event

Black Iris Presents

Black Christmas 2018

with The Suicide Machines, Gangster Fun, Mustard Plug, The Lillingtons, The Goddamn Gallows, Easy Action, & More!
Dec, 29 @ 6:00 pm ( Doors: 6:00 pm )
Majestic Theatre
All Ages
$25 Adv./ $30 Day of
All Ages
Additional Info
Artists
Black Christmas 2018
The Suicide Machines

Although many mistake alterna-ska punkers the Suicide Machines as being from California, where most of the genre's bands come from, they're in fact Detroit natives. Starting off in the early '90s, the quartet was founded by Jason Navarro (vocals) and Dan Lukacinsky (guitar/vocals), who saw some members come and go before recording their first demo in 1993 with Derek Grant on drums and Jason Brake on bass. The Suicide Machines did their first national dates the following year and by late 1994 Royce Nunley (bass/vocals) had entered the fray. A full national tour with Buck-O-Nine came next, and the guys soon signed a deal with Hollywood Records, releasing their major-label debut, Destruction by Definition, in 1996. The album received rave reviews from several publications, including Alternative Press, which named it one of the best American pop albums of that year; due to repeated touring, it sold 200,000 copies and was number 15 on Soundscan's ranking of 1997's best-selling alternative releases. Returning to the studio for their second album, the band spent more time strengthening their sound and songwriting. When Battle Hymns appeared in mid-1998, it was apparent that the hard work paid off -- it was an improvement over the debut. Drummer Erin Pitman, who had joined on earlier in 1998, left the band during this time, allowing Ryan Vandeberghe to step in. (Grant later went on to play with Thoughts of Ionesco and Alkaline Trio.) The Suicide Machines' self-titled third LP followed in early 2000. "Killing Blow," from the band's 2001 release Steal This Record, was another favorite among the punk crowd, but changes within the band were happening. Bassist Royce Nunley opted for a change, leaving the Suicide Machines in March 2002 and starting Blueprint 76. The rowdy retrospective The Least Worst of the Suicide Machines: 1995-2001 appeared in fall 2002. Their deal with Hollywood quickly fizzled before the year's end, but it wasn't a missed opportunity. The Suicide Machines signed with the indie imprint Side One Dummy months later and released A Match and Some Gasoline in June. (By this point Rich Tschirhart had been installed as Nunley's replacement.) The band also prepped for their sixth appearance on the annual Vans Warped Tour later that summer. Refreshed by the response to A Match and happy with their Side One Dummy deal, the Suicide Machines returned once again with 2005's War Profiteering Is Killing Us All. The album's release was accompanied by a triumphant homecoming gig at the Detroit stop of Warped, their only appearance on the tour that summer. The Machines then embarked on an extensive tour with Boston punk revivalists Lost City Angels in support. In spite of the positive response to the ferocity of War Profiteering, by May 2006 the guys had officially called it quits. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Gangster Fun
Mustard Plug

“What is in a name?” The members of Mustard Plug must have considered this when they casually came up with the title of what seemed at the time to be a short-lived distraction.  While also considering the equally ridiculous “Wanker Daddies,” “Shrinky Dinks,” and “Cookie Puss,” it was the title “Mustard Plug” that was chosen as the masthead to carry forth in the band’s crusade to bring ska-punk to their humble abode of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Twenty years, 1500 shows and 200,000 album sales later, it can not be denied that the band has surpassed all expectations and permanently staked their claim in contemporary music.

Mustard Plug started out in the punk clubs, basements and dive bars of the Midwest, playing punk influenced ska music during a time most people in the U.S. had never even heard of ska.  They clung to a DIY work ethic that had been ingrained in them from growing up in the 1980’s hardcore punk scene and applied it to everything they’d do for the next 20 years.  They released their first cassette tape themselves (1992’s Skapocalypse Now!), and played constantly to earn enough money to record their first cd.  1994’s Big Daddy Mulititude was released on legendary NYC label Moon Records and with their new found national distribution and exposure, the band climbed into their van and performed their music to new fans across North America.

In 1996 the band went to the Blasting Room in Ft. Collins, Colorado to record their second cd with their hero, punk legend Bill Stevenson, who at that time had been mainly known as the drummer for the Descendents and Black Flag.  This album, Evildoers Beware, was quickly picked up by the then up and coming L.A. punk label, Hopeless Records, and released just as ska-punk music was finally gaining mainstream exposure in the U.S.  Evildoers Beware exposed the band to a broader fan base, outside their midwest roots and the international ska die-hards who had thus far rallied around the band.  The late 90’s became a blur as they hit the road, playing 150 shows a year and opening tours for the likes of Face to Face, The Bouncing Souls, Hepcat, MXPX, Less Than Jake, and many more.

In 1997, the band recorded their version of the Verve Pipe’s “The Freshmen” for a local radio compilation.  Their version infused ska-punk energy in to a top 40 pop classic and immediately got picked up by several large commercial radio stations coast to coast and became a fan favorite.

The band’s momentum continued to grow, allowing them to headline tours throughout North American and eventually Europe, Japan, and Brazil, and play to huge crowds at seminal clubs like CBGB’s in NYC, the Metro in Chicago, Emo’s in Austin and The Whiskey in L.A.

Towards the end of the 90’s the band returned to the Blasting Room to record the critically acclaimed Pray For Mojo and continued to hit the road constantly.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the band continued their mission of bringing their music to the masses.  Despite ska music’s fall from grace, the band returned to their grass roots base and continued to tour. In 2003, they released the ska-punk gem Yellow #5, this time going to Detroit to self produce and record it.  In 2004 the band turned the public’s perception of ska on it’s head by co-headling the initial run of the Ska Is Dead Tour, playing in front of packed concert halls from coast to coast.

