Images: The Lillingtons, Broadway Calls, Mercy Music, Avenues May 30, 2016 at the Beauty Bar

Punk Rock Bowling 2016 may have officially ended when Flogging Molly played “Salty Dog,” but for many pop punk fans, the best was yet to come thanks to Suckerpunch Concerts and the Beauty Bar. The Lillingtons were about to make their second appearance in Vegas in as many years, and if I believed in reincarnation I’d have to assume I was previously Mother Theresa, because what else could I have done to deserve this wonderful fate?

The Wyoming quartet, who openers Broadway Calls once heard were better than ex-Lookout brethren The Queers and Screeching Weasel, followed the lead of official PRB bands The Dwarves, Face to Face and Strung Out: playing an album front to back, 1999’s Death by Television. And the band played it with the raw energy and passion they had when they first conceived their sci-fi pulp afternoon movie matinee concept album.

Compared to last year’s Vegas Lillingtons show, this one was packed, possibly even sold out, a benefit of playing shortly after festival hours and not a few days before. This made the show all the better, with fans piling over each other to sing along to pop punk gems “War of the Worlds,” “X-Ray Specs” and especially “I Need Some Brain Damage.” The band makes it easy to sing along with their lean lyrics played over Ramones-influenced riffs. Was this your first time listening to the band? No worries, you’d be singing “I saw the apeman, walking on the moon” (x2) in no time.

The banter was slim, allowing the Lills to slide in a healthy amount of non DBT tracks, including “Pyramids,” “The Kids” and “If I Had A Dollar.” But the set highlight came at the very end, with the entire crowd shouting “L-I-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N-S,” the chorus to the band’s signature song “Lillington High.” The song did feature one scare, as the fan who was chosen to lead the chant slipped underneath the beer slicked stage (fans rushed up to get him out and he appeared unscathed).

The aforementioned Broadway Calls were in direct support, a band whose 2007 self-titled records ranks among my favorite pop punk albums of the 2000s, as well as one of the most underrated. Frontman Ty Vaughn sounded fantastic as he belted out the lyrics to “Call It Off,” “Bad Intentions” and “Suffer the Kids.” Whether it was exhaustion or simply a lack of familiarity, Broadway Calls didn’t receive the same “sing along to every word” reception that the headliners did, though the crowd did perk up when the band played modern pop punk masterpiece “Back to Oregon,” the line “When I get home, I’m up for anything” likely hitting close to home to all the tourists and band members feeling a bit homesick.

Rounding out the bill were locals Mercy Music and Milwaukee’s Avenues. Mercy Music introduced themselves as Creed and no, they weren’t talking about Apollo. They did, however, end up looking like champs, bassist Jarred Cooper and guitarist Brendan Scholz leaping across the stage with far more energy than anyone usually has at a festival’s end. Avenues were up first, playing their own brand of gritty, throwback pop punk to the Beauty Bar’s back patio that was surprisingly already beginning to feel full.

-Steven Matview

Photos by Aaron Mattern |https://www.flickr.com/photos/akmofoto/

About the author  ⁄ Steven Matview

comics, music, coffee. @Timorous_Me

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