Static-X, DevilDriver, DOPE, and Wednesday 13 Makes Reverb the Hottest Venue in Town

Sunday July 7th.  Reverb – Reading, PA

It’s hard to turn down a chance to see a band you grew up with when they reform after a decade.  Even rarer considering the loss of the most recognizable figure, in this case, Wayne Static of Static-X.  The original line-up has reformed for a round of touring (celebrating 25 years since their debut and best-known album ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’) and work on a new album to utilize Wayne’s final vocal recordings.  The fact that they are performing with a masked frontman who goes by XER0 only added to the morbid curiosity.

Things truly got started inside with theatrical band, Raven Black.  You want makeup, masks and carnival elements?  Check!  How about a hula hoop, a giant teddy bear and the sense that Tim Burton films are on regular rotation in the tour bus?  Double check!  In all seriousness, they are an energetic newer band with a charismatic frontwoman that can certainly continue to grow and reach wider audiences.

Raven Black – Photo by Henry Chung

Wednesday 13 was next and to those who haven’t kept up, the stage show and look has evolved.  He was covered in paint with loads of neon and a mask on the back of his head.  The pictures really say it all.

Wednesday 13 – Photo by Henry Chung

Dope was a big opener that I had some familiarity with from back in the day.  The set wasn’t overly long but the hits I was familiar with were present “Die M.F. Die” and “You Spin Me Right Round.” This tour was also a 20 year celebration of Dope’s debut release ‘Felons and Revolutionaries.’ But being a memorial for the late Wayne Static, it was downplayed save for a few mentions from frontman Edsel Dope during in-between song banter.

DOPE – Photo by Henry Chung

By this point in the evening, show was starting to really fill in.  With more people meant more heat which became a theme.

DevilDriver was next and they ran through a solid hour with a wide variety of material from all aspects of their lengthy career.  There were even a few Coal Chamber classics thrown in toward the end (“Loco” and “Fiend”).  As was slightly the case earlier in the evening and especially for the first 2/3 of Devildriver’s set, the mix was…..not great.  The vocals and guitars were a bit too low in the mix which prompted Dez to demand that things be turned up.  This went a large way toward fixing the issue.  Still, it was probably something that should have been picked up on much earlier.

DevilDriver – Photo by Henry Chung

The venue was clearly at full capacity partway through Devildrier and the heat inside was sweltering.  Musicians were even commenting on it throughout the night.  Normally a few drinks are spilled throughout the evening but the venue floor was coated and slick with sweat.  A brief sojourn outside to the now abandoned outdoor stage was the only respite from this.  Fortunately, a light rain and a Mountain Dew went a long way.

Static-X – Photo by Henry Chung

Large screens were utilized by the last 3 bands of the evening, especially heavily by our headliners Static-X.  Old images of the band, new animations, lyrics, messages of tribute to Wayne Static all punctuated the background.  In fact, the screens led us through a protracted opening before the band came out and started with “December” before going right into “Bled For Days”.  The first 9 songs were all from ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ before they launched into samplings of some of their bigger songs from most of the other albums.  “Get To The Gone,” “This Is Not,” and “Start A War” were personal highlights.  Of course things ended with “Push It” as a show of this magnitude without it would be woefully incomplete.

Static-X – Photo by Henry Chung

Before all of that, I was lucky enough to speak to Static-X bass player, and really, the guy who had the biggest part in putting all of this together, Tony Campos.  We talked a bit about the tour, the album, the old days, an interesting celebrity encounter and more!

Whether this is truly the live farewell or if Static-X will tour on ‘Project Regeneration’ in some capacity remains to be seen.  It was my first chance in over a decade to hear a lot of these songs live again, and while a little different, it still evoked a lot of the spirit of the band that I recalled.  That’s all I could ever ask.  I’ll always have the old memories but this is a cool new one to file along with them.

Go to www.static-x.org to preorder your copy of ‘Project Regeneration’


With several shows on the upcoming Wisconsin Death Trip 20th Anniversary Tour already sold-out, STATIC-X has announced additional dates for this fall. The tour will feature the same lineup of co-headliners DevilDriver and support acts DopeWednesday 13 and Raven Black.

WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR DATES:
6/18 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theater
6/19 – Albuquerque, NM @ El Rey Theater (Sold Out)
6/21 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live
6/22 – Houston, TX @ The Warehouse
6/23 – San Antonio, TX @ The Aztec Theater
6/25 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade (Sold Out)
6/26 – Greenville, SC @ The Firmament (Sold Out)
6/28 – Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage (Sold Out)
6/29 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
6/30 – Scranton, PA @ Levels (Cancelled)
7/2 – Toronto, ON @ Opera House (Sold Out)
7/3 – London, ON @ London Music Hall
7/4 – Ottawa, ON @ Brass Monkey
7/5 – Hampton Beach, NH @ Wally’s (Sold Out)
7/6 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
7/7 – Reading, PA @ Reverb (Sold Out)
7/9 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Jergel’s (Sold Out)
7/10 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theater
7/11 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Citadel
7/12 – Ft. Wayne, IN @ Clyde Theatre
7/13 – Detroit, MI @ Harpo’s
7/14 – Lexington, KY @ Manchester Music Hall
7/16 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Intersection
7/18 – Cadott, WI @ Cadott Rockfest
7/19 – Sioux City, IA @ Anthem @ Hard Rock Casino (Sold Out)
7/20 – Joliet, IL @ The Forge (Sold Out)
7/21 – Belvidere, IL @ Apollo Theater (Sold Out)
7/23 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater (Sold Out)
7/25 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
7/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Catch One (Sold Out)
7/27 – Los Vagas, NV @ House of Blues
NEWLY ADDED WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR DATES:
11/12 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Varsity Theater
11/13 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
11/15 – Ft. Lauderdale @ Revolution
11/16 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
11/17 – Destin, FL @ Club LA
12/2 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
12/6 – Sauget, IL @ Pop’s
12/7 – Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theater
12/8 – Colorado Springs, CO @ Sunshine Studios Live
12/10 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Royal Bar
12/11 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
12/12 – Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory
12/13 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
12/14 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
12/15 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
+ More dates TBA!

Words: JJ Ellis
Photos: Henry Chung

Children of Bodom, Swallow The Sun, and Wolfheart on the “Hexed Tour” at Reverb (Ep 90 + 91)

4/18/19 – Children of Bodom / Swallow The Sun / Wolfheart – Reverb Reading, PA.

After a hearty dinner at the nearby Pike Cafe and Bar, we made our way into the venue to catch the tail end of Summoner’s Circle‘s set.  Robes, makeup and doom.  Check.  Check. Check.  

Next was Wolfheart. Hot off of last year’s ‘Constellations of the Black Light’ the band came out with an energetic set, featuring a drummer who may or may not be the Energizer bunny.  This is the latest project (yet still rather long-running) of Tuomas Saukkonen.  The bass player frequently engaged the crowd and this was the point in the evening where the audience was beginning to congregate around the stage.

Wolfheart – Photo by Henry Chung

Swallow the Sun brought a more meditative and somber set.  The lights were mostly low and the more melancholy, less doomy material on their latest album, ‘When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light’ was an appropriate pairing for the set.  First single “Firelight” was featured along with “Under The Water” and “Stone Wings” the latter of which especially seemed like a crowd favorite.  To be honest, a lot of the crowd didn’t seem to know what to make of the set for the first few songs.  The evening’s consistently low vocal mic didn’t do anyone any favors though it improved slightly as the show progressed.  At a certain point, everyone seemed to wake up a bit and respond to the music with most people seeming to be on board by the end.  While half of the set was new, they ended with their traditional closer “Swallow (The Horror Pt. 1”).  

Swallow the Sun – Photo by Henry Chung

Our headliners, Children of Bodom came out and so did the red and especially purple lights which was appropriate for their latest album ‘Hexed.’  “Are You Dead Yet?” was a pounding way to begin the show

Children of Bodom – Photo by Henry Chung

Interestingly, the band had recently toured on their very earliest material, so a fair amount of that was in the set along with a lot from mid-period favorites ‘Are You Dead Yet?’ and ‘Hate Crew Deathroll.’  Of course there were the new songs, the perfect first single “Over Grass and Clover,” along with “The Road,” “Platitudes and Barren Words” and “Hecate’s Nightmare.”  These tracks reflect a lot of the best aspects of ‘Hexed’ which many are considering a bit of a return to form for the band, embracing some of their neoclassical roots while having some catchier tracks than the last few albums.  

