Amigo the Devil, Harley Poe and Guests Pack Out Purgatory at Masquerade

Photos Courtesy of Ariana Simon (Instagram)

On November 17th, everyone in Atlanta started getting ready for the following week of Thanksgiving. Some started making their way towards family to spend time together. Others started hanging Christmas decorations as their eagerness for the holidays took hold of them. But for all of those heathens of tradition, the place to be was Masquerade. While Mayday Parade took over Heaven, the talent to see was in Purgatory where Amigo the Devil, Harley Poe, Blood Oaks, and Collins Drive packed out the venue. There was a constant overflow of patrons into the alley outside from the first note of the opening act Collins Drive. It was a great sight to behold as Atlanta showed its love for its local music scene.

To kick off the night, Collins Drive took to the stage. Labeled as southern Americana folk rock, this trio of artists really brought out some good soul in their jams. They have a sound that is a cross between Johnny Cash and the Allman Brothers with each tune covered in a cloudy veil of raw life that can only be peered through in the bottom of a shot glass. As this was my first time catching these guys play, I look forward to hearing them again.

Following Collins Drive was Blood Oaks. These guys are a staple in the Atlanta cow punk scene as they keep stepping up their game in each show I attend. For this rendition of their performance, their lead singer The Reverend was dressed up in true unholy attire as he preached the gospel that is rock and roll. His cohorts were all dressed for church with a style that made the crowd expect to be raptured by the music, and they did not disappoint. To start their set, they had their former drummer Shane sit in on one song, giving a tribute to his contribution to the band. From there, their new drummer took the reigns and kept the beat going. The music of Blood Oaks has a very punk rock vibe that puts a dancing to your feet and a warmth in your soul. I even saw a mosh pit form after their second song. I look forward to seeing what new things these guys have in store the next time they preach some rock and roll. Continue Reading

Dead Sara: Masquerade-Hell, Atlanta, GA, September 14, 2018

“Rock is dead.” That’s what they tell us. That’s what they keep saying. “Rock is dead.” Music journalist, aging rock stars, even fans all regularly profess the demise of guitar driven music. Apparently none of them have seen Dead Sara live. While Billboard and radio serve up increasingly sanitized playlists composed of disposable pop, lukewarm country, and flaccid hip hop artists who seem to have little connection to their rebellious roots (has it really been that long since Johnny Cash and Public Enemy?) Dead Sara and their crew pile into a cramped van every day and burn a trail through the clubs and small theatres of America. Friday night, that path brought them to the Masquerade in Atlanta.

Jeh Sea Wells and his band, collectively known as Welles, opened the show. Rock bands from rural America or cities not known for rock music (Welles is from Arkansas) often have a unique perspective in their music. Welles’ songs are full of big guitars and bigger hooks and bring to mind artists such as Soul Asylum and Nirvana without feeling too retro. Their set also included a cover of the Cure’s “Love Song” which was much grittier than the original. I admit this is not a band I was at all familiar with prior to the show, but after their performance I will listen to the full album.

I had tickets to see Dead Sara on the “Pleasure to Meet You” tour in 2015 but unexpected circumstances forced me to miss the show. I’ve waited three years to see this band live and they did not disappoint.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Ann and Nancy Wilson are just a few of the great guitar and vocal duos in the history of rock. Guitarist Siouxsie Medley and vocalist Emily Armstrong may someday be mentioned along those artists. They do what all great duos do –they facilitate each other’s strengths. Siouxsie Medley lays down the crunchy riffs, and along with drummer Sean Friday and new/touring bassist Marc Walloch, creates the song structure that provides a platform for what Armstrong does best -seize the attention of the audience with her raspy vocals and frantic energy. Her voice is suggestive of a punk rock infused Janis Joplin or Stevie Nicks, and she is easily one of contemporary rock’s best vocalists. What became clear Friday is that she is also one of rock’s best performers. Whether playing rhythm guitar or just wielding a microphone, all eyes are focused on Armstrong’s antics. Toward the end of “Lemon Scent” she threw her guitar into the drum kit and had a full on roll-on-the-floor meltdown, and that was just the third song. This isn’t the ego driven fits of Axl Rose throwing microphones, storming off the stage, and refusing to play, but an unbridled energy finding its appropriate vessel for release -live rock and roll. During “Weatherman,” their biggest single to date, Armstrong tossed the microphone over the barricade and into the audience, smiling the whole time as a fan butchered the chorus. Toward the end of the show, another guitar was tossed through the cymbals and slammed on the floor after an apparent technical issue. Twice she leapt from the stage and climbed the barricade into the audience to briefly surf over the crowd and sing with the fans.

