville to maximize the amount of awesome music we could hear.  Friday was spent exclusively at the High Dive, 8 Seconds and The Florida Theater of Gainesville.  After check in and dinner, our first stop the High Dive to check out Hostage Calm and Dikembe. Hostage Calm was easily one of the top five performances of the weekend.  The venue was just the right size, and it was packed out with people singing and crowdsurfing along. It really was a fun time.

2012-10-26 19.27.58 copy

Hostage Calm. First set we saw, tough act to follow.

The next venue we hit was the Florida Theater, which is (I think?) the largest venue for the Fest.  This was the only venue that seemed to have a full security team, and the bartenders definitely didn’t seem like they were used to our kind of crowd.  There we saw The Swellers, Make Do and Mend and Polar Bear Club play back-to-back. This venue had plenty of levels, so you were basically assured a good view of the stage, which was awesome.  The sound, however, left something to be desired. I was super disappointed that the mix during Make Do and Mend wasn’t great, they were one of my most anticipated bands.

To end the night, we went over to 8 Seconds during F.Y.P’s set and to get a good spot for Latterman.  F.Y.P. were great, and that night’s headliner Latterman were amazing! I didn’t get to see them at their New York reunion shows last year, so this was the first time I’d seen them in like 5 years. That old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” could not be more true for this band, because as soon as they started playing the whole place went NUTS. I’m sure there’s Nothing like a few thousand fans singing along to welcome you back. Latterman was tight and loud and played every song I could ask for. It was a great end to the first night at Fest.


After grabbing some food, we headed over to 8 Seconds to catch Iron Chic and RVIVR, but were greeted to something of a line. This particular line was about two blocks long for a venue that absolutely could not hold half of these people. Our plan B was to head over to the Atlantic for Little League, then to The Laboratory for Pentimento. Both great, low-key sets. We took a break after that to try to figure out how the hell we were getting home with Hurricane Sandy coming.  The rest of the evening was spent watching Captain We’re Sinking just absolutely kill it, Red City Radio blow the doors off of High Dive, and a small, intimate set from Nightmares for a Week.

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Red City Radio. No, I have no idea why people throw beer. Even cheap beer.


On Sunday, we started the day out at the Florida Theater. Joyce Manor was pretty good, but the Menzingers were crazy good. I was surprised at how well the crowd responded to songs off the new album to boot. After those bands, we got a call back from Delta and found out we’d be stuck in Florida no matter what we did because of Sandy up North. Well, we took that as a sign so we headed over to 8 Seconds, pulled up a couple of bar stools and got daytime drunk listening to Cheap Girls, Paul Baribeau and Andrew Jackson Jihad play. The last set of the night was Frank Turner, who was absolutely brilliant.  It’s crazy how one guy with a guitar can sound so huge when everyone sings along.

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Frank Turner.

Fest 11 was a trip. After talking about it for so long, I couldn’t be happier that I was able to attend this year.  I can honestly say that Fest lived up to the hype, and I had one of the best weekends of my whole year. Monday morning was a different story, as we got stuck in Florida for a few days. You can read more about that in this post.


cmon everybody sing along, we’re to blame..


What I’m Thankful For – Part Two!

Who cares if it’s december? It’s time to continue what I started, so let’s talk about the top two records I’m thankful for!

If you missed it, read about numbers five through three over here

The Five Records I’m Most Thankful For – A Thanksgiving Record Extravaganza! .. (part two)

2) Iron Chic/Not Like This/Dead Broke Rekerds/Yo-Yo Records/2010/Official Website

There are very few things in this world that I can say that I love. I love pizza. I love my stupid cat that I have to clean up after. I love my family. I love Iron Chic’s Not Like This.

Bought this Euro red version from a seller in England

Bought this Euro red version from a seller in England

When I was a young’n, there was a Long Island band called Latterman who, despite not achieving the success they deserved while active, have been incredibly influential to countless punk rock bands.  They influenced an entire style of punk. After Latterman broke up, the members formed and joined a whole slew of new projects, one of which is Iron Chic.  Iron Chic and Latterman certainly share some similar sounds, but while Latterman is influential, Iron Chic is just so much better. There, I said it.

