The Beths- Expert In A Dying Field

The Beths- Expert In A Dying Field

The Beths Expert In A Dying Field

 

The Beths third and latest full length release, Expert In A Dying Field, which the band self describes as “an incandescent collision of power-pop and skuzz,” is an ambitious guitar driven record that just might be the band’s finest work thus far. In and of itself, this is quite a statement considering the quality of both their debut LP, 2018’s Future Me Hates Me as well as their sophomore effort Jump Rope Gazers from 2020. Both of those releases found themselves firmly planted on countless year end lists and I’m fairly confident that Expert will share similar such accolades.

 

In this age of streaming, it has become somewhat of a trend where artists will pre-release several individual songs months in advance of a full length’s release. (Of course artists and record labels have been doing this since forever via the 45rpm single.) The trend now, however, is that those pre-releases are almost invariably the best two or three songs culled from the eventual album. So inevitably upon the full release, a feeling of disappointment sets in when one discovers that the other songs don’t live up to the initial hype of the early singles. With Expert In A Dying Field, The Beths further exacerbated this trend by sequencing their first three pre-released singles as the first three tracks on the LP. My initial thoughts upon seeing this was “uh oh.” 

 

But my worries proved to be totally unfounded with Expert and the entire album delivers from start to finish. The title track (also the first single released earlier this year) is a bright poppy broken relationship love song smack dab in The Beths’ wheelhouse. It offers up what we’ve come to know and love from the band which of course is none other than lite, breezy, sunshine ridden musical bliss paired with anxiety laden lyrics, singer Elizabeth Stokes asking “How does it feel to be an expert in a dying field? How do you know it’s over when you can’t let go?” The next track on the album is the third and most recent single, “Knees Deep,” which again, displays the band’s tried and true formula of feel good power pop. The song itself I find quite ironic in that it’s about the song’s protagonist being too scared to take the proverbial leap, in this case the metaphoric dive into the water. (The song came paired with a music video which saw the band really take a leap and featured all four members bungee jumping.)

 

 

The irony however lies in the fact that this risky leap is exactly what The Beths have done. They’ve spent the better part of 2022 touring throughout North America and Europe, not only avoiding the large corporate mega festivals but also touring as headliners rather than being out there as a support act to a more widely known, more popular act which might boost their fan base. They’ve done all this and accomplished nothing but success in the process.

 

Most of Expert was recorded at guitarist Jonathan Pearce’s studio on Karangahape Road in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (Auckland, New Zealand) towards the end of 2021, with the band saying the the songs collected are autobiographical, but “they’re also character sketches of relationships—platonic, familial, romantic—and more importantly, their aftermaths. The shapes and ghosts left in absences. The question that hangs in the air: what do you do with how intimately versed you’ve become in a person, once they’re gone from your life?”

 

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths at Asbury Lanes (photo by Ray Rusinak. See full coverage)

 

The band has also said that when recording Expert, they made a very cognizant decision to make an album which was meant to be heard live for “both the listeners and themselves.” And that they “wanted it to be fun—to hear, to play—in spite of the prickling anxiety throughout the lyrics, the fear of change and struggle to cope.” And listening to it, I can’t help but think the band was ready, they knew that the next time around things were going to be bigger for them. And no doubt with their upcoming tour in early 2023, they will be playing larger venues (once again) than they did this last time around. And to my ears Expert fits that very bill perfectly. The sixth song, “Head In The Clouds,”  sounds anthemic and ready for a large stage with Pearce’s opening crunchy distorted guitar riff followed by Tristen Deck’s bouncy kick drum. Then about midway through we get Benjamin Sinclair with a classic hard driving pop punk bass line and of course all of this is swirling around while Stokes masterfully sings lines like “Yeah your head’s in the clouds but your soul’s in the dirt”.  

