So for the past few days Lancaster, PA has been hosting the Launch Music Conference, some kind of weird conglomeration of bands playing in clubs across the city over the course of three days.
To be honest, when I jumped in my friend's van to head up to Lancaster yesterday afternoon I had no idea there was a music festival going on. I thought I was going to a punk show. When we showed up at the Ad Lib Cafe in downtown Lancaster, we were all pretty surprised to see a huge crowd of all different kinds of kids milling around Central Market and the Cafe.
At first, I was confused. But when our friend Raphael (bassist of We Were Skeletons) walked out to greet us and lead us in a back door to the upstairs stage area, I was comforted. The show soon started, with We Were Skeletons kicking things off with an absolutely awesome set. These guys have done nothing but grow since releasing their debut "Summers, and their new self-titled album (recorded by none other than Will Killingsworth of Orchid/Ampere at Dead Air Studios) which is slated for release within the next few months following the release of the Ryan Oatman EP, is full of desperate dual vocals, insane drumming and mind-bending guitar riffs. I hadn't seen these guys play since I booked them for a show in my hometown almost a year ago, and couldn't believe the difference. I had been bumping the new material Raf had sent over, and I loved it, but seeing it live gave me an all new appreciation for their growth.
Next up was 1994!, another Lancaster based band that have quickly become one of the darlings of the national DIY scene. This was also the second time I had ever seen them, the first time being at Barclay House in October of '08 (check the archives for a review of that show). I would have to say that this time they were far better, but that could be just because the crowd was incredible. The energy for the upstairs show was absolutely incredible. It seemed everyone knew each other and were friends, and everyone was having a great time jamming out the music together, a stark contrast from what I saw when I poked my head in to check out some of the downstairs shows: a few people, standing a few feet back from the stage, as boys in designer clothes tended to merch tables while frantically texting on sidekicks. Anyway, 1994! played a bunch of songs off their debut LP Thank You Arms and Fingers, (again, check the archives) and they sounded great. They also played a cover of Weezer's "My Name Is Jonas", which I had heard they occasionally play, so I was excited to see that. After their set I bought an LP from Mike (drums), and it looks great. You can get your own personal copy from Inkblot Records.
After the 1994! set, Forensics played, but I only caught a fraction of their set. From what I caught, I could describe their sound as loud, sort of metal influenced punk with gruff vocals. I believe that the singer of this band runs Magic Bullet Records. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Following the Ad Lib show, we headed over the The Stomping Grounds, 1994's house for an after show/party. Snowing played first, and once again I was amazed at the energy of the crowd. It was such a great experience to go to two shows in one night with such positive energy.
Snowing features members of Hightide Hotel, Street Smart Cyclist, and Boy Problems, and their sound is very much in the same vein; High-energy 90's-esque emo with noodly guitars reminiscent of Braid, propelled by John Galm's raucous vocals. The set ended with John smashing his bass into the drum set and diving in.
Next up was Boyfriends (formerly known as Barf Academy), featuring both members of 1994! and a dude named Bean playing the drums, and the crowd went absolutely insane, crowd surfing in a basement that had a ceiling that couldn't have been more than seven of eight feet tall. The vocal style in this band is similar to that of 1994!, since Chris (vocals/guitar in 1994!) takes care of vocal duties. I don't really know how to describe these guys except that there was a lot of delay going on and sweet melodic, chilled-out parts. I'd suggest giving their myspace a listen, but if you ever get the chance see them live, because they are awesome.
I missed whatever band played next, because I was seduced by the roof, which Mike had recently decked out with astro turf, railings, and a TV and VCR featuring none other than that epic of our time, Wayne's World. Soon the roof filled up, and everyone was talking and watching the movie. Once again, I was absolutely amazed by how awesome and friendly every single person we met was. Lancaster, you have an awesome, awesome scene!
At around 2:30 in the morning, most of those who had stuck around to drink and dance to the T.I. remixes being played in the living room headed back down the basement to watch one more act, Ring Finger. Ring Finger was one woman, backed by only an iPod. She had set up a quilt she had sewn herself, complete with robots and window detail, as well as an end table, a lamp, and several random items, which she explained was a re-creation of her living room. She explained that she used to be in a hardcore band, and the last time she had been on tour was in 1996, and that this was only her second show. She played a few songs, and I was a bit too drunk to decide whether or not this was good, or just the most bizarre thing I'd ever seen. She played a song that Aaron of Isis (off her iPod, Aaron of Isis was not present) had played guitar on, so I guess she has definitely been around the circuit and made some friends.
After saying some goodbyes, we piled back in the van and our DD Robbie (co-author of this blog) drove us home, where we arrived at 5:30 in the morning. All in all, it was an awesome, awesome time, and I got to meet some awesome new people and hang out with some friends.
Below I've posted the Snowing demo, Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit, which is going to be released on 7" pretty soon, so buy it when it comes out, asshole.
Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit (2009)