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.

FRIDAY

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.

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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.

SATURDAY

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.

SUNDAY

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.

-mayt

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

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!

-mayt

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

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 

-mayt

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!

-mayt

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

Make Do and Mend – Everything You Ever Loved

Make Do and Mend/Everything You Ever Loved/Rise Records/2012/Official Website

Make Do and Mend released an excellent debut full-length post-hardcore record with 2010’s End Measured Mile on Paper and Plastick Records.  Their next release, Part & Parcel was full of acoustic renditions of past songs, which showed that lighter versions of their songs also worked really well. Some people have this idea that just because a band moves up to a bigger label they aren’t the same band anymore, and in some cases this can be true.  It’s not true for Make Do and Mend. Their latest , Everything You Ever Loved is the first album at their new home, Rise Records, and while it follows the trend set by Part and Parcel, Make Do and Mend haven’t completely lost their edge.

This record is different than End Measured Mile, but in songwriting, hooks, lyrics and music, I feel like its the best the band has released so far.  The first track, Blur, starts the album off slow with a solid build up, then leads into the album’s second track, the barn-burner Disassemble.  If there was any question that Make Do and Mend have found that sweet spot of melody and balls-out rock then this song, and the rest that follow absolutely squash those doubts.  This album is not as heavy as their last full-length, much less so than their debut EP, but it doesn’t need to be.  Make Do and Mend are able to get that same level of emotion by replacing some of the aggression with pop melody, and it works.  Because everything isn’t screaming and breakdowns, the album sounds incredibly dynamic with softer parts that contrast beautifully with the heavier ones.

My vinyl copy is the “Ultra Clear” (c’mon guys it’s just clear) variant, out of 300 copies.  I fell for the Rise Records pre-order bundle that included two posters and an exclusive seven-inch record for a higher price, but to my surprise I was quite happy with it.  The jacket isn’t gatefold but the art is nice and the record sounds great.  Honestly for the past few days I haven’t listened to much else on my record player, which speaks more than I can about how much I truly love this album.

Everything You Ever Loved is different. Like Saves the Day’s transition into Stay What You Are or Transit’s Listen and Forgive, this album is a band trading some of their hardcore aspects with melodic rock. If you listened to Make Do and Mend just for their heavy guitars and gruff vocals, sure, you might not find much to love here.  But, if you really give it a shot, you’ll find an incredibly dynamic, emotional, rocking album.

Listen to this album on Spotify Here

Check out the band’s Official Merch Here

-mayt

I’m the kind of wreck you read about and I’m sinking now

Title Fight – Floral Green

Title Fight/Floral Green/Side One Dummy Records/2012/Official Website

Title Fight is a band from Kingston, Pennsylvania that play a mix of punk,  hardcore and grunge. They’re a part of this great bunch of bands that have come out of Pennsylvania in the last few years who have absolutely blown up in the scene.  To go from playing small basement shows to opening for Rise Against on a stadium tour in just a couple of years is pretty mind-blowing.  So what’s the deal with with this band?

Title Fight’s first full length, Shed was a good melodic hardcore record that made plenty of best of 2011 lists.  With Floral Green, Title Fight tones down the harshness (and speed!) and replaces it with a big handful of 90’s emo and alt-rock.  But while Shed was good, Floral Green is great.  Right off the top, “Numb But I Still Feel It” starts the album with a great, slow riff, but as the band kicks in, the singer makes sure you know this is a Title Fight record with his trademark gruff vocals.  The third track, “Like a Ritual” sounds like a long-lost Jawbreaker cut with excellent guitars and longing lyrics.   “Secret Society,” also available on a 7″ single, has a much more Shed-esque vibe to it.  The high-water mark for me on this album is absolutely “Make You Cry.”  Right away, Title Fight’s singer comes out with screaming vocals and the intricate guitar work reminds me of the band’s beloved debut 7″ record.  It’s amazing how the band packed so much rad into one song.

My copy of the record is the “floral” varient, out of 500 copies, and it’s beautiful! The vinyl is a yellow-green-red tri-color swirl and the label looks great.  Some copies of the floral varient have more red than others. Mine barely has any, but man is it pretty. I caught the presale when it started and I’m so glad I did, because the floral copies sold out in just minutes (thanks, Title Fight mailing list!)  This record has AMAZING packaging and sounds excellent.

The great thing about bands like Title Fight is that it really feels like they care about their fans. They understand that so many people who listen to them aren’t going to spend a dime on their music, so they really make it worthwhile for those that do.  Just look at their merch store, and you’ll find cool t-shirts, hats, even backpacks – items that the band themselves would buy if they were fans.

I believe this record was worth every penny, which you can’t really say with every new album that comes out. Title Fight is a great band who put out an excellent record. They absolutely deserve your support. Listen to “Make You Cry” and see just how beautiful a song by a melodic hardcore band can be.

Listen to Floral Green on Spotify Here

Buy Floral Green on vinyl Here

Fall asleep with open eyes, with bad dreams to occupy my time