Live Review: The Menzingers w/ PUP & Cayetana | SWX, Bristol | 31/1/18

If you haven’t heard The Menzinger’s After The Party, you’ve most probably spent the last year living under a rock or sadly ignorant to one of the best things since edible cookie dough. Released in February of last year and the fifth album from the Philly based group, the record received universal critical acclaim and has been crowned with the prestigious title of ‘album of 2017’ from a range of musical critics and journalists alike. Following from a string of shows last year including their triumphant headlining set at 2000 Trees, the group are back on our shores alongside Canadian legends PUP and European first timers Cayetana for their biggest UK tour to date.

Despite officially forming in 2011 and with 2 full releases under their collective belt, it’s Cayetana’s [7] first venture to Europe. Yet despite their notable absence within our territories, it becomes quickly evident that the group are enjoying the spoils of a large following within the country. Also originating from Philadelphia, the group showcase and present their cities musical culture on their sleeves, with elements of grunge, polished lo-fi punk and even riot girl shining through.

Despite this, the group don’t limit themselves to these respective tags, but rather incorporate intricate musical themes and tropes from these respective genres and cultures to create their own homegrown sound. The final result is a mollifying and refreshingly pleasant sound that subdues the sold out gathering presented before them. It’s not as rowdy and confrontational as some of the material to behold the populace of Bristol this evening, but nor does it require to be. Agreeable and pacifying, it’s undoubtedly gone down a storm with some of the modern emo orientated members present tonight.

In direct contrast, if we as a species somehow managed to harness the raw power and energy of a PUP [9] show we would finally have a legitimate answer to the global energy crisis. Explosively volatile, tonight is a perfect showcase of the emotional wreckage and chaos found within their records. The Canadian group excel in projecting the loose and disjointed structures within their material perfectly live, creating an air of erratic fluidity. Despite this, the group never teeter on the verge of sloppiness performance wise and present a masterclass on chaotic and emotional fluency.

From the ceiling raising singalongs of ‘My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier’ to the discordant fretwork of ‘Mabu’, each track presented continuously outdoes each other when it comes to raising a reaction from the fevered crowd gathered. Yet one of the most unprecedented surprises of this set is how well their famed live show transitions to a large room such as this. With over 1000 people in attendance, it’s certainly a distinctive contrast to the crammed sweatboxes this act is commonly associated with.

Their performance feels natural in such a large setting however, with every single punter attending glued to the extended car crash of a party unravelling before them. As the build up of ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’ dives into the wall of punk sound that is ‘DVP’ a primal party of sheer carnage and energy erupts within the venue; a fitting end to a set from one of the most exciting acts on the planet.

It’s relatively easy to overlook the popularity of The Menzingers [8] within our county. Whilst the act are often acknowledged as one of the modern day pioneers of the ‘orgcore’ movement, a mockingly derivative term to describe punk, folk-punk and post-hardcore scene from the east coast territories of the US. Despite this, each UK tour the group have achieved has always been followed by a tour in larger rooms to more energized fans. It’s no surprise that the group’s achievements have cumulated to this; a sold-out show in one of the biggest venues in the south west.

It quickly becomes transparent that tonight isn’t just a celebration of their new album, but rather a celebration of such aforementioned victories. As the group transit from set opener ‘Tellin’ Lies’ to the On The Impossible Past classic ‘Good Things', then onwards to 2007’s ‘A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology' the fashion of how such material from different era’s interplay is sublime.

Despite the ever subtle variations in lyrical themes and musical content, the performance is tight. There’s absolutely no resistance between material from differing era’s and such content only serves as a testament on how the group have subtly matured and grown over the years. The crowd seem fully conscious of this fact too, with tracks such as 2012’s ‘The Obituaries’ and 2017’s ‘Lookers’ inciting colossal singalongs, despite the self-evident age difference.

In relation, whilst the lyrical themes present on material from After The Party predominately dwell on retrospection and introversion, such themes are projected in a fashion that doesn’t resort to diminishing the upbeat and celebratory atmosphere conjured thus far. Vocalist Greg Barnett animates such themes beautifully, adding emphasis where required whilst presenting a fantastically flawless performance.

As the group bring in the night with a round of paper streamers to ring in the classic ‘In Remission’, whilst The Menzingers may be looking back on their years of hedonism, this bill certainly caused a reason for celebration within south west tonight.