April 6, 2017 The Menzingers Tear Up NYC 3-30-17
Since their 2006 inception, The Menzingers have slowly solidified themselves as one of the best Punk bands out in the wild. Currently out on tour in support of their fifth studio album, After the Party, the fun is yet to come for the band and their fans.
Already completing a run of shows through January and February, on Thursday, March 30th, the Scranton, Pennsylvania four-piece arrived in New York City to host an evening at Irving Plaza. Tickets for the Irving Plaza date sold out well in advance, as did their second New York City outing at Music Hall of Williamsburg on April 2nd. In fact, the band managed to sell out over half the dates on their full US tour in some of their biggest headlining shows to date.
Clearly an exciting act, for quite some time, fans have been drawn to the The Menzingers’ infinitely catchy Punk riffs and nostalgia-soaked, heartfelt lyrics that deal with subjects like losing youth, losing friends, and losing yourself. Thankfully, the band are finally gaining the recognition and support they deserve from the masses. That in mind, the show was just about to start as Punk solo artist Jeff Rosenstock and Indie Rock band Rozwell Kid joined The Menzingers as support, warming up fans with fun antics and killer jams.
The first of the supporting bands would be the upbeat and rollicking set from West Virginia band Rozwell Kid. Consisting of Jordan Hudkins on Vocals/Guitar, Adam L. Meisterhans on Guitar, Devin Donnelly on Bass/Vocals, and Sean Hallock on Drums/Percussion, Rozwell Kid have garnered some attention on the Indie/Emo scene for their classic sound and catchy lyrics that are somehow both humorous and gut-punching. Most recently, Rozwell Kid have released a two-song split entitled Fourteen Minute Mile (Broken World Media, 2015) with novel-length-named Indie band The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, in addition to the 2015 EP Good Graphics. However, the majority of their set was pulled from their 2014 full-length album, Too Shabby.
Fans could tell right off the bat that they were in for some comedy as soon as the band’s banner was hoisted. Instead of reading the band’s name, it was emblazoned with “JEFF’S UP NEXT” in garish colors. Though the room was only about half full at the beginning of their set, plenty of people in the crowd were taken with Emo-inspired tracks like “Baby’s First Sideburns,” “Magic Eye,” and “Sick Jackets.” Vocalist Hudkins was especially chatty between songs, eliciting a few laughs from the gathering crowd before finishing their thirty minute set with tracks reminiscent of the now-defunct Motion City Soundtrack. Fans seemed especially into the two closing tracks, “Birthday Sombrero” and “Halloween 3.5.” Rozwell kid put on a fun and lighthearted performance that set the tone for the unique stylings of Jeff Rosenstock.
Irving Plaza was packed by the time Rosenstock and his band took the stage and kicked off their set with the first track off Worry, “We Begged 2 Explode.” A good portion of the crowd sang along to this slow burn, but once fans heard the simple chords of “Pash Rash,” they ignited the first pit of the evening. Rosenstock and his band seemed genuinely thrilled to be playing Irving Plaza – they continually mentioned coming to see shows at the venue when they were growing up on Long Island. As the band ran through “Festival Song,” “I Did Something Weird Last Night,” “Hey Allison!” and “Blast Damage Days,” the crowd grew progressively more excited by the band’s frenetic and infectious energy. Somehow Rosenstock manages to balance gimmicky song titles and on stage theatrics while being lyrically devastating.
By the time the band rolled through their last few songs including “Rainbow” and “Nausea,” just about everyone in the room was bouncing happily along. During their final song, the fast-paced Punk anthem “You, In Weird Cities,” Rosenstock climbed the stack of monitors and wailed on a saxophone that seemed to materialize from thin air. This display drew raucous cheers from the crowd and left the whole room buzzing for The Menzingers.
Their aforementioned newest album, After The Party, is one of their best yet, and once the first few twanging notes of its opening track, “Tellin’ Lies,” rang through Irving Plaza, it was obvious that fans agreed. Despite only being released on February 3rd, the opening lines “Oh yeah, oh yeah, everything is terrible” were shouted by nearly the entire crowd. Fans moshed, bounced, and jostled as they sang along to every word of the hard-hitting new song, but the excitement in the room exploded during two tracks from On The Impossible Past, “Nice Things” and “Mexican Guitars.” Moving forward, May and Barnett switch off vocals, each taking the lead on different tracks just as they do on their recordings. While their voices were completely distinct from one another, each was filled with a kind of Punk character that drives the emotional storytelling found within each Menzingers track.
Next, May led the charge through another new track, “Thick as Thieves,” a more lighthearted, Pop-Punk-leaning tune about the bonds of friendship, before rolling through one of the band’s most beloved tracks, “Good Things.” Fans jumped, screamed, and threw their horrendously overpriced drinks into the air to the song’s catchy chorus. “Good Things” sounded even better live than it does on the record, and that is saying something – it is a testament to the band’s incredible songwriting ability and on-stage musicianship. Going directly into “Burn After Writing,” just as it does on On The Impossible Past, much to the excitement of the crowd. Following up with another new track, “Midwestern States,” the riff-driven piece about struggling to find your footing in an unforgiving world had everyone continuously bouncing about. Speaking of which, the crowd seemed especially pumped to hear one of the band’s earlier singles, “Irish Goodbyes.” It is a simple, heavy Punk track that now sounds much better in a live setting with several years of experience behind it.
Keeping the set diverse, they went on to play two tracks from Rented World, “My Friend Kyle” and “Rodent,” before rolling into After the Party’s impassioned and moving title track that looks back into a wild youth. Showing no signs of slowing down, they had the audience’s adrenaline pumping for the fast-paced “The Obituaries,” a song which references New York City specifically, and for some reason fans always love to hear the name of their own location. With “Your Wild Years,” fan-favorite “Gates,” and new single “Bad Catholics,” the show came to a triumphant close, but the audience desperately chanted for another song. When the band came back to the stage, everyone was thrilled to hear new song “Lookers,” “Casey,” and “In Remission” to finish out the night.
As the sweat and beer-soaked audience filed happily out of the venue, it was clear that The Menzingers’ live show was truly something special and something that has to be experienced to be understood. The mutual adoration radiates from both the band and the fans, and their music carries an even heavier weight when seen live. Thankfully, The Menzingers will be back to NYC in June for a special Rocks Off show, which is held on a boat, an event that sounds too fun to miss.
Photos by: Aintellin Photography