Fireworks (@ First Unitarian Church a week earlier)
By: James McGrath
Not often does a tour name explain the situation you find yourself in, but all that The Loft in Poughkeepsie New York on Saturday night had to offer was this collection of DIY bands. This tour, headlined by Detroit’s Fireworks and borrowing the band’s most recent album title, made stops in over 40 cities over the past two months. As you could have guessed, the bands all played material from their most recent releases while peppering in a few old jams. The Swellers even threw in a Lagwagon cover after lead singer Nick Diener asked the crowd “Are any of you old enough to remember this?” An early start time of 5pm led me to believe the evening would end earlier and I could make my way back to New Jersey but that was not the case.
Three local openers of increasing popularity (as indicated by the increasing crowd size) pushed the tour opener, Transit, to a start time of 7:10 pm. This Boston band has been around long enough to gather a very loyal following, with every person in attendance attempting to stand on each other’s shoulders for a chance to grab the mic out of singer’s hands. Lead singer Joe Boynton belted out a number of tracks off of the band’s most recent release, Keep This To Yourself as well as several old gems.
This same reaction was multiplied for Man Overboard, who I had the privilege of interviewing prior to the show starting. (embed video here?). We spoke for about 15 minutes about favorite bands, favorite venues, the Lost Tape Collectives that the band is using to release music by friends in lesser-known bands. The shady locale of Poughkeepsie did not seem to faze the boys who live all too close to Camden, NJ.
The dual lead vocals between Zac Eiestenstein and Nik Bruzzee were a golden example of what pop punk can and should be. Usual drummer Jusin Collier joined them on guitar but Joe Talarico of Shotgun Bang took over drums for the tour. Closing out a powerfully sharp half hour set of mostly Real Talk songs with fan favorite “Love Your Friends, Die Laughing” drove the raucous crowd to fervor. This hit a fever pitch as every member of the audience threw their fists into the air and used their feet in a threat to collapse the entire second floor with the collective rhythmic jumping. Unfortunately, the crowd did seem to thin out after the New Jersey Pop Punker’s blew them all away, but before Michigan took over the building. Interview with Man Overboard.
It was impossible for the remaining rockers in the crowd to avoid dancing and singing along to The Swellers, who put the punk in pop punk. The fast paced songs that populated 2009’s Ups and Downsizing translated extremely well live, with Diener’s voice being one of the most dynamic parts of the night. The entire band has such pride in the music that they have produced and their home state. This shows through in the lyrics and the passion they have on stage in delivering every note and every word with nothing but pure heart. They kept the Michigan pride in the house, but the tour headliner knew how to bring the sing-a-long jams to the hungry masses.
Without a doubt, David Mackinder is an incredibly charismatic and entertaining performer. But the lead singer of Fireworks unintentionally creeped out my girlfriend and I near the bar during The Swellers’ set. But once he climbed on stage his charisma took over and sing-a-long choruses off of All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion echoed through the maybe 300-person capacity room. Every song from that album is a pop punk gem and the crowd was there for the band to feed off. No other song this evening could have matched the energy of “Detroit”, between it being one of the catchiest pop punk songs of the past few years and the utter madness of the crowd chanting “Woah-oh-oh” during the chorus. This collection of hard working bands will certainly compete for tour of year, as well as most devoted crowd. Don’t forget to pickup Man Overboard’s Real Talk over at their band camp.