I was instantly reminded of the summer of ’92, when two virtually unknown vocalists, Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder stormed the stages of Lollapalooza with unmatched vocal presence and complete reckless abandon. They introduced themselves to mainstream rock fans on that tour and reminded them that rock should have an element of danger and unpredictability; something that had long been missing. That’s what Dead Sara does. At any time you feel like it could all fall apart in front of your eyes and when it doesn’t, it’s magical. Those in attendance in their forties and fifties were reminded of why they first fell in love with rock and roll. Those in their teens and twenties were seeing it for the first time.

It is unfortunate that Dead Sara arrived in an era when new rock is not very commercially viable. If this was the 1990’s or even early 2000’s they would most likely have a gold album. Maybe two. Maybe a platinum album. Instead they play for several hundred “Deadicated” fans each night and, along with a handful of other bands, are the torchbearers for new rock when unfortunately few people are listening. Hopefully that trend will soon be reversed. Dead Sara is the blood coursing through the veins of rock and roll and American needs a transfusion.

Dead Sara’s tour continues through the end of October so run, don’t walk, to see them live!

http://www.deadsara.com/

Full Photo Gallery of Dead Sara

Full Gallery of Welles

 

Live Review: CKY, Slaves and Guests Pack Out Masquerade

Photos by Stephanie Heath (Facebook/Instagram) – Photo Galleries Found Below

The Masquerade on Monday, August 27th hosted a slew of both local and international talent at their Hell stage, personally my favorite stage at Masquerade due to its intimacy and balcony view. Surprisingly, the Masquerade was packed out from when the doors opened, an oddity for a such an off night for concerts. However, this was just a testament to the appeal of the artists that took the stage that night. On the docket, we had the one and only CKY with Slaves, Royal Thunder, and Awaken I AM on CKY and Slaves’ co-headliner North American 2018 Tour, and as an added bonus the tour had an additional act, Atlanta’s own Get Those Nerds.

Opening up the night, Get Those Nerds took to the stage. Hailing originally from Marietta but now based in Austell, these guys define their sound as nerd punk, with their songs primarily based around the nerd culture of the band members. Catching a quote from their lead singer and guitarist Caleb Kirshner, the band “wanted to give everything they had in 20 minutes or less” as they had a shortened time slot. And honestly, Get Those Nerds delivered and then some. They even got in a cover of “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult with an added Godzilla and gorilla mascot on stage.

As the second act of the night, and the opening act for the tour, Brisbane’s own Awaken I Am jumped right into their set, with a warm reception by the crowd as they continued to rock out to the onslaught of artists slated for the night. These guys have a heavy, alternative sound that creates a soundscape worthy of headbanging, with their frontman vocalist Jimmy Alexander pumping up the crowd. Each song Awaken I Am played had that beat that rocks the soul, serving as the heartbeat that all rockers in attendance synced with while thrashing to the music. It’s good to know that on the other side of the world, there are artists that can rock out just as hard as artists in America.

