Concert Report “The Casualties Tour 2009”

The Casualties, Krum Bums, Mouth Sewn Shut, Chernobyl Babies, First Strike
September 14, 2009
The Mixtape Venue, Grand Rapids, MI


On Monday, September 14 one of the few all-ages venues in the Grand Rapids area, The Mixtape, hosted a stop on The Casualties 2009 tour. Grand Rapids isn’t known for its thriving Punk scene, but The Casualties came anyway, bringing with them young talents Krum Bums and Mouth Sewn Shut. Two local bands also played, with the end result being five sets of raucous, energetic Street and Hardcore Punk.

The first group to take the stage was Grand Rapids locals First Strike. Sounding somewhere between Bad Religion and Strike Anywhere, they played an impassioned, yet ultra-generic form of punk rock. Aside from the band members’ ability to jump simultaneously in sync with their music they didn’t leave much of an impression. They did keep theirs set moving, with little preamble or banter between each song. However, this did little to improve on the fact that First Strike’s sound has already been heard by most anyone who is even slightly interested in the genre. On top of their barely average live performance First Strike’s set was also dampened by a sound mix that left much to be desired. As it would turn out this would be a theme for the rest of the concert.

Following First Strike was another local band, Chernobyl Babies. It is important to distinguish between how well they perform their music live, and the actual quality of their music. Chernobyl Babies have a high entertainment factor. Lot’s of colorful hair, patched and studded outfits, and an affinity for drinking make them fun to watch. They also do an excellent job of getting the crowd involved and singing along. Pogoing and circle pits ensued, and anyone can sing along to choruses consisting of “Oi, Oi, Oi! Drink, Drink, Drink!”. However, this is where Chernobyl Babies’ appeal ends. They are the lowest common denominator of punk rock, fulfilling every requirement of the “Up the Punx” stereotype. Little substance and less originality, Chernobyl Babies may be a guilty pleasure at a concert, but not much else.

Then began the touring bands. Hailing from Boston, Mouth Sewn Shut plays a frantic form of Hardcore/Crust Punk. Half of the band comes from scene heavy hitters Toxic Narcotic, and much of their current sound is derived from the same source. However, they manage to mix in a breakneck ska/reggae sound throughout their music, perhaps best described as brutal yet melodic. Live MSS kept they’re sound tight, flowing from one song to then next, occasionally taking the time to mention the title or subject of the next song. One of the highlights of their set was “Names and Addresses” which encourages young Punkers to take sociopolitical justice into their own hands. Although they sounded excellent, especially the guttural vocals, they too were plagued by a sound mix with not enough guitar sound reaching the audience.

Up-and-Comers Krum Bums were the final band to warm up the crowd for The Casualties. Playing their own brand of hardcore punk the Austin, Texas based Krum Bums have a wall of sound and energy coming off the stage. They mix the staples of the Hardcore Punk genre (fast guitars, yelled vocals, gang backing vocals) with sweeping melodies and more complex song arrangements, especially for the style of music. Krum Bums set was enhanced by the fact that they have toured through Grand Rapids multiple times, and have left an impression on many of the local punks. The crowd sang along, the circle pit grew in size, and the band seemed to enjoy themselves as well. There set consisted of some new tracks intermixed amongst their live staples such as “Misery”, “Sometimes” and “Disregarded Youth”. One of the highlights of any Krum Bums show is watching the fan interaction. They asked kids to get on stage and stage dive, sing along and were constantly putting the microphone into the crowd and letting them take over vocal duties. The lead singer, Dave Tejas, even helped stage diving young punks to find a spot where they would be caught upon jumping, not just dropped to the floor.

Finally, The Casualties. Playing street punk for almost 20 years can take a toll on anyone, and these veterans are no exception. Currently touring to support they’re new release “We Are All We Have”, in this reviewer’s opinion, the quartet from NYC has seen better days. They’re set list was excellent, playing basically every fan favorite with little emphasis on the new material. In fact, they mostly stuck to their most popular releases, ignoring the better part of 2006’s “Under Attack”. Regardless, compared to other performances from the past The Casualties seemed…. uninspired. The songs sounded the same, but the stage presence was missing. So were the light effects, charged hair and emotion. It was like witnessing a really tight band practice, where the songs were well rehearsed, but there was no one to perform for. This is not to say that they performed poorly, but in comparison to the energy, movement and all out carnage of Casualties tours past, this showing came across as rather bland. It is important to note that they had been on tour for some time, and Grand Rapids has by no means the largest punk scene in North America. The shows small turn out and at least some small amount of the inevitable tour exhaustion undoubtedly contributed to the less than incredible showing on their part. At the risk of being repetitive, the sound mixing worked against The Casualties as much as any of the other acts. Jorge’s lead vocals covered up the most of the guitar, and the bass was almost non-existent. Not quite what one would hope to hear at a Punk show.

Even though the headlining act didn’t quite live up to expectations, and the venue dropped the ball on sound, the concert as a whole was carried by the quality of the other touring bands. Krum Bums and Mouth Sewn Shut are the future of their scene, and at this show both bands proved it.

Written by our new writer:
Brant Ver Meer

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Concert Report “The Casualties Tour 2009””

  1. edie says:

    Great review.

  2. Jake says:


  3. Kyle says:

    Most punk bands never sound good live anyways. They crank their garage-sale salvaged amplifiers to 10 and wash everything out. A small room doesn’t help.

  4. len says:

    the casualties are a punk band from GR starting in 1982 – these guys stole the name

  5. on pc tv says:

    This is a very great blog , how do i subscribe to your newsletter ?

  6. meez cheats says:

    I hope you never stop! This is one of the best blogs Ive ever read. Youve got some mad skill here, man. I just hope that you dont lose your style because youre definitely one of the coolest bloggers out there. Please keep it up because the internet needs someone like you spreading the word.