God, I’m almost 30. I’ve been suffering from some sort of existential, crotchety, malaise lately, or at least more so than the average high school teacher. I could find any number of reasons for this (my students, our President, Taylor Swift) but I rather find a remedy to jumpstart my attitude before I collapse underneath the weight of all these mental burdens. Beach Slang’s Drunk or Lust tour was the punch to the heart that I needed.
Firstly, it should be expected that any tour involving Beach Slang would be dripping with nostalgia (the band recently completed a run with Jimmy Eat World). The ticket from open to close did not disappoint in this department. See Through Dresses opened the night with their brand of 80’s/90’s dream pop and emo that’s seen a resurgence with bands like Turnover, before switching to what I imagine is their older work, which was more 90’s garage punk fare. Being an opener is no easy act, and the energy and passion of this young act was very impressive, especially considering people were still trickling in.
Dave Hause and the Mermaid kept the crowd going with their brand of revival rock, hearkening back to the stylings of Springsteen and Petty. As the world’s biggest self proclaimed Brian Fallon fan, I initially went into this set skeptical, seeing as Fallon reigns supreme in that genre and especially since Hause himself is a contemporary and peer of Fallon (he starred in The Gaslight Anthem’s video for “Bring It On”). Any doubts I had were quickly quelled by Hause’s enthusiasm. From the opening guitar and piano chords of “Autism Vaccine Blues” through the somber acoustic number “Season’s Greetings from Ferguson”, Dave Hause proved himself to be a regular bandleader working the audience and getting everyone belting his sing-alongs.
By the time James Alex and Co. took the stage, the crowd was primed enough for the unrelenting barrage of feelings that is their live show. The band filled their set list with all of the hits from their punk rock arsenal plus a slew of covers including The Cure, Jawbreaker, The Pixies, The Gin Blossoms, and The Replacements (twice!). This might seem like cheating, but everything about this show was so intimate, that it didn’t even matter. Due to the charisma oozing out of Alex during his audience banter and uninhibited stage antics (I’ve never seen a man bend backwards that far while wielding a classic Dark Cherry ES), there was never once a feeling of distance between them and us in the audience. The whole thing felt as if you were seeing an old friend’s band in a jam packed basement, and they played all of your favorite songs of theirs, as well as covers of the songs you both loved. To be a band that sells that sort of romanticism is one thing, to so effortlessly rope the audience in to that feeling and community is another.
Needless to say, this group, their music, their ethos, has been EXACTLY what I’ve needed recently. They are a reminder that life doesn’t have to be dominated by petty squabbles between celebrities or politicians or young, stupid kids, but by those enduring moments of when you were a young, stupid kid with nothing but a lust for life and a disregard for everyone who told you “no”. What an invigorating reminder heading into this new year.
Bring it on, 2018.
Beach Slang will be supporting Dashboard Confessional on their 2018 “We Fight” Tour.
Follow Jon on Twitter at @anotherrahulJ