Relatively new guitar player Daniel Freyberg proved himself to be a worthy additional as he held up his end of the deal with the songs.  Of course, everyone else in the band are longtime constants so no questions there.  Seeing keyboardist, Janne Wirman, in action was especially a treat as his tremendous dexterity and manipulation of the keys is truly the X-factor that helps to set the band apart.  All of this was done on his backup keyboard which, itself, had some faulty switches, as he explained at one point in the set.  

Children of Bodom – Photo by Henry Chung

One of my personal favorites “Bodom Beach Terror” was played early and the rarely heard “If You Want Peace…Prepare For War” lent a bit of extra speed and heaviness to the show. Really, the selection was very good to appease fans new and old.  Of course, with ten albums out, there are always going to be few songs that don’t make the cut for this go-round but, all things considered, everyone in attendance should have been, and seemed very thrilled.  We even had some late-show crowd surfing. 

The encore started with another of my favorites “Hate Me!” and ended with “Downfall.”

Children of Bodom – Photo by Henry Chung

This package was a really rare treat as to have three wildly different bands from Finland playing in a little B-market (maybe C-Market?) like Reading in a tremendous convergence of unlikely factors.  More than that, it was a great time.

Before the evening began, I had the pleasure of speaking with Janne from Children of Bodom.  Of course, we talked about ‘Hexed’ but we also dove into their studios, some glaring omissions from the album, barbecuing, their beer and quite a bit more.

Interview with Janne Wirman, keyboardist from Children of Bodom

Pick up Children of Bodom’s ‘Hexed’HERE

Right after that, I tracked down Mikko Kotamaki, vocalist from Swallow The Sun.  The interview was conducted right outside the venue which of course, featured a passing train, passing fans, and angry yellow jackets. Distractions aside, we spoke about his vocal evolution, other projects, Nick Cave, Paradise Lost, and quite a bit more.

Interview with Mikko Kotamaki, vocalist from Swallow The Sun

Pick up Swallow the Sun’s ‘When A Shadown is Forced Into The Light’HERE

You can pick up Hedonihil ‘I’HERE

Words / Interview by: JJ Ellis
Photos by: Henry Chung

Exclusive Interview: Goatwhore (Ep 89)

The 2018 edition of the Metal Alliance Tour which began on Halloween came to a close on November 30th in Easton, Pennsylvania at One Center Square.

For reasons to be explained later, I was unable to see any of the local openers and much of Gozu’s set. 

For that reason, let’s resume with The Great American Ghost which brought intensity to the stage and brought their energetic stage show to a crowd that was, admittedly, still filling in. 

The Great American Ghost – Photo by Henry Chung

Georgia’s Black Tusk was next up and by this point, the room was filling up.  Their rough and tumble brand of rock, most recently heard on their album ‘TCBT’ brought a different vibe to the show, highlighting the lineup’s variety.  Being a fan for some time, I knew a lot of the music but didn’t particularly have a clear picture of the band, especially in light of lineup changes.  Seeing all four of the band members contributing vocals was very cool and showed a wrinkle that many of their contemporaries can’t boast.

Black Tusk – Photo by Henry Chung

Next was The Casualties, a very distinct punk act that dates all the way back to the 90s.  Their newest album ‘Written In Blood’ is certainly up to their usual high standard but I wasn’t aware that they had acquired a new frontman, David Rodriguez.  He contributed a ton of energy and, to be perfectly honest, they might have stolen the whole show.  The crowd was clearly pumped to see them, judging by the Casualties patches and punk attire in the crowd and the fact that the pit exploded during their set.  The set ended with Rodriguez somehow getting up to the second story of the venue and jumping down into the crowd where the audience (thankfully) caught him. 

The Casualties – Photo by Henry Chung

Finally, things got heavy and dark with the mighty Goatwhore headlining the show.  The set could be best described as unrelenting.  There were selections from newest album ‘Vengeful Ascension’ plus older favorites.  The songs varied from fast and pummeling to occasionally heavy and doomy.  This created the needed ebbs and flows for a dynamic set.  The rhythm section was tight but everything was led by the tasty riffs of Sammy Duet and the rasps and energetic stage presence of Ben Falgoust.  It was to be said, Falgoust spent a huge percentage of the set right up in the crowd’s face, slapping high-fives and fist bumps, really keeping the front row (at least) engaged.

