July 28th 2018: One Center Square – Easton, PA

Seemingly perfect summer evening in Easton, PA was the setting for what was could be a very unusual collection of music. Even with a 90s cover band performing outside, the place to be was inside on a bill that could be described as “eclectic” to say the least.

After a parade of local bands, the main part of the evening kicked off with Awaken I Am, who came all the way from Australia. It’s good to see the band persevering after, apparently, losing a guitarist in a tragic accident early this year.

They were followed by one of the best bands from Atlanta, Royal Thunder, a band we had witnessed and interviewed nearly a year ago to the day in Northampton, PA. Last year’s set was largely drawing on Wick and had a lot of atmospheric grandeur. This set was decidedly a little more direct and varied. Perhaps being further down the bill forced them to be a little more focused but this was an appreciably different taste of the band. Their set ended with the drummer and a guitarist exiting the stage, leaving singer Mlny Parsonz singing with a simple accompaniment of a guitar.

All the way from Sacramento, CA was Slaves, a band fronted by former Dance Gavin Dance singer Johnny Craig. Whereas Royal Thunder created a pulsing, meditative, bluesy vibe, Slaves had a decidedly more R&B, soul vibe going. They largely drew from their latest release Beautiful Death.’ The crowd really got into the show at this point and the floor had really filled in with a lot of enthusiastically shrieking fans. Visually, it was a simple setup with two triangles throwing off colored light but, otherwise, the stage largely in darkness.

The entire Margera crew was in tow for CKY which is always a possibility for an Eastern PA show. With Bam upstairs taking in the show and holding court with fans, friends, family and the other bands, the headliners took the stage. This is a different version of CKY, being stripped back to a three-piece. It’s a different animal, but the spirit is still the same. The band itself has recognized their strengths and what the people want so the set mostly covered Infiltrate. Destroy. Rebuild with some Volume 1 and selections from their latest ‘The Phoenix’. “Wiping Off The Dead” was recently revealed as another single off of their new album and it translated live extremely well. We also got classics like “Escape From Hellview”, “Flesh Into Gear,” “Attached At The Hip,” and “Sporadic Movement.”

About ¾ of the way through the set, they unleashed their most beloved song “96 Quite Bitter Beings” which set off the crowd and caused the most frantic moshing of the evening, which was long overdue.

Before the 11:00PM conversion to a dance club, things ended with GG Allin’s “Bite It You Scum” a speedy, frantic number that wound everyone up and left them wanting more.

A theme of the evening was the vocals being slightly drowned out by the music. Not completely, mind you, but slightly. The sheer volume and the concrete walls were rather unforgiving. Still, it’s a relatively new venue with a lot of familiar faces from the good old days of Crocodile Rock Cafe in Allentown. This was an ideal introduction to the venue for me and certainly warrants another trip down the line.

This really set the bar high, though.

Words: JJ Ellis