Tigers Jaw, Culture Abuse
2729 W. Broad Street
Richmond, VA, 23220
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
Philadelphia-by-way-of Scranton punk band, The Menzingers are two years removed from Epitaph debut On The Impossible Past. Voted Album of the Year by Absolute Punk and Punk News, the universal acclaim praised the band for its punk roots and quintessentially Midwest romantics. The same accolades have followed The Menzingers since forming as teenagers, followed since Chamberlain Waits (2010) and A Lesson In The Abuse of Information Technology (2007).
No longer housemates in Scranton, PA, the title to The Menzinger's 2014 follow-up, Rented World, mirrors the band's lifestyle since moving to Philly in 2008. The band was renting separate spaces around the city, but maintaining a practice space in North Philly where the majority of the record was written.
Faithfully archetypal Rust Belt punk, Rented World is an album concerned with maintaining a sense of self, the softening of posture, and the burden of harsh realities. In every respect, The Menzingers went into Rented World asking more of themselves. As co-songwriter and guitarist Tom May notes, The Menzingers felt like a different band in 2013.
Rented World remains punk, while fearlessly colliding the snarl of emo with grungy, 90s grit ("Bad Things") and exploring the celestial expanse of post-rock ("Transient Love"). It's slightly new territory for a band coping with their mid-twenties, and whether you've been there or you're on the way there, it's important to note a maturation that comes with the milestone.
"When you're 15 you view music and the music industry a certain way," May said. "But by the time you're 25 you have a different view. Not that it's good or bad, but getting older itself has changed the music."
While the previous two records live in the trademark angst of Chicago producer Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio and Lawrence Arms) and his Atlas Studio sound, Menzingers kept it Philly-local for Rented World, enlisting Jonathan Low, whose distinctively rich Americana resonates through the careers of The War On Drugs, Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, and The National.
The band as a whole recognized shifts in their craft, shifts they knew would best be handled by Low at Miner Street Recordings. "We wanted to go to somebody who wasn't used to recording punk records," Tom May said. "Though it wasn't in a pretentious way, like we wanted to become an indie rock band."
With that in mind, album opener "I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore" is not just a declaration to be better to that special someone, but a bold recognition that permeates the record on into "Nothing Feels Good Anymore". Shaking oneself out of ruts, still life stagnancy, and the same damn party every weekend informs two of Rented World's most anthemic offerings.
While the front end of Rented World mostly focus on the complications of friendships and relationships, the latter songs progress towards the abstract. "The Talk" kicks the surgeon general's number one killer out the front door ("I want my life back / you turned my chest black / I don't owe you anything"), while "Sentimental Physics" addresses with the impossibility of compromise in the science vs. religion battle, "you can come find me / when you feel lost in a bidding war".
On "In Remission" Barnett's insecurities manifest as "I hate how I always get nervous every time I try to speak / in front of a big crowd / a pretty girl / or the police", meaning The Menzingers didn't write the answers into Rented World. The record admits to an in medias res that comes with one's late 20s, old enough to know better, but still seeking greater wisdom.
Things start to feel a little more serious," Tom May said. "When we were younger we wrote fiery songs because at that age it's your world view. Things feel wrong and you want to say how wrong it is. Now, I look at the world with a view of 'well, I'm not right all the time'."
A real cool band.
Tigers Jaw was formed in 2005 by Ben Walsh and Adam McIlwee. Characterized by unconventionally catchy songs, weaving harmonies, and timelessly relatable lyricism, the band has been organically increasing its fanbase over a decade-plus of touring and releasing music. Walsh & McIlwee recorded Belongs To The Dead in 2006 using a cassette deck and cheap microphones in McIlwee’s garage, drawing heavy influence from The Microphones. Around this time, the duo was also self-recording I’m On Your Side, the “lost tigers jaw lp” which contained early versions of Tigers Jaw songs. Soon after, Tigers Jaw linked up with Run For Cover Records to re-release the Self-Titled album (originally released on CD by Scranton’s Prison Jazz Records), as well as Two Worlds(2010), Charmer(2014), and other EPs. Following a lineup change in 2013, Tigers Jaw began touring full-time. Walsh and longtime member Brianna Collins took some time off in 2016 to write songs for a new album. spin was released in 2017 on producer Will Yip’s Black Cement Records. Tigers Jaw’s first major label release was praised by critics and cemented the band as a songwriting force, satiating longtime fans and gripping new listeners. Aptly described as the middle ground between Fleetwood Mac and Saves the Day, Tigers Jaw have managed to progress and evolve while preserving the spirit of their modest origins in the scrappy DIY Scranton punk scene.
