Tag Archives: Music

Mosh Pits and Tall Boys – My Journey Into Punk Rock

Punk is a state of mind.

~Ryan Kephart

Ryan LOVES punk music, and more specifically Face to Face.  He has since he was young.  So, when he saw that they were playing here in DC, he gchatted me excitedly in all caps and then we bought tickets.  The show, at The Black Cat, was in late May and it was my first foray into the world of punk rock concerts.

Not only am I fairly new to punk music, but I also have not really been to that many concerts of any sort.  When I was younger, my parents wouldn’t even let me take my sister to a Backstreet Boys concert because they thought something would happen to us.  It was a bizarrely conservative twist in my parents usual parenting ethos, which was fairly liberal and sane.  As a result, my first concert (aside from being allowed to go see my uncle’s band, G.B. Leighton) was a Green Day & Blink 182 concert my senior year of high school.  They only allowed me to go because my neighbor Drew (whom my mom loved) agreed to go with us.  We were also seated in assigned seating.  Beyond this first experience, I’ve seen Aerosmith, the Wailers twice, Backstreet Boys (yes, as an adult – I flew my sister out to DC  to go and I am fairly certain we were the only drunk people there) and a few outdoor concerts here and there.

Anyways, Ryan and I showed up promptly at 8 and the bands hadn’t started yet, so we went to the Red Room for a drink or two.  As you can probably guess, the Red Room is a room with red walls, a chill vibe and plush couches.  The best part about it was that they had the newly released DC Brau microbrew that Ryan and I have been itching to try!  It was pretty close to a Bend, Oregon beer, which is saying a LOT.  Very hoppy and flavorful, which also means filling!

As we sipped our delicious nectar of the gods, the lights started to dim and we could feel the pulse of music throbbing from upstairs.  Once upstairs we listened to the spastic and disjointed Cerebral Ballzy.  Despite the fact that one of the guitar players had some serious rock and roll long stringy hair, the band was what I do not like about punk music.  It was, to me, just a lot of loud noises with a “singer” who was mumbling and screaming unintelligible things into the mic.  I was not stoked and wishing I would have remembered to bring ear plugs.  Ryan promised the other bands were better.  Really, it would be almost impossible for them not to be.

Second in the line-up was The Darlings.  They were actually really good.  Ryan dug their sound and was stoked on the lead singer’s old school slicked-back hair.  PBR tall boy in hand, I was enjoying this much more and we edged closer to the stage.  I will say, I could have done without a lot of their commentary and “jokes”.  Just play music if you aren’t good at the rest.  However, they were good and I’m excited to listen to more of their music later.

A little bit more liquid courage from the fine folks at Pabst and we moved to the edge of the “mosh pit” for the next band – Strung Out.  These guys were definitely a little older than the last two, but they didn’t show it.  They were every bit as energetic and lively without the horrible sound of the first band and without the semi-douchey talk stylings of the second.  They obviously have a serious following in their own right and people were psyched on them.  This was the first band that the tattooed, pierced, black t-shirt and chucks wearing mob really got into it and started to ebb and flow as one rolling wave of “outsiders”.

The first band lent itself to people sitting and drinking beers while talking amongst themselves (probably while waiting for the horrible sound to stop – LOUD NOISES!!!).  The second band got people up and to the stage area, but in a more calm manner for the most part.  With Strung Out it was people singing along loudly and flailing bodies flying all around, which I was confused about.  On the one hand I don’t understand why you can’t just dance in your own space.  Why is it more fun to sail around the entire area and wave your extremities and head around wildly like a possessed banshee?  On the other hand, I admire the free spiritedness and the ability to give yourself over to the music.  This sounds insanely lame, I realize, but I have always had a hard time dancing.  My friends and boyfriend can attest to this.  I like the shameless flailing and am envious.  Still….I’m short and I know that even if I dared to enter this crazy circle of whirling dervishes, I will end up with an elbow to the temple.  No mosh pit for me.

Then came the main event – Face to Face.  For this Ryan really wanted to be up front.  In order to make sure he could enjoy the concert as he wanted while also trying to avoid elbow shots to the temple, we came up with Operation Shield-a-Boo.  I stood right in front of the stage, with Ryan standing behind me to catch any blows and prevent me from being knocked around.  These guys were really good and reminded me of my uncle when he plays – they just look psyched to be there and their love for music oozes out of every pore.

If you ever have a chance to see Face to Face, you won’t be disappointed.  As far as venues, if you are in DC and have the opportunity to go to a show at The Black Cat I would definitely recommend it!  However, remember the ear plugs, for real.  My ears were ringing for two days.  One thing punk is not….quiet.


