I have been catching punk bands at the House of Blues in Anaheim for over 10 years now, which has always been a little weird. The venue is on the Disneyland Resort property, which has given punk shows a surreal sense over the years.
The first band was Off With Their Heads, who was actually stopped from playing this exact same venue back in April of 2010. They were scheduled to open for Bad Religion, but Disney had just released Alice in Wonderland and I heard they didn’t want anyone confused by the band’s name. Enough with the distant past and onto the more recent past, Off With Their Heads is at the top of the current crop of newer punk bands in the scene today, in my opinion. My expectations for them were set high and they were met with ease by the band’s emotional presence and in particular the sincerity that lead singer Ryan Young delivers each lyric. The half full venue seemed to eat them up, and I’m sure they easily gained more fans that night.
The second band up was Bayside, who I knew almost nothing about except having listened to a few of their songs in preparation for the show. They brought more than the expected amount of energy for a pop punk band to their live show. This was important to note especially because of the fact that this was the last show on a 38 date tour. They didn’t let up for the entirety of their 45-minute set and the crowd enjoyed every moment of it.
Twenty minutes after Bayside concluded their successful set the curtains opened and the venue was washed over in atmospheric horror music before Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano and Derek Grant came out drenched in green lights to cheers and applause. Skiba responded with a gracious bow right before they launched into “She lied to the FBI”, which the crowd devoured. They didn’t waste time and went straight into “Hell Yes” followed by the tender and anatomical song “Clavicle”. They played with the presence that should be expected from a veteran band of their pedigree, but they have the added element of the dark horror themes in their music, which translates well to a live show. Overall it was a fun night filled with power chords, beer, sing along songs and plenty of sweat on the floor.