Date: Wednesday, Nov. 12th, 2014
Line Up: Lagwagon, Swingin’ Utters, This Legend and Success
Location: El Corazon. Seattle, WA
Stage Presence: A+
Stage Presence: A+
Live Sound: B+
Lagwagon Live @ El Corazon. Seattle, WA
Lagwagon just kicked off their North American tour last weekend in support of their latest critically acclaimed album, Hang, released through Fat Wreck Chords. They brought their punk rock peers Swingin’ Utters with them making it the first time the two groups have gone on a full U.S. tour together.
Making their way up the Pacific coast, the groups played the sixth show on this tour at El Corazon in Seattle, Washington. The venue is perfect for this genre of music; showing off a cantina motif complete with Latin skulls, Lotería cards, and tour posters adorning the walls.
We arrived at the venue when the doors opened to speak with Johnny Bonnel and Darius Koski from Swingin’ Utters. We went upstairs to the green room where the two were already waiting for our interview. They discussed recording with producer Ryan Greene from 1996-2003 before they went on a seven-year hiatus. Greene has worked with nearly every notable punk band from the mid-1990s and I asked Bonnel to name something he learned from their studio sessions.
Bonnel said Ryan “taught me how to sing.”
The Swingin’ Utters just released their third studio album in the last three years called Fistful of Hollow the day before on November 11, 2014. Bassist Miles Peck, through his creative touch into the mix, co-writing four of the songs. The album has already received five star reviews and the band sounded extremely proud of their work. The record was recorded by engineering legend Chris Dugan, who won a Grammy for Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown.
“He is the most professional guy,” said guitarist Darius Koski. Even when the band wasn’t sure of a take, Dugan would assure them they did not need to do another one and ask, “isn’t this punk rock?” The band has already begun writing for their next release.
Due to the interview I did not get to see much of This Legend. It was a small price to pay until Swingin’ Utters got on stage. Their stage performance has not changed a bit. Transforming from soft spoken and mellow interviewees to the in your face, all over the stage rockers in a matter of an hour.
Since every member contributes vocal arrangements in their songs, it was important to have their microphone levels ready during the sound check. For half of the set I could not hear any of Koski’s vocals. Regardless, Swingin’ Utters were great and it is good to see them still in their prime.
Lagwagon didn’t waste any time and kicked off their set with “Obsolete Absolute” and “Made of Broken Parts.” Hang has been receiving stellar reviews and this was a good sign that we would be hearing more from the record. When we spoke with Joey Cape last month, he mentioned that the rest of the band contributed more to the arrangement than on any other record and everyone was elated with what came from it.
They took it back to the mid-1990s singing “Island of Shame” from their 1994 album Trashed and moved right into “Violins” from their first release with Ryan Greene, Hoss. By now I was in the middle of the pit with my hands in the air singing along with everyone else.
While Joey Cape is spewing his vocals into the microphone, Chris Flippin, Joe Raposo and Chris Rest are right next to him and never stop rocking through their whole set. Even when a fan up front attempted to jack their set list, they laughed it off. It is almost as if the crowd is watching three of their friends play guitars, just for them.
Drummer Dave Raun is like a fine whiskey, only getting better with age. His speed and accuracy is something not found in many new punk drummers. Playing in double time while exploring the kit throughout each song is a skill held by few drummers.
The set list was an impressive mix of old hits and new material. My two favorite songs from Hang, “Western Settlements” and “Cog In The Machine” were played very closely together.
After “One More Song,” a tribute to No Use For A Name singer Tony Sly, and “Burning Out In Style” from Hang, I realized how old I was getting and I could not hang in the pit any longer so I made my way to the bar. While in line to get a beer I noticed there was one bartender who looked like a character from Metalocalypse. He was working extremely hard on his own and it took no time for me to reach the front. Deciding to mess with him, I politely asked for a mai tai. His death stare told me he did not get my joke so I smiled and asked for an IPA.
I enjoyed the rest of the show from the back and was able to get a good view of the venue. Smiles were on nearly every face when they were not singing along. Security was having a good time and I felt right at home at El Corazon.
Lagwagon Set List:
1.) Obsolete Absolute
2.) Made of Broken Parts
3.) Island of Shame
5.) Never Stops
6.) After You My Friend
7.) Falling Apart
10.) Western Settlements
11.) Heartbreaking Music
12.) Cog In The Machine
13.) Coffee and Cigarettes
14.) One More Song
15.) Burning Out in Style
16.) Know It All
17.) Alien 8
18.) Making Friends
19.) Razor Burn
21.) Wind In Your Sail
22.) May 16
Swingin’ Utters Website
Swingin’ Utters Facebook
Article by: Blake Taylor
Photos by: Ana Medina (La Cutie Photography)
More photos from the event…