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SXSW Dispatch: Staying put and slamming around to Against Me!, The Front Bottoms and Placeholder at Brooklyn Vegan’s showcase

Against Me! | Photo by John Vettese
Against Me! | Photo by John Vettese

Part of the appeal of the annual South By Southwest festival is no doubt wandering from venue to venue in downtown Austin, catching bits of sets by dozens of new bands, seeing where the music and the crowd may lead you.

But there’s something to be said for finding a venue – or party, or showcase, or whatever – with a lineup that’s solid through and through, and just parking yourself there for the night. For me, Brooklyn Vegan’s show at the Red 7 Patio last night was just that. The headlining set by Florida’s Against Me! would have been enough to draw me in – their new rager Transgender Dysphoria Blues is already one of the year’s best, and they were at the top of my bands-to-see list – but they shared the bill with a enticing set of their (mostly) punk scene peers, from Lancaster screamers Placeholder to Jersey popsters The Front Bottoms. And, for the most part, all the acts delivered.

California comedian / musical Harvey Sid Fisher got the night to a light start with a set that was briefly fun and mercifully brief. His shtick is pretty one-note – he’s old, and he’s raunchy, and he sings about raunchy old guy things, and yeah. It’s the kind of humor that wears thin quickly, and while he had the modest crowd chuckling at first (many were still queued up in the alley behind the venue), he wrapped it up as their attention began to wane.

Placeholder | Photo by John Vettese
Placeholder | Photo by John Vettese

In contrast, Placeholder followed with a full-throttle set that was too brief. These guys might not have the most accessible sound (if you’ve got an aversion to growly vocals, they aren’t for you) but their energy and chemistry are undeniable, and captivating to watch. Frontman Brandon Gepfer is a very physical performer, flinging himself around the stage, into the speakers and his bandmates who reciprocated right back. He told the crowd that they’re used to playing “basements with like ten people,” so this was the biggest gathering they’d played for on tour. Would have been awesome had they played for a little longer, though, since the patio was just filling up when they left the stage, setting the room up for Gainesville’s Frameworks and their melodic spin on late 90s hardcore (a la At The Drive-In, Boy Sets Fire).

Cheap Girls from Lansing, Michigan was the only real disappointing set of the night – their songs are tremendously hooky power pop earworms akin to early Replacements jams, but their stage presence is nil; singer Ian Graham stands at the mic with his eyes closed, Adam Aymor riffs on guitar with his head buried in his hair, and the crowd predictably bobs their heads while checking Twitter on their phones.

The Front Bottoms, on the other hand, are pure interaction – sing/screamalongs, hi-fives, someone buying singer-guitarist Brian Sella a Guinness and daring him to chug it. The audience packed in towards the front of the stage, and became a mass of pushing, shoving, smiling bodies by the time “Twin-Size Mattress” rolled around Amusing aside: a dude in the crowd who books shows in Orlando talked before their set about how he’d never seen or heard of them, but everybody told him they were great. I concurred, and he countered “But they’re acoustic, though?” “Well, he plays an acoustic guitar,” I explained. “But they’re pretty badass.” “Um, I’ll take your word for it,” he replied.

I guess “badass” is relative, considering he might have been there to see brutal hardcore outfit Touche Amore, who absolutely pummeled the stage with their performance that followed – think the physicality of Placeholder, amped up about five times. Think of the sense of tension and catharsis of Converge, Paint it Black or Pissed Jeans. Again, not a sound for everybody, but holy cow what a spectacle to watch.

Against Me! | Photo by John Vettese

Wrapping the night around 1 a.m. was Against Me!, playing an hour-plus set highlighting the new LP and digging back through the band’s catalog for sure-fire crowd-pleasers like the title track of 2007′s New Wave and the singalong “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” from 2010′s White Crosses. The crowd that had begun to dwindle slightly – it was a super chilly night for an outdoor show – but the people who stayed were massive enthusiasts on par with the devotion The Front Bottoms and Touche Amore saw, slamming and swaying and screaming along.