Goatwhore – Photo by Henry Chung

As many would, presumably, hope, they ended the set with “FBS’.  There was no need for an encore as I think I can speak for many others, we were all spent.

Before the evening began, I was able to sit down with Ben to talk about all things Goatwhore.  It was also one of the relatively rare times I get to talk to someone on the last night of the tour and be able to get a true view of the tour with it being in hindsight.  We got into how to survive being the road demons that they are, the fact that this tour came on the heels of the previous tour being canceled, hot sauce, Queen and so much more.

Much respect to Ben for being such a cool guy to talk to and for the band existing and thriving for the last 20 years.

Pick up ‘Vengeful Ascension’ HERE

Doyle Returns to Reverb on the ‘As We Die World Abomination Tour’

10/10/2018 – Reverb: Reading, PA
In an inexplicably warm October evening, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, legendary guitarist of horror punks ‘The Misfits’ makes a return at Reading’s Reverb Nightclub with his band that shares his own namesake. This was the 2nd date of the North American run of the ‘As We Die… World Abomination Tour 2018’ in support of their 2nd record ‘As We Die’ that was released last June.

Doyle Photo by Henry Chung

I’ve caught Doyle LIVE a few years ago at this very same venue though, this current lineup consisted of Alex “Wolfman” Story on vocals, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein on guitar, Wade Murff on drums and Brandon Strafe on Bass.

Having wrapped up the UK/ European run just 2 months prior, this leg of the tour goes from 10/9 in Hartford, CT and stretches all the way into the New Year ending in Brooklyn, NY on 01/3. Be sure not to miss them this Fall!!

Photos by Henry Chung

TILE Record Release Show at the Berners

TILE kicked off their Eastern US tour this past Friday with a record release show in support of their new LP, ‘Come On Home, Stranger’ at the Berners in Bethlehem, PA.

Check out the gallery before for pictures taken by the incredible Jamie Heim.

Tile

Tile Record Release Show – Photos by Jamie Heim

TILE has also released a new video for “Change The World,” which is found on the band’s new LP, Come On Home, Stranger. The LP was released earlier this month through Limited Appeal Records, and on the same day TILE kicked off an Eastern US tour supporting the album.

TILE – ‘Come On Home, Stranger’

TILE celebrates their twelfth year as a band with their new LP, Come On Home, Stranger. The album is out today through Limited Appeal Records and is now streaming in its entirety. The aggressive and infectious Come On Home, Stranger LP packs twelve tracks into forty-two minutes, filling every second of the record with their gnarled, varied style.

The new video for “Change The World” was co-directed and co-produced by Pat Heine and TILE bassist/vocalist Ray Gurz. “You want to get your shit together, but it seems like you just can’t. In the end, burn it down. The world is a hot mess,” Gurz offers of the video’s plot. “We filmed this in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I basically had this vision of a guy trying to get his shit straight. He finds this temp agency that promises a better life. But, they screw him and set him up to become a street performer. Life is a crazy rat race, but it seems like the trap keeps catching your tail.”

Come On Home, Stranger is out now through Limited Appeal Records. Stream and purchase the album at Bandcamp HERE and place orders for the LP HERE.

Since 2006, TILE has inundated the diverse Lehigh Valley DIY underground scene with their dynamic blend of angular noise rock, revved-up hardcore punk, and grinding sludge/doom riffage through a plethora of EPs, singles, split releases, and their 2013-released debut LP, ‘You Had A Friend In Pennsylvania’. In the winter of 2017, TILE returned to Shards Recording Studio in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with owner and engineer Matt Molchany who engineered and mastered the upcoming follow-up LP, ‘Come on Home, Stranger’. The record is completed with photography by Tim Wynarczuk, of a shoot arranged by the band, in the theme of their prior releases.

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The Gen-X Summer Tour With Buckcherry, Lit, and Alien Ant Farm at One Centre Square

Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” When I first heard the announcement of the Gen-X Summer Tour, my first reaction was that this was just another nostalgia tour. Buckcherry, Lit, and Alien Ant Farm (no P.O.D. on this date, unfortunately) whose hits have been radio mainstays for the last 25 years are the definition of nostalgia in terms of modern radio rock.

