team reasonable is fucking dead

finalheadergoodA couple years ago I wrote a post that was more or less me eulogizing the loss of PastePunk. It was a hugely important website for me. Deep in my heart I wanted to try and matter to someone as much as that site mattered to me. I really don’t think I ever succeeded in that, but it was worth a shot anyway. No one is going to eulogize this dumb blog, so I’m going to have to do it myself.

I got into writing this thing because I love punk rock. I love how it gave me a scene to be part of when I was younger. I love how it gave me an escape when shit got bad. I love the people I’ve met because of it. I’ve spent the last 7 and a half years (inconsistently) writing about bands that I thought were cool. I wrote a couple negative reviews. Three, I think. I still stand by two of those. I learned early on that it was more rewarding to write positive things about stuff you like than negative things about stuff you don’t. There are a shit million “focus on the negative” blogs on the internet. Fuck being that.

There is a thing Aaron Cometbus wrote that I’ve always loved. He said:

“I wanted a new lifestyle too, a new lease on life, but couldn’t make that change. I was still paying off an old debt. Sounds dumb, but punk had saved my life, and part of being a punk for me was taking on the responsibility to give something back. Save someone else’s life and safeguard my own. I had a lot of work to do.”

I’ve done about as much as I can, I think. I’ve been involved in punk rock, in one capacity or another, for more than half my life. I’m 32 years old, and I know that isn’t old in the grand scheme of things, but I feel less and less connected to whatever the “punk community” is. No one wants to keep reading an old punk’s opinion on music that is largely defined by youth. And I certainly don’t want to be the internet version of the weird old guy who keeps showing up at all ages shows.

I’ve been threatening to pull the plug here for the last two years or so. Every bit of promotion I do is instantly made pointless by me cutting myself off at the knees every chance I get. I got a bunch of readers following me when I was on Blogger, so I switched to WordPress on a whim. I caught an offhand link in a Slate article that sent over a thousand people my way in the course of an afternoon, so I fucked off for six months and wasted a huge chance to expand my readership. I made a Facebook page thing, and maybe 20 people liked it. I lose readers every year, and have been since traffic peaked in 2014. People would 100% stop sending me promotional materials if they saw how low my views are. I don’t want to sound all morose and bitter. It’s (mostly) been a fun thing. I’ve found some of my favorite bands because of this. I’ve gotten to interact with bands and labels that I love.

Thanks for reading though, especially the ones who’ve stuck with me since 2010. This blog will stay up for as long as WordPress exists, or until I decide to delete it. Could go either way.

I’ll still be on Twitter yelling about shit on occasion. Get at me on there. I guess I’m on Instagram and Snapchat too (teamreasonable and thejoekelly). Those are mostly pictures of my cats though. Probably not worth a follow. I’m keeping the email address active, so catch me on there maybe? teamreasonable @ gmail.

Anyway. See you around.



On Driftwood Records

We need to get predatory, unethical shitheads out of independent music. This whole Driftwood Records thing is just another example of how fucked up independent music can be, and we all can do so much better. Keep calling people out. There is no fucking space for intolerant people in our scenes. There is even less room for abusers.

I won’t be covering any more records put out by Driftwood Records. The three reviews I’ve done from bands on the label will stay up, but I’m going to remove the Driftwood store links. The bands deserve your support, even if the label doesn’t.

I don’t know too much about the situation, having just found about it all today. But, I want to mirror what Couch King had to say:

Dandy Eckert is a terrible human being and (to add suspicion) has recently deleted his and the label’s Facebook. No one should support any of his endeavors in any capacity from this point on. You can read a statement on the situation here (TW: assault, homophobia, transphobia).

Let’s keep our scenes free of this kind of stuff. Remember, we’re a community. From the kids at the shows, the bands on the stage, and those of us to cover it all.

FEATURE: My 2014 In Live Music

I went a little over two years without seeing any live music. It certainly wasn’t something I was trying to do, but it happened. This was pretty unforgivable for someone who blogs about music. This is even more unforgivable given my immediate proximity to Chicago. There were literally bands here always.

But, somehow, I went from July 2011 until November 2013 without seeing any live music. It was a pretty big drought. As is forever the story of my life, it was almost always due to money problems, health problems, or scheduling problems. I work 3rd shift on Wednesday through Saturday nights. This means I end up missing damn near every show. That two year span was a lot of disappointment. I’d see a band was coming, only to see the show was on a Friday or Saturday night. Meaning I had to work.

