Punk Rock Bowling Day 1 – Live In Asbury (6/10/17)

On a hot June day, I headed out to Asbury Park, NJ to catch the east coast version of the infamous Vegas Punk bowling tournament at the Stone Pony outdoor summer stage.  Sad to say (just like last year) that there isn’t any actual bowling that takes place anymore, there are a fuck ton of good bands for the two days.  Like, a ridiculously stacked lineup… and while I think Sunday had the stronger lineup overall, there was no way I was going to miss Dillinger Four or The Specials playing on Saturday.  I got there in the evening right as Pup was about to play.


Taken by youtube user: Lauren Stein

These young Canadian punks have made a name for themselves last year with their sophomore release of The Dream Is Over, which earned PUP a pretty big following, and it was clear there were plenty of people at PBR just to see them play.  While I do listen to The Dream Is Over occasionally and do like it, I’ll admit that I’m not super into PUP as that style of punk tends to be a grower for me and I haven’t given it enough spins to fall in love with it yet (and yes, I realize I’m in the minority with this).  Nonetheless, they put on a solid, enjoyable set, and if you dig indie-tinged catchy punk in the veins of Joyce Manor you’d dig them.

The Explosion:

Taken by youtube user: Lauren Stein

Man, it’s been a few years since I’ve last caught Boston’s The Explosion.  I missed them when they came around Asbury Park last year with The Bouncing Souls, and I think the last time I saw them was in 2005 with Rise Against and A Wilhelm Scream (damn, has it really been 12 years?!).  Playing more straight-forward rock and roll influenced punk similar to bands such as The Loved Ones, Swingin’ Utters and Street Dogs, the recently reunited The Explosion played to an enthusiastic crowd singing along to their anthems.  Even though it sounded like vocalist Matt Hock blew out his voice at the Philly show the night before (gargling gravel comes to mind), it didn’t take away from their energetic set…and you know what? Fuck it, I was digging the rougher around the edges sound.  Definitely give these guys a listen and catch them if they come around near you.

Dillinger Four:

Taken by youtube user: Lauren Stein

Dillinger Four has been one of my favorite punk bands since I’ve gotten into it nearly two decades ago, and yet somehow I never managed to see them live somehow.  Every time they came around (which was rare as it is), I was out of town, at a wedding, etc.  Throw in a few year long hiatus and these guys were by far the band I was most excited to see.  These midwestern punks did not disappoint.

Known for their sloppy sets, long rants on stage (to which some unfamiliar fans yelled “play a song!”… which only eggs them on more), Dillinger Four actually sounded really tight and played plenty from all their major albums: Midwestern Songs of the Americas, Versus God, Situationist Comedy, and CIVIL WAR.  Easily one of my favorite bands still, Dillinger Four throws a fantastic show and if you get a chance to see them, don’t fuck up and go to a wedding or something instead (seriously, I’d postpone my own wedding to see D4).

Setlist (From what I remember, not in order or complete):
A Jingle For The Product
Super Powers Enable Me To Blend In With Machinery
Mosh For Jesus
Noble Stabbings!!
Maximum Piss & Vinegar
Let Them Eat Thomas Paine

Charles Bradley And His Extraordinaires:

Taken by youtube user: Richard Perdomo

I never heard of Charles Bradley or any of his Extraordinaires before, but from the name of the band I was expecting some folk punk thing (you folk punks sure love your naming your bands like this… Johnny Hobo and The Freight Trains, Suicide Sid and The Ghost Boys, etc).  I couldn’t have been further off.

Charles Bradley was definitely the outlier of the show, playing soul and funk similar to James Brown.  And not just similar, with his flowy, glitzy, flamboyant outfit… it actually looked like he came straight from the 70s.  Charles Bradley has a strong voice, and put on a hell of a performance.  While it’s not usually my style of music, it was a solid set that made for a good transition into The Specials.

The Specials:

Taken by youtube user: Lauren Stein

Another band I’ve been waiting to see for years, like any good ska fan I’ve loved The Specials for a long time now.  These UK ska legends pretty much kicked off the 2nd wave of ska (2 tone movement) back in the 70s, mixing elements of ska and punk, and just by looking through the crowd it was clear of influential they were.  Fans of all ages were there, young kids, teens, young adults and plenty of people well into their 50-60s.

The band took the stage opening with the slower “Ghost Town”, and played a few of their slower paced hits like “Do Nothing” and “Man At C & A” before picking it up (no pun intended… ok maybe just slightly intended) into their faster numbers.  The band sounded really good, tight, and incredibly energetic live with practically everyone singing along.  One of the more energetic shows of the weekend, and I’ve seen a shit ton of good bands.  If you ever get the chance to see them, go catch them.

Ghost Town
Do Nothing
Man at the C&A
Rat Race
Doesn’t Make It Alright
Nite Klub
(Dawning Of A) New Era
Do The Dog
Concrete Jungle
A Message To You Rudy
Monkey Man
Little Bitch
Too Much Too Young
Enjoy Yourself

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