 

We get more of this big pop punk sound in “I Told You I Was Afraid,” the penultimate track of the album. But this isn’t the only direction on which Stokes and The Beths take us on throughout the album. You can hear all kinds of influences popping up throughout the album. There’s some Nirvana (“A Passing Rain”), maybe some Taylor Swift (“Changing Weather”), and even a little Phoebe Bridgers (“2AM”). And in each and every case it’s not like you feel like The Beths are ripping any of these artists off. On the contrary, Stokes manages to use nuance and feel from each, and intone it into her own. So even when you hear a bit of Susanna Hoffs in a song like “When You Know You Know,” it doesn’t actually sound like Stokes trying to sound like Hoffs, but instead it’s The Beths taking that Bangles sound and bending and shaping it so that it very much becomes The Beths sound.

 

Expert In A Dying Field was recorded during the pandemic and fortunately New Zealand had a very strong grasp on things early on so the band was able to actually record together for the most part. Though as all things go with an unpredictable pandemic, eventually, things shifted and additional recording needed to be done separately, the band saying that they traded notes remotely for months and worked on arrangements alone. Additional finishing touches and mixing were then done while the band was here in the States touring and the recording process “culminated in a chaotic three-day studio mad-dash in Los Angeles. There, Expert finally became the record they were hearing in their heads.”

 

Ultimately, the finished product shows an album by a band that, while still growing with one another, and living in the midst of/adapting to very uncertain times, is still very comfortable with each other. They clearly know what they want and know how they want it to sound; they’ve managed to capture it perfectly on this newest offering. 

 

Expert In A Dying Field will be released on 9/16 via Carpark Records. Their tour in support of it will hit New York in early March, 2023.

 

 

 

The Beths @ Asbury Lanes

The Beths @ Asbury Lanes

The Beths at Asbury Lanes (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

This show marked the third time I’ve been able to see New Zealand’s (power) pop sensations The Beths in the last six months. I could say that the old adage that “the third time’s the charm” works once again, but I would also say that the first two worked pretty fine as well (back in February at Webster Hall—see picsas well as last month’s triumphant outdoor show at BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn Festival over in Prospect Park—see pics). To put it bluntly, The Beths are at the top of their game, the band just keeps getting better and better.  

 

Friday’s setlist was the same as what they played in Brooklyn last month with the exception of a handful of changes in the order in which songs were played. But one would never have guessed that these were the same songs and effectively the same show which I’d witnessed then. That in and of itself is a special trait which many bands are not lucky enough to have. To put on a show over and over and to have your audience feel that each one is distinct and different from the previous is a goal which I would think every band shoots for (and not many attain).

 

For a band to attain that feeling of uniqueness first off, can only happen if the band is truly enjoying what they are doing and exhibiting this joy on stage. And let me just say that The Beths appear to be having a lot of fun traipsing across our fine(?) country. It is quite clear that they are humbled by the success they are experiencing here. They’re traveling lightly just as most fledgling bands do…no tour entourage, no tour bus, no equipment truck.  No stagehands to do the load in and load out day in day out.  It’s just the four of them, Liz Stokes (vocals and guitar), Jonathan Pearce (background vocals and guitar), Tristan Deck (background vocals and drums) and Ben Sinclair (background vocals and bass) doing it all. 

 

And while we hear horror stories of life on the road and the grind it can become, this crew from Auckland seem to be enjoying the shit out of it. One needs to look no further than to watch the new video to their recent single, “Knees Deep” to understand how much fun they are having. While the video itself was shot back home in New Zealand, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that the band took time off at some point between shows to go bungee jumping off some bridge somewhere in the hinterlands of the US.

 

 

Another example of how much fun is being had by the crew is Pearce’s “Breakfast Blog.” Initially started as a tour blog, it slowly but surely morphed into a diary of goings on especially in the realm of breakfast foods enjoyed each day. All in all, I highly recommend it, as it’s quite an enjoyable read not only for the food porn but also to appreciate the goings on of a young band touring in a foreign country.