Tigers Jaw Forever.
“I was just waiting ‘til I could get out and play music for the rest of the world,” says David Kelling, songwriter and frontman of Culture Abuse. Bay Dream, Epitaph’s first full-length release for the band, offers up ten impeccably-crafted songs full of personal and universal lessons. And the best advice is simple and practical. “Be kind to the bugs, be conscious of others, be careful with drugs, be kind to yourself even though it gets hard,” Kelling sings out clearly over searing, rhythmic guitars provided by John Jr and new addition Nick Bruder on “Bee Kind to the Bugs.” Together with Shane Plitt on bass and drummer Ross Travers the band provides the same strong rock foundations and memorable, critical lyrics as their debut, Peach, but Bay Dream travels exciting new territory for the five-piece. New territory makes sense, as Kelling has relocated to Los Angeles from San Francisco, and the songs read like open letters to both the cities and the people in them. “I grew up in a super small town called Murphys, California… Once I graduated high school I left. At first I set out for San Francisco, then as everything keeps moving it’s brought me down to LA. So for now I feel like I can’t go back home until I feel fulfilled with chasing this dream.”
So there’s no wonder physical and emotional movement play off of each other effortlessly throughout Bay Dream. The title and opening track deals exactly with the guilt of moving away from friends and family to follow a dream. “Dip” is about struggling to keep those loved ones relevant: “Time keeps dragging like a big slug, I get squished like a big bug, trying hard not to lose control, tell me what you wanna say, tell me cuz I wanna know, tell me cuz I gotta go.” The deceptively simple words reveal a happier albeit wiser side of Kelling’s songwriting. “I wrote songs in my head until I got a guitar. Just going after the sound that I think each song needs individually, so the sound is in constant change,” Kelling explains. He cites listening to everything from Billy Boyo, to Paul Simon, to Sly and the Family Stone during the making of the record. Despite the variety of influences there is still plenty of cohesion throughout the songs, thanks in part to Grammy-winning engineer and producer Carlos de la Garza, whose past experience working with artists like Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Eat World, M83, and Paramore was a glove-like fit for the breadth and nuance of Bay Dream.
Despite the more upbeat sound and outlook, there is no escaping the uglier side of life. Everywhere lurk threats, obligations, limitations, and the will to fight through them. “Rats in the Walls” is full of the anxious excitement that only the love/hate relationship that is city-life in America could inspire. Lyrics like, “But the bugs in your bed, the rats in the walls, and the bill collecting phone-calls, make it harder and harder, and the rent’s going up… Don’t waste your time” are more about the beautiful fleeting nature of life than any specific apartment. Where Peach dealt with being in the middle of painful times, Bay Dream is about getting through them to find the sweet times are even sweeter. “I miss the way the air smells, I miss seeing the Bay Bridge across the water, the feeling that there is still more out there,” David says of his old city. “It’s a battle because that’s where my family is, and as time goes on everyone’s getting older and I don’t know how much time I have left with them. But I still have work to do out here in the world.” Each song is proof that work is paying off.
It’s tempting to see Bay Dream, due out June 15th, as a concept album. “Bluebird on My Shoulder” is the perfect ending song that brings everything into perspective like a drive down the California coastline, and the dub influence is just right. Kelling remarks, “I've written songs like this always. Just finally working up the guts to show other people.” If Bay Dream is any milestone of where the band is going, there are clearly more good things up the road.
$25 ADV, $30 DOS
Parking is available in side lot (by Exxon)
No Smoking/Vaping permitted anywhere inside venue
Bags/purses will be checked at the door.
Must have ID for entry
If you do not have access to a printer, we can scan ticket from your cell phone. Be sure to have your brightness turned all the way up at the door.
Children under 3 years old are Free.
Kitchen is open during all hours of operation.
Appropriate clothing required at all times (tops and bottoms covered).