Frontier Psychiatrist

Just Like Vacation: Bomb the Music Industry! Embarks on “Farewell” Tour

Posted on: August 14, 2012

Bomb the Music Industry_Live_Chicago_Vacation

“We are beautiful complicated fucking snowflakes that blow wherever the wind takes us and you better fucking respect that shit, maaaan.”

This is how Nassau County via Brooklyn punk collective Bomb the Music Industry! announced their ambiguous, indefinite holiday from touring. The August 7th tumblr post was shaky, sad, hopeful, reasonable and open ended, just like group leader Jeff Rosenstock’s songwriting. Currently on their last nationwide tour (maybe?), BtMI! continue their tradition of holding all-ages shows for around $10 (the old Fugazi way, adjusted for inflation), before they hang up their Vans to mend their lives and continue as a recording project and creative outlet for Rosenstock. This counts as a win for the punk rock community, as Rosenstock’s songwriting has never been better, as evidenced by last year’s stellar and overlooked Vacation.

At a sweaty and enraptured show inside Chicago’s Subterranean—located on the second floor, oddly enough—BtMI! exploded with real catharsis and shameless rage. BtMI! make unorthodox punk rock for unorthodox punks. Songs wail and shift from emo to hardcore to ska to indie rock at the kick of a drum or the scrape of a pick. The crowd knows every skip, halt, crescendo and blast like they know their own malcontent. It felt like high school. It felt great.

“This song is about how awesome life is,” said Rosenstock last Thursday, with his tongue firmly in his cheek. It’s true, most of the lyrical themes are not celebratory, but somehow the music is, and the vibe on Thursday was just that. Take “Campaign for a Better Weekend”, the lead track off Vacation, for example. In just a few seconds, Rosenstock turns what was a pleasant—if mundane—early spring day into a jarring wake-up call, complete with a climactic bike accident and affirming group chants. “Cuts are bigger than expected, I guess I shouldn’t have worn shorts.”

Despite not having an obvious storyline, Vacation is a concept album because the statement greater than just the sum of its parts. According to Rosenstock, it’s about “finding a home,” which is especially telling, since it was written while on an actual vacation. All the emo touchstones are there: self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-loathing and eventually, self-acceptance. What’s noteworthy is how these themes stand, packaged tightly between the ever-bearing push and pull of the sunny side of the “vacation” and the darkness of the “real world.” Take the lyrics on “Hurricane Waves” for example: “All the headlines say ‘Surf’s up for the hurricane waves!’/ but the bodies say ‘It’s gonna be a weekend filled with pain.”

Musically, Vacation sits somewhere between Weezer’s Pinkerton, Say Anything’s …Is a Real Boy and Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor. In other words, this album was written for me. And while it may not be as groundbreaking as it’s predecessors, Vacation can stand on it’s own by sticking close to it’s abstract concept. When it reaches the end of its 42-minute runtime, it’s hard to not to feel that it ended too soon. Just like vacation.

It’s safe to assume that this is not the end of BtMI!, for several reasons. It’s hard to believe that Rosenstock is willing to call it quits at what is likely the most fertile and focused point of his career. Hell, they just released a new song, “80s Through the 50s”, that sounds more like “New York I Love You” than “Why Bother?” Also, Rosenstock’s record label—Quote Unquote Records, the first donation based record label—continues to find success for BtMI! and their roster, that includes Cheap Girls, O Pioneers!!! and The Arrogant Sons of Bitches. Of course, they also confirmed that this isn’t the end.

“We love you, Chicago. We’ll be back here, don’t you worry. That announcement was more for the smaller cities, don’t tell them. Thanks for being our home away from home.”

If they’re coming to your town anytime between now and August 31, do not miss what could be your last chance to see one of the most exciting live acts of times. If not, don’t fear, you can pick your price on BtMI!’s entire catalogue at their website.


Peter Lillis is Managing Editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. His music tastes can be quite predictable.


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