 

Having arrived in the US back in early February, playing their first post pandemic US show in Seattle on February 5th, they’ve been touring non stop since. First here in the States, then for a brief set of three shows in Australia and then off to Europe before a brief return to New Zealand in mid June. One month off and then back to the States where they’ve been crisscrossing the country virtually non stop. What makes what The Beths are doing all the more special is that here they are a relatively unknown band from New Zealand (in the big scheme of things) and they’re playing headlining shows night in and night out to packed rooms across the country. They’re not doing it as openers on a bigger band’s coattails and they’re not doing it by jumping on the big festival circuit either. Yeah, they’ve played a handful of fests, but for the most part they were smaller niche festivals and not the humongous corporate behemoths.  So here they are, The Beths, doing it on their own terms, having an absolute blast doing it AND kicking ass from city to city. 

 

As I said earlier, Friday’s show at The Lanes seemed different than my previous ones and I attribute this especially to what felt like rearrangements to many of the songs in the set. Not major changes but subtle adjustments just to make things feel fresh. Another thing which stood out and made me take notice were the vocals and harmonies. The time on the road hasn’t taken its toll on the band’s voices one bit.  Liz Stokes sounds absolutely amazing and the background vocals  actually sound better than ever with Pearce, Deck and Sinclair’s harmonies sounding jaw droppingly sharp.

 

The Beths performing

The Beths at Asbury Lanes

 

Another thing which separated Asbury from all of my previous Beths shows was the abundance of teenage and pre-teen girls/young women in the audience (specifically in the front row, up against the rail). A Beths crowd, in my previous experiences, is usually a decent mix of millennials and graying Gen-Xers trying to prove their relevance in today’s music scene. While this certainly was still the case at The Lanes on Friday, the addition of those young girls, each and every one, singing along to every single word that came out of Liz Stokes’ mouth brought a great sense of purpose  to the evening. This was different from The Linda Lindas and the throngs of very young girls at their shows.  At those shows the band and the youngsters in the crowd are pretty much peers and contemporaries. In the case of The Beths, while the band is certainly not long in the tooth, they are well past their teenage years. It’s safe to say that Stokes serves as a role model to these young fans through her words, music and most of all her accomplishments.  And that is something really cool and refreshing to get to see.

 

In closing, I apologize for coming across as a super fan boy, but I honestly feel like right now there isn’t much The Beths can’t do. A band which is succeeding with almost everything they touch and finding this success on their own terms no less. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ll be around these parts until early 2023 when they’ll be returning to Brooklyn, playing Brooklyn Steel on March 2nd. But there is good news in that their third full length studio album, Expert In A Dying Field, will be dropping on September 16th via Carpark and judging from the 3 singles released thus far, it is going to certainly live up to previous releases Jump Rope Gazers and Future Me Hates Me.

 

Scroll down for setlist, fan shot videos and pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

Setlist: Out of Sight, Knees Deep, A Real Thing, Just Shy of Sure, You Wouldn’t Like Me, Expert in a Dying Field, Great No One, Jump Rope Gazers, Uptown Girl, Don’t Go Away, Dying to Believe, Silence Is Golden, Future Me Hates Me, You Are A Beam of Light, Little Death

 

 

THE BETHS

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

The Beths performing

 

 

The Linda Lindas @ Bowery Ballroom

The Linda Lindas @ Bowery Ballroom

The Linda Lindas at Bowery Ballroom (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

I have seen the future of rock and roll, and it’s called The Linda Lindas!  

 

Of course the basis of that quote was written almost 50 years ago about a 25 year old “kid” from New Jersey. That “kid” is now selling tickets to his upcoming tour for multiple 4 figures. The Linda Lindas on the other hand, played Bowery Ballroom on Monday night with a ticket price of $20. Oh, and The Linda Lindas are legitimate KIDS too. Ranging in age from 11 through 17, the young girls from LA put on a show which, if nothing else, reminded us elders as to what rock and roll is supposed to be all about, something that skinny dude from the Jersey Shore did back in ’74. I left Bowery on Monday night absolutely speechless and completely bowled over as to what I’d just witnessed. Which was, on the surface, four girls from Los Angeles spending their summer vacation in front of packed concert halls and clubs, on stage playing their hearts out and having an absolute blast in doing so. But it was so much more than that. 

