Following the release of their 5th studio album After the Party, The Menzingers hit the road on a cross country tour with their friends in Rozwell Kid and Jeff Rosentstock. For me, the pairing of The Menzingers with Jeff Rosentock a dream line-up and I could not have been more excited to catch them both at The Regent Theater on their stint through Southern California.
Due to heavy traffic, I was running a tad late. My photographer concerns were assuaged by a fellow photographer’s reassurance that there was photo pit for us this evening. A HUGE indeed as The Regent usually doesn’t have one. After rushing through the crowd to get to the front of the venue, I looked up and noticed a giant sign hanging behind the opener, Rozwell Kid, that read “Jeff’s Up Next”. Little did I know that this subtle announcement was just a glimpse into the goofiness and casual happiness that would define the evening’s offerings.
Truth be told, I was actually unfamiliar with the band Rozwell Kid. It seemed like I was the only one as fans sang along with every lyric. But just because I hadn’t listened to the band before, didn’t mean I wasn’t able to enjoy every second of their performance. They play a unique brand of guitar based indie rock, heavy on a 70’s rock-n-roll vibe that felt like they channeling a little bit of Thin Lizzy into their souls. With incredibly catchy guitar licks, tight vocal harmonies and massive hooks, I was spellbound until the last song they played, which was “Halloween 3.5” which Devin Donnelly (Vocals/bass) introduced by saying “This song is about how I once dressed as a girl for Halloween”.
Following Rozwell Kid’s set, the “Jeffs Up Next” sign came down revealing a giant American flag that was adorned with “666” in place of the traditional 50 stars and rainbow stripes. It’s the same flag I’ve seen in hang in various videos of Jeff Rosenstock in concert and also in his official video for “Pash Rash”.
Rosenstock has been called “one of the most important figures in modern punk”, and if you want my opinion, his live performance lives up hype. He pours so much of himself into his writing you can really sense the emotional rollercoaster that every single one of his releases contains. As a weathered man that’s already well into his 30s, you can tell that he’s reaching into his own life as he sings about issues his younger audience can related to; an audience filled with anxious young adults still trying to find their place in this life. The emotions he wore on his sleeve as he sang were transmitted on the faces of all the screaming fans that I was standing in front of.
In the middle of the set Jeff stopped the music to give us a little heartfelt speech about how much gratitude he had for us checking him out this evening “Thanks to all the friends that came. This is fun. Its a treat to be here in LA,” he said as he continued to reminisce about his last visit to Southern California that had him performing at a small, non-descript, DIY space in Pomona called VLHS, and how blown away he was to be performing at The Regent before announcing, “This last one is for The Menzingers” then ripping into “Nausea”, the final song of his memorable performance.
Before The Menzingers took the stage, the lights dimmed and “Intergalactic” by The Beastie Boys blared through the house speakers. After about of minute, The Beastie Boys faded away and the band took the stage, skipping any introductory chit chat, and ripped straight into “Telling Lies”, which also happens to be opening track off the new record. The second song, “I Don’t Want To Be An Asshole Anymore”, is quite possibly the band’s biggest hit, and it was played with the same kind of immediacy that Rosenstock played “Pash Rash” with. It’s one of those songs that just sounds so amazingly huge when you hear it live; and when the entire venue is yelling “I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore” chorus, you hairs on the back of your neck stand straight. That “I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore” moment was without a doubt a new favorite concert memory for me, and won’t soon be forgotten.
Every single song was met with an undying energy from the crowd. There was hardly a moment that the audience wasn’t singing along with the fellas on stage. During “Nice Things”, I felt a foot slam into the back of my head as a crowd surfer came crashing over the barricade, but I was too caught up in the energy of the moment to care about a little bump to the head. I just wanted to get lost in the music and dance as hard as Tom May was dancing as he flawlessly shredded his guitar (which, by the way, was god damn amazing).
The night continued with more hits from past albums and some more new songs off “After The Party”, but I kept my fingers crossed for a particular song to play … and they played it. As soon as I heard the opening chords of “The Obituaries”, I had my friend hold all my gear as I jumped into the frenzy. There’s something about sad, self deprecating emo-punk songs that will always have me bee-lining to the mosh pit and screaming out “I will fuck this up, I fucking know it” in the midst of other sweaty happy fans. This was my icing on the cake, and I ate that shit up.
Since I’ve started working in music journalism, I’ve had the chance to do coverage for various genres including folk, garage rock, hip hop, edm and everything else in between. But deep down inside I know I’ll always be an emo kid at heart. Shooting/reviewing this show was definitely some of the most fun I’ve had while working in this field. The combination of two SideOneDummy artists and a pop punk heavy hitter like The Menzingers (Epitaph) brought an amazing dynamic to the evening, which continuously crescendoed into something big, positive and joyful. That night didn’t really feel like a concert … hell, it didn’t even feel like work … it felt more like a giant house party with some amazing friends and amazing bands.
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— Hector Vergara (@Hextrn) March 31, 2017
— Hector Vergara (@Hextrn) March 31, 2017