Not Like This is 31 minutes of anthemic punk rock bliss.  Every song is laden with distorted bass lines, classic 90’s Long Island emo guitar work, and scratchy, melodic vocals you can’t help but sing along with.  If you get a chance to catch the band play on Long Island some time, you’ll see just what I mean when a few hundred strangers sing along louder than the P.A.  You’ll also notice that the band will play nearly this whole album, because it’s filled with some of their best work to date.  “Cutesy Monster Man” is one of the greatest opening tracks for any album ever.  “Know What I Mean, Jellybean?” and “Bustin’ (Makes Me Feel Good)” are both simultaneously sad as fuck and triumphant as hell. How is that even possible?!? I love this album, and until I get another Iron Chic full length, I’m gonna keep spinning it.

1) Less Than Jake/Muppets 7″/1997/Liquid Meat Records/Official Website


When I was a kid, I really liked Less Than Jake. They honestly got me into punk rock. I had every CD I could get my hands on, even the weird Japanese import that came with an obi strip.  One day I found their website (this was 1998, I barely used the internet back then!) and saw that they did a lot of mailorder sales, and that they had a ton of vinyl releases. I really didn’t even know bands were still releasing vinyl back then, and I thought that was so cool! I got a money order, put it in an envelope (!),  wrote out a post-it saying what I wanted, and I waited. Eventually I received this beauty, the Less Than Jake Muppets seven inch. This baby is super cool and contains four covers of Muppets songs, plus some pretty neat DIY-style artwork.  When I was younger I was very happy with this record. Now, I can certainly see it’s flaws, mostly with sound quality. But I can’t not love this record. It’s responsible for my love of vinyl. Less Than Jake’s Muppets really symbolizes a different era for me, where everything was new and exciting and I couldn’t wait to hear more new music. For that, it’ll always be the record I’m most thankful for.


I hear them calling my name

Fest 11 – Part 1

The last weekend of October was a crazy time.  The northeast was hit by the frankenstorm Sandy, causing destruction all over and of course the weeks of power outages and gas shortages.  Now, call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure the whole thing was my fault. You see, the weekend before I went on an actual, honest-to-god vacation for the first time in years. Obviously someone was trying to teach me a lesson for thinking I could ever leave this island.

The vacation I refer to was a trip down to Florida for Fest 11. That weekend every year, the Florida Gators football team heads down to Jacksonville and brings half the city with them, leaving downtown deserted.  A bunch of punks happily take up the slack as they invade Gainesville for Fest, a weekend jam-packed with hundreds of bands.  Thousands of attendees travel from all over the world for three days of the best the world of punk, hardcore, and indie rock have to offer.  Unlike other festivals, Fest doesn’t take place in a large field or a parking lot with stage trucks and horrible sound.  Instead, nearly every bar and music venue in town (also most with horrible sound) opens up their doors to anyone with a Fest bracelet.  You’ll find packed rooms filled with a bunch of weirdos spilling $2.00 PBR tall boys all over each other, singing along to great music.

I’ve been talking about going down to Fest for literally a decade. Years ago I didn’t have the money for such a trip, and for the last few years October weekends always seem to be filled with schoolwork, weddings, birthdays, and other obligations.  This year I decided enough was enough and talked an old friend into coming along for the ride.

Despite the layover, the flight down to Florida was mostly harmless, which is a good thing because I hate flying. On the ride over, I asked the driver if anyone had shown up to the hotel yet for registration and I got a very sarcastic “yeah, a few.” I knew there would be a decent amount of people around at Fest, but I really didn’t expect a few thousand people in the parking lot, pool, registration room, and roaming the hallways of the hotel. It was an eye-opener to say the least!

How it works at Fest is there are about a dozen venues throughout the city that host shows, so the bands you want to see in any given day might actually be at different venues up to 15 minutes away.  Because of this, we mostly stuck to the main drag downtown that included 6 or so venues.  We missed some bands that I wanted to see that were playing across town, but the tradeoff was that we got to see more bands in total. Every venue sold cheap beer, but despite my best efforts I really just wasn’t into getting wasted, which worked out great every morning I was there.  This meant that I spent less time hungover in bed and more time hearing great music!

