Last Weekend: Born Ruffians

(Commence very poorly written, emotionally-charged post)

Last weekend was one of the craziest, most fun and most memorable weekends I've ever had. It started with me buying a ticket to see Born Ruffians on June 19th in March, which turned out to be a two-fold problem. First off, they were too kind to put me on some sort of permanent guest list for running their fansite, so I didn't need a ticket. Second, it turned out to be on the same day as my graduation. I had already missed their first 2010 New York show, and there was no way I was going to skip another.

So after a lot of thought (sitting, feeling conflicted in the park on Mulberry & Spring) I decided that I was going to race to the venue after graduation and come back in time for a huge party my school was giving that ran from 11-5.30a.


Show One: New York, Santos Party House.

I came into the venue about 3/4 of the way through Young Rival's set. The place wasn't packed, so I just walked up to the second row of people. By the time Born Ruffians came on, the venue had filled up. They played a fantastic set, lots of stuff from their great new album SAY IT...this was probably the tightest of all eight shows I've seen them play and definitely my favorite gig. Everyone was really into it - lots of dancing and singing along.

The best part of the show (for me) was when the bassist, Mitch, who is the band's webmaster and the person I've been mostly communicating with dedicated Higher & Higher to me, presumably because there's a line from said song quoted on the fansite. He said, "This one's for Julia", which provoked the whole venue to start chanting Juuuuulia, Juuuulia. It was surreal and probably one of the cooler moments I've experienced.

After the show, I met Andy, the touring keyboard player for the first time and caught up with Mitch and the lead singer Luke. It was also great to meet Teri, a person who I've gotten to know through trading comments on BR's social media sites. After awhile, Luke was pointing me out to people who mentioned my fansite, so we (me & Teri, that is) met lots of internet friends as well.

The only photo from New York:


The next day I headed to Boston, where I was on the guest list for their sold out show at Great Scott, which was by far the hottest/most poorly ventilated venue I've ever been in.

Young Rival came on around 10 and played garage rock for 40 minutes or so. They had a couple of good tunes. Check out The Ocean and Just Can't Stay Here.

Born Ruffians came on to a moshing crowd but still played solidly nonetheless (not as tight as New York, though). They stayed on well past midnight. During the encore, the drummer, Steve, gave me a shout-out, which went something like this (I have a terrible word memory): There's someone very special to us here tonight, her name is Julia (lifts drumstick in my general direction), and she runs our fansite..Fuck...Yeah..Born..Ruffians, which is way cooler than anything we've ever done online. Round of applause for Julia...thank you. I was standing right in front of him, so I smiled at him as the people who were standing around me were flashing thumbs up and bro-pushing me. This was mildly embarrassing, as I dislike being the center of attention, but still really cool.

After their set, Steve jumped down to talk to me, and told me that we'd never actually met, which was surprisingly true. We shook hands and hung out for awhile, and he said some very nice things. He gave me a shirt and got everyone to sign a vinyl for me. We talked to John from YR at the merch table about websites and headed to the back of the venue. I chatted with Luke about college and he suggested that we all take a picture together. Around the same time, Steve was shirtless and playing Andy's keyboard to some reggae song that was on the PA as Aron from YR grinded with him, which was hilarious. Mitch took a picture and Luke told me to put that one up on the website.

Here's the picture from Mitch's Tour Blog.

Anyway I can't wait to see them again in the fall, when they'll be headlining Bowery Ballroom and playing The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Woo!

Review: Tokyo Police Club - "Champ"

I remember thinking that Elephant Shell, the debut LP from Toronto's Tokyo Police Club was one of the most cohesive albums I had ever heard. A few months and many plays later, turns out I'd confused it with repetitiveness, and that CD has been sitting on my desk collecting dust since then.

Such is not the case with their second LP, Champ. The tracks are polished, varied, poppy and addictive, but somehow still manage to maintain the faux-grunge TPC aesthetic. Just about every song is radio-friendly and it can be played on repeat without getting tiring. Standout tracks include Gone, Frankenstein and Bambi.

The only criticism I have, which is true of pretty much every TPC release, is the lyrical content. By in large, they're nonsensical. Fun to sing along to, but meaningless. That being said, there is a 'youthful' undertone to every song - as in, there are younger brothers, kites, Bambi and fighting monsters under the bed with "superglue and paperclips". This only bothers me because Elephant Shell wasn't really any different, except it was mostly about death. In fact, they glorified being young in Nursery/Academy and provided semi-terrifying imagery of death in the other tracks.

But these things don't really bother an average listener, do they?
I highly recommend Champ regardless.

Score by Thomas Mars.