Monday, March 4, 2019

Punk Rock Princess Fest Review!! (Rockstar Bar Half)

It's now time to continue our review of Saturday night's Punk Rock Princess Fest at The Algonquin Hotel, specifically the upstairs lineup at The Rockstar Bar! For my thoughts on the general aspects of the Joni Radford memorial concerts and the bands playing downstairs at The Algonquin Pub, plus videos of those acts, visit the post below this one. Also, just a reminder that due to the simultaneous straddled concerts going on both floors, I did miss portions of the first two bands' sets, so if I missed any Joni tributes or big surprises while I was downstairs, I do apologize.

The first band up on Saturday at The Rockstar Bar was local funk/hard rock quartet The Elements, who delivered a fun set full of originals and select covers! If you don't see much of The Elements outside of their tribute sets or live band karaoke gigs, you may be surprised to hear that the majority of their set was comprised of originals like "G20" and their new song "Riptide", but they did throw in some Primus and Red Hot Chili Peppers covers early. I don't know how much progress has came on their prior album plans, but the originals remain promising, often skewing to their heavier instincts. Rob Speers' casual aggression suits their songs well, James White's bass work was solid, and Jesse and Jonas always have great chemistry. Solid set overall from The Elements, and if you were downstairs, at least you got to see Rob & Jesse with Jack Spades later on that night!

Second upstairs was advertised as local indie/punk quintet Northwest, but in a surprise, this was a special unplugged set comprised of just singer/guitarist Wayne Watkins & guitarist Mike Yakasovich. If a reason was publically stated for Greg, Mike Smykacz, and Marc's absences, I was on the bottom floor when it was made, and if I looked slightly confused when I got upstairs, it's because my first thought was that they were just doing a soundcheck! As for their actual set, Wayne and Mike Yak performed all four songs from the new "Songs From 2015-2017" EP, plus "Young & Wild" from their debut, and select non-EP tracks like "Burning It Down". Given Northwest's increased genre variance on their new album, it's not a stretch at all that the guys can handle acoustic versions of their songs well, and the guys were a nice match on vocals! While we had no advance word of the acoustic duo set, everything seemed to go over well!

Co-headlining on Saturday was the long awaited return of local hardcore punk veterans Destroilet, as the "later rather than sooner" countdown finally ran out for their first public concert since the Guy Thiffault memorial concert here over two years ago, and just their second show since the "Fed Up!" split release in the fall of 2015. That all said, Destroilet played like they haven't missed a beat, and much like in their active heyday, they are still a very hard band to photograph! Frontman Mike Hull is still a firecracker, and the times he jumped into the crowd are immeasurable. Delays meant that Destroilet's set did not conflict with the end of Jack Spades' downstairs, and this helped produced the best crowd of the night, and the fest's only true mosh pits to such familiar originals like "End Me", "Eternal Fire", and "Lifer" along with select covers, most notably their set-ending version of The Rebel Spell's "Murderers" in memory of Joni, who sang backing vocals on their studio cover.

Musically speaking, their raw and fast paced attack was in fine form, with John Conway and Christian Foisy's guitar onslaught a constant threat, Adam Larocque was warmed up well following his set with Coral Fang downstairs, and Matt Waples' drumming kept the rhythm in fine form! No, Brent Ellis didn't sing with Detroilet for the majority of their set, but he did join in on (impromptu?) guest vocals on two songs. The fury and emotion was great to see, and here's hoping we see Destroilet again before 2021!

Finally, your headliners of the Punk Rock Princess Fest were online page-less local punk quartet The Cover-Up, marking the first time I've ever seen this band live in any incarnation. I need to see Dustin Jones-fronted bands more often than I do, but if this was any indication, the guys delivered a fun set of familiar modern punk rock hits, and if my ears weren't deceiving me, a few originals? Sonically, The Cover-Up are closer in tone to The Inner City Surfers than The Rising Tide, but with less of a folk/indie influence, with covered bands including Rancid, NOFX, and Weezer, among many others. Arguably the most impressive cover was seeing the guys cover Green Day's "Jesus of Suburbia", all 9+ minutes of it, which I can't recall another local band attempting! Dustin's natural frontman instincts were ever present, even if he was somewhat quiet between songs early, while it was great to see Marco Pedalino again on guitar, and Marshall Jaaskelainen and Aaron Dunn fit in well on bass & drums!

Extra kudos to The Cover-Up as well for playing on without a hitch despite an incident midway through their set, where an attendee was tackled and restrained by security (almost knocking me over), leading to the cops being called to The Algonquin. I have no idea what led to this or what happened afterward, but at least they controlled the situation, and as it doesn't affect local music, I have no further comment. Overall, Punk Rock Princess Fest was a great time for punk fans, and as a tribute to Joni, who could ask for anything more? If she was here, you know she'd be up front rocking out with the rest of us, and kudos to everyone for playing and attending, and to Carrie Suriano and Kat Foisy for putting this event on, as well as other staff and volunteers! No word on if this will return for a sequel a'la Guy Thiffault's tribute shows, but if Saturday was any indication, it'd definitely be a hit if there is one!

The two floor setup was a challenge to maneuver to see all 7 bands, especially as I don't like missing portions of sets, but between careful scheduling, moving slow on the wet stairs, and my new camera case, I managed well and got photos and videos of each band! As this technically was two concerts under one memorial umbrella, I took 170 photos on Saturday (20 of Northwest, 25 of everyone else), and you can check them all out on our Facebook page and at this link. As for upstairs videos, here's The Elements playing "I Need A Friend", 2/5ths of Northwest playing the new track "We Run", Destroilet et al. covering The Rebel Spell's "Murderers", and The Cover-Up playing (their original?) "Modern World"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and updates on the SMS as the week rolls along! Thanks everyone!

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