SHOWS I SEEN: Insubordination Fest ’12 – June 21th-23rd 2012 – The Ottobar – Baltimore, MD

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The Ottobar – Baltimore, MD
Thursday-Saturday, June 21th-23rd, 2012


Insubordination Fest is the best time of year and this may have been the best one yet! Start to finish it was the most incredible lineup ever, and I had a ton of fun even though I barely survived the weekend. From this stack of greatness I did learn that having too many good bands back to back to back to back to back to back can be a bad thing. There was really no rest period or break. This was most likely a big reason for my extreme exhaustion. I also missed a few sets or half sets that I really wanted to see because sometimes your body demands you put food in it.

Thursday June 21st – Day 1

Promdates - I really thought I’d like seeing these guys more. They were good but not, great. I still bought the two CD’s they had, both are awesome.

The Strait A’s – I was super stoked for this, The Strait A’s are a great band that I was hoping I’d get to see. They had a great set that was fun, wish they’d have played longer.

Billy Raygun – Billy Raygun just put out a great album, they followed that up with a great set at Insub. I thought they might have fucked up and raised the bar too high for everyone else, I was almost right.

Rational Anthem – Rational Anthem brought it hard like always, they had a fucking great set and played almost every song I considered essential. Stellar set list, stellar set. Jose was out with them and they played some Not Yet! songs which were pretty great too. Rational Anthem needs to be a standard of Insubordination Fest.

Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits – I guess you could say that this is the band this year that didn’t really fit in the mold….then again I don’t think these guys fit in any mold. They were great! Before the set everybody was asking me “who are they? Are they any good?” they all seemed to get on board real fast. I hope I can catch Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits sometime soon again.

Firecrackers – Always a good time seeing the Firecrackers, everyone else I talked to seemed to agree and dug their set. They’re one of those bands I’m glad is close by so I can see a lot.

Slow Death – Slow Death pulled out a great drunken set as always, I liked their set from last year better but this certainly quenched my Slow Death thirst.

Dead Mechanical – A band that I’ve seen more times than I can count but it’s always a good time, these guys are always tight. They played some new songs which was a bit of a surprise, they all ruled, which was no surprise.

Mikey Erg – Another case of ‘last year was better’ but I mean, there was no way that last year was going to be topped. Still the Mikey Erg set of 2012 was a blast; I always enjoy any chance to still sing along to Ergs songs with the crowd add-ins just like they were still a band. He played a new song and covered a Superchunk song too, both were great.

Dr. Frank and Friends – Dr. Frank won Insub fest 2012, and I knew it before the set was even over. This was fucking incredible. He had the Mixtapes backing him up as a band (and House Boat for one song), and he was just playing the front man with no interment, except for the solo section. He wasn’t sober, that was clear even before he ran into the mic stand, but he wasn’t even close to being too drunk to be good, he still sounded great. Dr. Frank also endorsed Natty Boh, showing he’s got good taste. After all was over people wanted more but without his ‘real’ band they really didn’t have any, so Dr. Frank came out, said he was so stunned by it all and that he had never had a crowd ask for me (I find this hard to believe!), and sang ‘How’d the Date End?’ A cappella style. Everything about this whole set was amazing.

Friday June 22nd – Day 2

Braceface – Braceface is another set of locals that I’ve seen a few times. They’re good; if they can keep it together they’ve got some good things ahead. Their Insub set was solid.

Dewtons – My second time I’ve seen Dewtons, last time they were awesome, this time they were great as well. The only bummer was, much like last time, I didn’t see any merch for them. If they have stuff out, I want to buy it!

Smokejumper – Much like the day before, Friday didn’t take long to take things to another level. Smokejumper provided that, despite some technical problems they had a fucking awesome set; though how can you not with a bear attack song? I was pretty stoked to see these guys for the first time but they were even better than I expected. After their set there was a surprise mini Blatz cover set with a couple of great guests.

Fatal Flaw – I don’t like Fatal Flaw, this set didn’t change my opinion. I had planned to hang out outside during this time, but it was raining.

Parasites – Real good set as always by the Parasites, Dave had Promdates backing him up as his band. My only real problem with this is they played all the songs way too fast, it was almost at double speed. Besides that though it was good stuff.

