The Lawrence Arms see packed Grog Shop

Monday time slot can’t keep fans away

Anne Nickoloff, Arts & Entertainment Editor

When the first crowd surfer popped up at the Grog Shop on Monday, June 2, it was not a success.

Opening band Worship This! strummed away onstage. Meanwhile, the girl with two pink hair bows was lifted up by three guys. The men stood there, awkwardly bobbing her up and down, trying to pass her off to the rest of the crowd. After their arms got tired, they quietly put her back on her feet.

Sure, it was crowded, but not dense enough for a crowd surfer. However, the little venue was bursting with energy as people continued to filter in, and the concert had only just started.

Everyone was getting ready for The Lawrence Arms, a punk band touring after its latest album “Metropole” was released in late January.

The early bird electric crowd was understandable, though; Worship This! had a tight sound reminiscent of Rise Against’s punkier third album, and deserved the exclamation point in their band name. Their devoted fans punched their fists into the air and sang along to the lyrics in “Chutes and Ladders” and “Kennedy.”

Worship This! had a shorter set, full of spot-on harmony, sweaty drum bashing, surprisingly intricate guitar melding and musical variety. It stayed fresh, but reminiscent of its punk roots. This show was the highlight of the night.

Then, things switched up. Next was Sam Russo, an acoustic artist whose music sounded like more than just a guy with a guitar. Pounding his feet against the carpeted stage and belting into the microphone, Russo brought a softer soul edge to the night of rock.

Unfortunately, his crooning was drowned out by the ever-growing crowd chatter.

The music needed to get louder—and then it did.

The Copyrights dished out some standard punk, while a small mosh pit started up, easily controlled by two Grog Shop workers. During “Kids of the Black Hole,” a tribute to 1980 punk band The Adolescents, the pit surged forward, everyone singing right along with the band.

And then came attempt number two at crowd surfing. One of the moshing teens tried climbing on top of the pit, but it was still too thin, and he tumbled down to the floor.

If you wanted punk, you got what was expected from The Copyrights. But, unlike Worship This!, the music felt bland. Not bland in a boring way (this show was still good fun), but in an in-your-face-for-too-long way.

And that feeling continued into the headlining band, The Lawrence Arms.

The band hopped up on stage to Cher’s “Believe,” which was strange but funny, and had the crowd dancing around in a weakly flashing strobe light. But when bassist/singer Brendan Kelly said something along the lines of “We’re the best band out there!” after a song, I felt unconvinced.

Yes, the band was good at performing true, conventional punk. Yes, they had a lot of energy, and were laid-back.

However, I wasn’t so impressed with the music. I was impressed with the crowd.

Because at this point, when crowd surfing attempt number three occurred, it was a success. The crowd pushed the man onto the stage, too quick for security to grab him. He darted around Kelly, tongue out, eyes buggy, and leapt into the other side of the crowd.

It never got too out of control. A girl bumped into me while she was dancing and muttered a quick, “I’m sorry.”

Everything The Lawrence Arms sang might as well have been a choir. Holding the microphone out to the jostling crowd, Kelly let the audience sing the rest of “Brickwall Views,” and I felt like the only person in the room who didn’t know the words.

No, they weren’t the best band out there. But they had the best fans.