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Review: Face to Face @ Gramercy Theatre 6.13.13

Face to Face band

By: Terrance Pryor

"Tell your friends that didn't show up tonight that they fucked up", said Face to Face vocalist Trever Keith in the middle of his band's explosive set on Thursday. The frontman certainly had a point; Gramercy Theatre was the right place to be for some punk rock mayhem. This was the second night of their two night stint at the NYC venue.

While doors opened at 7pm, not many people showed up in time to catch opening act Joshua Black Wilkins. The Nashville singer-songwriter/photographer laid his heart out on stage with only an acoustic guitar and harmonica in hand. Joshua certainly had stories to tell with a gruff voice to accentuate his emotions (he joked about selling merch to help buy cigarettes for his voice). The small crowd of about 20 were drinking and conversing with each other, which made Joshua's performance almost feel like it was at a dive bar. The cowboy hat wearing singer probably wouldn't have cared if there were 5 people inside. The man simply wanted to play some tunes and hope to walk away with a few new fans.

Arriving to the stage with James Brown's "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" playing, Nashville punk act Blacklist Royals started things off right with "Hearts on Fire". For vocalist Nat Rufus, this was his last day in his 20s with the big 3-0 making its mark a few hours later. Even with the effects of the previous night still lingering ("We're working off hangovers. Blame 4am last calls."), the band worked their way through cuts like "Brothers and Sisters", "Die Young With Me" and set closer "American Hearts". In order to avoid jamming the same exact set two nights in a row, they opted to play a fierce cover of The Misfits' "Bullet". The reaction was surprisingly dead with not even one person singing along.

Truthfully, I've never listened to Teenage Bottlerocket before this gig. I've seen their names plastered all over the punk sites for years but I've never actually took the time to give them a spin. A lot of my punk friends will probably wanna come to my house with rocks and flaming bags of dog poop because of this, but it's the honest truth.

It seemed as if TBR was enough to get a huge crowd inside from the rainy weather. A masked man greeted the audience with a chainsaw and a sign reading "Freak Out" which is the name of the band's latest album. The guitar/vocal duo of Ray Carlisle and Kody Templeman was surprising on point and very spasmodic at times while Ray's twin brother Brandon was very thrashy on the drums.

"When Miguel throws his arms in the air, make some fucking noise", Ray demanded. The bouncy NYC crowd did just that as bassist Miguel Chen looked like an airdancer for the remainder of the performance. The punk outfit had a couple more tricks up their sleeves for their second night in NYC: the band paid Van Halen's "Panama" a visit during "On My Own" and managed to blaze through the opening riffs of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" before having the small circle pit engage in some pogo dancing for "Bottlerocket". The band even played a brand new song entitled "I'm The One Smoking Marijuana, Motherfucker" with some obvious green lighting to enhance things.

Any time an established act (Further Seems Forever, The Early November, The Bouncing Souls) signs to Rise Records, there's automatically going to be a huge online war between Rise fanboys hating it due to the lack of breakdowns and those that will always say "Don't ruin this band, Rise" (which is kinda funny towards a band that released an album called How To Ruin Everything). Face to Face's new album Three Chords and a Half Truth dropped in April and has been compared musically to acts like Social Distortion and The Clash.

The anxious crowd let their excitement take control when the four piece punk act took the stage. After greeting the crowd, the band went into "Walk the Walk". The audience definitely got jumpy during the cut "123 Jump" from the new album. "Where are the old school punk rockers?", asked Trever before launching into "You've Done Nothing". There were certainly older folks around, some even brought their children to witness Face to Face for the first time. The older audience surely didn't want to partake in the huge circle pit that ignited during "You Lied". During "A-OK", the band took a brief moment to lead the crowd along in a loud "whoa" chant.

Since this was their second gig in NYC on this tour, the band decided to switch things up by performing "Handout" and "Resignation" from their 1996 self-titled album. The entire crowd screamed the opening lines of "It's Not Over" to their heart's content. The crowd was very energetic that evening except for their lackluster responses towards "Bright Lights Go Down" and "Smokestacks and Skyscrapers" from Face to Face's new record. The band ended things with "Disconnected", their first big single back in the early 90s and one of the most beloved punk tracks out there.

For the encore, the guys burned through their cover of The Descendents "Bikeage", which Trever stated, "This is my favorite song from my favorite band". A handful of attendants in Descendents T-shirts and hoodies were seen bouncing around and screaming the lyrics "Who's gonna pick you up and use you for tonight?". After taking a toast on stage, Face to Face ended things with "Pastel" which had the entire crowd yelling, "I don't want a game that I don't know how to play, just go away".