Laura's 2019 Recap
Looking back on 2019, I am blown away by the amount of beautiful experiences I had. To say last year was a wild ride is an understatement. As humans we grow and change all the time, but for me 2019 was really about finding myself and embracing the shit out of that. Flaws and all. I am so very grateful to be part of Mable Syndrome, as I feel this whole punk rock community has saved my life on more than one occasion. Being able to connect and meet so many people with a common passion fills my heart and fuels my fire. I love to be inspired.
Located in the middle of New York State, I’m a few hours away from a lot of major areas in all directions. I have been lucky enough to get some travel time in 2019 and see over 60 bands live. This year I have explored the great city of Pittsburgh, made my trek to Ohio for Camp Anarchy, flew to Denver as well as some other quick trips in between…all for the love of punk rock!
I got started a bit late in the year, but quickly made up for it. At the end of March, I hopped in my truck and made my way west to Buffalo, New York for The Interrupters, Masked Intruder and Ratboy. To no surprise, this show quickly sold out. Seeing The Interrupters live is always so much fun and it has been truly wonderful to watch them grow and do great things over the course of their career. After the show, it was back to reality at work for a bit. After all, I had to save up for my most anticipated event of 2019: Camp Anarchy Fest.
On May 30, my friends and I arrived in Thornville, Ohio for one of the best weekends of our lives. Luck was on our side as we won a contest granting us all-access passes to Camp Anarchy Festival. The events kicked off the following afternoon and we took full advantage of those passes. I talk a lot, but I was left totally speechless quite a bit of the time throughout the weekend.
La Armada kicked off day one and I enjoyed their set as well as Death By Stereo’s from the Beer Garden, where you could sample tons of different beer from breweries all across the states. Good and drunk, I made my way to the center of the pit for Strung Out and Sick Of It All, two of my all time favorite bands. I had the pleasure of meeting Jake Kiley and Jason Cruz of Strung Out and my night was instantly made. It’s amazing when you have the opportunity to express gratitude to those who have made such a positive impact on your life. From side-stage, I watched Fear and X with my jaw on the floor the whole time. Being able to experience that with some of my very best friends was something I will never ever forget.
Day two kicked off in the Beer Garden once again! I ran as fast as I could when Voodoo Glow Skulls began the first set of the day. They are always such a great time live, and Efrem is the perfect frontman for the band. I made my way backstage for A Wilhelm Scream and sang my heart out to every song. The Suicide Machines were up next, so you know I was dancing until the music stopped! The whole crowd seemed to really erupt during their set and it was amazing to feel the energy. Off! took the stage next, followed by The Damned.
The whole weekend was packed with tons of old school and new school punk rock. I was able to see bands I never thought I would get to see. My friends and I were lucky enough to hang out with all of Pennywise and join them onstage during their set. Singing Bro Hymn with my best friends in front of thousands of people was a surreal moment and I am still in shock about it. As soon as their set was done, I made my way back into the crowd with my friends for Rancid. Screaming every song word for word from the middle of the pit with my friends in my arms is the best feeling in the world, and I had that feeling during Rancid’s entire set. We walked to the campsites and partied with our Punks Pitchin Tents family until it was time to get some rest for Sunday’s events. Let me also just add this: Punks Pitchin Tents was created for us all to meet up at camp, and I’ve meet up with members of this group at EVERY single show I have gone to since. I love how we have all come together and stayed together. These people are my family.
Where do you think we started Sunday? If you guessed the Beer Garden, winner winner! Spanish Love Songs kicked off the afternoon, followed by The Bombpops. My friends and I hung out with members of the Bombpops at the Stupid Rad Merch tent after their killer set. They scheduled a meet and greet and damn near half the crowd was in line! If you know them, you know why. They’re super rad people with hearts of gold and the best senses of humor.
I was lucky enough to be able to interview Matt Caughthran of The Bronx before their set. I watched the first few songs from side-stage, but quickly found myself running into the crowd to really enjoy it. The Bronx are another one of my all time favorite bands. Matt, in my opinion, has one of the best voices in punk rock and I love the energy they continuously bring. TSOL took the stage next and for the first time of the whole weekend, I watched from the picnic tables by the food trucks. At this point, I felt like I was close to death and needed some water and chow.
