It’s really hard for me to turn down an opportunity to catch one of my favorite bands live. I was lucky enough to catch The Living End for the first time playing in support of their 2006 album State of Emergency. This was in one of my favorite small venues in DC, The Black Cat, and I considered myself pretty lucky to get to experience it with everyone there. Fast forward ten years and I’m living in a new city and The Living End is once again coming to town! The difference between 20 and 30 years old is that the latter version of myself tends to get preoccupied and lets things slip and I let the opportunity slip through my fingers. I was pretty miffed and not okay with having to wait another ten years to see them. Imagine my surprise when 2017 came around and a friend posted about opening for the The Living End who were back at the Bottom Lounge again. I took this as another sign that nothing in 2017 means anything and I made every possible arrangement to make it out on a Thursday night.
Opening the night were some old friends of mine, Top Shelf Lickers. My old band used to play shows with them seven to eight years ago and they are still going strong (while I haven’t been on stage since that project ended). I loved catching up with them and hearing their unique brand of pop-punk and witnessing the always captivating performance from front-man Neil Turk. The crowd was engaged and dancing throughout their set with cries from the older folks in attendance about why they aren’t a bigger thing. Personally, I would consider opening for The Living End being a ‘bigger thing’, but that’s me.
The Dollyrots is a great name for a band. It sounds like it could be either a pirate rock band or sweet sounding pop-punk band that is actually fetid. This group is the more the latter. The Dollyrots embody the dirtier side of rock ‘n’ roll and made no qualms about it. The harmonies were tight, the dancing was extensive, but the real treat was the drummer. It had been a while since they had all been together that night and Rikki was clearly having the best time ever. Their set was a wonderful introduction and I look forward to hearing even more from these LA rockers.
By the time The Living End took the stage, I could hardly contain myself. I had been looking up set lists from earlier this year and listening to playlists of them like I was goddamn sixteen again. They had been encoring with “Uncle Harry” a lot and that excited me. I remember my friends and I being especially disappointed eleven years ago that they skipped that one. The band stormed the stage and tore right into the ripper “Carry Me Home.” I’m not generally into bands who do long jam versions of their stuff live. It usually comes off as filler and I can never get past the point that they could be playing more songs instead. However, The Living End took it to another level and actually create a new experience with older material. It sounds super cliched, but with The Living End, it’s more a matter of them showing how fast and well each of them can play their instruments, and sometimes results with them climbing on them like a jungle gym.
The Living End’s set spanned across most of their discography, but focused on their first three releases. I can appreciate the uniqueness of the diversity in the band’s sound throughout their albums, but I definitely prefer seeing the older stuff live. Despite the band leaning on the faster material, the crowd was definitely showing their age that night as I counted maybe one flaccid attempt at stage diving. It kind of felt like a waste of seeing The Living End in such an intimate setting. It wasn’t until the close of the night came like a runaway train with “Who’s Gonna Save Us”, “Prisoner of Society”, the band’s “E-Boogie” jam, and finally “West End Riot” that the crowd finally came alive. The older folks had a brief moment to catch their breath before the band came back out for my personal highlight of the evening, “Uncle Harry”. It was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be! Bythe time the band finished with “Second Solution”, I had a big dumb smile glued to my face.
Fingers crossed I don’t have to wait another eleven years to see the Living End again. But, this show was a spot-on reminder of everything I used to love about them. It was made pretty clear that if another decade must pass between encounters, the band will still be able to bring it and you better believe I will be excited to be there.