BEST TRACKS: Picture Perfect, Always Hazy, Upside Down Again
Recommended If You Like: Oso Oso, Slaughter Beach Dog, American Football, Remo Drive
Macseal has been teasing us ever since 2015, releasing EP after EP, giving us small morsels of delicious music but keeping us ravenously hungry for a proper full length album. Finally, earlier this month, our prayers were answered and Macseal released an exciting, vibrant album that I am gobbling up. From Long Island, NY, Macseal is a 4-piece American indie rock band with pop influences that have a unique talent for forging sunny melodies supported by relatable lyrical narratives. They have an impressive track record for putting on exhilarating live shows and are currently touring the eastern and southern United States and they are coming to Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle on February 4th!
This pop-infused punk album is bliss from start to finish, featuring elements of insane math rock rhythms, light, glittering guitar work, and crystal clear vocals. Super Enthusiast is a romantic, breezy listen, spotted with small emotional outcries that are easily accessible to anyone. With bittersweet tracks like Mystery Inc., which is about outgrowing people, and Graduating Steps, which is about revisiting your old school after many years, this album could easily soundtrack a rebellious teenage coming of age movie.
When I listen to this album, I can’t help from picturing the sun glistening on the surface of a lake. But don’t be fooled, because even though the music is upbeat, if you get into the lyrics, you’ll find that they’re pretty glum, confronting the rapid passage of time and the challenges of getting older in such a cold, unforgiving universe. I find that I can listen to this kind of happy-sad music through thick and thin and it always finds a way to resonate with me. If you like drawing on the sidewalk with chalk or taking bubble baths, you’re probably going to love this album.
Due to work, I arrived late to the show, causing me to miss the two openers- Smidley (a side project of emo stalwarts Foxing), and the folksy-country group Saintseneca. I came in right as Tigers Jaw took the stage and opened up with a cut from their newest album, Spin, entitled “Follows”. I was shocked to see the crowd’s reaction as a small, but considerably aggressive mosh pit opened up. Considering their newer material is a far cry from their much faster-paced emo/pop-punk days, the pit seemed very out of place and continued throughout the night to new and old songs. Three songs into the set, during fan-favorite
“The Sun”, a young concertgoer stage dove into the audience. Due to the smaller attendance, the crowd did not catch the young fan as they fell to the floor. The band immediately stopped playing, requesting help and for the audience to clear way for the injured fan. 911 was called and the fan was taken to the hospital. The atmosphere in the room was somber as everyone was uncertain of the fan’s safety.
After a few minutes after the concertgoer was taken to safety, the band returned to the stage and made a statement on taking care of each other at shows, as things like this happen far too often. With incidents like these happening so often, one has to wonder how to make them stop. Should there be no stage diving? Should there be no moshing? These are rather tough questions that defy why so many people got involved in these scenes. The bottom line is people need to respect each other’s space. This could mean not moshing if people around you are visibly crushed for space, catching people when they do stage dive (don’t part the sea like Moses), and being wary when deciding to crowd surf. I have been to many shows and have seen way too many people that are struggling to be held up by the crowd. It should come as common sense that a full-grown person shouldn’t be crowd surfing if the audience is either sparse, unwilling to support them, or made up largely of younger concertgoers, yet it happens all the time. Shows can and should always be fun, but people just need to respect everyone and be considerate of their situation and others’. If people took this consideration, then maybe incidents where an attendee getting taken to the hospital and possibly missing one of their favorite’ bands set would happen less often.
As for the actual show, Tigers Jaw ripped through a vast collection of their songs, new and old, sounding pretty tight on both. Their older songs definitely packed more of a punch given the intensity and nostalgic value for many of the fans, while the new songs shined in maturity and progression as a band. The new songs, more or less the first time I heard many of them, definitely enticed me to listen to them on record (as the album had just come out a few days prior). They are perfect for the summer; elegantly pleasant and perfect for a nice night cruising down a lake.
Tigers Jaw just released Spin on Black Cement and can be found just about anywhere in the vast new world on streaming platforms (maybe not Grooveshark).
For many people in the pop-punk/emo scene, this line-up could arguably be considered the line-up of the year. Turnover released an album that everybody has been flocking to since its release. They are gaining momentum more and more with every tour they are on. Basement is a scene favorite that just came off of hiatus and are touring for their first time in 3 years. Then there’s the Story So Far, quite possibly the biggest band in the new wave of pop-punk.
Coming into this show, I was most excited to see Turnover, as they released my favorite album of the year, Peripheral Vision. Starting the show off, they did not disappoint. Playing many of the strongest cuts from Peripheral Vision with ease and near perfection. Austin Getz, lead singer and guitarist sounded on par with his on-record performance. The crowd pleasantly swayed along to the breezy guitars and hazy vocals singing along every word. This was the most calm the crowd was all night. Turnover even included what I believe to be was a new song. The crowd pepped up when they closed with lead single “Cutting My Fingers Off”, a perfect closer ripe for sing-alongs. Out of the 3 times I have seen Turnover this year, this was by far the best set. I am eagerly awaiting a headlining tour from this band after opening for so many great bands.
Second band of the night could have easily headlined the show and that is the British band, Basement. From the moment they hit the stage, the crowd went wild singing along to “Whole” and the energy hardly stopped as they played a variety of hits from their 2 full length albums, 7 inch, and a new song from their upcoming album, Promise Everything, to which kids were even singing along. Throughout the set, lead singer Andrew Fisher danced throughout the night in quite the delightful way. It wasn’t “Hotline Bling” level dancing but it was damn close. The band closed the set out with the cathartic song “Covet” to great crowd participation. A lot of bands have been going on hiatus lately and Basement acts as the perfect model for why a band might go on hiatus. Ever since the hiatus started, Basement has just grown exponentially in style and are at a peak. It appears that they are going to continue this ascent to scene favorite with their new album due in early 2016 on Run For Cover Records.
After an intermission filled with the hot hip-hop songs of today, The Story So Far took the stage to an ever eager audience. The crowd immediately pushed forward with fingers pointing straight at lead singer Parker Cannon. The band ripped through “Nerve” off the new album and called for a circle pit during “The Glass”. The crowd was highly responsive with tons of crowd surfing and mosh antics. Cannon ate it up expressing his pleasure with how fun the crowd was. Before the show, I had always heard The Story So Far lacked any stage presence or charisma, but this show proved otherwise, at least Parker Cannon definitely was energetic. As a person who got into this band when they first came out, the setlist definitely left a lot to desire skipping out on many older hits. However, I can’t really complain as they are psyched on their new material and would naturally play those songs. Overall, it was a strong show from each band proving that these bands are the cream of the crop for this scene.
As I grow older, I start to see the pop-punk scene in a new light, a more critical light. Much of pop-punk is devoted to the idea of stage dives and crowd surfing and I understand the appeal. When I was a younger, more spry lad, I was up there jumping on peoples backs and stage diving. It was fun, there’s no denying that, but it creates a place that isn’t safe for everybody. I’m not calling for the stoppage of having fun, but more for a consideration when it comes to crowd surfing. It is a problematic thing that happens at these shows filled with young attendees that could very well get hurt by the 180 pound guy flipping all over the people beneath him, just so he can have fun or sing along on top of everybody. I would like to see more bands take a stand against it like Joyce Manor. It might be an unpopular move to speak out against it, but to ensure a safer scene for all should be of the utmost importance, not just the enjoyment of a few.