Scene and Herd by Doug “Igoto” Dresher
Rozwell Kid, Jeff Rosenstock, The Menzingers
Live at The Fillmore, Philadelphia PA.
Okay – this is complicated. But please ride along, it’s important to me.
There are many possible titles for my review of Rozwell Kid, Jeff Rosenstock, and The Menzingers. This is because I’m having many different feelings about this. Here is the list of titles I have been pondering:
- Jeff Rosenstock is one sweaty greasy guy who should wear sleeves.
- These shows start too early.
- Photo passes are a bitch.
- Pop Punk – What is the name of this band?
- Pop Punk – Was this the band that was on just before?
- My dislike for people is starting to affect my social life.
- Photos made possible through the kindness of Liz and Shelby, two very cool women who work at The Fillmore in Philly.
- I can’t find good pizza in Philadelphia.
So here is how I would like to proceed. I am going to write two concurrent reviews of the show. Like many things, I am of two minds. Much like an art school BFA student creating his or her nonlinear film, I will be writing two interwoven reviews of the show. There is one given though my positive lens, the other through my dislike of dirty bathrooms that smell like urine and beer.
Truth is, I missed Rozwell Kid, and I really like that band. Sorry, Rozwell Kid, you are going to be spared from this digital mental manipulation created by a guy who is both full of himself and full of shit. 😉
I had the pleasure of seeing The Menzingers. I have seen Jeff Rosenstock before, so I will start with his set.
Jeff Rosenstock brings a frenetic energy to the stage with the confidence of an artist who has risen from the clamor of many talented bands who call Brooklyn their home base. Without a doubt, Rosenstock has distinguished himself with a newly released sardonic album — WORRY. — embraced by the over-21 crowd who eschew the limits of their parents’ Pandora account and have learned to find the music they feel most represents their feelings and disappointments of the failed promises of undergraduate school and the joys of renting their first apartments.
WORRY. shows a mature musician who can blow the roof off the venue with the same grace as his adroit instrumentation of the mix of bells and slower sections of his songs done with the purpose to devalue the loud guitar in exchange for an opportunity to speak directly to his audience.
Jeff Rosenstock is the cool neighbor who you hang with and travel the subway in Brooklyn as you meet up with friends and then jam in the smallest rehearsal room in Bushwick.
I had the opportunity to see The Menzingers along with Rozwell Kid and Jeff Rosenstock. I ended up missing Rozwell Kid if only because there were issues with my pass and having a detachable lens camera. I don’t blame the bands. But I must ask, where does this “First Three Songs” rule really come from? While I missed the entire Rozwell Kid set, I did get in while Rosenstock was playing. I showed my pass to the security guy in front of the stage. He shook his head no and said, “First Three Songs.” I begged him offering that I was late and needed just a few minutes in front of the band to get a few photos. “First Three Songs,” he repeated with an odd smile. At first I thought that he was being coy repeating the rules and understood my dilemma with passes and parking and driving to Philadelphia through a torrential storm and having to walk a block in a downpour without a jacket.
He wasn’t being coy. He was just smiling at me as he exerted his photo-pit authority. I was thinking, “A few years ago, some of these bands were playing for 12 kids at the college open mic and would have killed to have someone take pictures and write about them.” Doesn’t the venue rely on all the writers and photographers who generate interest in these shows? If you notice, all my Rosenstock photos are from the far side of the stage. I spoke truth to power and lost.
As for the performance, my god, does Rosenstock sweat. He should wear sleeves. Armpit hair matted with sweat and side man-boob is just gross.
The crowd seemed to know his songs and the yelled the lyrics back and all had fun. It was nice to see Dan Potthast in the band. His glasses kept slipping down his nose.
Back to Jeff Rosenstock. While energetic, I couldn’t understand a word he sang. I felt old and disconnected from the event. I don’t need a pot-themed shirt or flag, and perhaps Rosenstock sells himself short with such silly iconography. Is 666 and pot still a thing? I didn’t get the impression that his songs were about Satan or smoking pot, though I couldn’t tell what the overall theme was to his music. Yes, he seems to be thumbing his nose at “the man,” but what of it? His entire audience is getting ready for graduate school and will soon be enjoying their day-in, day-out job so deftly described by David Foster Wallace. Most singing along at the show will soon be having their first Xanax panic attack while reminiscing with their Stella Artois beer-drinking friends who have painfully come to the bumper-to-bumper realization that they are not too much different than their parents. And I hate people who vape.
