Shows at The Rex Theater are always an experience. Most recently, I attended the Johnny and the Razorblades show there on 06.24.17 with support from Mama’s Madness, Cynimatics, and Upon Rocket. Honestly, I only knew half of the ticket, so I was looking forward to a new experience. I like to be surprised with what I find on an unknown ticket.
First up was a surprise addition to the ticket, Stephanie Kong.
Stephanie played solo acoustic. Her songs were very personal, and spoke to themes such as depression, friendships both found and lost, and growth. She did a fantastic job for opening up a larger show in a large venue. At the time she played, the crowd had not yet really shown up, but she did get a decent gathering towards the front to listen to her play.
Second of the night was Mama’s Madness.
I was pretty stoked when they were first taking the stage, expecting some punk due to the mohawk, the acoustic guitar player taking off his shirt and putting on a sweat headband, and a decently set kit in the back. Surprise though–not punk.
Overall, the sounds was a little country, little yelling, little AC/DC Hells Bells (not the whole Back in Black album, JUST Hells Bells). One person in the crowd even made the statement that it was “like Yondu (Guardians of the Galaxy) walked in and started singing” to you. Two songs in, the drummer also lost his shirt.
These guys were catchy, even if you didn’t want them to be. Many of their songs focused on sex, drugs, drinking, or a combination of them all, with titles such as “Drug Train.” Their lead singer didn’t need a mic, as his voice carried even when he wasn’t using it. They definitely had people dancing and singing along.
Third on stage was Cynimatics.
It is always a joy to see Cynimatics play. These guys bring fun, a little bit of fire, and a lot of ska to the stage. Even if you’re not quite sure what they’re singing about, they make you want to dance. For this show, they even did a cover song about sexually transmitted diseases.
In their commentary regarding buying merch, Cynimatics told us we would probably like the packaging to the CD more than the CD which has three songs on it. I disagree, mostly because I have that CD and I enjoy it. They literally give them away, so you should probably pick one up.
During their set, Cynimatics just lets Shawn (guitarist) rip on some riffs in songs which you don’t necessarily anticipate through the rest of the ska sound.
Anthony told the crowd that “Pop punk ruined (his) life … in a slightly positive and not ill-willed kind of way.” They closed out with a crowd favorite cover of “Scotty Doesn’t Know,” which Guitar Player #2 ran up to the front of the stage and sang along for. Toward the end of this song, I’m pretty sure Anthony licked Shawn’s guitar.
Headliner the show was Johnny and the Razorblades.
These guys mentioned in our interview with them that they have an image, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. There is a solid commitment to color by the band members, including Guitar Player #2’s light up green guitar. The mint bass stands out against Danny Razor’s pink outfit.
At a couple points throughout their set, a fan snuck on stage, ran across, and jumped off. The band was super casual about it.
These guys aren’t afraid to have fun. They did a cover of “American Girl” and “Born to Run” (because secretly we’re all Bruce Springsteen fans). We also got to hear stories about musical nerdiness over a key change in the song they played and got kicked out of a Leechburg pool for. “Too cool to rock on the radio” was also played, and it was catchy af.
Since Stephanie was a late add to the ticket, when giving shout outs to the openers Johnny did say that “there was a tiny Asian girl here too, I don’t know where she came from but she was good.” He said we could quote him on that, so I am, and he’s right, she was good.
Towards the end of the set there were guys throwing their shirts on stage. Mike Razor even told us that due to this “(they)’ve made it now.” As they wrapped up, I realized that this was not the end of the show. Who doesn’t have the headliner band as the last band of the show? Bamboozled.
I will accept this bamboozling, however, since there are skulls on Johnny’s guitar neck, and the last band was a jam band.
Upon Rocket was the final band of the night.
These guys looked like they came fully prepared for a very long jam. There were many, many instruments on stage, and the sound check was taking a very long time. I unfortunately could not stay however, and I have not heard much, but they look like they were ready to have a good time with the remaining crowd.