While waiting outside of Easton’s One Center Square for doors to open, I was scanning the crowd and was delighted to see a mixed demographic. There were those who only knew Buckcherry via “Crazy Bitch,” and that might be the only song they know. Then there were those who weren’t even born when their first hit “Lit Up” first hit airwaves. Overall, I ended up in pleasant conversation with others about our own experiences with these artists.

Alien Ant Farm:

AlienAntFarm_OneCentreSquare_-_Easton-PA_©Henry_Chung 04
Alien Ant Farm – Photo by Henry Chung

Alien Ant Farm was the first act on the bill. While I was upstairs setting up my gear and checking out merch, I saw they had a stack of CD’s laying on a table. I ran into my friend Hailey who was working with the promoter tonight. I mentioned to her that I used to be a part of the band’s street team and handed out these exact CDs to people at shows so many years ago. Within the first few bars of “Movies,” I noticed I was laying there with my back pressed up against the barricade singing along without skipping a beat. I haven’t heard this song in over 17yrs and I knew every single word.

The band played a mostly from ‘ANThology’ but also touched upon ‘Up in the Attic’ and ‘truANT’ then ending their set with Micheal Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”

Lit:

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Lit – Photo by Henry Chung

Lit came out and opened with a cover of “American Girl” by Tom Petty before rolling right into “Four.” The band who proudly wore sunny California on its sleeve warmed the audience with their brightly colored pop rock.

Though the members might have a few extra greys in their beards, it’s clearly not slowing them down one bit as they hammed it up for the audience who loved every second of it.

A majority of the set leaned heavily on ‘A Place in the Sun’ while still touched on ‘The View From the Bottom’ as well as new tracks “Good Problem to Have” and “Someday Maybe” off of their new record ‘These Are the Days.’ Of course, their set had to end with “My Own Worst Enemy.” It’s pretty much mandatory, now.

Buckcherry:

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Buckcherry – Photo by Henry Chung

The greatest memory I have of Buckcherry was that it was the show that Cory (Neostar co-founder) first crowd surfed.

Having been the longest-running band of the night, Buckcherry had a greater catalog to choose from. Despite picking select tracks off of each of their records, the band leaned heavily on ’15.’

A trend of the night was that each band played a cover song. Alien Ant Farm had “Smooth Criminal” (Micheal Jackson), Lit did “American Girl” (Tom Petty), and for Buckcherry, they did “Say Fuck It” (a clever twist of Icona Pop’s “I Love It”).

From the bands playing together on this tour, right down to the venue itself, it felt like everything has come full circle. One Center Square is basically a reincarnation of the once great Crocodile Rock Cafe in Allentown. It is utilized by the same promoter and is (mostly) staffed by many familiar faces. Despite all that has changed from venues, to band lineups, to musical directions, and popular trends, rock clearly isn’t going anywhere.

Words/ Photos: Henry Chung

Tour Dates:

06/28 @Summerfest– Harley Davidson – Milwaukee, WI 
06/29 @ Corbin Arena – Corbin, KY 
06/30 @ Stars and Stripes Festival FREE SHOW – Novi, MI 
07/03 @ Miramar Amphitheater – Miramar, FL 
07/05 @ The Stage on the Bay – Savannah. GA ^ 
07/06 @ The Beaver Bar – Murrels Inlet, SC 
07/07 @ Pier Six Pavillion – Baltimore, MD 
07/26 @ The Amphitheater at Bald Hill – Farmingville, NY 
07/27 @ The Palladium – Worcester, MA 
07/28 @ CURE Insurance Arena – Trenton, NJ 
07/30 @ Exhibition Hall – Watertown, NY
07/31 @ Mavricks Music Hall – Barrie, ON
08/03 @ Bluestem Amphitheater – Moorhead, MN
08/06 @ Iron Horse Saloon FREE SHOW – Sturgis, SD
08/09 @ Choctaw Casino & Resort FREE SHOW – Pocola, OK
08/10 @ Golden Nugget Casino – H20 – Lake Charles, LA
08/11 @ Griffin Music Hall – El Dorado, AR
08/12 @ Summers at the River – Nixa, MO
08/14 @ Stampede – Aurora, CO
08/17 @ The Northwoods Rock Rally – Glen Fora, WI
08/19 @ Providence Medical Center – Bonner Springs, KS
08/21 @ Concrete Street Pavilion – Corpus Christi, TX
8/22 @ HEB Center – Cedar Park, TX
08/24 @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music – Irving, TX
08/25 @ Speaking Rock Entertainment FREE SHOW – El Paso, TX
08/26 @ Smart Financial Centre at Sugarland – Sugar Land, TX
08/28 @ Abilene Civic Center – Abilene, TX
08/30 @ Tyson Events Center – Sioux City, IA
08/31 @ DuQuoin State Fair – DuQuoin, IL
09/01 @ Naperville Last Fling – Naperville, IL
09/03 @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre – St. Louis, MO *
09/06 @ BLK Live – Scottsdale, AZ
09/07 @ BLK Live – Scottsdale, AZ

