EPITAPH RECORDS TOUR: Matchbook Romance + others @ Club Soda

By Mikey B - The Lonesome Stranger - 03/11/2005

Ahhh Epitaph Records… what great bands, albums & tours you’ve given us over the years. Remember when Epitaph Records meant Bad Religion, Pennywise and Rancid? This was the label that put out the Offspring’s Smash in ’94, making it the best-selling indie release of all time! And heck, I bet most of you have at least one Punk-O-Rama album in your CD collection. This is the Epitaph Records that I know; Punk as Fuck, and they always will be.

Stardate March 11th, 2005

Going to see this year’s incarnation of the Epitaph Records tour; this year’s lineup boasted the likes of Matchbook Romance, Motion City Soundtrack, From First To Last and Scatter The Ashes. What should I expect? Well, for now, I’m going to keep my hopes low, really REALLY low. Apparently this was the first ever Epitaph tour. Surprising to say the least, even though we’ve got Epitaph bands coming in and out of here all the time.

On this particular night, I got lucky and got a lift to the venue from none other that CJLO’s Metal Dave. I was in the CJLO studio at 6:45pm just to check when the show started and well, it started at 7pm. Why so friggin’ early ? Last week’s Taste Of Chaos show started at 5pm! How did Club Soda know that all these kids have 10pm curfews? Anyway, I got to the venue at around 7:40pm after getting lost in the Old Port, which I know doesn’t make much sense. So I missed the Scatter The Ashes set… oh well, no biggie. Apparently they’re the most credible band on the lineup. I guess I’ll just download some songs on Soulseek buy the album and find out for myself.

Five minutes After checking into Club Soda, From First To Last were getting ready. Actually, 15 minutes later they were STILL getting ready. It was a long sound check for these guys, testing out each guitar, each drum. I thought the soundboard operator was gonna torch the mixer! Finally these guys hit the stage with a lot of energy. Out of all the bands playing tonight, theirs is the only one whose CD I own (promo copy). Unfortunately, I got bored of them after 10 minutes. They were nothing special, just another one of those hardcore/screamo bands that everyone seems to be falling in love with. I just don’t get it. It seems as if “screamo” or whatever the hell you wanna call it, has become the new “big trend”. It sucks. Let me be one of the many people to re-iterate this. I’m sorry if I don’t like bands like Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold or Funeral For A Friend. I don’t like the tunes, and I don’t like this nu-metal disguised as punk crap. That’s what this is: screamo is the NEW nu-metal. A few years from now, these “hardcore” kids are gonna look back and say “holy shit, what the fuck was I thinking?”. Everywhere I looked in the venue, there were guys and girls with that same whacked-out hairstyle that defies all logic and common sense:

It’s basically the Flock of Seagulls hairdo… TO THE EXXXTREME !!!!! Slap on your little sister’s T-shirt, put a bandana in your pocket, and you’re hardcore!

Whatever, fuck it.

Once From First To Last finished up, I went across the street to pick up some one-dollar hot dogs at La Belle Province. Now, for the first time going to this location on Ste-Catherine street, I couldn’t decipher who was a pimp and who was a prostitute. They were everywhere! These guys are goddamn scary! There was this one giant Haitian Pimp that looked EXACTLY like Tracy Morgan in those old SNL Pimp Chat skits. Freaky deaky!

I got back to the club in the middle of Motion City Soundtrack’s first song. Frankly, they were the least abrasive band on the bill. They were catchy, energetic, a straight-forward power pop-punk band (6 words, not bad…) If Dustin Diamond was the lead singer of a punk band, I’d swear it was this guy. Maybe I’m just on crack. Musically, they had more variation to their songs, which made for a more interesting live show. At times, they did come off a little too sugary; nonetheless, they were the most impressive band on the tour. They played this song called “Capital H” which is just about the catchiest pop song I heard all night. I know I’ve heard it somewhere before, but where? Oh well, download buy the song and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Remember that song “Playmate Of The Year” by Zebrahead? I don’t know why, but this Motion City Soundtrack song reminds me of it, just cause.

The break was spent reading the goth special in Uncut magazine. Really, I had nothing to do until Matchbook Romance came on. During the break, people were walking around with complimentary Epitaph loot bags. Then, they were falling from the sky as eager youths pushed and jumped to get their hands on those sweet stickers and PINS!

Anyway, Matchbook Romance came onstage to the tune of an emo-as-all-hell keyboard sequence. I was bored of them after five minutes, and I don’t think I was the only one. At least one-third of the people on the floor were gone (hardcore kids’ curfews most probably). After a couple of excruciatingly whiny songs, I contemplated leaving early. But I just couldn’t…


So, I just hung out near the exit and the merch table, eagerly anticipating the end of the set. Then, who should appear from the corner of my eye? Why, it was CJLO’s PRADA, from the ol’ show The Punk Wears Prada. I had only met her once, so I wasn’t sure if it was her. Nonetheless, she and her friend (whose name escapes me) and I all spent 20 minutes ranting on the quality of the show we’d just witnessed. It was scary. We made fun of the same bands, the same trends, the same crappiness, which is weird because I’m by no means a punk elitist, neither is she. Still, this was a terrible showcase of Epitaph bands. I can understand that the label likes to diversify with the types of bands they’d like to bring to the mix, but why’d they have to pick crap like First To Last and Snatchbook Romance? Guttermouth is playing here next week. Why couldn’t they headline the tour? In years past, we’ve seen AFI and the Bouncing Souls. If they wanted variety, they could’ve mixed in better bands like the Tiger Army, Hot Water Music or the Weakerthans (also coming on March 30th and 31st)? Instead, Epitaph got a bunch of watered-down, second-string bands, schlocked ‘em all together and made a pretty shitty tour out of it. Hey, I just realized, didn’t this used to be the Punk-O-Rama tour? What happened to all the punk ?

Oh well, it was a shitty party. At least I got a loot bag.

[Tune in to The Lonesome Stranger Tuesdays noon – 2pm]