While it was a totally different experience, I’m so glad I was able to really take in the music for what it was. I hammered down a shitty slice of pizza and some water just in time for Less Than Jake. I ran with my best friends to the center of the crowd and danced until I couldn’t breathe. Hands down one of my favorite sets of the entire weekend.
Bad Religion was up next and blew everyone’s minds. They played a full set, nonstop, leaving us all wanting more. 30 seconds later, they burst into Change of Ideas and played the entire No Control album back to front. The crowd was going absolutely insane with Bad Religion fueling us even more for the sweet return of NOFX that was about to happen next.
My friends and I made our way backstage for NOFX and we were invited to join the band onstage for their entire set. We partied onstage alongside members of Less Than Jake, The Bombpops and fellow punk rockers during the band’s first performance in the United States in over a year. We watched the crowd go wild during their entire set as we sang our hearts out on the stage with our PPT family. I am so glad these people were by my side for this.
After NOFX, we headed to the campground for some final hangs with our PPT family. Camp Anarchy 2019 was one of the greatest experiences of my life to date. The memories made, the bonds created, the music played….everything was perfect and I would do it again every summer for the rest of my life. The 8 hour drive back home made my post-show depression even worse, but back to reality for a couple months.
Punk in Drublic and More
August kicked off with a bang as my friends and I head to Rochester, NY for Bad Religion and The Lawrence Arms. The streets were lined with punk rockers waiting for the doors to open. Nice and sweaty during The Lawrence Arms, I sang along word for word with a smile of my face. Bad Religion graced the stage shortly after for one of the best sets I have ever seen live. For me, Bad Religion is one of those bands I’ve seen quite a few times, but I am consistently blown away by the raw talent radiating off of those guys as they play and never miss a beat. I had the pleasure of meeting Jay Bentley and Mike Dimkich after their show and chatting about Mable Syndrome! The venue, the crowd, the set list…everything was perfect and made this show one of my favorites of the year.
The end of August came flying by quick, and so was I! Up at the crack of dawn to catch a flight, I was on my way to Colorado for Punk In Drublic at Red Rocks. Never in my life did I think I’d see a punk show at Red Rocks, but how could I pass that up? It was a truly surreal experience. My all time favorite band Bad Cop Bad Cop kicked off the music for the day with a fantastic set. I’m not kidding when I say punk rock saved my life, and I owe that to Bad Cop Bad Cop. I’m always so moved every time I get to see them live, so being able to experience them at Red Rocks was more than I could have ever imagined. I enjoyed some rad hangs with Jen of The Bombpops and Milo Carlisle as they came up in the crowd to say hello after Bad Cop Bad Cop. Milo probably has about 15 Mable Syndrome stickers!
Teenage Bottlerocket was up next and they are always a freaking blast. Some failed attempts at mosh pits happened, but we all made it work! The Lawrence Arms took the stage next and I watched quite a bit of their set from the very top of the amphitheatre. One of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen, with the best soundtrack.
The Bouncing Souls were up next, so I made my way back down to my friends and screamed every song with my people. With one melodic punk anthem after another, I lost my voice during their set. I felt all the love in the world as my friends and I sang in each other’s arms. It was almost like Red Rocks was made for Greg’s voice, the way it carried through the amphitheatre was absolutely beautiful.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes came out just before the sun went down. The entire crowd was going absolutely fucking insane jamming out to our favorite cover band. It was like a giant party inside a giant party! NOFX played a full set and sounded pretty awesome. The last time I saw NOFX, I was onstage and while it was an awesome experience, the sound was fucking horrendous. It was rad to be able to enjoy them from in the crowd again.
Then came the moment we were all waiting for. Baz’s Philharmonic Orchestra joined the stage with NOFX and so began The Decline; in its entirety, with a full orchestra. I managed to bolt back up to the very top again to enjoy this, as I knew it would likely never happen again. I stood there in awe as the orchestra so effortlessly played through the story of The Decline with NOFX. This show was hands down one of the most memorable of my life. It wasn’t the usual setting for a punk show, but it was definitely the most beautiful. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life and I am so glad I was able to be there to witness it.