^ No P.O.D.
*Pointfest Radio Show with Offspring, 311, and more

Vans Warped Tour 2018: The End of an Era

For the last 24yrs, the Vans Warped Tour has been been the largest traveling music festival in the United States plus the longest-running touring music festival in North America. Criss-crossing through the US (and the occasional parts of the UK and Australia), It’s been nicknamed the “punk rock summer camp” for veteran bands and those trying to making a name for themselves. The tour is not one for the weak willed. The grueling Summer heat, the traveling, vehicle breakdowns, an ever changing daily schedule, and time away from loved ones would push those to their limits. But for a lot kids (and young adults like me), this tour was a place where you can be yourself and be one with your tribe.

The blow-up schedule for the Camden, NJ stop of the Vans Warped Tour 07/13/2018

This year would be considered the final cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour. Despite what everyone else keeps thinking, the TOURING part is over but not the festival. Who knows what the future may hold for this Summertime staple.

As I made my way through the production halls of the BB&T Pavilion in Camden NJ, a moment of melancholy loomed over me. This is the last time I’ll be getting lost in these halls for Warped. All of the friends I have made over the years in production I might never see again after this. After a moment of clarity, I pushed onward and met up with my writer for my shot list. (NOTE: I was originally collaborating with another outlet but a lot of the interviews that were originally approved ended up being cancelled that morning so I decided to share the coverage here instead.)

Tonight Alive – Photo by Henry Chung

One of the first groups I shot was Tonight Alive. Us here at neostar//media have had a long history with with the band. Some of our first Warped interviews were with various members as they were on the rise. It’s still phenomenal to see how far their careers have soared over the years and they’ve always made time to hang out and talk to us whenever we’d run into each other at shows. This was their 4th time on the tour.

Nekrogoblikon – Photo by Henry Chung

The next group I saw was Nekrogoblikon. There’s been a buzz over the last few months about this band. The crowds were too massive for me to fight my way through so I hopped up on the Monster Energy truck to try and catch a wide shot. This was their first ever run on the Vans Warped Tour.

Wage War – Photo by Henry Chung

Next, I made my way through to catch Wage War. I believe they were on the previous year but I never got a chance to see them until I caught their set during the Self Help Fest last September. Their album ‘Deadweight’ was hands down one of my favorite records of last year. This was also their 2nd Warped Tour run.

Four Years Strong – Photo by Henry Chung

Next up was Four Years Strong. I wasn’t sure what to expect from FYS this summer. Probably a “hits” show since they’ve just released an acoustic record earlier this year Some of You Will Like This, Some of You Won’t so figured they’d just stick with fan-favorites (which they did.) This is their 6th year playing the Vans Warped Tour.

Crown the Empire – Photo by Henry Chung

The buzz around Crown the Empire has been the departure of co-vocalist Dave Escamilla with Andy Leo taking over full vocal duties. You can tell that there was just “something” missing from their performance but over all, I think Andy did a great job. It was almost impossible to get a still shot of him as he kept jumping around on stage. This was their 4th time on the Vans Warped Tour.

We the Kings – Photo by Henry Chung

We the Kings opened their set each day with the crowd singing along to Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” before going right into “Sad Song” and kept the crowd singing along throughout their half-hour set all the way into their closer “Check Yes Juliet.” This was their 6th time on the Vans Warped Tour.

The Amity Affliction – Photo by Henry Chung

Another Australian band that has been making waves this summer was The Amity Affliction. The band has been gearing up to release the sixth studio album, ‘Misery’. This was also their 3rd time on the Vans Warped Tour.

