Written by Todd Spoth
Aug 07, 2006 at 08:00 PM
ImageIt’s been almost a month since my last review, and honestly when I found out the show was going to be at The Engine Room, I was a little disappointed. The Engine Room and I have never really gotten along too well. I always felt the venue was lacking that special something, and this feeling of disenchantment was certainly cemented with the breeding of a new era of live music venues of late (meridian, warehouse live, etc).

The Engine Room has improved in a few, yet key, areas since the last time I visited. I was surprised to see a barricade in place a few feet in front of the stage, which may not be of benefit to the horde of attendees, but to those of us who are there to grab some photographs of the acts, it is a must-have. For the longest time the merch area was obtrusively squeezed between the bathrooms and the bar area, however the venue widened the area originally (and still) used as an arcade to serve as the new merch area. The sound (which was the biggest problem during the venue’s early days), was definitely better than what it was. After each band finished their performance a black curtain dawned, concealing the stage until the following band was ready. This was a nice touch.

The venue was about halfway to capacity as the curtain drew on the opening band, A Wilhelm Scream. I was given the album, Mute Print, from these guys, a few years back and never really got too into it. It was a little too generic/fast/angst to me. The five piece was definitely there to play though. They didn’t spend any time between songs promoting, telling jokes, or introducing themselves; it was simply fast, loud and there. I did enjoy their subtle use of guitar harmony, especially in the track, “Famous Friends and Fashion Drunks”.

The Lawrence Arms are probably one of my favorites that I never really seem to listen to as much as I would like to. This three-piece is a no-nonsense outfit that has been rock in the same tune for years now. Hailing from Chicago, The Lawrence Arms are part of the great indie/punk rising of the late 90’s along with bands like The Alkaline Trio, The Honor System, The Falcon, Tuesday, The Broadways, Slapstick, etc. These three guys tore through songs, old and new, including “100 resolutions”, a personal favorite, even through minor stage faux pas’ (guitar strap disconnections). This group’s apparent lack of inhibition is pleasantly invigorating, and I love them for it.

To close the show, Fat Wreck Chords own, Lagwagon took the stage. This Southern California, pop-punk act has been busting out the jams for over thirteen years. I hold the utmost respect for these guys, not only for being around as long as they have, but for being on stage and performing like they were a handful of early twenty-something’s hopped up on ecstasy. Sure they didn’t look quite as youthful as they may have during their initial tours during the mid-90’s, but these guys performed like it. Hoss and Let’s Talk about Feelings were two albums that rarely left my CD changer during my high school years, and hearing tracks from those two albums was nostalgic, at the very least, tonight.

Thinking back on the bands that performed tonight, I realize one thing that they all have in common. They all ride that line between being edgy and cool (edgy to the point that they are marketable and become hits on MTV) and being too edgy. With the influx of bands being marketed and “discovered” via MTV, MySpace, etc these three bands have continued to play their edgy brand of punk/indie that defies those lines. They don’t need to be discovered, they are perfectly content in playing for and to those (sometimes few) true music lovers. It has been a while since I’ve been to a show where the headliner hasn’t had a video on MTV. It has been a while since I’ve been to a show and been surrounded by nothing but people that share a common, unwavering love for the music; not because it’s “hip” or “the new big thing”. -Todd Spoth