Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dropkick's Own Ken Casey Opens New Pub In Providence

Ken Casey may be one of Boston's living legends. As the lead singer of the iconic Dropkick Murphys, Casey has long been known for his Irish-infused tunes, affinity for a good pint of beer and love of all things Boston. And having seemingly conquered the world with his band, or at least all of New England and anyone else in America with a shamrock tattoo, now seemed like the right time to do something a bit different.

Last month, Casey shipped down to Providence, Rhode Island for the opening his new pub, The Whiskey Republic. Located on the waterfront, The Whiskey Republic offers patrons a stunning view of the water and old mills in the area, a great selection of beer and liquor, and a reasonably priced menu.

But more so, Casey wanted his pub to offer Providence all that which makes New England great - music, booze and sports. Tucked away to the right of the entrance is a small corner stage, which plays host to many local and regional acts (including Dropkick on the pub's opening night). For a full list of events, click HERE.

And of course, no pub would be complete without it's fair share of alcoholic beverages. The Whiskey Republic has plenty to choose from, too. Whether it be a local brew, like Fisherman's from Gloucester, Massachusetts, or something as simple as, well... whiskey, TWR certainly has your drink of choice.

The bar area itself is huge. With seating all the way around, taps on both sides and plenty of standing room, it's no wonder this place can draw quite the crowd on weekends. This is also the place to go if you want to catch a local New England game. With TVs surrounding the bar, you'll easily be able to watch the Sox, Celtics or Bruins on any given night.

But perhaps the best part of TWR is the food. The menu is small, meaning what you're getting is fresh. Whether that be a fish plate, burger or salad, you can expect top quality. If you're unsure on what to try, ask a bartender. They've all got a pretty good handle on the food there, and are eager to let you in on their favorites.

So next time you're headed to Providence for a show at one of the city's many clubs, stop by The Whiskey Republic for a cold brew and some grub first. The atmosphere, music and prices are suited toward any punk pulling minimum wage. It's worth your while - don't miss it.

Monday: Closed
Tuesday - Thursday & Sunday: 4 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Friday & Saturday: 4 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Monday, April 18, 2011

AP Tour Review

There is no "I" in tour - meaning that it's impossible for one band to singlehandedly save an entire tour. Such is true for the AP Tour, which for yet another year in a row has managed to throw together a lackluster lineup of bands. The result? A forgettable show that's simply not worth your money.

Perhaps the biggest draw to this year's tour are D.R.U.G.S., the Craig Owens fronted supergroup that had a cult-like following before they even released their first record. But even Owens' charisma and showmanship just isn't enough to save this tour.

The lineup, in addition to D.R.U.G.S., which consists of Black Veil Brides, I See Stars, VersaEmerge and Conditions looks more like something thrown together from a random search of bands on MySpace than a well thought out tour put together by the heads of Alternative Press.

You've got your goth-infused glam-metal element, a poor man's Paramore and an electro-metal outfit that look like they belong on a college campus rather than a stage. Add to that the I See Stars' lead singer referring to last week's New Haven, Connecticut crowd as "New York" numerous times and it's clear this grouping of misfits might not be ready to conquer the road just yet.

But the real problem with the 2011 AP Tour is the lack of consistency. This tour is full of club dates, not outdoor festivals. While this eclectic lineup of bands might work on Warped Tour, it's just too choppy for indoor shows. There's too much of a stretch, musically, to go from the pop sounds of VersaEmerge to the screamo post-hardcore brutality of I See Stars over a 20-minute set change.

It seems that Alternative Press haven't been able to put together a solid grouping of bands since the first AP Tour back in the Spring of 2007. Rather than selecting bands that would stand as a concrete look into the alternative scene, the AP bigwigs just keep grabbing for whatever band names will make them a quick buck.

You can't really blame them, though. With the print magazine industry dying faster than Donald Trump's chance of becoming president, it's no wonder AP executives have decided on setting aside musical integrity in exchange for a wide assortment of bands that will sell tickets to the trend-hungry youth of America that are armed with, and ready to spend, their parents' money.

Take this as a warning. If you're planning on spending your own money for a ticket, or don't feel like bringing your mother to the show with you, then skip the AP Tour this Spring. There's no real music on this tour, just industry. And let's face it, anything that's industry just isn't punk.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Record Store Day Preview

Calling all audiophiles! Record Store Day is less than a week away, and believe it or not, this year is gearing up to be even better than the last.

For those of you unfamiliar with the growing tradition that is RSD, here are a few facts that'll show you just how important the third Saturday in April is for music lovers, record stores, artists and collectors alike. As stated on the official RSD website, "This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music."

Basically, RSD is a chance for everyone to score something great. Whether that be the insane savings on vinyl and CDs, grabbing an exclusive RSD release from one of your favorite artists, catching an in-store performance, a meet-&-greet with your idols or simply just helping out your local independently owned record store, RSD is designed for those who believe music isn't just a hobby, it's a way of life.

And 2011's RSD, taking place this Saturday, April 16, will bring together some truly unforgettable releases and events. In terms of vinyl, there are enough alternative/punk bands releasing records and/or splits, that will have your needle wearing thin in the weeks following Saturday's events.