Simple Plan – Photo by Henry Chung

Playing their 12th run on the Vans Warped Tour, the Canadian pop-punk band Simple Plan was also celebrating their 20th anniversary as well.

Falling In Reverse – Photo by Henry Chung

Falling In Reverse are no strangers to the Vans Warped Tour. This will be their 6th time returning to the tour.

Every Time I Die – Photo by Henry Chung

I don’t know what else there is to say about Every Time I Die that hasn’t been said a million times before. They have become a Warped Tour staple over the years, they put on one of the best live shows, and their albums are phenomenal. This is Every Time I Die’s 9th run on the tour.

Hatebreed – Photo by Henry Chung

Hatebreed was a “special guest” on two of the East Coast dates of Vans Warped Tour. Today in Camden, NJ and tomorrow at Holmdel, NJ. In the previous year when I tried to photograph them, but a massive thunderstorm erupted over the skies above us causing us to seek shelter. This year, I finally get redemption. Within the first note, they did not let up. They tore right into old school fan-favorites. The majority of their set leaned more on the hardcore side of their catalog. This is the band’s 3rd time on the Vans Warped Tour.

Senses Fail – Photo by Henry Chung

Earlier this year, Senses Fail released their seventh album titled ‘If There is Light, It Will Find You.’ It was a deeply nostalgic and personal record written by vocalist and sole original member Buddy Nelson. The entire record harkens back to the sing-along feels of their landmark album ‘Let It Enfold You.’ But being around the same age as the singer, a lot of the songs on the new record felt uncomfortably too relatable. From growing up and getting older, dealing with the loss of close ones, and having kids. Just a few songs in, Buddy dedicates the song “Elevator to the Gallows” to his daughter Penelope (seen in the bottom corner along with his wife.) The main highlight of their set was the Nu Metal mashup of System Of A Down’s “Chop Suey”, Drowning Pool’s “Bodies”, Limp Bizkit’s “Break stuff” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” towards the end. This was their 6th year on the Vans Warped Tour.

Motionless In White – Photo by Henry Chung

We’re getting closer to the end now. Closing the Monster Energy White Lightning stage today is our very own Motionless In White. With the recent departure of  longtime bassist Devin “Ghost” Sola, they called in the help of the group’s former guitarist, TJ Bell to fill in for the duration of the tour. This is also the band’s 10th run on the Vans Warped Tour.

Twiztid – Photo by Henry Chung

Now officially finishing the night is Twiztid. I didn’t know what to expect from them. I’ve heard of them and have had friends been fans of them over the years but I knew absolutely nothing about them. But, their stage presence was a pleasant surprise. They came out onstage with a live drummer to be honest, hearing the clean drums with a backing track was a nice relief to the ears after eight straight hours of punishing breakdowns.

So as sad it is that the tour is over. I try NOT to dwell too much on it. In the last two decades, I’ve felt that I have found an identity associated with the tour and the music it encompasses. I have watched as bands begin from playing small stages to filling arenas to becoming household names, from touring in broken down vans to becoming icons. The tour might be over but the music isn’t. If anything, it just opens up doors for others to start their own movement. Summers won’t be the same again after this but in the end, the music will continue.

Words and Photos by: Henry Chung

Punk In Drublic Festival: Philly + Interview with The Last Gang (Ep 83)

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Punk isn’t for kids anymore. Sure, they may have been teens when they heard their first punk records but we all grow up and adulthood claims us all.

When the Punk In Drublic festival came to Philadelphia’s Festival Pier on Mother’s Day, it brought out the 21 and way up crowd to let loose and enjoy a festival of alcohol and music.

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What could possibly go right?

Rain the previous night and that morning did nothing to deter any of the action and provided sloppy, soggy grounds for all to wade through.

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The Last Gang – Photo by Henry Chung

First up was The Last Gang, a new addition to the Fat Wreck Chords family. The three-piece played an energetic brand of punk rock and largely drew from their debut full-length ‘Keep Them Counting’. More about them later.

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The Mad Caddies – Photo by Henry Chung

Next was The Mad Caddies. Last we heard from them, they put out ‘Dirty Rice’, a collection that showed a lot of maturity and refinement from them while also having some of their catchiest tunes. The horns and ska/reggae was in full-force. They have something new in the pipeline with a covers album called ‘Punk Rocksteady’ due out June 15th. From that, they played a reggae-fied version of Green Day’s “She” slowing things way down while still making it work.