Holding down the middle set, Royal Thunder kept the energy alive with their southern, soulful rock. Being from Atlanta, these guys, and gal as they have a frontwoman, were in familiar territory on this stop of the tour. Royal Thunder has some killer tunes that really shine due to the talent behind each instrumental voice in the band. Their drummer put out some catch breaks while both of their guitarists were bantering back and forth with cascading riffs and solid solos. Meanwhile, their lead vocalist and bass player slayed the low end on her axe, playing her bass more like a guitar with heavy strumming and chord progressions. On the last song of their set, Royal Thunder really brought down the house, ending the night with a band group hug.

Next up was the first of the two headliners, Sacramento’s own Slaves, a post-hardcore group formed by vocalist Jonny Craig, a former member of Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance with a colorful history. It was obvious that many attendees were waiting for these guys to take the stage as the crowd turned up to 11 when the band came on stage. From their first song, it was hard to tell who sang louder, Slaves’ mic’d lead vocalist Jonny or the crowd as everyone in the pit seemed to know the lyrics to each song. On a few occasions during the set, Jonny even threw the mic to the crowd. The bands’ two guitarists displayed some serious chops as they played off one another to form some intricate melodies. Holding down the guitarists, Slaves’ bassist and drummer kept a tight beat going with the drummer showcasing the full range of his kit and the bassist laying down a solid foundation on the low end. Playing some of their beloved songs such as “Warning From My Demons”, “True Colors”, and “I Know A Lot Of Artists”, Slaves really showed their dominance as headlining artists.

As the last act of the night and co-headliner, CKY took the stage. Getting their start in 1998 with help from the Jackass TV series, this band has had a history riddled with lineup changes and even a hiatus. However, their colorful history has not kept them from playing shows 20 years after their inception. From West Chester, Pennsylvania, CKY is a wild blend of grunge, skate punk, and hard rock that doesn’t hold any punches when they perform. With the band’s current lineup being a three-piece act with their founding member Chad Ginsburg on vocals and guitar, each song had epic trade offs between solid guitar licks and vocals. These trade offs in their songs are further highlighted by their drummer and founder Jess Margera and bassist Matt Deis keeping the beat loose yet steady. CKY played some of their classic heyday songs such as their classic “96 Quite Bitter Beings” to the crowd’s delight but also touched on some of their newer tunes such as the opening track of their new album The Phoenix titled “Replaceable”. Although different from the original sound of CKY both in the old and newer tracks they played, this current lineup keeps with the original vibe of the band and doesn’t stray away from the sound that originally captured CKY’s fans ears back in the 90s. 

As CKY and Slaves’ North American 2018 Tour is coming to a close in the next few weeks, look out for CKY, Slaves, Royal Thunder, Awake I Am, and Get Those Nerds the next time any of them pack out a show in Atlanta.

Photo Gallery – Get Those Nerds


Photo Gallery – Awaken I Am


Photo Gallery – Royal Thunder


Photo Gallery – Slaves


Photo Gallery – CKY

Live Review: The Bastard Suns with The Muckers and AndLove

Full Gallery by Julie Lott at the end of the review

The Masquerade was filled with whispers of anticipation for the show in Hell on October 6. The main course for the evening was The Bastard Suns with appetizers AndLove and The Muckers. The alleyway was filled with your seasoned punk crowd. Attendees weren’t eager to push up and crowd the stage as everyone seemed to have been there and done that. The audience hunkered down in their spots in the crowd, most with a cold one in hand, none of them fledglings to the concert scene. Anyone not ready to perch up inside the venue was outside finishing off his or her last glass of conversation around the dying ember of a cigarette. Anticipation hung in the air for music to kick off the night.

First on the menu was AndLove, a local band hailing from the streets of Atlanta. Their stylings keep it lively with a mix of reggae, rock, punk, and whatever else feels right. Although the band has been around for over half a decade, they still have a refreshing garage band feel with their performance. Each instrument of their three-piece ensemble stood out with unique character as their melodies blended together in a delicious smoothie of good music. They did a great rendition of “Miss Jackson” that got the crowd bumping. Shout out to their lead vocalist and guitarist Timmy Halischak for leading such a groovy band and keeping it real.

