I have recently returned from tour with my band BOILERMAN. We travelled through Canada, down from Maine to Richmond, and back through Ohio before coming home. Along the way, we had an excellent time thanks to some great friends, old and new, and played with some truly righteous bands. As in the previous entry, the bands are what I’m going to focus on for this last installment of this little tour journal, chronicling my favorite set from each show. Last I checked in, we were leaving Philly for the nation’s capital.
10/22 – Washington, D.C.: THE MAX LEVINE ENSEMBLE has been a D.C. area staple for well over ten years at this point. I’d been a fan of the band for ages before this show. They were even one half of the first piece of vinyl I ever put money towards releasing. Their material consistently pushes the boundaries of melodic, poppy punk rock while retaining a distinct sound that’s really something all their own. Occasionally, I will have a lapse in judgment in which I think, “You know, I’ve been listening to THE MAX LEVINE ENSEMBLE for the better part of a decade. Do I really need to keep up on their records?” All it takes is a set from this band with some new material to assure me that I’m an idiot and of course I need every new MAX LEVINE record. The reason behind this is that every time I hear new songs by this band, they are consistently among their strongest material. Their last EP “Elephant in the Room” has some of the best pop punk songwriting in recent memory. The lyrics, literary without being too obtuse, are always well-written and the music plays around nicely without straying too far. The band’s set included some newer material as well as some deep cuts and reminded me why I will always love playing with, and listening to, THE MAX LEVINE ENSEMBLE.
10/23 – Richmond, VA: It was BURN WARD’s first show and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Their bassist was running late, but luckily the band set up all the gear while they waited. When I heard the drummer warming up with insane blast beats, I had a feeling we were all in for a treat. At the risk of bragging, I was absolutely right. Upon the bassist’s arrival, BURN WARD launched into a furious, blasting set of dark, vicious metal tinged hardcore. This band perfectly mixes metal, powerviolence, hardcore punk, and a touch of grind to perfection. The vocalist, Erica, told us after the set that some of the members don’t listen to much powerviolence or punk which makes sense, as BURN WARD is far from typical. Still, they manage to succeed where many powerviolence bands fail in that their songs are insanely tight, heavy without being too moshy, and the riffs sound totally evil. The vocals were fierce, intense, and mean – a perfect complement to the blasting insanity of the music. BURN WARD played for right around five minutes, all of which were perfect. I can’t wait for a recording.
10/24 – Columbus, OH: After waking up in Charlottesville, VA and eating a delicious breakfast, we hit the road for Columbus, OH. Eight or nine hours later, we arrived. We were tired from the drive and I wasn’t in the mood to sit through bands and like it. That is, until SPLASHIN’ SAFARI took to the small basement stage in the legendary LEGION OF DOOM. The first thing I noticed was the singer wearing an odd get-up that included colorful face paint. When the band launched into their brand of sloppy hardcore punk, I wasn’t immediately impressed. But, as they continued to play as hard as they could despite the lack of crowd enthusiasm, they began to win me over. This was what punk is about – playing as hard as you can, despite sloppiness, despite attendee apathy, despite goofy subject matter. SPLASHIN’ SAFARI had an excellent time and oozed energy that forced bystanders to begin to do the same. The music was straight forward punk with some cool tempo changes and the vocals sounded like a modern take on the stylings of Darby Crash. At one point, the singer urged the crowd to “live the chaos,” at which point they had me completely won over. SPLASHIN’ SAFARI is a punk band’s punk band.
And that’s it. Tour is over. I’m back in Chicago and done telling the tale of the BOILERMAN 2013 jaunt. Thanks for reading and remember to always live the chaos.