Frontier Psychiatrist

Posts Tagged ‘Punk Rock

Riot Fest_Chicago_Front Psych

Our culture of nostalgia continues to rage on as Riot Fest returns to Chicago, this time with Iggy Pop and a carnival. After a serious expansion that includes franchise events in Brooklyn, Toronto and Dallas, Riot Fest has established Chicago as their flagship weekend.

The lineup is firmly focused on appealing to punk rockers ages 25-45 who have more interest in seeing the bands they grew up with, as billing to up-and-coming bands has been kept quite low. Most bands are either defunct or reaching irrelevance, but that doesn’t make the lineup any less awesome. The inclusion of bands such as Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Elvis Costello, Descendents, Dropkick Murphys, Hot Water Music, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Promise Ring, Built to Spill, The Adicts and Reverend Horton Heat may be a little puzzling, but all are established as excellent live bands in any day.

On the other side, fest promoters have done a decent job including some rising punk bands up against these old favorites, including: Screaming Females, The Gaslight Anthem, Larry and His Flask, Off with Their Heads and White Mystery. While the focus is clearly on yesterday, it should be exciting how these bands stand up to the old favorites.

Tickets are still available, if you’re interested. The fest will be held at Humboldt Park, and will overlap with the sold-out AV Fest at The Hideout, featuring Wilco, Iron and Wine, Glen Hansard, Wye Oak and The War On Drugs. The verdict is still out as to which fest has captured the key aging hipster demographic.

We’ll have a review of the fest for you next week. In the meantime, enjoy a playlist of all the songs we hope to hear at this year’s Riot Fest Chicago.


Peter Lillis is Managing Editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. His teenage self is jealous of this lineup.


Royal Headache _Cover_Review

No one would doubt that Royal Headache is a punk album, but it’s really only punk in production only (PIPO). Lo-fi recording techniques (apparently, it took a day and a half to record), distorted chords and the ability to jam 12 tracks in 26 minutes are certainly trademarks of a punk release. However, closer listens betray the hard punk exterior, showing a bunch of sensitive dudes who would make fine prom dates. Honestly, the only thing this record is missing is a Del Shannon organ break.

I imagine a broken turntable and some worn-out 50s teen idol compilations inspired the debut album from Royal Headache, the quickly rising punk rock foursome out of Sydney. The sped-up, crashed-out record—released last year, but just now making it’s way to the states thanks to a reissue from What’s Your Rupture?—sounds like a Dion 33 1/3 spun at 45 speed with a busted needle, which manages to transform the backing singers into Telecasters. The lead track “Never Again” is the first evidence of such. “We make a fine pair, you and me/Don’t you agree?”

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Tom Gabel, Laura Jane Grace

I don’t know much about transgender dysphoria, but it doesn’t sound pleasant. However, I do know Tom Gabel the songwriter and performer quite well, as I was immersed in his artistic output for years of my life. His recent announcement of his longtime transgender dysphoria, and subsequent plans to undergo an intensive transformation to begin life as Laura Grace has sent the press into a frenzy (Rolling Stone’s exclusive interview hits shelves today). While there never is an opportune moment to radically change one’s life, this announcement feels timely as the nation becomes more welcoming and more alienating at the same time.

For the better part of the Aughts, Against Me! was my favorite band. Obsessed with honesty and compelled by personality, they stayed true to the core of punk rock with simple song structures that explode with life and positivity in the face of a dying and restricted scene. My love for Against Me! has defined my personality and my own creative output, and has enabled me to enjoy life’s questions with a cold beer, ringing ears and sore vocal cords. While I have had my disagreements with the band in recent years (namely White Crosses), the majority of their work has left a profound impact on my life that will not wane or tarnish with age. And as the leader and songwriter of Against Me!, my love and respect for Tom Gabel will prevail as well. That said, the news of her transformation has not strayed far from my mind these last few days.

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Ceremony is known for their abrasive approach, humanity and a grab-you-by-the-balls attitude. Releasing four full-lengths since forming in 2005, the band has built a reputation as some of the finest ass-kickers the new generation hardcore punk could offer. These Bay Area punks have undergone transformations with every release, from their mile a minute debut Violence Violence to the mad moodiness of 2010’s Rohnert Park. Their transformation continues with Zoo (Matador), an album closer at heart to the early punk of Wire and The Dammed, rather than the blazing hardcore of GBH and Spazz.

Zoo is by no means a technically impressive album. There isn’t a part on this album that couldn’t be played by novice punk rockers. Structures aren’t exactly formulaic, but rarely—if ever—do the songs break ground. Lyrics about the degradation of humanity fits in line with pretty much every punk release since before ‘77. It’s no David Comes To Life; it will never earn a place on this list. However, the success of Zoo is not grounded in artistic ambition, but in wild, contagious energy and a reckless spirit, two attributes that you can credit to the band as much as you can credit producer John Goodmanson.

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Royal Baths_Better Luck Next Life_Kanine Records

In an effort to fortify my resume and to combat the boredom resulting from hours of watching British sitcoms on Netflix Instant, I recently joined a program at my school pairing international students with American guides. I was paired with a Chinese student, and like a good American, I have spent my time with her extolling the virtues of Mexican food and Chai lattes at restaurants and coffee shops around town. Naturally, at one point our conversation turned to music. She told me that she particularly likes American country music, her favorite artist being Taylor Swift. She then asked me why Americans like rock and roll so much, surprised that people who live such laid back lives would want to listen to such loud and boisterous music.

I had this question in the back of my mind as I listened through Royal Bath’s powerful new Better Luck Next Life, out now on Kanine Records. Royal Baths are the latest from the burgeoning Brooklyn via San Francisco psychedelic garage rock scene. It’s an album drenched in violent lust and strung out on speed. The scene is always a seedy one, evoking images of back alley drug deals and ravaged motel rooms. The subject matter is undeniably dark, as singer Jigmae Baer details vampiric sex scenes and murder fantasies with an icy detachment that makes the album feel that much steamier. On occasion, Cox’s withdrawn persona crumbles and the man sounds positively demonic. Think Al Pacino in Devil’s Advocate without Keanu Reeves ruining everything.

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Fucked Up - David Comes to Life

Three weeks ago, the six-piece Canadian punk band Fucked Up released David Comes to Life, a record which is likely to stand as their magnum opus and one of the best of 2011. It’s an 18-song, 77-minute epic about a lightbulb factory worker named David who falls in love with a young activist named Veronica, only to watch her die in a grand protest, blame himself for her death, meet a woman named Vivian who was witness to her death, meet a man named Octavio who was likely to blame, and ultimately reach acceptance and redemption.  Each of the four characters acts as narrator at some point, in the tradition of The Sound and The Fury or Rashomon.



How did punk rock get here?  Read the rest of this entry »

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Sons of Dionysus

A Transmedia Novel of Myth, Mirth, and the Magical Excess of Youth.