Monday, June 12

Ice Cube Schools Bill Maher On His Language


Bill Maher recently said the n-word on his show, and naturally, there's been quite a bit of backlash. Maher has received quite a bit of criticism over the past week and there have been plenty of calls for his firing. Even as he said it, the audience responded with some groans. At the time, Maher kind of waved it off. He's since apologized, but his rationale for using the word in the first place isn't great.

On the latest episode of Real Time, Maher had regular guest Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, who condemned Maher's remarks but also initially came to the comedian's defense. The two had a back and forth that was pretty light-hearted and jovial, and it seemed as if that would be it as far as addressing the issue.

Fortunately, Maher also had Ice Cube on as a guest to promote the 25th anniversary of his album Death Certificate. Cube was kind enough to share his insights on both the word and the mindset of using it. The end result is a powerful monologue that had a notable impact on both the audience and Maher himself. Hopefully, it will have a lasting effect. Well done, Ice Cube. 

Friday, June 2

Let's See a Show! New Found Glory


I've done a pretty poor job of seeing shows this year that haven't involved either my own band or my friends' bands. It's basically been taking my roomie to see Blink-182 – his first concert ever and he just turned 30, come on, man! – and rocking out to some AFI on Valentine's Day, though getting to experience "Reivers' Music" live the first time they ever played it was pretty delightful.

However, seeing New Found Glory on back-to-back days in Dallas and Austin has rejuvenated my concert-going experience, and it's because these guys put on one hell of a show. This summer, they're celebrating two decades of being a band with a "20 Years of Pop Punk" tour. While many album tours involve a band playing one album front to back, this one mixes it up – literally. Not only did New Found Glory play TWO full albums each night, they did so randomly. You never knew if the next song was going to be your favorite track off the album, and I loved it. I'm always on my shuffle setting anytime I'm listening to music anyway. I like to be kept on my toes.

The Dallas show at The Door was a pretty impromptu jaunt up I-35 to see the quartet perform Sticks and Stones and Catalyst in their entirety. While most of the crew I traveled with ranks Catalyst as their favorite album, I'm a slightly older pop punker, so Sticks and Stones is the one I grew up on. It'll always hold a special place in my heart, but even so, I'm not sure I was ready for the insane energy that overtook the entire room as soon as "Understatement" kicked off the night. That song's always been one of my favorite New Found Glory tracks, and if you don't like it I'm pretty sure you just aren't a big fan of smiling.


What's cool about a full album show is that you get a handful of tracks that you really don't ever hear live. It was cool to see a deeper cut like "No News Is Good News" in between "Sonny" and "Head on Collision," which are both played a bit more frequently (side note: holy moly "Sonny" was getting that crowd emotional). The band also dropped in "Happy Being Miserable," the first single off their newest record, Makes Me Sick, which came out last month, and it sounded just as well-rehearsed and spot-on as their classics. I was also proud of myself for remembering that "Ending in Tragedy" hadn't been played as the band took a little encore break – guitarist Chad Gilbert said that it wasn't supposed to be an encore, it was just to give drummer Cyrus Bolooki some rest after playing 24 songs (they played 27 in total). The guy next to me was telling his friend that they just needed to come back and play "Intro" from Catalyst and then close with "My Friends Over You." I said, "pretty sure they haven't played 'Ending in Tragedy,' either." He told me, "No, they played it at the beginning," and I nodded and said, "okay." Then when it came on he hung his tail between his legs and came over and told me I was right. It's one of those little moments that literally nobody cares about except me, but made me feel like I had won one of the B-level Price is Right games, like "Coming or Going" or "Master Key." It's not a new car or "Plinko," but it's something.


We also hung around in Dallas for the after party, which was kind of weird at first. Two dudes played a bunch of emo songs and jumped around and played air guitar and air drums while occasionally yelling things like "what's up, Dallas?" The songs were terrific early-2000s nostalgia, but still a little strange. At some point, they brought New Found Glory back out, and the guys took over on the 1s and 2s. Cyrus, in particular, played several great tracks, so maybe he's got a nice side career as a DJ in the mix.


The second show in Austin – at the always enjoyable Mohawk – might have somehow been even more energetic. For whatever reason, I found myself in the pit, which just had people going nuts in it. This one guy kept wanting to high five me, a girl told me "I'm going to get up on stage and give Chad a hug" – and then she did it! – and the whole crowd was singing along to every word. This set was Sticks and Stones and their self-titled album, which are probably my two favorites New Found Glory has put out. Special shout out to "All About Her," which is just quite the delightful jam.

I'll also note at both of these shows just how inclusive the band was to letting their fans have fun. People were stage-diving left and right, a girl leapt up on the stage to take a selfie with lead singer Jordan Pundik, bassist Ian Grushka wore a sombrero someone threw up on the stage, and my friend Liz even gave Jordan a hug and sang a line from "Head On Collision." Spectacular, and the fans loved it. As it should be.

Before these shows, I got to interview Chad for Paste Magazine. We chatted about the new record, music video fiascos, and playing at pool parties. Check out the interview here. And pick up a copy of Makes Me Sick. It's a great reminder that pop punk is still alive and well.