Last Night: Warped Tour Kickoff Party at the Double Wide with Against Me!, Lucero, Mike Herrera, The Aggrolites and Missile

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Warped Tour Kickoff Party with Against Me!, Lucero, Mike Herrera, The Aggrolites and Missile
The Double Wide
June 23, 2011

Better than: any house party you've ever attended

Billed as a free-to-the-public kickoff party for the summer-long Warped Tour, last night's display at the Double Wide was actually much, much more.

Originally, Ben Nichols from Lucero, Mike Herrera from MxPx and Tom Gabel from Against Me! were to supposed to perform. But, mere hours before showtime, word was those sets were going to be full-band affairs.

So, yes, if you passed up on seeing this show and you're a fan of any of these acts, you should kick yourself.

Fuck work. Fuck summer school. This was one hell of memorable show.

Local punk act Missile opened things up at 10 and played an almost 40-minute set. With their cruising, greasy punk rock, the trio engaged the ever-growing crowd. Included in their 11 song set was a heartfelt tune written about Spector 45's Frankie Campagna. The audience ate it up, just as it would all offerings on this night.

Credit Oliver Peck for making the night happen -- booking the bands, bringing in sponsors, the whole shebang. The nationally renowned, locally based tattoo artist and owner of Elm St. Tattoo emceed between acts and proved to be exactly the person to help the flow of the night, giving out fistfuls of drink tickets to people up by the front of the stage.

He welcomed four members of The Aggrolites to the stage mere minutes after Missile left it. While not a full-band show for the group, their six songs went over incredibly well. A fantastic blend of reggae and classic soul, they got people to sing along, even though most in the crowd had never heard the band before. And they even covered the Temptations staple, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Excellent choice.

Mike Herrera came on immediately after and admitted to the crowd that he was making up his set as he went along. He gladly welcomed requests from his time with both MxPx and Tumbledown. Some songs were acknowledged and played -- like "Arrested in El Paso Blues" and "Son of a Gun." Other songs, like "Chick Magnet" and "GSF" were passed over. When he played MxPx songs like "The Final Slowdance" and "Doing Time," though, there was a poignancy that came out. He played the songs slower than when he played them with his normal mates, Tom and Yuri, and everyone paid close attention, hanging onto every word. It was as silent as a tomb in the place for a number of songs. Fittingly, he ended his set with a song that usually ends MxPx shows and was perfect for Warped kickoff party: "Punk Rawk Show."


Ben Nichols came next, joined by four of his Lucero bandmates. With seven songs, including their twangy rendition of Jawbreaker's "Kiss the Bottle," people started to go even more into a frenzy. Nichols' howl sounded spot-on as he chugged through upbeat and slower material alike. Accompanied by pedal steel and accordion, the beautiful nuances found in Lucero's vast catalog came through.

Then the mighty Against Me! came onto the stage -- a stage much smaller than ones the band has played in recent years. Yet, even though the band has played arenas and festivals, they still know how to play to an adoring crowd in a smaller venue.

When you see Against Me! play a show like this, be ready for pushing and shoving. People screamed their heads off to every word coming out of Gabel's mouth. Much more an experience in community than watching a band play the hits, the band had the packed crowd in their grasps for a full 40 minutes. A total of 13 songs ranging from the band's early days to their latest record were played. Hell, they even covered The Clash's "Janie Jones." And when songs like "Miami," "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong," and "Sink, Florida, Sink" started, arms went into the air, water and beer flew, and the crowd moved like sea tides in slow motion.

Gabel again proved himself as a wonderful showman on this night, singing and screaming his own heart out, reciprocating the energy from the people below him. Relatively new drummer Jay Weinberg did the same. Forget Weinberg's lineage to The Boss (he's the son of Max Weinberg), the guy plays like he is in the greatest band in the world. As shards from his drumsticks flew, he sang along and often widened his eyes, all while pounding the crap out of his drums.

After the band finished and started to pack up, Peck got back on the microphone one last time, proclaiming the show as one of the best the venue has ever had.

There's very little doubt that it was.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I've seen Against Me! play twice -- once opening for the Foo Fighters at the American Airlines Center and later at the Palladium opening for Silversun Pickups. I'm happy to say that, at this show, I didn't have a terrible allergic reaction when someone lit up. Read my Silversun Pickups review to get what I'm talking about.

Random Quote: "I drink a lot," said a guy behind before Against Me!'s set. "I have bad memories."

By The Way: It's not every show that you come home smelling like dried beer, barbecue smoke, other people's sweat, various deodorants and perfumes and you're totally cool with it.

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