Stay tuned for part 2 of my experience at this past Fest!


and now the passing days on the outside feel great, and it never ever rains

Fair Use and Music Blogs

Fair use is a complicated issue.  The distinction between copyright infringement and fair use is seemingly razor thin.  In 1998, the United States government passed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, laying out the penalties for copyright infringement.  American users of the internet are expected to abide by this law, and in theory it makes sense.  Things that are copyrighted are protected from unauthorized use, and a violation of a copyright will result in a takedown notice from the federal government.  Copyright holders absolutely have the right to protect their works from unlawful or unauthorized use, but for the humble music blogger, how do you even know if you are infringing?

image used under creative commons license from flickr user gallery-art http://www.flickr.com/people/gallery-art/

It is a fair generalization to say that most independent music bloggers – independent meaning those who aren’t writing for AOL or Gawker Media or receive a paycheck for their work – are writing about a subject they are passionate about.  It doesn’t make much sense to run a pop music fansite if you’re neither getting paid nor passionate about the subject.  My blog, for example, is about the music I love and the artists that I listen to.  Ultimately the intention of my blog is to raise awareness for the smaller bands that I enjoy and to connect with other people who have the same interest.  But how do you write about a topic you enjoy and keep it interesting with media such as pictures, audio or video, without infringing on artist’s copyrights?

The problem is, it is extremely hard to determine what you can and can not use for your blog without being some overpaid tv lawyer.  Offering a free download of music that you do not own? I’m sure there are children today that know that this is not legal.  Using an banner image of a band you find on the “press” section of their website? This is probably fine, as they are likely encouraging sharing.  Using google image search for album art and posting that image to your blog? Now the rules get tricky.  This very well could fall under the fair use right, as the artist or record label might have put that image on the internet with the intention of sharing or promotion.  But unless you ask the content creator, you really don’t know if it’s ok. Of course, if you were to do that, it is the record label or artist’s prerogative to issue you a takedown notice or even make it a legal matter.

Hey look, there’s a picture I took myself.

So what’s the answer? Should you limit your music reviews to old traditional folk songs that are now public domain?  I doubt many readers would want to hear your thoughts on “Amazing Grace,” but crazier things have happened.  On my blog, I have been trying my best to avoid any sort of grey area, but especially with the type of music I have been writing about it’s hard to find the line.  If a band sends out a press release about their new album, they probably want that information shared with as many people as possible. But, you really don’t know unless you ask.

Naturally I do not link to illegal downloads nor offer them, but I do link to places where the reader can legitimately listen to the artists.  For example, I try to include a link that launches the legal Spotify application or a Youtube link.  Obviously record labels have to opt-in to Spotify, and Youtube is good at taking down any copyright infringement that is reported.  This way, it is up to those hosts to deal with the legal side of things.  If the label wants that Youtube video taken down, the link that says “here” on my website won’t connect to anything. That’s it. My blog is not professional, in any sense of the word, and I don’t think I’ll find my way on anyone’s press release list anytime soon, but it could happen.  Until that day, I, like many of my fellow bloggers, will continue to try to avoid stepping over that line.


such sad, shiny things they are

What I’m Thankful For – Part One!

Somehow it’s already the end of November, so lets talk Thanksgiving. Despite the mess going on in my life, I actually do have plenty to be thankful for: my dad is getting better by the day and I’ve got a great family and an amazing, supportive girlfriend.  Thanksgiving is an important day in America, and it’s good to give thanks. Now, this is a music blog, so forget about all that sensitive junk and lets talk records!

The Five Records I’m Most Thankful For – A Thanksgiving Record Extravaganza!

Note: I have a reasonably small record collection, and for the most part I have it pretty well trimmed down to my 150 or so favorite records.  Cutting down a list of my top five will absolutely vary on any given day, but a quick look-through and here are the ones I pulled out, in a very particular order:

5) Captain, We’re Sinking/It’s A Trap/Kind of Like Records/2008/Official Website

I began this list by looking at the records that meant the most to me, but when I needed to narrow down the last one, I thought of the record that has gotten the most play on my turntable over the last few years.  That honor, by a large margin goes to Captain We’re Sinking’s It’s a Trap.  No frills, just four songs that get stuck in your head that just rock much harder than they have any right to.  I’m going to need to buy a backup copy pretty soon because this thing HAS to be getting worn out by now.  I just saw this band again at Fest and it was awesome having a packed room of kids singing along with every song. Check out “Crushed by Milwaukee’s Best” if you don’t believe me.