September came the following week, and while I was still recovering from my trip to Red Rocks, I had shows to attend! I took a 6 hour drive to Pittsburgh for a long weekend to spend time with some of my PPT family. I arrived Friday afternoon and checked into my hotel. About five minutes later, I was in the Uber on my way to Rancid, Pennywise, Suicidal Tendencies, Iron Reagan and The English Beat. This show was at a fucking water park and it was awesome! I met up with some PPT friends and enjoyed my evening in the pit with them.
The next day, my soulmate and fellow Mable, Bree, was knocking on my hotel room door in her rainbow leggings ready to show me around Pittsburgh. We went to lunch, dug through hundreds of records and had a shit ton of laughs before the Descendents show later that night. With No Parents and Iron Chic, the Descendents played a sold out show at The Roxian Theatre. I love seeing these guys live. The amount of passion that pours out of them each and every time is astonishing. I love to watch Bill’s face during their sets, I have never seen anyone so moved each time they grace the stage. My friends and I happened to be in the right place and right time after the show, as we were lucky enough to meet Milo and Stephen. I fan-girled for the first time and all I could manage to say was “thank you so much.” I was thrilled to be able to have fellow Mable Chris Z with me for this experience, as well as some wonderful PPT friends.
I slept in late the following morning, as it was my last day in Pittsburgh and I was running on empty. I met up with some friends for lunch and some hangs before heading to The Rex Theatre. H20 was celebrating 25 years with Comeback Kid as their opening act. Needless to say, my last show in Pittsburgh went out with a bang, literally. I was bleeding from my gums during H2O’s entire set after being elbowed in the face during the last song by Comeback Kid. No big deal. Busted gums aside, the rest of the show was fantastic. Positive vibes and words of inspiration were thrown all over the theater, backed by the heavy NYHC sound and slam dancing that has my heart. Singing along as loud as I could, my voice left my little body once again. I was in hardcore heaven. After the show, I called it a night early to prepare for my 6 hour drive back home.
The very next weekend I was headed to my favorite city, Boston. Strung Out and The Casualties were playing at Brighton Music Hall at night, so I had the pleasure of enjoying some killer tacos and drinks at a local bar with Kristen! My favorite part of the entire weekend was finally being able to meet her in person! I owe much of my motivation, inspiration and all around attitude adjustment to Kristen and the other Mables. I will forever be grateful to these women. We had some great conversations and lots of great laughs.
I needed to burn those taco calories off, so my friends and I made our way to the show. We got there just in time for The Casualties and I was absolutely blown away by their performance. David is the best addition to the band. His voice, energy and all around presence meshes so well with the rest of the guys. Jason Cruz of Strung Out jumped on stage and covered The Ramone’s Pet Sematary with them and it rocked my entire world. Definitely one of my favorite live moments of 2019! Shortly after, Strung Out took the stage. As always, those guys were on point. Their set was beautifully blended with old school anthems and new powerhouse tracks off their latest album, Songs of Armor and Devotion.
After their set, I made my way to the merch tables. I hung with The Casualties for a bit and bought a bunch of rad stuff before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Back in the 315 and Boston - Part 2
October came quickly, which meant so did Clobberin’ Time! Sick Of It All came rolling through the 315 with Municipal Waste. I made to the Westcott Theater ready to slam! Sick Of It All is another one of my favorite bands to see live. They won my heart the very first time years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. We all know I love me some NYHC! After their signature wall of death, Municipal Waste took the stage and ripped everyone’s faces off. That raw metal sound mixed with thrash punk makes for something truly amazing. These guys are the perfect definition of a crossover band. It was time to head home and take a few weeks off from shows. Time to catch up on reality!