The heavy hitters this year are undoubtedly Anberlin, who are having what's arguably their best record, Cities, released on 2LP for the first time ever. In addition to the Florida five-piece's contribution, emo-rock godfathers Jimmy Eat World are releasing Bleed American - Deluxe (32 tracks in total) on 3LP black vinyl.

If that's not enough, look for special/exclusive releases from A Day To Remember, Circa Survive, Death Cab For Cutie, Rise Against, Green Day, Manchester Orchestra, Kings Of Leon, My Chemical Romance, Transit, Of Montreal and many more. And remember, a lot of these releases will only be available on RSD and at at your local record store.

But RSD isn't just about buying a few new records. There's always a ton of free swag to be had from the countless giveaways and contests across the country. And don't forget about the in-store performances. From New England to California, bands like Between The Buried And Me, Transit, Thursday, D.R.U.G.S., VersaEmerge and hundreds more will be holding concerts and autograph signings for fans. For a full listing of bands, venues/stores and times, click HERE.

So get ready. The weekend is fast approaching, and you don't want to miss all that's in store for this year's RSD. Whatever it is that drew you into loving your music scene - the concerts, the collectibles, the music, meeting your favorite band - will all be celebrated this coming Saturday. Get stoked.

For a look back at the last few years of RSD click: 2009, 2010

Be sure to follow Backstage Press on Twitter for our RSD updates when we're in Boston this year.

And we want to know, what are you most looking forward to on RSD 2011?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

North Korea - Basement Tapes vol. 1 Review

North Korea - a name shrouded in mysticism and fear. No, we're not talking about the country, but rather the band. Not much is known about this group of four guys besides where they came from. Each brings with them a better known history from a different band, and the desire to make the music they want to make.

And with the release of their first EP, Basement Tapes vol. 1, it's clear these guys are in no way creating music to fulfill a scene, label or set of industry standards.

Comprised of ex-members from a slew of different bands including Ryan Hunter and Brian Byrne from Envy On The Coast, Michael Sadis of The Rivalry and Billy Rymer from Dillinger Escape Plan, North Korea have been hard at work over the past few months creating one of the most in-your-face, "dilligaf", EPs that 2011 will see.

Consisting of only four songs, Basement Tapes manages to not only show a multitude of the band's influences, but also stands as an extension of where the members' other musical outlets couldn't go. The record is discordant, infectious and downright brutal at times. But keep listening and you'll hear some softer areas and a catchiness that will keep you coming back for more.

Take for instance the EP's third track, "Laced", which could be an evil twin brother b-side from EOTC's 2010 release, Lowcountry. It starts with a certain energy brooding from the driving bass line before exploding into the full-throttle chorus.

Don't expect to hear only what drew you in to liking each artist's prior musical gig, though. North Korea's Basement Tapes isn't full on metal, far from emo rock and not anything you'd expect to get as the next step from any member. But hey, this is rock 'n' roll being rock 'n' roll and it's not supposed to be safe.

In a scene that has become wrapped up in the marketing and money side of music, North Korea are taking a step to make music for the sake of making music. They're even offering Basement Tapes for free download to anyone willing to listen.

For your free copy of Basement Tapes vol. 1, click HERE.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bayside Warmup For Take Action Tour

In preparation for their headlining spot on the upcoming Take Action Tour, Bayside performed at UConn this past weekend to a handful of their New England fans. The free was show was part of UConnaroo, the first annual spring musical festival put on by the university.

Having just released Killing Time this past February, the Long Island outfit used Saturday night's performance as a practice run to see how their new songs would work into their already powerful set list. And with the exception of a few songs and a bass mishap during "Montauk", the set was flawless.

Bayside were able to mix in five new songs out of the 10 on Killing Time into the night's performance. The first of the bunch was "The Wrong Way" which came third in the set. Standing as one of the fastest and catchiest on the record, the three-and-a-half minute track transitions seamlessly into the band's live show.

The rest of the new songs, which in some cases were being performed live for the first time, were spread throughout the remainder of the set. Titles included, "Mona Lisa", "Sick, Sick, Sick", "Already Gone" and "Seeing Sound". Each fit nicely in its own right, with the exception of "Seeing Sound", which seemed a little placid amongst Bayside's other energetic and emotional tracks.

The 15-song set managed to include songs from each one of the band's previous releases, plus a Weezer cover. A Tweet from the band post-show said there would be an updated set list with more new songs on the Take Action Tour, which kicks off in a few weeks.

From Saturday's show, it's clear that Bayside are bringing to the table a renewed sense of energy to their live show, a trait that was somewhat lacking during their Shudder years. They come out swinging, and don't let up until the final chord is struck. If there's any time to catch Bayside live, it's now.

Bayside Set List
University of Connecticut
April 2, 2011

No One Understands
The Wrong Way
The Walking Wounded
Already Gone
Seeing Sound
Carry On
Mona Lisa
Sick, Sick, Sick
I And I
My Name Is Jonas (Weezer cover)
Devotion And Desire

What would you like to hear Bayside play on the Take Action Tour?
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