I saw The Lillingtons headline a stellar show on Thursday featuring label mates The Bombpops and Western Addiction at my favorite San Francisco venue: Bottom of the Hill. If you are a punk rolling through San Francisco on any given day, Bottom of the Hill probably has a sick lineup to offer at a good price. Any Fat Wreck fans who missed this show (or the whole slew of the Southwest Crusade) should be beyond sorry because, for $15, I stood directly in front of the stage and had NO BEER SPILLED ON ME. I could go on a tangent about all the benefits of small local venue patronage, but I will jump into the review instead.
Opening acts are pretty hit and miss in my experience, but I always show up for them because they’re there for a reason, right? They could be a sparkling gem that you have missed out on before, or they have the freedom to try oddball stuff that more notorious bands can’t. Our first act up sure delivered. The whole crowd was a murmur throughout Grim Deeds’ set: “Who the fuck are these guys?” Two guys got up there, one donning a Jar Jar Binks mask, and the other shirtless with white and black face makeup a la Misfits/Sick Puppy/ KISS?
Everyone was confused, and everyone was enjoying the hell out of it. Their acoustic set featured comedic musings highlighting their lighthearted lyrical contrasts. My favorite was “Glenn the Heavy Metal Custodian.” True to their aloof allure, the internet provides little indication that these are actually two human beings that live outside of this fantastic act, so until I find proof that they are people, I will refer to them as beautiful aliens that find all of us a terrible joke. Seriously, check them out. Grim Deeds fit unexpectedly, yet perfectly into the show and the crowd loved them.
Fittingly, The Bombpops followed. They are always fun and silly onstage and off which makes for an entertaining set. No one, not even the band, planned on Jen breaking off Poli’s thong and suggesting they sell it at the merch table. I am sure that if it was featured at the table, the drunk girl posted up in front of me screaming at Poli and Jen to kiss each other probably spent her life savings on it. That is why I love Bottom of the Hill–anything can happen and you are pretty much in the middle of it.
Having a smaller venue for shows with bands that have large fan bases allow fans and bands to engage for a more memorable show, especially when the musicians can step into the crowd. Needless to say that did happen, and a few super-fans lost their shit, courteously, of course (drunk girl kept a distance). The “woo”s resounded as Poli jumped from the stage down to shred through the crowd.
My first time seeing The Bombpops was unforgettable. If you STILL haven’t seen them in action you need to get on that.
Next up were San Francisco residents Western Addiction! After twelve years of waiting they are finally touring for their new album Tremulous. The mood shifted from fun and silly to aggressive and fast. I like pop punk but I enjoy more scrappy bands generally so it was nice to get both at the show. And scrappy they were– Jason jumped into the show and even engaged in the pit a little, pulling the mic cord through and leaving the stand at the foot of the stage. The mic served as a great prop and if my new glasses would just come in, I would like to get a clear picture of its baton-like performance at the next show. Downside to being on the rail (without a rail) is always being vigilant about things that could hit you in the face/ camera.
As they state on their Bandcamp, the new album is not a departure from their album Cognicide, but a more evolved version of a dependably angry dose of melodic punk. It was my first time seeing all these acts and I was definitely most excited to see what Western Addiction had to offer live. Many people feel the punk scene is moving towards a pop focus and that comes with some mixed feelings. However, if you are looking for a hardcore band that rips fast and satisfies your headbanging urges, Western Addiction should be on your radar.
Headliners The Lillingtons sauntered on the candle-lit stage, each paying tribute to a tiny demon statue on a lit shrine before taking their places. Rebirth, resurrection, rebirth: all words that come to mind when I saw the ritualistic nods to the shrine. Like Western Addiction, The Lillingtons suspended releasing new music for ELEVEN YEARS. The band started off as a Ramones-esque group with catchy hooks and simple style that evolved to include more melodic, ’80s sad boy-influenced, Gothic alternative tunes. Inclusion of the demon had a layered meaning to this eccentric fan. If you have been waiting in the shadows with the rest of us, you will be pleased to know that their hiatus produced a dynamic set, a killer album, and the return of one of the best punk (who the hell knows what they actually are?) bands of my lifetime. Newcomers to the party: plug Stella Sapiente in ASAP!
This was right up there in the top 5 concerts I have ever been to. Everyone was happy and it seemed the show evolved as it progressed: first punk comedy, then pop punk craziness followed by hardcore melody and finishing off with a swirling combination of influences that showed punk is not a static genre like most accuse it of being. Shows that present plural sub genres of punk not only serve a larger audience, but it also challenges the stereotype that punk is rigid, unchanging and unwelcoming to people who do not fit into the dominating representation of punk identity.
Thanks to all the bands, Bottom of the Hill, and Fat Wreck Chords for curating this outstanding evening!