The Menzingers have been a band since 2006, but they finally made their way to Calgary for an overdue headlining show last night (October 3), playing a wide range of songs that prove they're one of punk's finest to emerge from the last decade.
The Philadelphia-based quartet released their fifth full-length record After the Party in February, and unsurprisingly, they played eight of the album's 13 tracks. Unlike many bands that seem to be rooted in nostalgia, though, the Menzingers are looking forward and keep consistently writing strong material.
They kicked off their set with "Tellin' Lies," the first track on the new record. It's a perfect mix of catchy and a little depressing — something the Menzingers have perfected over the years — and the line "Where we gonna go now that our 20s are over?" is something that a lot of people in the audience seemed to relate to. As the band played, there was a big black banner hanging behind them of a man holding his head in his hands, and it's hard not to think that's one of the many things he was pondering.
Throughout, the band were energetic and in good spirits, even if they constantly exclaimed during songs they had to drive through a snowstorm to get there. The member with the most energy by far was singer/guitarist Tom May, who jumped around the stage, never seeming to ever get tired during new tracks such as "Bad Catholics" and "House on Fire." The Menzingers also took a couple of seconds to pay tribute to Tom Petty, who passed away the day before, and covered "I Won't Back Down" in his honour.
The new material went over well, but the Menzingers' 2012 album On the Impossible Past has a special place in many people's hearts, so it, too, got a lot of attention in the set list. The crowd was shouting along loudly while the band's other singer/guitarist Greg Barnett shouted "I will fuck this up, I fucking know it!" during "The Obituaries." Hearing "Casey" make the cut was also special; the band totally pulled it off and made it sound even better than it does on record, with Barnett reaching all the right gruff notes flawlessly.
2014's Rented World got a little bit of airtime, too, with tracks like "My Friend Kyle" making the cut and "In Remission" being chosen as the last song of the three-track encore. 2010's Chamberlain Waits was pretty much totally ignored, with the exception of the album's first track "Who's Your Partner," and nothing was included from 2007's A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology, further proving the band's desire to keep looking forward. The older material has held up over the years and would have fit in well, but they can't play it all and having too many good songs to choose from is never a terrible problem to have.
Opening duties went to the Sweets and Julius Sumner Miller, two local Calgary bands. Sumner Miller were very energetic, but annoyingly cocky, asking the crowd to give it up for them and calling their songs "really fucking good" constantly. The singer almost seemed to rap more than he actually sang during some parts of their songs, which brought to mind fast '90s skate-punk like Pennywise. "Dangerous" was super fast and "Japanese Swordfight" was sort of cheesy and fun like a Chixdiggit! song. The Sweets weren't really a punk band at all, and fit more into more of an indie pop category, with some songs seeming to be heavily influenced by '70s rock like Fleetwood Mac.