Anyone who thought that Epitaph Records passed their heyday when Rancid and NOFX split for new pastures would have been wide-eyed surprised on this evening. Kudos to the keepers of the punk rock flag for progressing with the times and developing – yet again – into a leader of the pack.
They used to lead the way in the likes of skate-punk and crust, but as the plethora of pre-teens proved, punk rock still hasn’t kicked the bucket. It’s just changed boots.
Kicking off the show, new label additions Scatter The Ashes dealt a relatively heavy blow with their brand of moderately tough screamo. With kids lined up hours before the doors opened, it was no surprise that even this somewhat unknown band was warmly received.
Faring slightly better due to their stronger profile and partially because they were clearly the heaviest band on the bill, From First To Last roused the crowd to a roar. The band started their set with the guitarist and lead singer switching duties for a song, then grabbing their respective places and proceeding to kick solid ass. Jovial about their slightly weightier sound, the band joked that they “aren’t even a heavy band, but we’re the heaviest one on this tour!”
Anxious to spend some of their pre-Matchbook Romance energy, the crowd stirred even more for Motion City Soundtrack, as they were prodded and provoked by their rousing keyboard player. Delivering a tight set, combined with an unusually remarkable Opera House sound (vocals were shit-hot all night making every band sound strong and clear), MCS were solid and upbeat.
Clearly though, Matchbook Romance were the highlight. Dropping any sense of self-consciousness, every underaged body in the crowd was screaming and chanting along to virtually every song. The band, definitely eating it up, didn’t rest on their laurels, even going so far as to pull out the acoustic guitars and stand-up bass for new track “Tiger Lily.” Spurred on by the almost ravenous appreciation, Matchbook Romance proved to be honing in on the Emo Crown, and if they keep up with shows like this, they’ll get it sooner than expected.