 

I first learned of The Linda Lindas last year when their video of “Racist, Sexist Boy” which was shot at the Los Angeles Public Library went viral. Upon seeing it, I knew immediately that this band had “it” and I would need to see them if and whenever A) Covid ever ended and B) they were old enough to tour. Well imagine how stoked I was when I discovered they were added as an opener to play at Jawbreakers‘s Irving Plaza shows in earlier this year (see our coverage of night one). I already had tickets for one of these shows so the punk rock gods were surely looking down on me. Well suffice it to say, those very same gods must have gone on vacation because the week of those shows at Irving Plaza I came down with Covid and had to miss them. The band also scheduled their own headlining show at Mercury Lounge on an off day during that run which I obviously couldn’t make either (see our coverage). DAMN YOU COVID!

 

The Linda Lindas “Racist, Sexist Boy”

 

The band was next scheduled to play a handful of festivals during their summer break from school during which they were able to fit in a club show here and there. One night at Music Hall of Williamsburg and one at Bowery Ballroom, two perfect rooms. As fate would have it, due to a scheduling conflict I couldn’t make the MHOW show. Then Covid reared its ugly head once again and the Bowery show was postponed and the MHOW show ultimately moved to October due to someone in the touring party testing positive. Fortunately the Bowery Ballroom show was able to proceed a little less than a week after the original date. 

 

Which brings us to Monday evening. Knowing Bowery doesn’t have a designated photo pit, I decided to arrive early to stake out a spot at the stage. I immediately felt guilty when I saw that I was surrounded by a significant amount of pre teen girls pining for The Lindas. I would ultimately stay up front for only the first three songs, abdicating my spot to more deserving kids. I, of course, was well aware that this was an all ages show, but I was truly surprised to see the multitude of kids (with parents in tow) in the crowd. It was quite awesome to see.

 

The band hit the stage right on cue at 8:30 with the perfect opener: “Growing Up,” the title track to their debut album. The tune absolutely set the tone for the entire evening with the band jumping, dancing, laughing, smiling and camping it up all while singing the apropos lyrics:

 

We’ll dance like nobody’s there

We’ll dance without any cares

We’ll talk bout problems we share

We’ll talk bout things that ain’t fair

We’ll sing bout things we don’t know

We’ll sing to people and show

What it means to be young

And growing up.

 

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas

 

And of course each and every kid in the audience sang every word right along with the band, all the while capturing the video on a multitude of smartphones. It’s kind of funny, normally the abundance of cell phones capturing each and every moment of a show will annoy me. But for this band, this night and this audience, it seemed right. This after all was the Tik Tok generation and to this boomer, it all seemed spot on.

 

I was completely mesmerized by the proficiency each of the band members had with their perspective instruments. These teens have CHOPS! and talent beyond their years, not to mention socially mature as well. For a bunch of young teens to stand on stage in front of a packed club and not only perform masterfully, but to also be able to communicate intelligently and coherently to the crowd between songs is something that any parent would be incredibly proud of. Sure there was the teenage giggling and “teens being teens” moments, but that just added to the charm of The Linda Lindas stage persona.

 

I honestly can’t say it enough: between Bela (guitar), Mila (drums), Eloise (bass), and Lucia (guitar), each and every one of these girls was having a blast on stage. They were living their dream and sharing it with countless young girls in the audience who were likewise having the times of their lives watching their peers onstage. They so wonderfully prove that there is a place where young kids can be themselves, can do what they want, have fantastic time doing it and most importantly, succeed in doing so. Getting to see this in real time was so refreshing.

 

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas

 

All that being said, I can’t help but think that this was much more than just a concert. The 16 song set included everything from both the Linda Lindas EP as well as Growing Up in addition to their cover of The Go Go’s hit “Tonight” which after playing it in their live sets for quite some time now, the band finally released a studio version of it this week. The Go Go’s are obviously a big influence on The Linda Lindas; they’ve borrowed heavily from that Go Go sound and honestly built on it quite effectively. I’d like to add that I was lucky enough to have seen The Go Go’s at their first NYC show at the Mudd Club back in 1980. And while The Go Go’s were already in their early to mid 20’s at that time, The Linda Lindas  are already light years ahead of where their predecessors were in terms of chops and musicianship.