So reality sucks, and it's back to the shows. I was heading back to Boston, this time for something super special. Back in February, I bought tickets to a show that sold out not even 24 hours later….The Bruisers last show ever. They played 2 nights, each sold out and I’m lucky enough to be able to say I was at The Royale. And what a fucking show it was. The crowd was a different type of beautiful. It truly was a farewell party to The Bruisers. Al Bar was left speechless and very emotional several points throughout their set. Every note played that night was played with nothing but love. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. I met fellow Mable, Sarah for the first time that night in the middle of The Bruisers’ set and she picked me up with the biggest hug ever! Blue and red! I am so grateful I was able to be at this show. It was truly something.
My birthday came sneaking up and I had nothing going on. It was a Wednesday in Utica, New York. I made some last minute plans with friends and we grabbed some drinks before heading to The Stanley Theater for Lettuce. Far from punk, but I had a great time! If you like funk, I highly recommend checking them out! They’ll get you dancing for sure! It was a nice way to spend my birthday and not have to really leave home. Plus, its live music!
The holiday season was quickly shoved upon us and I was headed to Albany, New York for Voodoo Glow Skulls, and The Reverend Horton Heat. The show was fantastic, but at the strangest venue ever. Get this…on the second floor of a massive shopping mall. Weird, right? Voodoo Glow Skulls had everyone on their feet as Efrem danced through the crowd and along the bar tops. The Reverend came out shortly after and played for almost 2 hours; what a set! With several holiday songs thrown in the mix as well as giant inflatable Santas, I couldn’t help but get in the holiday spirit.
One of my very last shows of the year happened to be one of the best as well. Super last minute, I hopped in the car with a few of my girls and we made our way to Brooklyn on December 20th. Talk about the worst holiday traffic ever. We checked into our hotel where my soulmate Bree Myers was meeting us. After reuniting with lots of hugs, giggles and joints, we caught an Uber to Brooklyn Steel for The Bouncing Souls 30 Year Anniversary Show, the last one of the tour. As soon as we walked in, Bree and I made our way directly over to The Bar Stool Preachers’ merch table to say hi and grab some stuff. We introduced ourselves and also met another Mable, Cynthia while other there! We bought some merch and placed our stuff in coat check just in time for The Bar Stool Preachers’ set.
They were part of the main reason for heading to this show. While talking with the band, we mentioned how their most recent album has really moved and helped both of us. I was absolutely thrilled to see them for the first time. Bree and I stood dead center and danced their entire set. We sang along to every song word for word. It was truly beautiful being able to connect with the band while they were on stage and we were in the crowd. It filled my heart. This is what it's all about for me, the connection to the music. TJ grabbed his guitar and broke into “Raced Through Berlin” while playing directly to us. I cried, so what? After their set, we went to the bar for a drink and found ourselves hanging with BSP once more. We talked so long, we missed all of Strike Anywhere. Oops!
The Bronx were up next and I just couldn’t pass up the natural high. I heard Matt’s beautiful scream in “Heart Attack American” belt out and I ran as fast as I could to the center of the pit. I saw so many people I met throughout the year at this show, so I took advantage of that. I sang along and slam danced with my new and old friends the entire set.
The Bouncing Souls were up next and played a perfect show. Each Souls song is a punk rock anthem, and I was in my glory. Fist in the air, friends by my side, and a smile on my face was just what I needed to take my mind off the crazy holiday season. My friends and I made our way back to our hotel after buying a few more records and saying farewell to some friends and the guys in BSP. Luckily the traffic back home the next morning wasn’t bad!
I thought I was all done with shows, but it turns out The Stanley Theatre in my hometown of Utica, NY had another trick up its sleeve. Moe. was playing a New Year’s Eve show, so a few friends and I made our way there after work. Moe. played for over 4 hours and I danced the entire time! They’re a jam band from my area and it's wonderful to watch locals come together and support them. I always try to catch Moe. when they’re in town!
2019 was a hell of a year. I saw over 60 bands, traveled all over the place and made so many amazing friends and memories. I hit my lowest lows in the beginning and made a promise to myself to get back up. The support from the punk rock community has been amazing, and without that support I’m not sure where I would really be right now. I’ve learned that it’s important to do what you love as much as you can and to be happy for yourself. So, I’m doing what I love. 2020, I can’t wait to see what you have in store.