Let us turn our thoughts to The Menzingers.
The Menzingers have found their niche in the somewhat older post-college crowd, if only evidenced by the enthusiasm the audience proffered when the band sang, “Where are we gonna go, now that our twenties are over?”
There is a problem with pop punk as it ages and The Menzingers have touched upon it. The kids who used to enjoy the simplicity of the singalong are starting to realize that the old lyrics are no longer a useful vehicle in expressing what they are feeling. Unrequited love is the central focus of almost every song on the radio, but as these fans aged, they have realized that they are getting too old to Kidz-Bop along. Mom and Dad cannot save this audience from themselves, and now that the milestone of their 30s are upon them, they have realized that the future didn’t quite pan out like the older songs promised. It is a real slap in the face when you realize that you can’t spend your time constantly just pointing out what’s wrong. Eventually, you must provide a solution, and that is a scary proposition.
The Menzingers have matured from …
“Its a WMD broken foreign policy
Call out my number 192 and we’ll see
Is that how i die, from an rpg?”
… to …
“Yeah, does it make you nervous?
Have you fulfilled your purpose?
Yeah, does it make you nervous
The house is on fire.”
The tweens have grown and are finding that it was easy to protest for the sake of protesting. Now, they themselves are responsible, but responsible for what? Existentialism is often the epicenter of depression and finding one’s place in the world and dealing with finding purpose and connectedness of things is scary. It may be time to start going to church, just in case …
As for the music, The Menzingers provide a pleasing set of power chords with ample opportunity to sing or yell along. They owe a nod of gratitude to Weezer, as does every power-chord band, but the songs are accepted as a sincere offer of simpatico with the audience.
The Menzingers have matured with their audience and have realized that, yes, the party is over. Mom’s basement is not the party room anymore, it’s a place to set up your work area and get working on your graduate school application.
Let us turn our thoughts to The Menzingers.
Okay, the party is over.
The singular mistake this crowd makes is thinking that they are/were the only group of kids who have realized that the future owes them nothing. They all felt great when they got their participation trophy, but that quickly becomes resume fluff that doesn’t help.
Truth is, no one promised you anything, sometimes things are difficult, and friends can be assholes. Your boss doesn’t give a shit that you played high school football, and working at Hot Topic was not such an accomplishment.
As for the music, it is commendable that the band is bringing its audience along on such a journey. Group therapy can be an empowering endeavor, or at least it gives each person an opportunity to talk about themselves as if every thought that pops into their minds is an important epiphany worth sharing. The band itself is a tight outfit that enjoys the denouement followed by the requisite self-reflective postscript.
Some other things worth noting, since my 45 minutes of therapy are not over. Perhaps this might help.
- Every generation must come to grips with aging and mortality. This happens at 20, 30, 40, and 50. After 50, I don’t know what happens, I’m not there yet.
- Don’t stop taking your medication. Cold turkey will give you a headache.
- Break up with the girl/guy if you don’t love them. Love is hard enough to find. Stop wasting everyone’s time.
- Drink good beer.
- Stop smoking, it’s gross.
- Drive slower, it’s safer.
- Either get a job or go back to school, and get out of your mother’s basement. She has been waiting for you to grow up so she can get her life moving again.
- Speaking about your mother’s basement, it smells in there. No one wants to have sex in a room that smells like bongwater.
- You millennials (another word for “self-important”) made such a big deal about not liking Clinton that we all ended up with Trump. We all got fucked because you thought it was cool to pass on voting because you thought both candidates were bad.
- Throw away your pro-pot poster. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. It isn’t edgy to be pro pot any more.
- Stop blaming your parents. If they’re that bad, then stop taking their money and eating their food.
- Enjoy your music. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, no one gives a shit about what you listen to.
- Stop judging others by the music they listen to. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, why do you gives a shit about what they listen to?
- Stop living by the platitudes on stickers and mugs. Yes, we should live, laugh, love. Just go do it, and stop thinking that protesting is posting your opinion on Facebook, Snapchat, or whatever’s the newest manner by which we communicate.
- Write more letters. E-mail is a fine method of communications, but at least try to write with style and elegance.
- Put your phone down. Stop and look with your eyes. Try to understand that sometimes, a memory is much more important than a picture.
Sometimes, a memory is much more important than a picture.
Have some photos.
Doug “DougIGoTo” Dresher.
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