Posted by on July 2, 2011 in Music


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How to Survive a Festival

Last Saturday, my friends and I went to Shamrockfest 2011.  It is, as you might guess, a giant festival celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  In that vein, there is an Irish village, food tents, four stages with bands, and lots and lots of beer trucks.  The bands are usually a mix of cover bands and Irish bands, and this year’s were pretty awesome.  I saw Lost in Paris (a cover band that was ok, but lamely put on a recording of Dave Matthew’s Band instead of actually singing Ants Go Marching), the Pubcrawlers (very high energy), Barleyjuice (good Irish band with an incredibly talented fiddle player), Scythian (fantastic job – lots of instruments, lots of enthusiasm!) and Dropkick Murphys (which most people know and love, even if you think you don’t you have probably heard the following song “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” from The Departed..).

As I wandered and observed the crowd, I realized that although this was not my first rodeo, others either had very little experience at festivals or were a little dense and hadn’t quite got it all figured out.

Festivals require some preparation.  Yes, it’s all about experiencing the music with friends and drinks and yes, festivals have been associated with a certain freedom and do-what-the-fuck-you-want spirit that grew out of a free love and drug culture; however, you still need to think about two basic things – that is, unless you are going to re-create Woodstock or something, then disregard everything I’m saying.  First, the clothing.  When you go to spring or fall festivals, you should dress in layers.  This way you can take things off (light jackets or scarves) when you get warm and put them on when you are cold.  Usually flat boots or some sort of cushioned flat (chucks, sperrys, Toms, etc) are the best, followed by comfy flip flops if it’s warm enough.  Generally, four-inch heels are considered to be a really dumb idea.  Along with that, skanky little skirts, thigh highs and see through tops are pretty dumb as well.  You aren’t comfortable in that and let’s face it, it’s NOT warm enough to be dressed in skimpy clothes.  Additionally, you look horrible…seriously.

Second thing to consider – arrival time. When you look at a festival schedule decide which bands you really care about.  If your top choices are toward the end, then maybe show up a little later.  Basically, you need to decide how long you can sustain your drinking, standing and wandering while staving off your hunger, because you are going to want to save your money for beer and not the over-priced festival food. Trust me, tons of people end up too tired, too drunk or too hungry to last to the last band, which is usually the headliner. 

Another consideration with arrival is to factor in time to stop at an ATM machine somewhere else other than the show.  One of three things will happen if you don’t: (1) there won’t be any ATMs and you will either have to mooch relentless all day or you will get no food or beers, (2) there will be colossal ATM lines, or (3) the “helpful” worker outside of the festival will tell you that two ATMs by the gates with the large trail of your fellow unprepared dummies streaming from it are the only two ATMs available.  So, you will have no choice but to wait while your friends take in the drinks and music inside.  Then the second you walk in, you will be confronted by what seems to be an endless wall of ATMs laughing at you and your stupidity.  Clearly, this is not from personal experience….and thanks a lot to the worker who did this…very funny sir.

Now, once you are at the festival…

Know how to be drunk in public. You wouldn’t think this would be such a hard skill to hone, but for some it must be.  I love being outside, listening to music and getting a little toasted just as much as the next person; however, there is no need for puking on strangers, having angry drunk fights or finding it acceptable to form a circle of friends around the “pickle in the middle” that is peeing in daylight right next to the beer tents – NOT COOL.

Understand a mosh pit. Mosh pit might seem cool and might look rock and roll but seriously, I would only do it if i was high out of my mind and thought I was flying closer to the friendly purple koala in the sky that wants me to follow him.  People get very seriously hurt crowd surfing or even just trying to get a closer look at the band.  This past festival had one particularly nasty example – a guy completely obliterated his ankle crowd surfing (was probably dropped) and his ankle was shattered, bloody and floppy…three things that I don’t want my ankle ever described as.  Basically, don’t do it unless you know what you are getting yourself into.

Despite my few “rules” on festival survival, a festival truly is about enjoying friends, music, the outdoors and beer (in no particular order).  So, really just have fun and who cares what you are doing.  If you want to do a silly Irish jig – knock yourself out.  I guarantee that most peole do not care what you are doing.  If they do, so you give them a laugh.  And, it’s a festival so there is undoubtedly someone somewhere doing something much more ridiculous looking than whatever weird dance move you’re trying out.  In sum – get out there and bust a move, cut a rug, get low, shake your moneymaker, or whatever it is you do.

Oh, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Travel


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