Next up on the menu was The Muckers, a five-piece Irish rock band that also are locals to Atlanta. Off the bat, The Muckers have a very slick look with everyone dressed up in what you’d expect from a polished, well-toured folk band. However, these guys are only the new kids having been around since 2015. On first impressions, by that I mean looking at their outfits and instruments before they played, the band has a very folk vibe as they do incorporate a mandolin, violin, and accordion in their set. First impressions in this case were completely wrong as their first song fired off with a pungent punk sound that shifted the mood from Mumford to a more Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys vibe. These guys are definitely going places.

And now for the main course, The Bastard Suns. This ragtag group of misfits really knows how to prepare for a show. Before their set, the band was getting in their groove as this was their first stop on a three-week tour. When they took the stage and struck their first chord, the entire crowd started bumping. I personally couldn’t stop dancing for the first three songs.

The energy and showmanship put on by lead vocalist couple Clay and Whitney is unmatched by anything I’ve seen in live performances. And not to toot my own horn, but I’ve seen a lot of live performances from Van Halen to the Black Keys to Lil Dicky. Clay and Whitney have that extra connection with their audience so their audience can get the most band for their buck. But enough about them. Wes, the mastermind behind their guitar riffs, killed it with his solos with the crowd eating up every note of his polished licks. Tonka, the machine-turned-human drummer, had a smile on his face the entire time he was jamming out on his beloved drum kit. His change of address is the pocket as he was spitting bars of beats that could come from nowhere else. If anything, you must see this man play drums live. And then you have the new additions to the crew, bassist Ian and trombonist Mike. Although both of these cats haven’t been with the band for long, both fit naturally in the band’s performance as if they had always belonged.

The overall set that The Bastard Suns put on was organic. By that I mean they put together their set list the day of their show to keep each live performance unique and special for their fans. This particular set was super unique as Clay ripped his new jeans on stage at the crouch with a follow up by the band with the song “Smell Your Dick”. By the end of their set, Clay was pants-less but still killing it. This really shows how familiar these guys are with performing, and that they always keep it real and fun. At the end of their set, they preannounced their last two songs, and by that I mean they asked the crowd what order they wanted them in. To add more icing on the cake for their fans, we all got to end the night with a killer encore of “Fat Bottomed Girls”.

Even with the switch up on locations for Masquerade, the same old vibe has carried on to their new home. And the same can be said about the classic acts that roll through. To catch The Bastard Suns on their tour, check out their tour dates here.

Photo Gallery – AndLove

Photo Gallery – The Muckers

Photo Gallery – The Bastard Suns

Live Review: In Flames, Kataklysm, and White Knuckle Riot on Tour with guest Cloak

Atlanta’s own Masquerade was packed out on Sunday, May 21, with metal heads, both young and seasoned, eager to see the legendary band In Flames currently on tour with Kataklysm and White Knuckle Riot and guest Cloak, a local Atlanta band. Before the doors for Heaven even opened for the night, there was a line to get in that snaked around the alley at Underground Atlanta. Even after the doors opened and the line trickled in, a steady stream of rockers kept flowing into the venue. Within minutes, the front of the stage was already packed with attendees taking stakes in their own moshing territory. Elsewhere, groups of fans gathered around conversations reminiscing on past shows and speculating on shows yet to come. And yet others were enjoying libations and smokes to prepare for a night of raging and thrashing.

To kick off the night, Cloak took over the stage with a warm welcome of whoops and hollers from the crowd. Before even starting their set, their drummer Sean Bruneau lit incense onstage in a ritualistic fashion that defined the mood of their set. The band truly embodies their genre of black metal in both showmanship and sound. The dark, heavy screams of vocalist and guitarist Scott Taysom matched well with the guitar howls and bass beat down pumped out by Max Brigham and Matt Scott respectively. The succinctly syncopated drum beat of Sean kept their set tight overall. Cloak overall proved their salt as performers and a true flag-bearer of metal music for the Atlanta music scene.

White Knuckle Riot continued the show as the second act of the night. A new act out of Nor Cal, the band has been in unfamiliar territory while on tour with In Flames and Kataklysm. However, catching up with their guitarists The Pagan and Sever revealed that although the band is still up and coming, the hospitality and kindness the band has seen while on tour has been humbling. After witnessing their set at Masquerade, I can see why. With each member of the band having over 20 years of industry experience, White Knuckle Riot makes a live show feel like a studio session with their precision and polished performance. From their open track “Nightmare” the audience quickly warmed up to White Knuckle Riot’s set. Their drummer of over two years, Brian “Beatdown” Kelly, apparently lives in the pocket as his sticks kept the thunderous heartbeat of the band trucking forward. Guitarists Sever and The Pagan along with original member and bassist Misfire kept the set tight with their slick melody tradeoffs. And we can’t forget original member and vocalist Johnny Schizo who crushed it with his rapid vocals that are a fresh change up to the usual screams heard from most heavy metals acts. White Knuckle Riot is a band to see with a very bright horizon in store for future shows.

As the last supporting act, Canadian band Kataklysm turned Heaven into a giant mosh pit. The melodic death metal act entered the stage to an ominous orchestral intro that was super metal. Drummer Oli Beaudoin, guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais, and bassist Stephane Barbe transitioned the intro from ominous to dark and deliciously gritty with their seasoned sound. To add to the showmanship of their show, front man and vocalist Maurizio Iacono came on stage spewing a mist of water in the air with an aura of confidence only seen in professionals who have mastered their craft. Immediately Kataklysm broke into “Breaching the Asylum” complete with their iconic hair-spinning head banging. Almost as if summoned by the head banging of the band, a void formed in the center of the crowd with contestants circling inwards to complete the circle pit. The pit stayed consistent throughout their entire set, even with one fan getting the boot after an altercation. In the midst of the musical mayhem of their set, Maurizio spoke to his old and now new fans alike, saying “if you don’t know us you will by the end of the night… We are not Justin Bieber. This is something called death metal!” This honestly made my day. And when he introduced “Crippled and Broken” the crowd went crazy, turning everything up a notch. Kataklysm is true death metal and proved once their prowess.

Now, for the main course. The one and only In Flames. As soon as their opening song “Wallflower” pervaded Heaven, everyone’s attention snapped towards the stage. The crowd was giddy, well as giddy as a bunch of metal heads can be, as the decades of practiced metal filled the air, with circle pits and general chaos as the new law of the crowd. I couldn’t find one person not jamming out to the mad riffs being bounced between veteran member guitarists Bjorn Gelotte and Niclas Engein. And the switch ups between the crisp guitar interplay to Anders Friden’s iconic vocals gave chills every single time while recent addition Joe Rickard kept the set on lock with his metronome-like drum beats. The stage presence of In Flames is truly a well-polished act but not because of rehearsals alone; the level of showmanship led by the core group of Anders, Bjorn, and Niclas can only be achieved through the test of time. It almost seems like the band is in their natural element, as if they were born to bring true metal to the realm of mortal men.

Taking a break from the music, Anders talked up the crowd in a casual way, like catching up with old friends. A sole member of the crowd belligerently shouted out at Anders, who replied by asking how many beers the man had had. When he replied with “I’ve had three bud lights” Anders said “[you should] drink real beer… if you do, you won’t make a fool of yourself”. So metal.

The rest of the night was filled with classics that both from old albums and more recent ones. For their hit “Cloud Connected” the track became more of a karaoke night for the crowd as everyone joined in. When they reached the end of the night, In Flames parted ways with their top hit “Take This Life”. If you missed seeing In Flames, you truly missed out.

All four metals acts made a Sunday night feel like a Friday with the energy and talent they all brought to the table. To catch a stop on In Flames’ tour, check out http://www.inflames.com/tour/.

Live Review: Save Ferris New Sound Tour at Masquerade with Burns Like Fire

Review by Daniel Karasek. Photos (at the end of the article) by Shaun Krisher

The air was heavy with anticipation on February 25 for the Save Ferris, Baby Baby, and Burns Like Fire show in Hell at the new Masquerade located in Underground Atlanta. The crowd huddled in the warmth of Hell as a brisk breeze of winter air finally came to the city. Pockets of conversation could be heard about the coming show, with occasional chatter about the new Masquerade placement. Everyone seemed to dig the new setting for the seasoned Atlanta music venue. Many attendees were crowding the back bar to get their fix before the night of music debauchery. Others were already waiting by the stage for the opening act to kick start the night. It was the same old vibe of Masquerade we have come to love. As it turns out, Underground Atlanta pairs well with Atlanta’s underground culture that has made a home at the infamous Masquerade.

The first act of the night, Burns Like Fire, broke the ice with a cover of “I’ll Be There For You” (you’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head). Immediately the audience got riled up and sang along to the classic opening theme song from Friends. There was a buildup of energy between Burns Like Fire and the crowd that culminated throughout their set. The band was very cohesive with both their stage presence and sound, leaving a trail of broken necks in the wake of each song. Even with the recent departure of their bass player and vocalist Charley Ferlito, Web, Josh, and Parker put on a show to get any audience pumped up. As a punk band from Athens, it was a pleasure for them to take a bar break and shred some for their fans.

Baby Baby took the stage as the second act of the night. There was instant hype from the crowd the second that they took the stage, carrying over the tidal wave of energy started by Burns Like Fire. Except that tidal wave became a monsoon as Baby Baby jammed through song after song of pure rock. Their proclaimed genre of fun rock really fits the bill with Baby Baby as not an immobile body was seen in the crowd, just a bunch of rockers kicking it to the sweet tunes of the evening. The double percussion split between Grant and Colin adds in a crispy, crunch beat that pairs well with the popping bass riffs of Hsiang-Ming and guitar licks of their sassy front man Fontez Brooks. Not only was their sound on point, Baby Baby also puts on one hell of a show with it ending with Hsiang-Ming playing bass atop the shoulders of Colin with Grant pumping out killer beats and Fontez, shirtless, hyping the crowd with his savage guitar stylings. These guys are not an act to be missed.

For the headliner of the evening, Monique Powell graced the stage as the front for Save Ferris. Yes, THE Save Ferris. The one you haven’t heard of in a good while. To put this in perspective for those young ones out of the know, Save Ferris hasn’t toured or even released new music for over 15 years, with their last tour and most recent album release being fan backed. As soon as the band took their places on the stage the crowd went wild and kicked the already built monsoon of energy into overdrive. When Monique took the stage and filled the room with her classic vocals, everyone in Masquerade, and probably the surrounding area, turned an ear towards the stage at Hell. Monique’s stage presence is unrivaled. Her raw talent makes her a natural performer as she romps the stage egging on her adoring fans. The rest of the band comprising the new rendition of Save Ferris shined as well as they filled the room with guitar riffs, horn solos, and funky rhythms that could make statues tap a foot. When Save Ferris played tracks off their recently dropped album Checkered Past the entire crowd seemed to chime in. The bridge in their new track “Golden Silence” glistened with a slick saxophone solo by Alexander Mathias that filled the Masquerade with a jazzy-ska blend. The entire set was bumping up until the end where Save Ferris played an encore of “Come on Eileen”, their famous cover of the classic by Dexys Midnight Runners. The energy of the crowd continued until the very end of the last note, with even some wanting to hear more.

