I took a solo whirlwind trip to New York and back last weekend, driving about 20 hours in two days. Of course, me being me, this trip involved a two-hour detour to a show in New Jersey on Saturday night and, on Sunday, driving straight to a show instead of doing something smart/practical like going home and sleeping. I didn’t have a chance to see a full bill either night and was admittedly pretty out of it the whole time, so rather than attempting to write individual reviews I’m just going to smush both shows together.

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Iron Chic. They’re rad.

I’ve been a huge fan of Iron Chic since I first saw them at The Smiling Moose in October 2015. I haven’t seen them in Pittsburgh since then (have they been back?), but I’ve been lucky enough to catch them a handful more times when I’ve been visiting family in New York. Naturally, when I saw they were playing the night I got into town, I decided to make the trek out to Crossroads in Garwood, NJ. The music, as always, was fantastic: melodic punk rock with anthemic lyrics that you can’t help but sing along to. The crowd was less acceptable: at the opening notes of “Cutesy Monster Man” I braced myself for the ever-present rush to the front, but was surprised to find myself surround by… eight others? 30 seconds later, when one drunken asshole repeatedly tried to drag singer Jason Lubrano off the stage, I was worried the night might be a bust.

But, regardless, we made it work: the asshole chilled out, our little crew shouted our heads off, and the rest of the crowd got into the music. They played all my favorites–Timecop, Time Keeps on Slipping…, Black Friday, Every Town Has an Elm Street, etc. etc. Even more exciting was the news that they would be releasing their 3rd full length record in October. They played some new material and it sounded great. These guys always put on a great show, so definitely don’t miss out if you have a chance to see them. I spoke to Lubrano about hitting Pittsburgh in support of the new album, and he said they’d be here “in the not too distant future.” Yes!

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This was my jam in 1999.

Following after Iron Chic was Shades Apart, which definitely threw me for a loop. 14 year old Lauren was a pretty huge fan of their 1999 release Eyewitness (you can read the cringe-worthy review I wrote way back when), but I had no clue these guys still existed. Well, they apparently do, and I apparently still have every single lyric of Eyewitness memorized. I was surprised at how good they sounded–nearly identical to the album they recorded almost 20 years ago–but the drop in intensity from Iron Chic was putting me to sleep, so I ended up cutting out early (but not before I grabbed a video of Sputnik–still a favorite).

The next day, after successfully completing all familial obligations, I packed up, turned around, and headed back to Pittsburgh. My destination wasn’t my house, but instead The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. I was bummed to miss BARONS, but I thankfully arrived in time for Garrett Dale‘s set. He had just been through Pittsburgh at the end of May, touring with Red City Radio, but this was my first time seeing his solo set.

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Garrett Dale (of Red City Radio)

Dale apologized early on for not playing the songs that people knew, but noted that he was going to play what he wanted–this included material from his recently released acoustic Two Ts EP, some Red City Radio songs, most notably an intense rendition of Pretend Kings, and a cover of Waylon Jennings’ The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want To Get Over You). There’s no question about it–it was kind of a downer set. But Dale’s gravelly, almost slurring voice oozed with emotion and made the music beautiful all the while.

From there the night did a 180, trading in Dale’s sad songs for the frenetic energy of Pkew Pkew Pkew. I had been totally charmed by these guys when they came through in early May and was psyched to see that they had been picked up by SideOneDummy in the meanwhile.

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Pkew Pkew Pkew. You can’t even say their name without having fun.

They play fast, catchy punk rock and sing about such deep topics as pizza, drinking, and skateboarding. It’s clear that they’re having a ridiculously fun time on stage and that energy is infectious.

Seriously, so much fun. I highly recommend their recently rereleased debut LP +One (now with one more track!).

Last up were The Flatliners, whom I don’t know as well as I probably should. I’m familiar with some of their big songs–Monumental, Eulogy, Fred’s Got Slacks (the first two of which they played)–but I admittedly haven’t dug much deeper. Seeing them again definitely makes me want to change that.

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The Flatliners

I didn’t know most of the songs they played, but enjoyed everything nonetheless. The crowd was going absolutely wild, with plenty of moshing going on in the tight space. People even seemed to be getting into Hang My Head off their recently released album Inviting Light, which has proven to be quite divisive.

Finally, after shutting down audience cries of “heavy metal” all night, The Flatliners gave the people what they wanted and closed their hour-long set with Shithawks. Everyone went wild, and it was the perfect ending to a Sunday evening.