NOTE: Online sales have ended. Tickets will be available at the door.
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
This event is 18 and over.
Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM, or by phone at 800-745-3000. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box Office Wednesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM. Please note: box office is cash only.
Philadelphia-by-way-of Scranton punk band, The Menzingers are two years removed from Epitaph debut On The Impossible Past. Voted Album of the Year by Absolute Punk and Punk News, the universal acclaim praised the band for its punk roots and quintessentially Midwest romantics. The same accoladeshave followed The Menzingers since forming as teenagers, followed since Chamberlain Waits (2010) andA Lesson In The Abuse of Information Technology (2007). No longer housemates in Scranton, PA, the title to The Menzinger’s 2014 follow-up, Rented World, mirrors the band’s lifestyle since moving to Philly in 2008. The band was renting separate spaces around the city, but maintaining a practice space in North Philly where the majority of the record was written. Faithfully archetypal Rust Belt punk, Rented World is an album concerned with maintaining a sense of self, the softening of posture, and the burden of harsh realities. In every respect, The Menzingers went into Rented World asking more of themselves. As co-songwriter and guitarist Tom May notes, The Menzingers felt like a different band in 2013. Rented World remains punk, while fearlessly colliding the snarl of emo with grungy, 90s grit (“Bad Things”) and exploring the celestial expanse of post-rock (“Transient Love”). It’s slightly new territory for a band coping with their mid-twenties, and whether you’ve been there or you’re on the way there, it’s important to note a maturation that comes with the milestone. “When you’re 15 you view music and the music industry a certain way,” May said. “But by the time you’re 25 you have a different view. Not that it’s good or bad, but getting older itself has changed the music.” While the previous two records live in the trademark angst of Chicago producer Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio and Lawrence Arms) and his Atlas Studio sound, Menzingers kept it Philly-local for Rented World, enlisting Jonathan Low, whose distinctively rich Americana resonates through the careers of The War OnDrugs, Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, and The National. The band as a whole recognized shifts in their craft, shifts they knew would best be handled by Low at Miner Street Recordings. “We wanted to go to somebody who wasn’t used to recording punk records,” Tom May said. “Though it wasn’t in a pretentious way, like we wanted to become an indie rockband.” With that in mind, album opener “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” is not just a declaration to be better to that special someone, but a bold recognition that permeates the record on into “Nothing Feels
Good Anymore”. Shaking oneself out of ruts, still life stagnancy, and the same damn party every weekend informs two of Rented World’s most anthemic offerings. While the front end of Rented World mostly focus on the complications of friendships and relationships, the latter songs progress towards the abstract. “The Talk” kicks the surgeon general’s number one killer out the front door (“I want my life back / you turned my chest black / I don’t owe you anything”), while “Sentimental Physics” addresses with the impossibility of compromise in the science vs. religion battle, “you can come find me / when you feel lost in a bidding war”. On “In Remission” Barnett’s insecurities manifest as “I hate how I always get nervous every time I try to speak / in front of a big crowd / a pretty girl / or the police”, meaning The Menzingers didn’t write the answers into Rented World. The record admits to an in medias res that comes with one’s late 20s, old enough to know better, but still seeking greater wisdom. Things start to feel a little more serious,” Tom May said. “When we were younger we wrote fiery songs because at that age it’s your world view. Things feel wrong and you want to say how wrong it is. Now, I look at the world with a view of ‘well, I’m not right all the time’.
Those who have followed mewithoutYou’s music in recent years will likely see their new,self-releasedTen Storiesas a return to old form. Their previous record,It’s All Crazy!, etc. had been a drastic and intentional departure. Aaron Weiss’ manic, unorthodox hollering was nowhere to be found, deliberately giving way to a more conventional melodic vocal approach. The explosive, schizophrenic drumming and swarthy,tempestuouslow end (Rickie Mazzotta and Greg Jehanian, respectively) were accordingly subdued, relegated largely to keeping basic time. Chris Kleinberg had jumped ship for med school, leaving Mike Weiss reluctantly alone on electric guitar, feeling like a session player embellishing his little brother’s folk songs, no longer part of a coherent unit.In short, due largely to their singer’s creative wanderlust, the band had entirely forsaken whatever they’d become; in an effort to spurn the familiar, they had grown unrecognizable, alienating no shortage of fans in the process. Those fans, and whoever has come to miss what was most distinct about mewithoutYou, will welcomeTen Storiesas the rightful follow-up to their 2006 release,Brother/Sister,and 2004’sCatch forUsthe Foxes.To be sure, the band hasn’t altogether renounced the psychedelic-rustic-pop elements ofIt’s All Crazy!; rather, they have renounced the scrupulous control inherent to its renunciation. Simply put, they seem to have let go of the steering wheel, and are back to writing music, well, ‘naturally.’“They’re not quite children’s songs,” vocalist Aaron Weiss explains, “with not quite coherent storylines, but there is an overarching and kind of child-like narrative: a circus train crashes in 19th century Montana. Some animals escape, others stay in their cages. The traveling menagerie re-rails, stays its course, and struggles to fill in the missing attractions. Meanwhile, freed from institutionalized life, the rice-cake rabbit takes to a peripatetic fortune teller, the monastic walrus is tempted by a hedonistic owl, a fish falls for an eggplant. Other songs describe a contemplative Fox’s prophetic dream, a starving Bear’s vision of a martyred saint, and an indecisive Peacock & gnostic Tiger learning the virtues of megalomania from an ego-annihilated Potter Wasp.”This bizarre, character-heavy lyrical approach let the band revisit their perennial leitmotifs of romantic disaster & quasi-mystical speculation, without the self-pity/indulgence of direct autobiography. Reflecting recent, devastating personal losses, practically every song addresses ourinevitable dying, apparently easier to face when projected onto anthropomorphic animals. This zoological ventriloquist act allows them to explore abstract philosophical themes and draw on finespun literary sources with a profound goofiness that deflates whatever danger of pretentiousness. The story-teller elements are obscure enough to avoid the short-lived rock opera aesthetic, leaving most plot details and potential moralizing to the imagination; and this without succumbing to insincerity/irony, overt relativism, or outright nonsense.The ever-odd Daniel Smith’s production and veteran Brad Wood’s mixing combine to improve upon the best sonic elements of the band’s past releases. Musically,Ten Storiesis a mix of the brazen noisiness, hypnotic soundscapes, and derelict shouting of theirold songs, the dead-level melody and extravagant orchestration of recent years, and a newfound reliance on ethereal harmonies, courtesy en masse of female guest vocalists (most notably, Paramore’s Hayley Williams). Whimsically morbid as an Edward Gorey alphabet, simultaneously self-abnegating and -aggrandizing, defying simplistic musical or intellectual categorization, mewithoutYou’s new collection of songs is the fabulously vivid outgrowth of an ongoing religious and irreverent eclecticism, a ‘decade-plusnarcissistic scramble for artistic affirmation’ (their words), and the even longer-running and peculiar friendship of four not-so-younggentlemen from nowhere in particular, apparently at the height of their mutual affection.Epilogue:mewithoutYou’s 17-ton grease-powered bus –the ornately-chipped, floral-painted, “mental hospital on wheels” –will once again, according to the band, “hem and haw its way across the country this summer, punctuated no doubt by near-daily breakdowns, makeshift repairs, newborn babies, manic depressive episodes, and desperate attempts by all parties involved to separate [them]selves from separation itself.”