Luckily that streak was broken. I got back into the swing of things this last year. I got to see a pretty fair amount of bands. Here is my 2014 in live music:

NONA / Pet Symmetry / Meah! / The Valenteens

Dowsing / Donovan Wolfington / Bluebirds / Per Aspera

Dowsing / Little Big League / Winter Classic / L. Mounts

Lemuria / Cayetana / PUP / The Menzingers

Braid / Jason Douglass Swearingen

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) / Joie De Vivre / Free Throw

Lemuria / Lifted Bells / Prince

American Football / Braid

Ten of those bands ended up on my year end lists.

Hopefully 2015 is as eventful. Though, with the apparent loss of Township, I feel like Sunday night shows are going to fall by the wayside. That is definitely a bummer.

So, bands I like, you are on notice. Please play Sunday shows when you come to Chicago. You will be my best friends, and you may end up on a year end list on a blog that not very many people read. Deal?

Drinking Pitchfork’s Beer: A Shitty New York Adventure

Crappy picture I took during Waxahatchee's set @ Converse Rubber Tracks

My friend Autumn and I go back a number of years to two different punk houses in the Chicago suburbs. The first house was The Capital, it was in Aurora. The second was in Bartlett. The Bartlett house didn’t have a name, and was the home base of a horror punk band. So, yeah, that was a thing that happened. She moved out to New York after the house broke down.

Anyway, after years of avoiding it, I finally went out to New York to visit for a week this past December. Mostly we just kind of wandered around Brooklyn. It was every bit as hipstery as it is made out to be. Like, one new hipster girl got on the Q for every one that got off of it. It was ridiculous. That really has nothing to do with this story, but it was maybe worth noting (probably not).

I was on the computer looking at show listings on December 14. I found out about a free Waxahatchee/Mutual Benefit show. Totally a thing I would want to see. It was at Converse Rubber Tracks in Williamsburg. So, it was a relativity painless trip. Flatbush to Williamsburg. Really just the Q to the G, then walk a few blocks. This is certainly not a bad trip in general, but for one problem. We had to make that trip in a snow storm. Oh, and also the G train is total bullshit.

After a bunch of boring shit no one cares about, we finally made it. Only we forgot to RSVP for the show. The person doing door was super uncooperative, but finally agreed to let us in. We had gone to the event thinking it was just a free show. It turned out to be the launch party thing for Pitchfork’s print quarterly.

Mutual Benefit was just starting when we got there. Immediately we went to the bar to get some drinks. Turns out the drinks were free. Free drinks being the best drinks (of course). Mutual Benefit were absolutely fantastic.

The editors of Pitchfork did a panel discussion/Q&A about the magazine when Mutual Benefit finished their set. Michael Azerrad was the guy moderating the panel. It was weird. The panel was, more or less, Pitchfork jerking themselves off. Made tolerable only by the free booze.

Waxahatchee played after the panel talk went on for what felt like an eternity. Everyone in the building was talking through her set. It was kind of a bummer. Well, it would be had she not been absolutely great. The set was fantastic. Some old, some new, some Great Thunder stuff worked in, and some covers. Autumn actually grabbed the setlist off the stage when the show was over and gave it to me (sorry). I have it in a folder at home.

So, the show is over and everyone is still hanging out. Mostly it was a bunch of people trying to schmooze and network. I’m much more focused on drinking as much beer as possible, which probably makes me the worst music blogger ever. Totally uninterested in making connections.

The long and short of it is that the night ended with Autumn, her boyfriend, and I getting shit-plowed on free booze. Free booze that was provided by Pitchfork.

Sorry, Pitchfork.

Digging Through the Compilation Shelf.

compgridCompilations were a fucking way of life. They were the best route to find new bands. They were around long before the internet was THE INTERNET. They were around long before Spotify, BandCamp, SoundCloud, and other services made it easy to “try before you buy.” They’re things that don’t really happen anymore. One part is because of the internet. Another is the overall decline of brick and mortar record stores. They’re not financially viable to manufacture and distribute anymore, and it’s kind of bummer.

Without pulling the shitty “back in my day” card, the decline of record stores and readily available physical products has been the biggest change in music that I’ve seen. I’m old enough to remember a time before file sharing, iTunes, and web commerce as a viable option for music existed. Small record labels, if they had websites at all, still lived on mailorder. You printed out a form, mailed them a money order or some shit, and waited. Oh, how you waited. It wasn’t the most conducive way to discover music. You could read liner notes, but if bands didn’t thank any other bands it was a no-go. So you turned to local record store, and their “compilation” section.

