Review & photos by Russ Tierney
As The Murderburgers stage time sails by, the Institute is looking a touch sparse which could partly be the reason everything seems to be running a little later than planned. When the Scottish power punk pop trio do hit the stage sounding like the latest signing to Fat Wreck Chords, we’re hit with a barrage of high BPM’s on the most part and harmony driven melodies. All this adds up to them being a more enjoyable prospect than I originally had them down for with their predictable brand of punk from You Tubing the guys before the show.
Their key to success could be capturing that live element and huge production on show with tonight’s phat sound, but the old trick of professionally rolling some songs into another may have backfired as you’re left searching for definition. Plus it doesn’t give the crowd time to show their appreciation. By mid set said the crowd is filling up nicely and small pockets all around the venue are bobbing along and head nodding, and I’m sure this tour will do little to damage to what these shores can still offer in the punk rock game, albeit very American sounding these days with a huge twists of pop.
Up next are NYC’s Bayside, and despite a full backline change and some worried expressions on techies faces, they suffer few sound gremlins and rather are just pushing the PA to within an inch of its life with it being a bit pitchy at the top end. Some nice harmonies are on offer as a continuation from our Scottish openers, but Bayside punctuate their songs with heaps of dynamics and more hooky melodies.
The musicianship is advanced and while new to me, these boys have clearly being putting in the shifts across the pond. Their comfort and energy on stage is a joy to watch and tonight’s audience respond accordingly, getting on board singing from the first note and then needing little persuasion to join in the mass clap along. Despite my best efforts (and i’ll rip my favourite bands a new one if they put in a stinker), it’s hard to pick a flaw. From the swingy jazzy breakdowns to the beach boys with distortion styling of one of their tracks, they impress but with the advantage of zero preconceptions on my part.
Alkaline Trio will always be the band that did Private Eye and Stupid Kid to me. I embraced their early naughties singles but never felt compelled to buy an album and it’s with bands like this that I hope will prove me wrong in the live arena and justify the hype which surrounded them. However, it’s never easy when you’re not hearing it with fresh ears and your mind made up, or at the very least hoping for something to jump out and draw you in. It’s fair to say that Bayside were a tough act to follow, and with Matt Skibia welded to his mic while he and the band sit musically between our other two acts tonight; it’s not as musically rich as Bayside, but has more substance than the MurderBurgers, albeit less edgy and hard hitting. It’s at this point I’m drawing blanks and I’m lost for words because it’s completely inoffensive in both the positive and negative connotations of the word, it’s not bad but what do I write about?
Getting a better vantage point and more even sound by moving around the venue, the highlights become a lot clearer as the set progresses, which leave me wanting to chalk previous comments more down to the sound. The set starts to take on more clarity and I start to pick up on some slower Green Day-esque ‘Warning’ era vibes that translate nicely, and then the hooky woahs and previously inoffensive melodies that the crowd are lapping up and singing straight back at the band start to make more sense too, and I only imagine if you’re a Trio fan that it’s a really slick performance. As a neutral though, I still don’t feel the need to explore the band any further, it’s just a bit, well… as a fellow reviewer so articulately once put, Ready Salted Crisps.