Since singer-guitarist Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012, the band kind of went into reset mode: as she said in Spin interview back in January, the path to the new album almost destroyed Against Me!, but with the enlistment of new players and perhaps her tightest collection of songs – the album is simultaneously anthemic, provocative, insightful and massively catchy – the band persevered. The patio was a smaller space than Against Me! has probably performed at in a long while, but if the reception the band saw – and the energy it brought to the stage - is any indication, it will prove to be a rare occurrence. Check out photo highlights and a full-show gallery below. Continue reading →

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Placeholder releases “I Feel,” a new track off forthcoming split with Such Gold

Placeholder at Kung Fu Necktie
Placeholder at Kung Fu Necktie | photo by James Breslin

Placeholder recently released a new song called “I Feel” via PropertyofZack. Taken from their forthcoming split with New York punks Such Gold, Placeholder highlights their own punk colors on this track. It has a nice groove and an awesome flow laid underneath the gritty vocals. Lyrics like “I don’t feel alright right now / but I’ll feel okay some day” are delivered with an angst and frustration that you can hear in the core of Brandon Gepfer’s voice. The guitar riffs are fresh and driving, adding a unique component to the mix of swift bass and drums. Placeholder continues to release well written and original grunge/punk/emo tracks that draw influence from bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Nirvana, making them frontrunners of the Philly punk scene.

Listen to “I Feel” on PropertyofZack or Soundcloud. Preorder the Wax Packs split here, and learn more about Wax Packs here. Also, watch the music video for “Above” below. Placeholder plays Philadelphia on December 12th, find information here.

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Placeholder electrifies a small crowd at Kung Fu Necktie

Placeholder at Kung Fu Necktie
Placeholder at Kung Fu Necktie | All photos by James Breslin

 

Local emo four-piece Placeholder put on a stunning show in the upstairs of a somewhat barren Kung Fu Necktie last night.  Frontman Brandon Gepfer turned up the anger to make their already loud and emotional music even more energetic and entertaining.  Shouting and punching into the air, his voice was on point and even raspier than it is on the band’s three records, which made for a more raw experience.  Guitarist Andrew Gelburd also added to the notable energy of the show, slamming hard on his fat sounding Epiphone and electrifying the room.  Using minimal effects, he created walls of sound that sent the small but enthusiastic crowd into a head banging frenzy.

Placeholders played songs from each of their releases, including standouts “Above” off of I Don’t Need Forgiveness and “Mary” of off Thought I Would Have Been Somebody By Now.  With a fast and loud punk set taking cues from emo and hardcore, Placeholder puts on an awesome show.  Check out their Facebook page for upcoming shows, which includes a house show in Philly on December 12th.

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: Placeholder at Kung Fu Necktie

Placeholder | Photo by Aud Lew | https://www.facebook.com/audlewphotography

Harrisburg emo punks Placeholder, who were recently named The Deli’s Philadelphia Artist of the Month, play at Kung Fu Necktie tonight. This is the hometown stop on a mini-tour that will take the band down to Maryland and out to Pittsburgh, and it’s sure to be loud and fast. Placeholder might have a sound that blends together emo and punk, but live they are a punk band that plays on the double. Seeing them The Billiard’s Room earlier this year was an experience; they played sped up versions of every track in their catalog, including an even catchier and heavier version of “Mary” off Thought I Would Have Been Somebody By Now. With the recent release of their full length albumI Don’t Need Forgiveness, Placeholder’s more developed sound is sure to get this amped-up treatment live as well. Begging to be screamed along to, make sure you listen to their album below and get to the gig tonight. Placeholder will be playing alongside Brooklyn noise rock band Hunters and Philly locals Albondigas and Eureka Driver. Tickets are available at the door for $8.

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Local emo punks Placeholder release their full length album I Don’t Need Forgiveness

Last month, local emo crew Placeholder released its second full length album. I Don’t Need Forgiveness expands on their 2011 release Nothing Is Pure, especially in the way of adding even more post-hardcore elements to their punk/emo sound. Taking cues from bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, the vocals creep out from the blistering music in a way that really makes every song feel cohesive.

The album opens up with the impressive guitar work and vocals on “Don’t Look Back,” which is bound to be a crowd pleaser live. With riffs that are equal parts catchy and raw, Placeholder makes music that makes you want to move. In addition, they have the emotional charge to add a heavy sense of meaning to the album. With lyrics like “I was ten / and in love / with the next door neighbor / When she went above / Daddy always said: keep your distance / don’t you know it’s not for you? / I am nothing! / I am dirt!” vocalist Brandon Gepfer relives past disappointments that just seem to keep hanging around.

Placeholder recorded this album with Justin Pizzoferrato, who is best known for his work with Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Pizzoferrato definitely helped Placeholder in their quest for expanding their alt-rock sound and making it sound more full.

You can stream the album below, or pick it up on bandcamp. Also below, watch a video for their single “Above” and check out their upcoming tour dates; the band is currently on the way down to Gainesville, Fl. for Fest.

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Photo Recap: Family Vacation and Placeholder at The Billiards Room

Philly’s Family Vacation got their house show on this week at The Billiards Room with emo crew Placeholder. Check out up-close scenes from the show in the gallery above.