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The Interrupters – Photo by Henry Chung

Continuing the ska-theme was the hardest-working band in America, The Interrupters. Seriously, does anyone know when they sleep? Along with a healthy selection of songs from their two full-lengths (and of course their rendition of Operation Ivy’s “Soundsystem”), they played new single “She’s Kerosine.” This was a great choice for a single as it fits right in with the rest of the set’s energy. Look for their new album ‘Fight The Good Fight June 29th.

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Bad Religion – Photo by Henry Chung

After this, we came to the truly heavy-hitters as Bad Religion came out, starting with “Recipe For Hate.” It was odd seeing a band that should be headlining everything playing while the sun was still out but at this time of year and for an early-starting festival, it is what it is.

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Bad Religion – Photo by Henry Chung

This was my first time seeing the band in a number of years and they have undergone a number of changes. You know Greg Graffin, Jay Bently and Brian Baker are solid, so no worries there. First of all, long-running rhythm guitarist Greg Hetson is out and Mike Dimkich is in. Superstar drummer Brooks Wackerman (who was so instrumental in revitalizing the band) jumped ship for Avenged Sevenfold and Jamie Miller from …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead is in. Regarding these changes…wow. Dimkich’s playing was super tight and precise and Miller, while a different player, was just as impressive as Wackerman. Ultimately, I have never heard the band sound so good. Along with classics like “Atomic Garden” “American Jesus” “Infected” and other expected/hoped for songs, the band gave us a treat. They played ‘Suffer’ in its entirety, straight through for the middle of their set. Actually, they seemed to focus a lot on older material for this event, perhaps a product of not being there to support a new release.

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NOFX – Photo by Henry Chung

Since Fat Mike was the one whose name was tagged as presenting this whole festival, NOFX brought it all home. It went as you would expect/hope a NOFX show would go. Some appropriate alcohol-themed songs made it in “Seeing Double At The Triple Rock” “The Brews” along with some newer numbers early on “Six Years On Dope” “72 Hookers” “I Don’t Like Me Anymore”. The latter portion of the set largely skewed toward older classics (or crassics) Some noteworthy details include a new, slimmed down version of El Hefe and Karina Denike from the Dancehall Crashers helping out on keys. After threatening for much of the day, some rain arrived late in the set but didn’t have much of an effect on anything.

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NOFX – Photo by Henry Chung

Before the night concluded (specifically, between the latter half of the Mad Caddies and the very start of The Interrupters, so actually, rather early in the event) I was happy to be able to sit down with all 3 members of the Last Gang: Brenna Red (Guitar and vocals), Sean Viele (Bass) and Robert Wantland. We talked about Keep Them Counting, their first visit to Philly, working with Cameron Webb and all of the other cool things that arose from that and…..well, just listen. Special thanks to Sean for joining us for the interview despite being on a flight-related time crunch.

Check out the band on www.thelastgang.com, buy their record on Fat Wreck Chords or at least stream it and show them some love. Maybe we can get them back in town.

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Words/ Intervierw: JJ Ellis
Photos: Henry Chung

Women Who Put the Hard in Rock at Santander Arena

Some of the hardest rocking women in music today descended upon the Santander Arena to melt the faces off of a near SOLD OUT crowd. Stitched Up HeartNew Years Day, and In This Moment all came out to support Halestorm on what would be considered a semi-hometown show (the band is from Red Lion, PA which was only an hour South of the venue.)

Stitched Up Heart:

Stitched Up Heart – Photo by Henry Chung

A newcomer into the scene was Stitched Up Heart. Still, in support of their major label debut ‘Never Alone, the band has been touring relentlessly. Once they took to the stage, everyone around me was equally surprised by frontwoman Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner’s ferocity on the mic.

My main goal was to try and capture all of her hair flails as well as well as the emotion of the performance as they tore through their half-hour set.

New Years Day:

New Years Day – Photo by Henry Chung

New Years Day is a band I’ve seen numerous times before. But within each tour, they’ve grown and evolved their sound. Earlier in the year, they released a cover EP called Diary of A Creep, which features the band’s rendition of songs by Linkin Park, Garbage, No Doubt, Pantera and New Order. So with that said, I was delighted to hear them do Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” during their set.

In This Moment: