It's very exciting, yet a very uneasy time for new music. On the highest note, there is no shortage of good music right now. I'm at a point where I can't really keep up. After being obsessed with a record for a few days, another great one falls on my iTunes. We're not even to the half way point this year. I still haven't heard anticipated releases from La Dispute, Portugal. The Man, Hella, Circle Takes the Square or Saves the Day yet. Through the archive of 2011's choice cuts, some of them are landing on our iPods before the "official" street date, and the "leaky" faucet still drips across the web. The drainage's latest victim is Fireworks' new album Gospel. It's a month still out from the Triple Crown release, and it's already made its way to many of us. In one day, a lot of the kids at the show last night were singing along to the new tracks.
With the unfortunate bumps in the road for two of the Man Scout Jamboree bands, a brighter positive has shined from this tour: community. Dan "Soupy" Campbell commented in our conversations about the presence of the "giglife" and "wave" scenes, but in actuality, it's one big state of exciting music and friendships with no real label. As I stood in the inside room of Emo's last night, the youthful were circle pitting and climbing over each other to get their chance at the mic and get close to something special.
Living With Lions kicked off the night and showed why their upcoming album Holy Shit is poised to be a favorite amongst pop-punkers this year. After Lions got the crowd going, Make Do and Mend kept the night rolling with their broad delivery of punk rock. Not even punk, just sheer rock. The band's cuts off End Measured Mille prove why more people should check out the band's last record and the passionate force behind it. You can see it in James Carroll's red, barking face every time you see the band.
The first time I saw Fireworks, they were opening up the Giglife Tour and I saw a sort of sloppy, run-of-the-mill pop-punk band. So when the band came back to open the New Found Glory anniversary tour, I was impressed with how much better the band had gotten. With the direction they have taken on Gospel, they've tighten up all the bolts and left the "more of the usual" behind them. To say "third time's the charm" would be an understatement for Fireworks. Seeing the band blow through fan favorites and their new gems is where I like to see bands evolve and blossum. It's okay, you may not have the chops at first, but to have a two year turnaround into this is something to be proud of, and Gospel will go down on many "end of the year" lists because of it.
The Wonder Years took the stage with a presence as always. Before Fireworks' set, Soupy took me in the van to check out three more songs off the new record (not on the sampler we've all received). As I was sitting there, the term "confidence" was swirling in my head. The way I was grabbed by New Found Glory's self-titled as a teenager is the same way I saw a younger generation latch onto The Upsides. That being said, Suburbia is poised to be this generations Sticks and Stones. There are a few darker undertones, more direct execution and one of the best openers I've heard in this genre in some time. I think it'll be interesting to see how big The Wonder Years get after this album. To see them play such a small room and have such a direct connection between the crowd is quite beautiful. I'll be 25 in a few months, but seeing a show like this really brings a smile to my face and the emotion of "You kids, go have fun."
The nail that really should be driven in here is the no bullshit mentality of every single band on this tour has. Every time I talk to Soupy or hear his presence on stage, he sounds like a leader to what's going on right now amongst the scene. He gets it, the bands get it and the kids are all getting it. The ideals that course through most of the albums of the genre are usually about heartbreak, but more than that, it's about a friend by your side and a community that is a support system through it all. The Man Scout Jamboree is a definitive tour of just that.