Stumbling out into the Deep Ellum streets, the Trees crowd appeared at once exhausted, and yet, thriving with energy; the residual vibes from a night of head banging and moshing had yet to subside. Treated to a spectrum of punk rock across 5 hours, Dallas got a high-energy, top of the line performance from Fight Me, Mannequin Pussy, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and Joyce Manor.
Texan natives Fight Me opened the night with a straightforward set of punk rock, attempting to stoke the crowd with piercing vocals and discordant guitar work. The former got lost in the mix, however; whether swallowed by the thudding bass or a result of the frontman’s seeming inability to remain at the mic, the angsty lyrics fell underneath the instrumentals. The band brought it back late in the game, finishing with a rousing closer that finally pumped up the somewhat reluctant crowd.
Mannequin Pussy kept the ball rolling, picking up the slack with an initial burst of punk, no introduction needed. Front-woman Marisa Dabice (with a fitting “I don’t care” attitude) kept the talking short and music long, often pushing through blocks of five to seven songs without any explanation. With songs clocking in at two minutes max, the setlist careened through a good portion of the band’s discography. Recent release Romantic received most of the spotlight, though a few cuts from the band’s debut Gypsy Pervert made the cut as well. The band succeeded in driving the crowd into a frenzy, even eliciting a premature mosh pit with the energetic performance.
A clear linear progression of intensity had been established, with Joyce Manor promising to be the pinnacle of the night. Andrew Jackson Jihad had other ideas though. While opener “Cody’s Theme” from the recent The Bible 2 kept the energy pumping, the folk punk outfit slowed things down until hitting the solely acoustic ballad “Junkie Church.” A standstill crowd is a rare sight to see at Trees, but frontman Sean Bonnette held attendees at attention with his musings on meaning, humanity, and anxiety. The set eventually ramped back up with songs like “Children of God,” but began to run a bit lengthy; the band seemed determined to play as much of their 11 albums as possible, leading to a set easily twice the length of any other act. The crowd loved every moment, however, sending off the Arizona band with cheers.
Though a bit jarring, AJJ’s slow interludes proved to be a good cool down before the arrival of headliners Joyce Manor. Opening with fan favorite “Heart Tattoo,” the Californian punks whipped the crowd right back into full on mosh mode. The band kept things interesting, though; recent release Cody marked a more mature, narratively-developed album, and the performance reflected the change. Though consistently punk, the band’s output (driven by Barry Johnson’s varied vocals) reflected an emotional nuance beyond the rage and angst typical of the genre. This tinge of emotion led to an amazing, charged set which had the crowd enraptured.
Overall, the four acts put together put on an almost five-hour concert full to the brim with a fine selection of punk. Though a tad bit unbalanced in energy and unwieldy length, the performance brought together an astounding group of artists for a jam-packed night of punk.