With The Menzingers, this happened to be one of those cases. I only learned about the punk rock quartet a few weeks ago, and decided to give them a go just on a whim. Being as some of the first bands I listened to when I was just a wee punk are some of the biggest in the genre today (such as Green Day, The Offspring, and Bad Religion – thanks mainly to the video game Crazy Taxi) I figured I’d give them a shot. Little did I know that I would be part of a group that happened to be “the biggest crowd they’ve ever played for…”
The show started a bit early, with 4 total bands on the bill. I missed seeing the opener Cayetana by just a minute or two, catching only the tail end of their last song. While the minimal crowd seemed to applaud them quite well toward the end of their set, I can’t exactly pass judgement on it.
The second band on the tour package was Canadian punk rock band “Pup.” As I had never heard of them, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. When I was photographing them for their first three songs at the front of the stage, I had the chance to be instantly blown away from their immense stage presence. With front man/lead vocalist Stefan Babcock bouncing around the stage, from jumping off of amps to thrashing about his guitar, I was almost unsure where I should point my camera while shooting. To top it off, the other 3 members, even drummer Zack Mykula was just as energetic.
The music of Pup has a bit if an alternative flow with a punk rock drive, and I immediately dug it. As a Canadian band however, they had to make mention of the New York Rangers Stanley Cup hockey Eastern Conference playoff win the night before, beating out the Montreal Canadiens. While Stephen seemed to appreciative of the effort, when the crowd started to cheer “Rangers, Rangers, Rangers!” you could tell with his reply of, “OK, OK, this isn’t Madison Square Garden” that he was still at least a little bit salty about it. Either way, Pup made a new fan out of me, and I look forward to seeing more from them.
The main support for the tour came from a Buffalo, NY band called Lemuria. A three piece with a female guitarist, the band seems to mix indie with pop punk. Maybe its because they were following the energetic Pup, but I was honestly rather bored by Lemuria. While they did move around a bit, they didn’t dominate the stage, and the music didn’t seem to go anywhere, at least not for me.
One nice bit during Lemuria’s set came towards the end. During what I believe was the song titled “Pants,” a large group of the audience started to sing along with vocalist/guitarist Sheena Ozzella. This brought a bit of tear to her eye, and made her even more thankful for the opportunity.
So before I get in to describing The Menzingers set, let me mention how old the main ballroom of Webster Hall is. The place really feels like old New York City, and is almost falling apart. When I saw the metal band High on Fire here, the walls literally shook from how loud the tone was. The refurbished Marlin Room of Webster Hall just downstairs, is quite nice, but whenever I walk up the stairs to the main ballroom, I always worry that one of the steps may just break on me. That said, during The Menzingers, the ground shook heavily and that wasn’t the greatest of feelings.
The barrier between the stage and the pit was certainly not large enough for this kind of show. From the moment the band hit the stage with “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore,” which is also the first track from their newest album “Rented World,” the crowd went nuts, pushing towards the barrier, and crowd surfing over. With nearly 15 other photographers in this tight space, I couldn’t even move over to stage left without having to squeeze past crowd surfers, security and other photographers. When a crowd surfer came over, the security had to essentially slide their bodies down, rather than catching them and placing them on their feet, as would happen at most venues. It seemed quite dangerous if I’m honest.
For “Good Things,” the second song of their set, and one of their most popular, the poor old structure of Webster Hall really started to show. Maybe it was just the front near the stage, but I could feel the ground wobble up and down as if there was an earthquake. I imagine fans that got seasick easily probably had to head to the back, because things were pretty shakin’.
Luckily, I was able to enjoy most of the show from one of the positives of Webster Hall – the upstairs balcony. From here, I could see the crowd getting rowdy. It was not in a way that has become popular at most metalcore/hardcore shows these days however (with spin kicking, and punching the air), but with old school punk rock moshing and fun had by all. Stage right guitarist/vocalist Greg Barnett even went to say, “This is the biggest show we’ve ever played. 6 years ago, we were happy if we played a show and 2 people came to it. We can’t thank you all enough for this.” As I could see the full scope of the packed in main floor from the balcony, it was clear this was quite a large crowd, nearly packing out the roughly 1500 capacity Webster Hall main ballroom.
It wasn’t all crazy moshing through the set. The slower “Where Your Heartache Exists” had less pushing and rocking, and more singing along to the “ooohaooohs.” The overall set had a bit of these slower spots, and were the perfect chance for those in the audience to catch their breath.
This NYC date was only the second night of the tour, which goes on for more than a month after this writing. While I didn’t catch the names, there were apparently quite a few punk rock legends in attendance of the show as well. If you want an old school punk rock experience with a solid energy, I highly suggest checking out The Menzingers on this tour. In just one night, they won me over, and are certain to sell out many shows along the way on this fantastic punk rock tour. Click here to find a date near you.