Beatnik Termites – My first of a couple annoyances at my stomach. My body demanded food so I missed about half the Beatnik Termites set. When I came in though I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of people watching their set which hasn’t been the case most of the times that I’ve seen them. What I caught of the set was real good; they played some of those new songs that I’m still hoping we see one day.

Unlovables – Holy shit the Unlovables! They not only took it to another level they completely won Friday. This set was the most fun I’d had all weekend (not counting Dr. Frank). It was kind of a shock because I’d only seen them one time which was the last time they played Insub, they were real good but they were pretty stationary. This time Hallie wasn’t tied down by a bass, she was jumping around with just a mic and did most of the set in the crowd, it was fucking incredible. The Unlovables are back after a long break and I hope they stay. (And if I remember right they played a new song, so hopefully that’s a good sign!)

Plow United – My 3rd time seeing Plow United now, and all three times they were awesome. This wasn’t in Pennsylvania, and that’s where all the Plow fans seem to be so everyone at Insub wasn’t going crazy but there were a good twenty to thirty people that cared a whole fucking lot. It was a lot of fun, they sounded great and they played some new songs that sounded rad, I can’t wait for them to come out.

Danny Vapid and the Cheats – This was probably my most disappointing set of the weekend. I really like the stuff I’ve heard from Danny Vapid and the Cheats (the album and Jetty Boys split) but this set didn’t do it for me at all. I was pretty bored the entire time they played. Though a few other people seemed to enjoy it a lot.

Teenage Bottlerocket – I’m getting to the point where I’ve seen Teenage Bottlerocket so many times it seems like a pretty standard thing. That being said, it was still hella fun to sing along again. I was hoping they’d play ‘Headbanger’ because I know they covered it for the new album…but they didn’t. Quality set by a quality band though.

Saturday June 23rd – Day 3

Trashkanistan – Yet another local, and I’m glad. Trashkanistan has some great things in their future; I like this band a lot. I wish they’d like record something and put it out so I could by it. It was a real good set; I think a lot of people missed out in a secret gem here.

Candy Hearts – Talk about people missing out on a great thing, The Candy Hearts fit that. There still weren’t many people at the Fest at this point, those people fucked up bad. Candy Hearts had one of the most solid sets of the day. I fucking love this band.

Isotopes – I love baseball, I like punk, and I love the Isotopes. They dedicated their set to Cal Ripken Jr, they had the black grease under their eyes, and even asked everyone to remove their hats and sing along to ‘take me out to the ballgame’, and I loved every second of it. The Isotopes were fucking awesome. I was bummed they didn’t have more than their recent 7″ with them, also that they sold out of the rad hats they had.

Weekend Dads/City Mouse – Again I’m pretty pissed at biology, my stupid stomach needed food so I missed both Weekend Dads and City Mouse, two bands that I really wanted to see. I did catch a couple Weekend Dads songs, and they were good. Fuck you need to eat!

Be My Doppelganger – This was the tamest Be My Doppelganger set I’ve seen, though they’re certainly a good enough band that they don’t need to have a full on party on stage to be good. They were great as always, how can they not be when playing ‘Turning Seventeen’?

Lipstick Homicide – In terms of bands playing solidly, Lipstick Homicide game Candy Hearts a run for their money. They were just incredible. In fact I just didn’t get enough of them at Insub Fest; I had to drive to Delaware to see them again the next day!

Dear Landlord – I thought it was odd they weren’t playing later, but in retrospect it was a good thing they didn’t, I might not have survived the day. Dear Landlord is always super fun, I don’t remember a lot of this set because the beer and whiskey was setting in hard but I do remember having fun.

Mixtapes – Mixtapes are going to be a giant band and here’s why. They put out excellent songs and work their asses off playing tons of top quality shows. Insubordination Fest was no exception for them, they put on one of the best sets of the night. They didn’t play ‘Hope is for People’ which bummed me out, but they did cover ‘El Scorcho’ so I guess I can let that slide. Also they played an impromptu mini set after Dr. Frank on the first night which included ‘Poprocks and Coke’.

Emily’s Army – I only saw two of Emily’s Army songs last year and they were surprisingly good so I wanted to check out their full set this year to give them a fair chance. Though my stomach had other ideas, it needed food again. Maybe next time.