 

The Linda Lindas “Tonite” (Go Go’s Cover)

 

The closing tune of the evening was another cover, this time Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” during which the band was joined on stage by the members of opening band, Bacchae. This is another tune which has been a staple of the Lindas’ live set for some time now but despite having seen YouTube videos of it, I was not even remotely prepared for how powerful it would prove to be as the closing number in person. With the stage packed with all of these strong, confident, and talented young women screaming the iconic lines “Rebel girl! Rebel girl! Rebel girl you are the queen of my world!” one couldn’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, this next generation might be equipped to fix this mess of a world to which we are leaving them. Which brings to mind another lyric of The Linda Lindas from their aforementioned hit song “Racist, Sexist Boy” which reads “we rebuild what you destroy.”

 

Leaving Bowery Ballroom on Monday night, this aging boomer couldn’t help but feel a tinge of optimism that the state of rock and roll and maybe/hopefully society in general is in much better shape than I’d previously thought.

 

The Linda Lindas “Rebel Girl” (Bikini Kill cover)

 

The Linda Lindas setlist: Growing Up, Missing You, Monica, Talking to Myself, Nino, Why, Oh!, Remember, Cuántas  Veces, Fine, Tonite (Go Go’s Cover), Racist Sexist Boy, Rebel Girl (Bikini Kill cover)

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

THE LINDA LINDAS

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

The Linda Lindas performing

 

 

Camp Cope, Petal @ Webster Hall

Camp Cope, Petal @ Webster Hall

Camp Cope at Webster Hall (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

Australia’s Camp Cope found their way back to New York City this past Wednesday night at Webster Hall for the first time since their 2019 show at Brooklyn’s Warsaw, and needless to say, it was quite the triumphant return. A lot has happened in those 3 years (duhhh).  Of course there was Covid, the same Covid which squashed a much anticipated joint solo show at Trans-Pecos which Georgia Maq and Kelly-Dawn Helmrich had planned for Spring 2020. Then of course Maq went back to her day job of nursing, dealing with the Covid outbreak head on. And Helmrich is now expecting her first child. 

 

So it was obvious right from the outset that this Camp Cope was not the same one as the band of shy, bashful and yet extremely confident women that I’d first met in the courtyard of Silent Barn eating takeout pizza before their first ever US gig opening for Jeff Rosenstock (and yet in many ways it was). The obvious physical difference was the addition of Jenny Aslett on second guitar. Furthermore there was Lou Hanman filling in for the too pregnant to tour halfway around the world Helmrich on bass. But that wasn’t all of it. Maq, herself was different (and yet the same) as well. It was almost as if she’s grown into the role of being Georgia. I don’t mean to say that she’s putting on an act onstage but it seems clear to me that she’s now comfortable enough onstage to be the person that those who follow her on the socials are familiar with. 

 

On Wednesday night we were privy to seeing both sides of the front woman. We got the imp who thrives on being a coquettish tease as well as the understated awe struck new comer. I mean not too many could possibly describe a walk through Central Park earlier that day where they witnessed not only one man self pleasuring himself but also another one later on deficating in public with both horror and disgust as well as giggly “wow what a great day” enthusiasm. But she pulled it off glowingly to the delight of the audience.

 

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope at Webster Hall

 

Ok, enough of all that. Now, the show! Opener, Kiley Lotz aka Petal is a true gem and should be paid attention to way more than they are. After only ONE rehearsal (this being their first full band show since pandemic) the four band members put on a wonderful, snappy and entertaining set of Petal favorites, including their magical cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Silver Springs”, which she introduced with the vignette that if Stevie hadn’t been able to have an abortion there would have been no Fleetwood Mac. What a damn shame that would have been. (And it’s also why reproductive rights are so important, so women can live their full lives on their own terms without compromise or apology.) 

