Absolutepunk.net Tour 09 starring Between the Trees, Farewell, Punchline, Action Item & 5 Cases of a Tragedy
09/08/09 Webster Hall NYC
This show was pop-punk heaven. Five bands for only $12; that works out to be only $2.50 a band or something extremely ridiculous like that. Held in ‘The Studio’ at Webster Hall, (a smaller venue underneath the main theatre) in the East Village in New York City, it’s a picturesque venue with an intimate atmosphere but still large enough not to feel claustrophobic when there’s a crowd. The tables surrounding the dance-floor had lit votive candles strewn across them, adding further to the cozy atmosphere.
First up were New York locals 5 Cases of a Tragedy. While obviously a very young band, both in age and experience, it didn’t stop them from being enthusiastic. When they introduced one of their songs as “an older one”, the difference between their older and newer material became clear and showed exactly how far their sound has progressed, even if it has been over a period of months, not years. While the old material is straight-up three chord pop punk circa the late 90’s, early 00’s, the newer material has some screams, some breakdowns and time signature changes all thrown in for good measure. They band looks young enough to still be in high school but there is definitely some potential.
Action Item took the stage next and showcased guitar/piano driven melodies that were reminiscent of the more upbeat Something Corporate songs. Their set contained super catchy songs that the ever increasing crowd seemed to respond well to. The final song ‘The Boy with the Microphone’ is the kind of song that gets stuck in your head for hours, but in a good way.
Unfortunately, Punchline were the biggest disappointment of the evening. As the middle band on the bill I had high expectations of them but ultimately they failed to deliver. They opened with an instrumental version of a Michael Jackson song, and while I tried not to hold that against them, it was all mediocre from there. This is not to say that they don’t play well, – almost the opposite, – they put on a tight show but nothing to really distinguish them from the hundreds, even thousands of other bands within their genre. The set also included too much (unfunny) banter with the crowd, as well as failed attemepts to get the crowd to clap and wave along to various songs. The second guitarist prolonged their last song by covering the chorus of the Bee Gee’s ‘Night Fever’. Since 95% of this crowd looked to be in their late teens/early twenties, it’s safe to say that they were at least a decade too young to have even been alive when the Gibb brothers were producing their hits, let alone know all the words. Maybe they hoped the crowd had a penchant for listening to their parents records from the disco era.
Farewell were up next and definitely the highlight of the show. They’re a 6 piece band, and managed to fill the stage not only in a physical sense but also exuded a real stage presence that the other bands on the line-up lacked. From the outset, you get the feeling this will be one of the last tours they play in such a small venue. Bands like All Time Low and New Found Glory have carved a niche in the pop punk genre and just like their predecessors Farewell have created songs that are pop punk anthems, – the crowd needed no coaxing to sing, clap and dance along to everything they played. Their newest release had been out for less than a week before this stop in New York but that didn’t stop many people in the audience from already knowing the words to the new songs. The Greensboro, North Carolina natives reproduced the professional and tight sound of their recordings almost perfectly in their live performance.
Headlining band Between the Trees took to the stage in front of a crowded room and put on a great show. They were probably the most out of place band on the line-up as they lean more towards the indie/emo rock sound than the pop punk of the other bands. The first half of the set saw the four-piece perform with two guitars, bass and drums; the second half of the set the singer threw in his guitar for a seat behind the keyboard. The swap meant the later part of the set was a bit mellower; the songs with the keys present were really beautiful and the singer’s powerful voice carried the strong melodies perfectly. The crowd really seemed to appreciate and enjoy them, and Between the Trees proved why they deserved to be a headliner on this tour.