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Nationals – July 2018

By: Eric Hoffman

   Greetings Rockers ‘N’ Rollers! Last month began with some incredible National bands in very small clubs. I was beyond fortunate to catch Billie Joe Armstrong’s (Green Day) latest project The Longshot at both Baltimore’s Ottobar and Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Church. An incredible experience to see the Green Day frontman wail to a capacity 400 crowd. The Longshot were amazing playing their EP as well as covers of The Ramones, The Replacements, David Bowie, Generation X and The Damned. Fellow punk rockers Bouncing Souls played a fabulous show at Washington DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel on May 31 – another venue with a capacity of 400. The Souls are always consistently good with song staples “Hopeless Romantic,” “Sing Along Forever” and “True Believers.” And Scranton natives The Menzingers played to capacity (400) a sold-out show at Stage On Herr in Harrisburg on May 27.

   Legendary alternative band Depeche Mode returned to the States for the second leg of their Global Spirit Tour. The English electronic band visited Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center on June 3 and played songs since they began in 1980 including, “Enjoy The Silence,” “World in My Eyes” and “Personal Jesus.” This year Depeche Mode were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their latest release Spirit is their fourteenth album. Kurt Vile and the Violators sold-out Lancaster’s Tellus 360 on June 14. The former War on Drugs member just finished a brief 14-day excursion but will follow in the Fall with 17 more shows. Last year Vile collaborated and toured with Courtney Barnett, his music is influenced by Neil Young, Pavement, Tom Petty and John Fahey.

   Locally, historic rock band KIX returned to Harrisburg and its newest largest nightclub Club XL on June 16. The venue is only blocks away from the old Metron, a club which KIX dominated in the 80’s and 90’s. The band played their album Blow My Fuse in entirety marking its 35th anniversary. KIX always put on one of the best live shows in Central PA with hits “Midnight Dynamite,” “The Itch” and “Girl Money.” Fantastic local band The Give Take were meant to play Harrisburg’s Zeroday on June 15 but had to cancel (slightly) due to their keyboardist Susan not feeling well. However, a couple band members did fill-in with Don Egan labeling themselves “Los Misfits!” – which turned out great! playing songs of Ramones and Misfits.

   The highlight of June consisted of possibly two of the best concerts I’ve ever witnessed. The band who introduced music to me, U2, brought their latest tour Experience + Innocence 2018 to both Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center and Washington DC’s Capital One Arena. Truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at a concert. The stage ran right down the middle of the general admission floor, from end to end. And having floor tickets, with so much room to move, gave every fan the experience of being a few feet from the band. U2 are one of the world’s best-selling artists in history, having sold more than 170 million records worldwide. With 14 studio albums to pick from, the setlist reigned hits “Gloria,” “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” It was unbelievable to witness one of the greatest bands in such a setting.

   NATIONAL NEWS: Robert Plant says he would be “whore” if he were to agree to take part in a LED ZEPPELIN reunion. This year marks the band’s 50th anniversary and the remastered reissue of “How The West Was Won.” Plant stated, as for Led Zeppelin “38 years ago, John Bonham passed away, that’s all I know. That’s it. That’s the story. Those times. That’s not going to stop me doing what I’m doing now. It doesn’t matter to me… If I didn’t, I’d be a whore.” Plant recently toured behind his latest album, “Carry Fire” and concluded, “For me, my time has got to be filled with joy and endeavor and humor and power and absolute self-satisfaction. That’s not with LED ZEPPELIN. That’s doing what I’m doing right now, with this band, on this tour.”

   Pink’s first “Beautiful Trauma” North American tour leg has wrapped, with more than $95 million grossed on 46 shows – and she has another 42 shows in Australia/New Zealand this year, followed by 40 North American dates in spring 2019. The March-June tour leg sold a total of 691,953 tickets and grossed an average $2.51 million per night with 18,209 tickets per show. Pink will finish her tour with two dates in May 2019 at NYC’s Madison Square Garden.

   Blink-182 says drummer Travis Barker is suffering from blood clots in both arms and therefore the band has to reschedule Las Vegas residency shows. The band has dates at The Pearl Concert Theatre in Las Vegas also scheduled for weekends in October, September and November. In May it was announced the band would not be able to make its scheduled appearance at Bunbury Festival in Cincinnati as well as dates in Windsor, Canada. Blink-182 was recently added as headliners to Riot Fest in Chicago, which takes place Sept 14-16, where they share the bill with Beck, Elvis Costello, Incubus and many others.

   The newly opened ‘60s bowling alley turned music venue Asbury Lanes reopened June 18 featuring performances by hometown legend Bruce Springsteen, Portugal. The Man, and a DJ set by the Roots’ Questlove. The Lanes’ features upcoming shows by Lupe Fiasco, Cold War Kids, The Hold Steady and more. The venue’s reinvented stage sees platforms covering the bowling lanes during performances allowing for a capacity of 746, doubling its former limit.

   Jack White found time between two sold-out show at The Anthem in Washington DC, to throw a surprise, lunchtime concert for the students at nearby Woodrow Wilson High School on May 30. White squeezed in a 45-minute set in the school atrium where there was no press, the musician just wanted to play. White and his band played 8 songs, finishing with the hit “Seven Nation Army.”

   Punk rock band NOFX have had every scheduled show in the US canceled. This comes after making tasteless jokes about the Las Vegas shootings at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Singer Fat Mike stated “We did not drop off the shows. We were told that NOFX is not welcome to play ANY big venue in the United States. No joke! NOFX has effectively been banned in our own country.” International shows remain as planned. He added, “It f-n sucks! We made a mistake, we apologized, and we gotta suffer the consequences. Maybe it ain’t fair, but whoever said life was. We are just very thankful that our fans are being so supportive. Thanks to all of you!

   U2 is continuing its eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour run in North America selling every available ticket at their shows. Each night averages 22,365 tickets sold with an average gross of $3.1 million per night. U2 played a special event show at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater on June 11. For the first time ever the theater cleared the orchestra seating for a general admission floor. Bono began the night stating “We’re a punk band .. from Ireland,” in which the group opened with the trio “I Will Follow,” “The Electric Co.,” and “Out of Control.” A horn section of at least a dozen members joined the band for their 1988 song “Angel of Harlem.” Bono exited the 1,500-capacity theater expressing, “What a night! .. No, really, what a night.”

   UPCOMING SHOWS: Southern Culture on the Skids Harrisburg HMAC July 1. Poptone (Bauhaus/Love & Rockets) Silver Spring Fillmore July 1. Steel Camp Hill Cliffs Tavern July 7. KIX Dewey Beach DE Bottle & Cork July 12. 38 Special / Uncle Kracker / Puddle of Mudd Hershey Vineyard July 14. Janet Jackson Hersheypark Stadium July 20. Fuel / Eve6 / Fastball Lancaster Clipper Stadium July 21. Badfish (Sublime tribute) Harrisburg Sawyers July 27. Steve Forbert Kennett Square Flash July 27. Faster Pussycat Reading Reverb July 28. War On Drugs Camden NJ BB&T Pavilion July 28. Bad Luck Charms Lancaster ABAG July 28.

   Go to www.facebook.com/Eric S. Hoffman to follow all of Eric’s concert travels with more photos and live recordings.

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