 

Camp Cope came out and opened their set with, appropriately enough “Keep Growing,” a single from 2016 which was later included on a split they released in 2017 with Cayetana. They followed that with “Jealous,” a real crooner off of the new album, Running with the Hurricane. As I mentioned earlier, the band is touring this go around with a different lineup and the results were evident right from the get go. With the addition of a second guitarist, Maq is now freed up to just focus on her singing, something she was not able to do previously as the group’s only guitarist. And at this point, let me say that her singing?  <Chef’s Kiss> After having throat surgery a few years back, it’s safe to say she is fully recovered and sounding better than ever. This was quite self evident on the album already but that doesn’t always translate in a live setting. In Maq’s case it certainly does and she sounded fantastic. And as long as I’m discussing vocals, the addition of Aslett as well as Hanman on background vocals adds a whole new dimension to the group’s sound, one which I never realized was missing. But now that I’ve heard it, I absolutely love it.

 

After alternating a couple of new and older tracks, Sarah Thompson (how have I gotten this far and not mentioned the backbone and self proclaimed “mother” of Camp Cope, Thommo?) starts us off with a killer Charlie Watts drum intro which has me thinking, “they’re not gonna Brown Sugar are they?” They didn’t.  But they did do a totally rad version of “The Mountain” from the new album which sounded a lot different from the album version, much more of an upbeat rocker than the recorded version.  

 

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope at Webster Hall

 

By this point in the show, Maq had picked up the guitar and you could really appreciate the addition of the second guitar to the band’s sound. Not surprisingly, it was so much fuller, so much rounder than it had been in year’s past.  Which also brings me to Kelly-Dawn Helmrich’s replacement on bass, Lou Hanman. I’ve been very familiar with Hanman as a musician for some time now.  It seems like she’s played in virtually every band that’s come out of Philadelphia in recent memory. Oh and by the way, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that her solo project, All Away Lou, released a banger of an album, Things Will Change, earlier in the year which should most certainly be checked out. So her musicianship was never in doubt when I heard that she would be filling in on this tour on bass. BUT, let’s face it, Helmrich has a very distinct bass style, basically playing “lead” bass. Those bass riffs are as important to the Camp Cope sound as is Maq’s mellifluous singing. Suffice it to say, and not completely surprising, Hanman has nailed it. Especially on “Lost (Season One),”  she killed it on the rolling bassline arpeggios, keeping the song flowing at a perfect breakneck pace.

 

To my ears two of the highlights of the evening were the (arguably) best two songs from Hurricane,  “Blue” and the title track, “Running With the Hurricane.” Both songs came to life in a live setting with the band playing at full tilt, the crowd singing along in unison and of course Maq doing her thing front and center. “Blue” also, to the delight of the crowd, mixed in the chorus to Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag”…I guess Dawson’s Creek was syndicated in Australia after all.

Closing out the evening was a slapping version of “The Opener.” I mean what else do you close out your set with other than a song with that title. With the entire room jumping and screaming, it dawned on me that this by far was the most electrified I’d ever seen a Camp Cope crowd get. And that ladies, gentlemen, and fellow human beings is a testament to how far this band has come and grown in their relatively short time together.

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

PETAL 

Petal performing

Petal performing

Petal performing

Petal performing

Petal performing

Petal performing

 

 

CAMP COPE

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope performing

Camp Cope performing

Elway, The Holy Mess @ Sovereign

Elway, The Holy Mess @ Sovereign

Elway at Sovereign Smokehouse (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

According to their Facebook “about” page, “Elway is an American punk rock band from Fort Collins, Colorado. Their sound is a unique and inebriated take on a time-tested formula: aggressive punk rock with soaring melodies coupled with lyrics ranging from that of the sad sap to the indignant atheist with a bevy of homespun dick jokes.” This pretty much sums the band up quite well. I would go a little further to say that they fall smack in the middle of that category of bands that you scratch your head wondering why they aren’t more popular. Their brand of pop punk should be much appreciated by fans of bands like The Menzingers, The Lawrence Arms, Make War and even Alkaline Trio, yet they still languish in relative obscurity. Having formed back in 2007 under the name 10-4 Eleanor, the band released one album, “…Too Bad” in 2008. Then in 2010 the band signed to Red Scare Industries and changed their name to Elway (somewhat to the chagrin of the Hall of Fame Quarterback and then executive of the Denver Broncos, John Elway). 