I’ve always been broke. That definitely made it hard for me to discover new bands in my teenage years. I couldn’t afford to buy albums all the time, and it had to be worth it if I was going to drop the $16 at Tower Records. So I always dug through the compilations. At around $2 a pop, they were the best things in the world. If i was curious about some new band on Lookout! Records or something, just go grab their most recent one. Same with Asian Man, Epitaph, Fat Wreck, Go Kart, Matador, Hopeless, BYO, Vagrant, Deep Elm, and so on et cetera. You’d get to hear that new band you were wondering about, and probably some unreleased song from a band you liked already. How could you go wrong?

The first compilation cd I ever bought was probably Mailorder Is Still Fun. As I touched on in another thing, Asian Man Records was my jam. I was mail ordering a bunch of records, and decided to get this compilation. As a teenage ska fan, it was the best I could have hoped for. Slow Gherkin, Less Than Jake, The Chinkees, and MU330 were all on it. Through that compilation I got introduced to Korea Girl, who I still believe to be one of the most criminally underrated indie rock bands in the world. I heard Alkaline Trio and The Broadways for the first time. 16 year old me was stoked. And that compilation was already 2 years old by the time I bought it.

It all spiraled from there. The first time I heard Camber, Planes Mistaken For Stars, and Brandtson was on Deep Elm Sampler #3 (Sound Spirit Fury Fire). The first time I heard The Mr. T Experience, Bratmobile, and Common Rider was on Lookout! Freakout Episode 2. And Hopelessly Devoted To You Vol. 3 was where I first heard Dillinger Four, The Queers, and The Weakerthans (it also sparked me into buying one of my all time favorite records, Left And Leaving). Marc’s A Dick And Gar’s A Drunk: The Johann’s Face Story is where I first heard the Traitors and No Empathy. What I’m saying is that compilations were always important to me. In that spirit, I wanted to make a quick list of my favorite compilations. I’ve linked them to their respective page on Discogs. In no particular order.

Honorable mentions go to Short Music For Short People and Fat Music Volume 5: Live Fat, Die Young (both Fat Wreck Chords). The former for absolutely fucking nailing the gimmick. The latter for having one of my favorite Propagandhi songs.

If this kind of stuff had a resurgence, I’d be right there ready to go.

Emo: Where The Girls STILL Aren’t.

“And so I watch these girls at emo shows more than I ever do the band. I watch them sing along, see what parts they freak out over. I wonder if this does it for them, if seeing these bands, these dudes on stage resonates and inspires them to want to pick up a guitar or drum sticks. Or if they just see this as something dudes do, because there are no girls, there is no them up there. I wonder if they are being thwarted by the FACT that there is no presentation of girls as participants, but rather, only as consumers—or if we reference the songs directly—the consumed. I wonder if this is where music will begin and end for them. If they can be radicalized in spite of this. If being denied keys to the clubhouse or airtime will spur them into action.”

-Jessica Hopper (2003)

It’s been 10 years since Jessica Hopper wrote an article called “Emo: Where The Girls Aren’t.” It appeared in Punk Planet #56. I was 18 when that article first came out, and was still trying to figure out where I fit in in the world of independent or underground music. It was easier for me than it was for others. The fact that I was a straight, white male meant that most music was already marketed towards me by default. I could, within reason, connect to just about any band. And, unfortunately, we were all knee deep in sensitive boy, Drive Thru Records bands. It wasn’t a great time.

I read her article when it came out and it made me wonder about the music I was being exposed to. There was a troubling amount of “women as props” in what was called emo in the early 2000s. That was the best case scenario. Never mind the more explicitly misogynistic stuff. A decade later, and many years spent circling the wagons, there is a lot of talk of an emo revival. A whole lot of self important people are dissecting the history and revising it. A good portion of the culture is trying to distance itself from the popular Drive Thru/Victory/Hopeless bands of the past. What troubles me isn’t that they are doing that, it’s the reasons they are doing it. No one is coming out and acknowledging the inherent sexism of that particular scene. The rebellion against that era seems to play more to generic punk politics about selling out or whatever. No one is decrying those bands from 2003 for being sexist. They’re being decried for being fake. There is a dissonance there that is hard to wrap my head around.

So, in the last decade, how far have we really come? Punk music in general is still horribly unbalanced when it comes to women in the scene. Women playing in bands are still looked at as a novelty. And then, when we discuss those bands, we always make a reference to the “female vocalist/guitar player/whatever.” This modern day emo scene is really no different. It’s still dominated by men. Primarily of the straight and white variety. Sure, we like to pretend that everything is better. We walked through the valley of the shadow of posers (with apologies to Propagandhi for stealing their line). We came out more connected and stronger. But, unfortunately, we never really addressed the real issues.

