Music to dream to would be a nice way to describe this particular tour. The Menzingers are on the road with bands that are perfect for long drives down American highways with the windows down. At least they feel like they are. As a resident of Scotland, it’s not a theory that I’ve been able to put the test. The closest I can come is seeing how they feel at the Oran Mor in Glasgow on a Saturday night. Spoiler, they feel pretty good.
The Dirty Nil kick things off and are as good live as they are on record, which is to say very. Their fuzzy rock songs have an element of the scuzzy but at the same time manage to be anthemic. Even ‘Cinnamon’, which I was a bit sniffy about, sounds like it could soundtrack a teen movie. Lead singer/guitarist Luke Bentham is a star in waiting and oozes cool as he pops bubblegum on stage. Even Ross Miller’s slightly cliche stage banter isn’t enough to take the sheen off and when they drop songs like ‘Higher Power’ and ‘Wrestle Yu To Husker Du’ you can see this band are going to be huge.
I don’t dislike The Flatliners, but there’s this constant needling feeling that they just aren’t quite good enough. They’re not bad, but when you are entering a world where the top bands are The Wonder Years and tonight’s headliners, you need to be special to stand out, and I’m not sure they are that. Which isn’t to say that they can’t be. It’s clear a few people in the Glasgow crowd are into them, and if they can take these songs to the next level, then there is every chance I’ll be made to eat these words. In fact, I’m rooting for them to make me do exactly that.
There are no doubts about tonight’s headliners being a special band. You could throw five specials in there, and it would still struggle to sum up The Menzingers. Their Americana fuelled rock and roll is the musical equivalent of a coming of age film and is blessed with the same restorative powers. This is music to fall in love to. It’s music to feel sad to. And It’s music to dance to.
They also don’t appear to do bad songs. I have to admit to having only got into them on their latest album but despite them playing a 21 song set, it is hard to pick out a single dud. ‘Tellin’ Lies’ opens things up and the refrain of ‘what we gonna do now that our twenties are over’ already feels iconic as the crowd bounces along to it. In fact, all those new songs sound great and are treated as well as the old. Whether it’s the party times of ‘Bad Catholics’ or the bittersweet melancholy of ‘After The Party’ it’s one hell of an album, and it holds up live.
It’s the warmth of this band that stands out, though. Even when they’re singing ‘I will fuck up this up, I fucking know it’ or declaring that ‘I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore’, there is a brightness and a light to this music that makes you feel better about life. It’s rock, but it is tinged with punk, the story-telling of country and the inspiration of Springsteen. I don’t care if you’ve never heard them, they are your favourite band, and I’m jealous that you haven’t discovered it yet.
If The Menzingers are coming anywhere near you then it’s time to go along and fall in love, you have our word that you won’t regret it.