As we enter the holiday season we look forward to spending time with family, seeing old friends, and of course, rocking out with the band!
Friday night in Lincoln (12/3), Gray's Keg was the place to be for killer tunes, spicy tacos, and a big helping of charity as Dear Freida hosted a stacked line-up of bands in honor of local non-profit radio station KZUM.
Dubbed "Bandgivingmas", Dear Freida brought along fellow Lincoln band Echo, Omaha shredders The Clincher, and a new skate punk tribute band Pop Shove It, also from Omaha.
As I arrived at Gray's Keg I was welcomed by the warmth of glowing lights and the familiar sounds of guitars tuning just before the set. A strong scent of jalepenos wafted through the air. I could tell this would be a spicy show.
I made my way to the stage as the first band Pop Shove It was almost done tuning. To my surprise their lead singer is Craig from the Nebraska band Odd Man Out. I said "Whoa, it's the Braille guy!".
This is totally inside baseball, but a couple years ago in the before times, one of my now-favorite bands Telltale played a show at the late Lookout Lounge in Omaha, (R.I.P). Craig's other band, Odd Man Out opened the show. During Telltale's set their lead singer John gave a shout out to "The Braille guy" because Craig was wearing a Braille shirt.
I never confirmed with Craig, but after a quick Google search I found a super underground hardcore band from Philly named Braille so I assume they are the same. Anyway, Telltale is like 90% pop punk and 10% hardcore. Before they played their last song with the hardcore breakdown they asked the crowd to fire up the circle pit, and I assume because Craig had the obscure hardcore band shirt he was dubbed the leader of the pit.
I've since fallen in love with Telltale and when I ran into Craig at a New Found Glory show like 6 months later he said he really liked them as well. So when I saw that Craig had a new band and I remembered his love of pop punk I knew this was going to be an awesome set.
Pop Shove It kicked things off with "My Own Worst Enemy" by the band Lit. At this point in the evening I had no idea PSI was a cover band, so in my head I'm like "Oh, good on them for playing a cover". Sometimes it can help "break the ice", especially if you're a newer band. Everyone likes to feel that sense of inclusion so being able to sing along to an old favorite can really bring the crowd together.
Side note: You can always tell if someone in the crowd is dating someone in the band if they are the only one singing the lyrics. Bonus points if it's something kinda whack.
After "My Own Worst Enemy" Craig addressed the crowd and said their set would be all covers, specifically songs from video game soundtracks like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. I may as well have been the grinch at this point because my heart grew two sizes as it swelled with joy.
Back in the late 90s if you were a subscriber to Playstation Undergound magazine you would occasionally get discs with demos for new games. Sometime in May of 1999 my brothers and I received a "Jampack Summer 99" disc that included a demo for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and it absolutely blew our minds.
There was only one level but it showed so much promise we played it over and over until our eyes were bleeding. I think there may have only been two songs on the demo, but I'll forever have "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" by Primus burned into my brain.
When fall came around we got the full version of the game and our love of pop-punk and skate-punk was born. Ask anyone in their 30s what's the best video game soundtrack and I guarantee you 9 out 10 people will say Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.
Pop Shove It played several cuts from that album along with major pop-punk staples like "All The Small Things", "My Friends Over You", and "Sugar We're Going Down", but my favorite part of the set was the wicked cover of "The Feel Good Drag" by Anberlin! It was truly an awesome time hearing all the nostalgic pop-punk tunes of my youth.
Pop Shove It has a show this Saturday (12/11) at the Reverb with Silence Is Madness. So grab your Nokia flip phone, pull out those JNCO jeans, and get ready to gleam the cube!
Next up was the band Echo from Lincoln. I had seen Echo once before when they opened for Sons of Texas at the Royal Grove. I said it then and I'll say it now, Echo sounds like Iron Maiden mixed with Deep Purple, and a bit of ZZ Top.
When I saw Echo the first time I enjoyed their set but the music wasn't really up my alley. This time around I had more of an appreciation for their talent, and how tight they sounded as a band. Some of the members have been playing together for over 30 years!
I watched as a guy in a Stryper shirt was going wild cheering the band on. I thought about Echo's style and how psyched I would be, had I grown up with posters of the power metal bands of the 70s and 80s on my walls. If you're a fan of those types of bands, Echo is definitely one to check out. Thanks for bringing the rock all these years dudes!
After Echo it was time to get heavy. Before The Clincher went on, Kyle from Dear Freida came up to hype up the set. "Get Ready to have your faces melted by The Clincher!!!" As the band started to play I noticed Kyle wasn't on the stage. At this point, I thought Kyle was part of The Clincher and when he wasn't up there playing I said to myself "Man, The Clincher brought along a guy just to hype them, they're legit!"
I later realized Kyle was part of Dear Freida and we had a laugh about the hype man position. It was a pretty cool touch, maybe The Clincher should look into a full time hype man?
Like Echo, I had seen The Clincher once before, but it was part of an acoustic show. So for me this was like my first full-blown Clincher experience, and wow, these guys brought the shred! Lead singer Lori pummeled the crowd with her siren vocals going from cleans to tonsil-ripping screams with ease.
The Clincher had a good mix of metalcore, death-tech, and even shall I say "death-pop"? Towards the end of their set the band pulled out a medley of Lady Gaga covers. Instead of the dance beat pop you would expect from Gaga, The Clincher turned the heavy up to 11! I had so much fun watching Lori and the band burn the house down with cuts like "Bad Romance" and "Poker Face". Again, covers make everything more fun! Especially when a band takes something like dance-pop and turns it on its head. Way to go Clincher!
As the night was winding down, there was still one band left, our amazing hosts for the evening Dear Freida! Before Dear Freida took the stage they presented KZUM with the donations from the evening's festivities. As the crowd cheered, the warmth of friendship and music comradery were felt throughout the room.
Lindsay and her band stepped up and the cymbals started a very familiar tune, ting, ting, ting... then the riffs came in, dun, nun, nun, nah, dun, nun, nun, nun nah, followed by some super deep bass, boom, boom, bum, bum, boom. Then a few more dun, nun, nun, nahs "Are You Ready!!??" But alas, it was just a tease! Still, kicking out the first little intro to "Blind" was a pretty gangsta move, much respect.
Dear Freida quickly moved into songs from their latest release Safety Last: A Collection of Demos and Reimagination. When I found out about the show on Friday I went on Spotify to check out the album and I was thoroughly impressed. Getting to see the songs live really took things up a notch!
Both Lindsay from Dear Freida and Lori from The Clincher brought their songs alive with powerful vocals. Even with pro ear plugs, my ears were a bit off for the next couple days from all the absolute thrashing of blast beats, shredding guitars, and soaring vocals!
Dear Freida's songs are a great mixture of metalcore, pop-punk, and alternative. Singer Lindsay and rhythm guitarist Kyle harmonize well together, bringing a bright flare of pop sensibility that makes you want to groove! One of the stand out tracks for me was "Sledgehammer". I found myself humming the tune over and over the next day. There are several songs from Safety Last that are catchy little ear worms including "Knife and Dagger", "Rise Above", and "Phoenix Rising".
Make sure you check out Safety Last on Spotify or wherever you stream music. You can also catch Dear Freida when they open for Kingdom Collapse on Jan 23rd at the 1867 Bar. This is going to be a killer show, so don't miss it!
A huge shout out to Lindsay Arlene and Dear Freida for brining the community together for a great cause. Shout out to all the bands and everyone who came out Friday. It was a blast!
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Pop Shove It