There seems to be a disconnect between what’s happening now the what is happened then. The bar was set so incredibly low to begin with, it takes a minimum of effort to look better. Emo music, and punk in general, still haven’t fully embraced the idea of being inclusive and respectful. Women in bands are still looked at as a novelty. Go to any band who runs their website through Tumblr. If they answer questions on there, count how many of them are some variation of “the girl in your band is hot. Hook me up with her.” It’s fucking ludicrous that the absolute minimum amount of effort seems to be too much. As a community, this simply won’t do. “Don’t be sexist” isn’t asking too much. “Don’t be a shithead” isn’t asking too much. It’s insulting that it takes so much effort to get people to just do that.

Sure, things don’t seem as blatant anymore. But, how much of that change is cosmetic? There’s a boat load of hype surrounding this “emo revival” right now. It’s attention that’s been building for a few years already, but seems to be coming to a head. As a fan, I’ve heard a million “emo revival” records. As a blogger, I’ve got enough press releases and promotional material to choke a horse (or my inbox, at the very least). As a result, I’m seeing a whole array of stuff. Unfortunately, a lot of it isn’t very good. Parts of our own community are still a mess. The same things those early 2000s bands get attacked for doing are still happening. While some of the more violent things have fallen out of sight, don’t fool yourself into believing they’re not still there.

Somewhere there is some kid who wants to play emo or post-hardcore who is just hearing that old Glassjaw line about “suck the dick that cums lead.” Or maybe he saw his favorite band talk about how much they were influenced by Saves The Day. He’s probably hearing “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” or “As Your Ghost Takes Flight” for the first time. The current bands don’t exist in a vacuum. We still have to do better.

We may have slapped a fresh coat of paint on it, but the house still isn’t in order. We’re inviting strangers in to take a look around anyway. We can only sweep so much shit under the rug before they notice. Eventually we have to actually do something about it.

Additional reading:
“Emo: Where The Girls Aren’t” by Jessica Hopper

September 20, 2003 – Thursday/Death By Stereo/Murder By Death

thursdayticketOn September 20, 2003, I got on the train to Chicago to go see Thursday. I don’t really remember the show very much. I’ve been to a whole lot of shows in the intervening 10 years. I do remember certain things about it though. Some things are more superficial than others. I was just a few months out of high school, and had really only gone to locals shows. The shows I went to were either at the venue I volunteered at, garages, backyards, or basements. Going to see a post-hardcore band in Chicago at a major venue was a huge adjustment, especially when you’re used to seeing crusty ska/punk bands in a garage in Wheaton. But, if nothing else, it kind of affirmed my belief in the music I listened to. None of my friend’s gave a shit about that kind of music. Even the punks were too busy being “punks” to even attempt to listen to something more involved than power/barre chords and vague sloganeering lyrics (Bush administration era punks were TERRIBLE [myself included]).

My friend Lamarr and I got to the House Of Blues late. We actually ended up missing most of Murder By Death’s set. This was a month before Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them? came out. I ended up buying a copy of Like The Exorcist, But More Breakdancing. That record was fantastic. Murder By Death kind of lost me when they more or less became a country band. Not as a slight against them, but it just hasn’t done much for me.

Death By Stereo were the other opener. I always thought that was weird. I was never really stoked on them. Not even as a shitty punk teenager. They did put on a great show though. I remember Efrem jumping from the stage to the floor, and doing a song in the middle of the pit that had formed. It was a great thing to see, even for a non-fan.

As far as Thursday went, I was bummed that their set was heavy on songs from War All The Time. It made sense, seeing as that record had just been released less than a week prior. I guess I was kind of bummed because I hadn’t had time to really listen to the album. It hadn’t connected to me quite the way Waiting and Full Collapse had. Shit, it still hasn’t. That aside, they played a great set.

What I remember most was the overall atmosphere. The House Of Blues has a shitty layout. The floor is boxed in, and there’s limited access to the it. Those access points are hard to get to on a half full show, never mind a sold out one. But, I was still straight edge at the time, so having to stand around by the bar wasn’t my idea of a great night. Eventually, through force of will (and being generally larger than most people at the show), I worked my way down to the main floor. The crowd was moving as one singular being. It was remarkable because no one was trying to mosh. If there is one thing Chicago fans love doing, it’s moshing at inappropriate times to things that don’t need it. I had worked my way up to the front left of the floor, but ended up at the rear right by the end of the show. The main hall is on the second floor of the building, so you could feel the floor shift under your feet as the crown moved. It constantly felt like the floor could have buckled at any time.

So, you know, that was pretty great.

(Originally posted on Tumblr)