House Boat – The House Boat set was great, however it was probably the worst set I’ve seen by them. It wasn’t bad or anything, it was just not up to the level that I’ve come to expect. Still the crowd was super into it and that was great. They also played their amazingly long song ’21st Century Breakroom’ which was unexpected and made me happy.

Mean Jeans – I had my Mean Jeans on for this one. As always it was a party for Mean Jeans. I did get taken out by some ass jumping off stage and landing on me, and only me, but whatever, you get back up. It was a blast. Mean Jeans are becoming among my favorite bands to see.

The Dopamines – The Dopamines are always the best. I was dead tired after House Boat and Mean Jeans but still give it all I had left for the Dopamines. It wasn’t their best performance, but even at their worst the Dopamines are better than 99% of the bands out there. Super fun as always.

Night Birds – I got what was left of my fourth wind for this set which was just in time. You can’t half ass a Night Birds set. They just come in and melt your face off with their pure intensity. Night Birds are a band that always gives it 500% and it shows. They made a heavy case for best set.

The Copyrights – I was so fucking dead by the time the Copyrights played I got up front and left three times, even managed to somehow fall asleep on the side during two songs. Still they sounded great. They played my favorite song ‘Planet Earth Nineteen-Ninety-Four’ for the first time that I’ve seen, even thought I was forced to sit out for that one it was still awesome to hear. Stellar set as always by the Copyrights. I believe at this point they’re the only band to have played every Insub Fest, so they’ve earned the closer spot.

Lookout Records 1987-2012

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One of the most predominate pop punk labels around has finally closed its doors this year after twenty five years of business. Lookout was started by Larry Livermore and David Hayes to released punk records, they didn’t strictly stick to that but it is still what they’re most known for. They’ve had many problems in the past with labels pulling their songs and Larry Livermore leaving the label but they still stand as maybe the best pop punk record label to ever exist. The label has released material by tons of noteworthy bands such as Alkaline Trio, Avail, The Bomb Bassets, The Crumbs, The Donnas, Dr. Frank, Even in Blackouts, The Eyeliners, Fifteen, Go Sailor, Green Day, The Groovie Ghoulies, The Hi-Fives, The Lillingtons, The Mopes, The Mr. T Experience, Operation Ivy, Pansy Division, Ben Weasel, Boris the Sprinkler, Born Against, Crimpshrine, Parasites, Pinhead Gunpowder, The Riverdales, Samiam, Screeching Weasel, Squirtgun, Sweet Baby, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Queers, Rancid, and The Zero Boys. If you like punk music at all chances are you know Lookout Records and even if you still don’t, you loved them at some point. Despite what has happened to the label in recent years it’s still a sad day now that they have finally closed up shop.

REVIEW: Andromeda Klein

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Andromeda Klein isn’t the most popular kid in school, in fact her best and only friend (besides her cat) just recently died, on top of that she has bad hearing, fragile bones and low self-esteem to boot. Her life is basically working at the local library, avoiding her mom and magic. Now when I say magic I don’t mean she’s working on card tricks, she’s more into the works of Aleister Crowley. This comes in handy sometimes because she’s been having these strange dreams that are trying to tell her something, luckily she can intrepid some of them and will hopefully get to the bottom of it. This she has to balance out with school, saving books at her library and dealing with “friends” a guy who’s trying to be her boyfriend and the one she wants to be her boyfriend ignoring her. This isn’t your typical teen novel, nor what I would expect from this author but in the end I liked it. The biggest thing was expecting the whole occult/magic theme to drop and it never did, once I realized it was here to stay the book was somehow more enjoyable. Written by Frank Portman aka Dr. Frank, the same Dr. Frank from the pop punk band The Mr. T Experience. This is his second book, the first, “King Dork” was one of the best books I’ve ever read and seemed to be a pop punk novel. This one had the same outcast teen ideas of the first, and most of his songs, but took a different road. While “Andromeda Klein wasn’t as good as “King Dork” it was a good read. And if anyone has read Dr. Frank’s first book, keep a sharp eye out and you’ll catch a pretty cool cameo appearance if you’ve got a decent memory. Clocking in at 432 pages, I can’t wait for Frank’s next book (or album).