4) Brandtson/Send Us a Signal/The Militia Group/2004/Reissued 2010/DREAMOVER Records

(The Now Defunct) Brandtson was one of the great early 2000’s emo bands, but they really hit it out of the park with 2004’s Send Us a Signal.  While their earlier emo influences are still there, Brandtson put together a much more rounded indie record with Send Us a Signal, their best to date.  This album came out at such a weird time, when I wasn’t sure what the hell I was doing with my life.  Songs like “Just Breathe” hit me just right, and really put to words the way I was feeling.  In 2010 DREAMOVER Records had a Kickstarter to press this album on vinyl, and here’s my backer-exclusive orange vinyl variant. This is an excellent version of an even more excellent record

3) NOFX/So Long and Thanks For All the Shoes/Epitaph Records/1997/Official Website

When I was about thirteen and realized that there was more music out there than Nirvana and Metallica (literally the only two bands I listened to), I got adventurous at my local record store and bought a few tapes from their “punk” section.  Not long after, NOFX released this album, So Long and Thanks For All The Shoes, and it became an instant favorite.  I remember at the time hearing that album was where NOFX lost their edge, but I think that’s ridiculous, mostly because THIS ALBUM IS SO GODDAMN FAST.  Seriously, when I first put the 2010 reissue on my record player I thought I had it on the wrong speed setting.  So Long.. puts any “fast” punk band to shame, plus it’s really, really good to boot.  Two of the songs on this record, “All His Suits Are Torn” and “Quart in Session.” have the BEST lyrics NOFX’s Fat Mike have ever written. Top five, no question. I’ve got the 2010 reissue on green, and I love it.

Stay tuned for the number two and number one records I’m most thankful for!


This hysteria lives inside of me

Pentimento – Self Titled (2012)

Buffalo, New York’s Pentimento was set to release their new self-titled full-length this month via Paper + Plastick/Black Numbers, but a legal dispute with their former label has put those plans on hold. Don’t panic, because while the lawyers sort out that whole mess, Pentimento have made the whole album free to download from their website.  I was able to catch the band down at Fest last month, and despite the shitty PA, they were super rad.  I’ve only had the chance to listen to it once, but this new full length is damn good, and you should absolutely check it out.

Download Pentimento’s Pentimento for free on their website here

If you dig it, be sure to donate to their paypal or buy something from their merch store here 


I can’t believe everything I let myself believe 

How I Spent My Wonderful Halloween

Fest 11 was just last weekend, and a friend and I traveled from New York down to Florida to attend. Just as our luck would have it, our flight back on Monday would have coincided almost exactly with Hurricane Sandy hitting NYC, so of course we were stranded.  I know what you’re thinking, we should have been happy to be out of the fray and given more time in sunny Florida.  Fear not, I still found things to complain about!

After way too many hours on hold with Delta, I originally thought we’d get a plane back to New York Tuesday, Wednesday the latest.  We made arrangements to stay for a few extra nights and went back to enjoying Fest.  Come Monday morning, we hear from Delta again that they’re anticipating a week-long closure of New York airports. Unhappy of the prospect of being stuck in a $160 per-night hotel room and worried about our family back home, we decided to make it a road trip.  I rented a car from the airport, drove up to my grandparent’s house for a day to let the roads clear up in the northeast, and then started the long journey back home.

Filling up right next to a fireworks store in South Carolina. Smart!

While some of my friends were using Halloween (and power outages) as a reason to get drunk on a weeknight, we were drinking red bull and eating the finest snack foods that rest stops have to offer.

No Halloween would be complete without a spin or two of AFI’s All Hallow’s EP, so thanks to Spotify’s mobile app we were able to listen to great tunes like “The Boy Who Destroyed the World” and the excellent cover of the Misfits’ “Halloween.” If AFI ever gets around to recording new music, I really hope they go back to this old style.  This EP and their album Answer That and Stay Fashionable were among my first forays into the punk section of my local record store, so they’ll always be old favorites of mine.

As an aside, after seeing about a thousand billboards on the way up, we stopped at the ON THE BORDER in South Carolina.  I’ve never been, despite knowing of its existence, and was actually getting excited as we got closer and closer.  Now, let me say that I mean this in the nicest, most inoffensive way: that place is the worst.  I couldn’t even drive through the whole (half?) mile stretch, I had to turn around, use the gas station and get the hell out as fast as possible.  It’s supposed to be a tourist trap, but I could barely spend 10 minutes there. Something about it simultaneously creeped AND bummed me out. Sorry, weirdos who own On the Border.

Such amazing sights on I-95!

The trip took about 17 hours, which could have easily been much longer.  I was a little worried about the condition of the Jersey Turnpike, but since we hit it at about 10:30PM, it really wasn’t a problem.  I rolled up to my house a little before 3AM for some much-needed sleep.  We came back to power-outages and long gas lines, but it was good to be back to help out my family after Sandy.


Favorite album for the ride? Frank Turner’s recent collection Last Minutes and Lost Evenings. Was Fest 11 worth all the trouble? I’ll see you there next year!


We’re almost on the guestlist, but we’re always stuck in traffic