You learn something new every time you attend a show.
At Lagwagon’s 20thAnniversary show of Let’s Talk about Feelings, I learned a few things. For example, Joey Cape loves to perform the song “Owen Meaney”, but can only really play it at a show like that night (an anniversary show).
Cape explained that he cannot justify just throwing that particular song into a random set list, especially with so many other crowd favorites on that record (i.e. May 16, Messengers, etc.)
Lagwagon played three shows commemorating the album – San Francisco (Great American Music Hall), Los Angeles (El Rey) and Santa Ana (The Observatory) – to which the band would playLet’s Talk about Feelings in its entirety.
I’m getting ahead of myself though.
The venue, El Rey Theatre, was quaint; a perfect setting for a decent-sized punk show. The pit was a wood floor, surrounded by small, two-step staircases. On either side of the stage there were scalloped, pod-like areas, perfect for those who wanted to be involved with the music, but did not want to be involved with the backlash of the mosh pit and/or crowd surfers. There was a bar in the back, selling out the usual $13 beers in plastic cups to eager punks, as well as merch tables along the sides.
There were three preceding bands – A Vulture Wake (featuring members of All, Good Riddance, Lagwagon, etc), Western Addiction (Fat Alumni; thoroughly entertaining with their excessive antics and audience involvement) and No Fun At All (reminiscent of Bad Religion, but Swedish) - were all excellent. Each band had their own, identifiable sound, but not so different that the audience would be confused by their presence.
The curtain pulled back to reveal Joey Cape, standing alone with an acoustic guitar, performing “Burden of Proof.” The rest of the band - Joe Raposo (bassist for Lagwagon, A Vulture Wake, as well as a ton of other bands), Chris Flippin (guitarist, and current resident of my hometown), Dave Raun (drummer, also a member of Me First & the Gimme Gimmes) and Chris “Leon” Rest (guitarist; one of the founders of RKL) – slowly walked on stage, helping the Caper lead into “Reign.”
Before diving right into LTAF (Let’s Talk about Feelings), the band played a couple more songs, such as “Island of Shame” (off Thrashed), and the crowd-pleaser “Violins” (off Hoss).
The band spoke a little between songs, especially Cape, reciting short stories along the way. Cape is endearing in his storytelling, as well as in his personality – making the crowd hang (no pun intended) on every word that’s spoken.
Lagwagon dove into LTAF with a vengeance, performing all eleven songs in what seemed like fifteen minutes. I guess I had never realized how short the album actually was, but it left everyone in the audience (myself included) craving more. I had previously listened to the extended version of LTAF, which had twenty-six songs, complete with early versions and acoustics.
“Cog in the Machine (Hang) and Coffee and Cigarettes (Trashed) were performed soon after, complete with quick quips and dialogue beforehand. Chris Flippin (who seemingly never stops smiling) remarked that their last album, Hang, was released a long time ago (2014, to be exact), even though it is their most recent album.
Lagwagon closed the main set with “Exit”, a heartfelt tribute to No Use for a Name’s, frontman, Tony Sly.
Lagwagon returned to the stage after incessant cheers and clapping, to perform an eclectic, yet absolutely perfect, selection of songs – “Alien 8” (Double Plaidinum), “Making Friends” (Double Plaidinum), “Falling Apart” (Blaze) and “Razor Burn” (Hoss).
It was bittersweet as the band exited the stage. I was happy and fulfilled to be part of one of only three shows commemorating such a special album. Lagwagon is captivating and energetic, and left me wanting more. I wish I could relive that night over again, but I am extremely lucky to have these memories for the rest of my life.
It was definitely NOT “just another Saturday” (pun intended).