Get Andromeda Klein from Amazon HERE

REVIEW: King Dork

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The Mr. T Experience is one of my favorite bands, Dr. Frank is one of my favorite song writers, so when I heard he (aka Frank Portman) was writing a book I couldn’t wait for it to come out. I expected it to more or less be a novel version of an MTX song, this is almost exactly what I got. This is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. Tom Henderson is you’re typical high school kid (at least if typical to you is the kid just trying to get by and seems to be failing at everything, and being the outcast while everyone else seems to be popular). Him and his best friend Sam Hellerman spend their time talking about girls, making up bands that will never exist and wondering why everyone seems to be in the ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ cult. Oddly enough with this book he stumbles on a secret code that was in his late father’s copy of the book. Now he sets out to discover the mystery of his dad, still while trying to balance school, girls, and a mom and wanna be pal of a step father. If you like the band Mr. T Experience, you should be right at home with this book, even if not, if you were the kid that didn’t quite fit in in school and couldn’t score to save his life, it’ll be like reading you’re memoirs. 368 pages makes up “King Dork” (also the title of an MTX song), this also makes for a good launch pad to get into Frank’s next book “Andromeda Klein”.

Get King Dork from Amazon HERE

Weekly Band Profile: Mr. T Experience

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MTXband

Name: Mr. T Experience
From: Berkeley, California
Web Site: http://www.myspace.com/themrtexperience
Lifespan: 1985–current
Genre: Punk, Pop Punk
Best Release: Love is Dead/…And the Women Who Love Them
Releases:
Albums:
Everybody’s Entitled to Their Own Opinion
Night Shift at the Thrill Factory
Making Things with Light
Milk Milk Lemonade
Our Bodies Our Selves
Love is Dead
Revenge is Sweet, and So Are You
Road to Ruin
Alcatraz
Yesterday Rules
EPs:
Big Black Bugs Bleed Blue Blood
Strum ünd Bang, Live!?
Gun Crazy
…And the Women Who Love Them
The Miracle of Shame
Singles:
So Long, Sucker
Sex Offender
Love American Style
The Mr. T Experience/Sicko split
Tapin’ Up My Heart
Alternative is Here to Stay
The Mr. T Experience/Goober Patrol split
…And I Will Be with You
The Mr. T Experience/Gigantor split
Members(current):
Dr. Frank – vocals, guitar
Ted Angel – guitar
Bobby Jordan – bass
Jym Ruzicka – drums

Info:

Mr. T Experience is one of my favorite bands of all time, together with The Queers and Screeching Weasel I consider them the holy trinity of pop punk. Ruling the 90’s on Lookout! Records and playing Gilman Street armed with songs about girls. Dr. Franks lyrics are pretty simple to learn but never boring and always catchy. As far as I’m considered they’re the greatest pop punk band of all time. Through the years they’ve gone through quite a few lineup changes, much like many other punk bands. MTX is still together however very rarely play shows anymore and haven’t toured in years. Hopefully there will be a new release and tour someday, someday soon.

REVIEW: Dr. Frank: Andromeda Klein

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Andromedaklein7Many of you Dr. Frank fans may know he recently came out with his second book titled “Andromeda Klein”. With that book he released this 7″, which he sort of considers the theme song for the book. This is his first music release since The Mr. T Experience’s “Yesterday Rules” in 2004, so I along with many others eagerly awaited this one. In the book Andromeda met  a boy who at one point writes a song for her, the first song on this record may very well be this song, at least it starts out the same, and the book only gives us the first two lines. The first time I listened to this song I thought it was alright. After a few run through it’s really grown on me, I think having read the book brings something to the song as well. The B side of the single is a song called “Bethlehem”. This song instantly became one of my favorite Dr. Frank solo songs. It has everything that made the world fall in love with MTX. It’s quick, catchy and fun. If I’m making a Dr. Frank greatest hits CD you damn well better believe this song will be on it. Jealous Butcher was the label that put this one out, there were pressings on Red and Black, with Red being limited to around two hundred if I’m not mistaken.

A. Andromeda Klein
B. Bethlehem

Get Andromeda Klein from Amazon HERE

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