Review: The Menzingers – ‘After The Party’

The Menzingers are coming to terms with the ending of their 20s for all but one member–Greg Barnett is 29–on their new album After The Party. The album kicks off with “Tellin’ Lies,” which explains just that. The opening line is “Oh yeah, oh yeah, everything is terrible,” and it seems a little drastic. However, The Menzingers mean every word they sing. Theoretically the party was when they were in their 20s, and now they’re moving on to what comes after that. There’s a maturity that comes with this album, but it doesn’t take away anything they’ve built up until now.

They haven’t hit the mainstream, but within the punk community, they might as well be stars. I remember when I first saw the band live at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. The place was packed, and it was all for them. They lit the place up and you wouldn’t even know you were in a church basement if it wasn’t in the name. Was that an unconventional place for punk shows? Of course, but it didn’t matter. A little while later I saw them at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA and they brought the same energy to a much bigger show. They’ve come far and still can provide those bangers that they hooked everyone on with previous records like On The Impossible Past and Rented World.

“Lookers” would be that song that got everyone hooked. When it first came out, people played it on repeat and knew that this album would be one to look forward to. By this track the third on the album, the band has already drawn me in and they keep my attention the entirety of the album. I wouldn’t consider this band a punk band in the conventional sense. They don’t have the blaringly loud and fast two minute tracks. They take the time they need on songs to fully flush out an idea. Songs on this record exceed four minutes, but they’re a punk band because of their attitude, not their run time on songs and albums. Besides, 45 minutes of the Menzingers is something everyone should want.

Going through this album track by track would get redundant quickly and to spare you all from that, I’ll just let you know that despite it only being February, this is a must-listen punk album of the year. Hell, it may even end up as one of my favorite albums this year. That’s how good it is. The band allows their music to grow with them and After The Party is the epitome of that. Take the roughly 45 minutes out of your day to give this a listen.

After The Party is out on 2/3 via Epitaph Records. You can pick up a copy here.

Review: Bayside at The Observatory (9/6/16)

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Last week, Bayside made their way to Orange County to play at The Observatory. For a Tuesday night, a dedicated group of fans ventured out. The room started to fill up prior to their set, but was still decently filled for Sorority Noise and The Menzingers. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate a three band bill. This gave each band a good amount of time for their sets, with Bayside playing about an hour-and-a-half set. The Observatory was a good-sized venue for the band to play and all three bands sounded great in the room.

Being a fan of all of the bands on a bill is a huge plus for me, while attending the show. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of shows that have five or more bands set to play, so this show felt like the perfect show to attend. Sorority Noise kicked off the show and it’s safe to say that their guitarist had the most energy out of everyone. The band was definitely excited to be on this tour and they let that energy resonate with the crowd. This was even more amplified when The Menzingers came on. I was excited to see them again since I had only seen them one other time before. Fans, as well as myself, had a blast screaming out “I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore” among other great one-liners that you can find in their songs. They played a fantastic set and got the crowd ready for Bayside.

Bayside played a great mix of old and new songs. “I’ve Been Dead All Day” was one of those new songs and it made me happy that they put a focus on the new songs early in their set. Vacancy is an album I really enjoyed this year and I knew they’d be playing songs from it. I just wasn’t sure how they’d incorporate them with their prior releases. The band came out with a ton of energy and it made the performance really enjoyable. I also love how consistent the band has been over their career. It made the setlist flow very well because they didn’t really have those songs that stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of a setlist.

Naturally, the band played fan favorites like “Masterpiece” and dusted off “Just Enough To Love You,” which they apparently hadn’t played in a while. “Masterpiece” was actually one of the first songs I heard from Bayside, and it felt surreal to hear it played live. Having never seen the band, it was a treat to see them play a longer set. At the end, they didn’t waste any time with making the fans wait on the encore. Anthony Raneri came back out to do “Don’t Call Me Peanut” with just his acoustic guitar. They then closed out the show with “Devotion and Desire” as expected. Overall, it was a fun, energetic show and Bayside is a band that makes it easy to sing along with every song they play. They even did a cover of “Mr. Brightside,” which I was not expecting. It’s little things like that, that make a show memorable.