Stephen McGill Published Nov 19, 9 As the Menzingers rip their way through a headlining set at Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre, their high-energy, sing-along set is almost enough to distract you from the wistful nostalgia embedded in their songs and help you overcome all these anxieties of adulthood.
At their best, the Philadelphia group pluck unique, lived-in details of their lives, and piece them together to recreate scenes from their most romanticized memories, tieing it all together with a tidy line or two about how things will just never be the way they used to be.
That much is true to one degree or another for the rest the menzingers burn after writing acoustic songs their grizzled, and-up peers in the Springsteen-core club like the Gaslight Anthem, Restorations, the Hold Steady and Japandroids.
But the Menzingers' use of nostalgia is not just a stylistic choice, but a way of looking at life itself. When you hear them churn out their greatest hits — and they have far more top-notch songs than a band of their tenure might normally have — the same themes come up again and again, and they end up being potent reminders of just how little clue you have about what you want your life to be.
The Menzingers' live show itself is loud, passionate and authentic; they're not committed too strongly to technical perfection, nor are they interested in lollygagging between songs.
The opening stretch of "After the Party" into "House on Fire," then "Good Things" into "Burn After Writing," then "Lookers," before finally taking their first break, is an untouchable set of punk anthems. What also jumps out is that the band's set list is an apparent acknowledgment that of their three most recent albums, 's Rented World isn't a crowd-pleaser on the same level as their breakout record On the Impossible Past or last year's spiritual successor After the Party; on stage in Toronto, they played only three from the former and eight from each of the latter.
It goes to show how good those two records really are, though it wouldn't hurt to throw in a couple oldies — fan favourite "I Was Born," for example, which does seem to have made the occasional appearance on their recent tours, for those hoping to hear it.
One interesting thing about the Menzingers' nostalgic outlook is that, professionally, things seem to only be getting better for them. Granted, life in a punk band very rarely extends into retirement age, but as a band, they seem to be bigger than they've ever been.
They sold out a headlining gig north of the border at the 1,cap Phoenix, which had already been moved from the cap Mod Club because of strong ticket sales.
More notably, there's not much in the Menzingers' songs that suggests that what they did in their youth was conclusively better than anything they could do now or in the future.
These songs look back fondly on such things as getting drunk on porch steps, getting drunk and doing the dishes, getting drunk and learning songs on the guitar, or getting drunk and just being bored, doing nothing at all.
And you might even do the same, too. It's recorded in your memory as the good times, and they're ones you'll never get back because things are different now.
Years from now, you might even look back on days like today in the exact same way. What this suggests, and ultimately what almost all the Menzingers' songs are about in one way or another, is that the purest happiness is intrinsically linked to youth and possibility.
In this framework, happiness must always be in constant decline, because every day, every month, every year, you get a little bit older, your future gets a little bit shorter, and your memory — the fond ones you'll never be able to re-experience, the regrets you'll never be able to shake, the losses from which you'll never be able to entirely recover — gets a little bit fuller.
That's a sad way to think about life. The Menzingers seem to be aware of that, and they both allow themselves these thoughts and do their best to free themselves from them.
If you're feeling all that pressure, and hear your anxieties echoed by someone else, and you're singing along with hundreds of people who likely identify with the songs because they feel the exact same way, the hopeful side of the Menzingers' lyrics begins to stand out.
What you need is people you love and who love you back, the willingness to work together to make the life you want, and the realization that you've still got plenty of life left to live.
So when the Menzingers close out the show with "Tellin' Lies," and they repeatedly ask the question that kicks off After the Party's theme of existential angst — "Where are we gonna go now that our 20s are over?The Menzingers: ‘The Obituaries’ was the first song I was introduced to and I fell in love with this band since then, later reinforced when I finally bought the album ‘Chamberlain Waits’ and had my heart torn out by the song ‘Time Tables’.The lyrical content of full on honesty, and of heartbreak, really finds its way into my writing.
‘Burn After Writing’ is . Sputnikmusic is a premier source for music reviews and music news, covering the best albums in indie, metal, and punk. The Menzingers' eagerly awaited fifth full-length After the Party is available now.
The album arrives as the follow-up to the Philadelphia-based band’s widely acclaimed The album arrives as the follow-up to the Philadelphia-based band’s widely acclaimed.
The song is divided in two parts: the first consists in a quiet, melancholic acoustic melody that sees the speaker reflecting on his younger years, in the early days of his addiction, when drinking was about fun and rebellion ; the structure then explodes into fast-tempo punk, with brash, screaming vocals lamenting the irresponsibility of youth and the .
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