The night at Masquerade was lit. Both Burns Like Fire and Baby Baby are acts not to miss live as they put on killer shows, however Save Ferris was something special to see live due to the bands checkered past, coincidentally and justly the name of Save Ferris’s recently released album. Check out the tour dates for Save Ferris’s New Sound 2017 Tour here: http://saveferris.com

Live Review: Less Than Jake and Guests Pack Out the New Masquerade

Review by Daniel Karasek. Photos (at the end of the article) by Shaun Krisher

The night of February 24 was graced with the presence of The Attack, Bunny Gang, Pepper, and Less Than Jake at the Masquerade. This was my first show at the new Masquerade location. To be honest, it was my first adult adventure to Underground Atlanta as I haven’t been there since I was a kid over 10 years ago. On first impressions, the new location seems to be a great fit as the vibe of modern Underground Atlanta really blends well with the classic rock culture embedded in Masquerade. The stages are now split between three different rooms in the alley at Underground, much different from the traditional vertical stack where the stages got their name sake. I thought it would be jarring to not have the traditional Masquerade layout, but I was wrong. The open layout makes for a large yet cozy venue.

Now to discuss the show. To start the evening, Florida-based band The Attack rocked the stage with their unique sound that is true to the roots of punk rock. They really make their shows about their sound and not about their looks, which were also on point. The fast riffs of Brad Palkevich really got the crowd hyped while Tito Esquiaqui and Mikey Cortes held down the beat with their respective drums and bass. And we can’t forget the mad vocals of Charlie Bender blasting the world to get on his hype level. This band is a true punk band that any rocker can jam to.

Next on the set list for the night was The Bunny Gang, a rag tag group of dudes who jam out like no tomorrow. This was The Bunny Gang’s cherry pop for playing at Atlanta’s iconic Masquerade. Their self-proclaimed “Revolution Rocksteady” sound is truly a band not to miss when in town. It combines punk rock with reggae in a ska concoction that is smooth on the ears. Nathen Maxwell, the lead singer for The Bunny Gang, showed off his crisp chops as he rocked the stage. He has that rockstar persona with infectious energy that spreads like wildfire in a crowd. Backing him up were the killer keys of Levi Garrett and the hot horns of trombonist Keith Larsen as well as the rest of the motley crew. On asking for comment about the new Masquerade, Levi said “the venue had good sound” and Keith said “the venue was cool with the atmosphere”.

In the slot before the headliner was San Diego’s own Pepper, a feisty ska group very reminiscent of Sublime in their groovy sound. The band’s origin of Hawaii is obvious in their showmanship as they bring a little bit of the island culture to their show. The crowd lit up with noise as Pepper took the stage, and by the second song the walls of the Masquerade were even vibing to the music. The deep, gritty vocals of Kaleo Wassman really stood out to make the music shine. The vocals matched with the slick bass licks of Bret Bollinger and catchy beats of Yesod Williams made for one popping performance. When Kaleo and Bret broke into an acoustic duet of “Point And Shoot” the entirety of Masquerade joined in making for one hell of a singalong, in Heaven none the less. The band definitely lived up to the reputation built around their 20 year career.

As the headliner for the evening, Florida’s own Less Than Jake killed it. There was insane hype from the crowd from the moment they took the stage. To start the show, as Less Than Jake are known for their stage antics, confetti canons blasted the audience alongside the first notes that brought the audience into a roar of excitement. From note one, Less Than Jake showed why they have been kings of ska for nearly 25 years. Their second song ushered in a storm of crowd surfers that continued throughout the show. As the band continued into their set, the lead vocalist and guitarist Chris DeMakes remarked that he “never saw a better crowd” at Masquerade. The energy Chris and bassist Roger Lima put into each song was tenfold reflected by the crowd that night. They both definitely put the show in showmanship. Drummer Vinnie Fiorello kept the tunes in line with his highly danceable and contagious beats. Goldfinger and JR on trombone and tenor sax respectively added the pizzazz to the show that only horns can bring to the table, especially horns in such talented hands. The show these guys put on, riddled with the craziness and mischief necessary for a ska show, is a sight to behold. After a solid encore, Less Than Jake brought the night of great music to a close with more energy than they started their set with.

This great night of ska and rock had the Masquerade packed out. I’d recommend catching a show at the new Masquerade location, especially if any of these acts roll through again.

Photo Gallery – Less than Jake

Photo Gallery – Pepper

Photo Gallery – The Bunny Gang

Saying Goodbye with The Wrecking Ball

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by David Feltman, Photos by Epic Photography Atlanta

The second annual Wrecking Ball was a memorial service honoring the passing of the Masquerade. Not one of those dour Presbyterian services, but a raucous New Orleans-style affairs. Grim reapers and punk effigies duct taped to wrecking balls adorned the sidewalks and venue. The courtyard was lined with vendors offering t-shirts, corn dogs and “Free Shit Haircuts.” Long dead bands resurrected to eulogize the memories of the dearly departing venue.

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This year’s lineup was packed with more than 60 bands, including several presumably last chance reunion and farewell shows. Even with bands in such close proximity, it was possible to migrate from stage to stage every 15 minutes and still not be able to see every performance. If at any point there was a gap between bands on your “must-see” headliner list, you could always be rewarded by poking your head in the Hell or Purgatory stage. Someone somewhere was always playing and they were always worth a few minutes of your attention.

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Many bands traced their history across the entire festival. Taking the stage after Rainer Maria, The Promise Ring’s Davey von Bohlen recalled that the band had opened for The Promise Ring’s first show. “Perhaps we’ll have to get Samuel or Texas is the Reason if we do this again,” said von Bohlen. Later that evening von Bohlen played again with his current band, Maritime. Hardcore band Give Up the Ghost performed under its original name, American Nightmare, and band member Wesley Eisold trotted out his solo act Cold Cave. Anthony Civarelli brought both of his occasionally reunited punk acts, Gorilla Biscuits and CIV, to Wrecking Ball and his band mate in both bands, Walter Schreifels, played a headliner slot with his other, other, other band Quicksand.

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The Wrecking Ball boasted less a lineup than a community. The bands were like old high school friends brought together for a wake, paying respects and making small talk in the hallway. Bands that hadn’t played in 15 years were back and playing with the same groups they were playing with before they disbanded. These bands were fans of each other and they were as excited to watch the other sets as the rest of the audience. Drug Church expressed excitement about seeing Piebald and jokingly asked the crowd if they should play “When Life Gives You Lemons and Venetian Blinds” or “You’re Part of it” before launching into a cover of “American Hearts.” Motion City Soundtrack lead singer Justin Pierre sat just off stage to watch The Promise Ring and after his own band’s farewell performance said, “I haven’t seen Dinosaur Jr. in 25 years. I can’t wait to see them again.”

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The festival was overflowing with attendees. Event security sat at the entrances of Heaven and Hell carefully monitoring and regulating the number of people at each stage. Some of the bigger names like Hey Mercedes and Piebald that didn’t make it to the outdoor stages drew lines that wrapped around the block. With the smaller indoor stages supporting capacity crowds and hardcore acts like Trapped Under Ice and Gorilla Biscuits rousing fans to attack the stage, the Masquerade was definitely showing its age. The floor in Heaven felt rickety and rumbled under the stress of punks plummeting from the stage to the floor in acrobatic bounds. Pushing past crowds on the narrow, shaky stairwell, it became apparent that it was time to say goodbye to the venue.

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Quicksand was the perfect closing act for the event. The band’s low-end punch sent vibrations through everyone near the stage, shaking their innards. The set could be heard for miles and people in the condos the next block over sat on their balconies to listen. It was enough to revitalize the sun burnt and exhausted crowd and give them enough energy to make it to their Ubers waiting outside. The Masquerade will be reborn at its new location and Wrecking Ball will be there again next year. But for dedicated music fans in the area, this was still a goodbye to a landmark venue and a concert experience they will long remember.