 

Over the years Elway has released about nine LPs and EPs via Red Scare, including the recently released The Best Of All Possible Worlds. According to the band, its the best thing they’ve ever done, and while bands are obviously supposed to say things like this, I wholeheartedly agree. From the opening acapella lines of opening tune, “Pangloss,” to the syncopated drum beats of closer “The Jetty,” this album, song for song, is a banger.

 

Elway for a multitude of reasons (none of which are all too clear) do not tour all that much here in the Northeast.  More often than not, they’ll do a show or two in Chicago, do The Fest down in Gainesville, FL and random local shows around their hometown of Fort Collins. But other than this, their tours have been slim pickings in these parts.  I hadn’t seen them since they played Suburbia a good nine years ago, so I was totally stoked when I saw that their 10 show tour would include Sovereign Smokehouse here in Brooklyn.

 

Elway performing

Elway at Sovereign

 

Opening band, Philly’s The Holy Mess, haven’t been too active of late but provided quite an energetic opening set.  From what I could gather the band hadn’t played any live shows since 2016 but with the 10 year anniversary of their seminal album, Cande Ru Las Degas and an opportunity to tour with labelmates Elway, how could they resist?  Anyway, lead singer and bassist, Steve-O led the band through a rip roaring set heavy on the aforementioned album which had the front of the stage screaming and yelling to almost every word.

 

After a quick equipment change Elway took the stage and wasted no time whatsoever, starting off with lead singer/guitarist, Tim Browne, blasting his way through “Maximum Entropy” off the new album followed by “Lunatic Thirteens” off of 2015’s Better Whenever LP.  Moving forward, Brown along with bassist Joe Henderer, drummer Bill Orender and guitarist Brian Van Proyen managed to keep the crowd captivated and energized, mixing various songs from the older albums with choice cuts from Best of All Possible Worlds.

 

In a night filled with highlights, the best moments of the evening for me was when Brian started a slow guitar riff, followed by Bill’s steady drum beat and finally Tim’s almost spoken word intro to “Song For Eric Solomon To Sing” from the 2011 epic Delusions LP. And before you even knew it the entire room was screaming the words  back at them:

So rat me out to the scene police cause I’d rather be living

Rather be living

Well these are our friends they’re not commodities

And don’t you forget it

Don’t you forget it 

 

Elway performing

Elway at Sovereign

 

And then 2 songs later the boys broke into a scorching version of “The English Wishbone” which once again had the entire room screaming at the top of their lungs:

I don’t really want to talk now, baby

I don’t want to think about it anymore

Sooner or later this will all start fading

We’ll have all the time we need to mourn

 

Truth be told Elway hasn’t seemed to have missed a single beat in the nine years since that insane beer soaked night at Suburbia. They maintained an incredible breakneck pace throughout the set and Tim Browne’s indelible stage persona has grown and only become even more enjoyable over the years. Finishing off the evening, the band had its keen sense of humor front and center as they came back for an encore of The Killer’s “All These Things I’ve Done”.  Browne joked at the end of the set that the band would be back in Brooklyn real soon only to add the kicker that by Elway standards “real soon” probably meant more like four or five years. Such a shame, such a shame.

 

Setlist: Maximum Entropy, Lunatic Thirteens, Hold On, The Infirm Dreamers Dream, Dear Colorado, Song For Eric Solomon to Sing, Folly For Death, The English Wishbone, The Rest Is Posthumous, Patria Mia (Room 20)

Encore: All These Things I’ve Done (The Killers cover)

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

THE HOLY MESS

The Holy Mess performing

The Holy Mess performing

The Holy Mess performing

The Holy Mess performing

The Holy Mess performing

 

 

ELWAY

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing

Elway performing