In 2007, the band returned to the Blasting Room to record In Black and White.  The album was hailed by many as a return to form, while creating a modern take on the ska-punk genre.  Since then the band has continued to tour internationally and write new songs.  Several new singles have been released including split 7 inches with Bomb the Music Industry and Montreal’s The Beatdown.  During the past year, the band has continued to hit the road, including a tour of Europe that saw them at Belgium’s massive Groezrock Festival and conquering the 1500th show benchmark in the U.S. The band continues to write songs for an upcoming album.

As Mustard Plug looks back over their twenty years of relentless touring and recording, they are proud of their accomplishments and see no reason to slow down.

The Lillingtons

It’s been over a decade since The Lillingtons released a full-length album—and an anomaly of a record at that. 2006’s The Too Late Show proved The Lillingtons were just as powerful as they were in their initial run, even if the band wasn’t inclined to hop back in the van and be a full-time concern. But with recent spats of activity—touring sporadically and releasing the Project 313 7-inch on Red Scare Industries—*The Lillingtons* are once again giving this band thing a go.

 

Having signed to Fat Wreck Chords, The Lillingtons toiled away on their new record in secret, crafting an album that is both a continuation of the band’s legacy and a dramatic reinvention. It’s called Stella Sapiente, a title that vocalist-guitarist Kody Templeman says roughly translates to “wisdom of the stars,” and that phrase proves apt given his claim that it’s “centered around secret societies, astrology, and the occult.” This kind of subject matter makes perfect sense for The Lillingtons, a band that has never— and likely will never—find much interest in the mundane. Their songs are pulpy vignettes steeped in intrigue, unraveling mysteries, conspiracies, and cloak-and-dagger operations while bashing through buzzy, pop-focused punk songs.

 

Stella Sapiente sees the band removing all preconceived notions of what a Lillingtons record should sound like, and it’s that approach that yielded them a classic record back in 1998. “It’s the same mindset we had when we wrote Death By Television,” says Templeman. “We were sick of doing what we had been doing and we wanted a change.” This time around, it’s less of a genre shift and more so a willingness to embellish every detail. Like a B-movie director blessed with the budget of a summer blockbuster, on Stella Sapiente the band is able to create worlds inside each song, allowing everything from guitar tones to vocal phrasing to be pushed to their fullest potential.

 

“We threw in a lot of elements that you don’t normally run across in punk rock. Some harmonic leads and bass driven songs with only accents on guitar,” says Templeman. And while these may not be hallmarks of their genre, the way in which The Lillingtons adapt them for their use makes them feel right at home. “Insect Nightmares” has the propulsive energy of a classic Lillingtons song, but there are palm-muted, chugging guitars flanked by uproarious leads, as if the band pillaged vintage metal records, taking only the best ideas and leaving the excess behind. Elsewhere, a track like “Night Visions” could easily pass for a Devo-like soundscape, providing the perfect soundtrack for traversing underground tunnels and for a Devo-like soundscape, providing the perfect soundtrack for traversing underground tunnels and thumbing through ancient texts.

 

Of these clandestine, occult topics, Templeman says it’s not just mythmaking, it’s part of a much bigger picture. “If a person takes the time to look into these things they will no doubt find a parallel and a common thread that ties it all together.” In fact, it’s something imprinted into the record itself. “We realized there were other forces working with us on this project,” says Templeman. And if you want to find out what’s hidden in there, you’ll have to gaze skyway, giving yourself to the wisdom of the stars.


 

The Goddamn Gallows

The Goddamn Gallows came from the heart of America's Rust Belt, arising from a night of flophouse violence. Drifting across the states, they cemented their sound in Portland, OR and later in Los Angeles, CA, where they lived in abandoned buildings, squatter camps, storage units and shoebox apartments. In 2007, they left everything behind and spent the next 4 years living out of whatever vehicle would get them to the next town. Building upon their original sound of twanged-out, punk rock gutterbilly (Life of Sin 2004 and Gutterbillyblues 2007), they began picking up stray musicians along the way and adding to their sound; washboard, accordion, mandolin and banjo (Ghost of th’ Rails 2009 and 7 Devils 2011) creating a sound referred to as "hobocore", "gypsy-punk" or "americana-punk", while never being stuck in any one sound.  The Goddamn Gallows continue to rapidly grow a devoted following with their volatile and spectacular live shows; a contagious, spontaneous eruption of unpredictability.

Easy Action

As raw as open-heart surgery on a subway train, John Brannon's caged lynx howl found its third release valve with Easy Action. The former Laughing Hyenas and Negative Approach vocalist has here added guitar to his repertoire, even if only to augment the depth of the band's sound.

In the early '80s, Brannon's uncompromising, pointedly aggressive Detroit hardcore outfit Negative Approach, along with Boston acts like SSD and DYS and D.C. groups like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and S.O.A., established the paradigm for American hardcore music. Negative Approach was just that: the sonic equivalent of a chair through a window, with Brannon venting and ranting frustratedly and indeed, negatively. With the termination of the band in the mid-'80s, Brannon, with guitarist Larissa Strickland, founded the equally devastating -- though roots-inspired -- noise punk-blues hybrid Laughing Hyenas, a band often cited for its influence on punk, indie rock, and grunge from the early '90s onward. The Hyenas were a more apt vehicle for Brannon's tortured baritone; he has truly been blessed with an excellent, terribly authentic vocal range and feel, moving from a throaty scream to blues crooning in the space of half a measure, unselfconsciously, and without contrivance. After a spell of five CDs and numerous tours, the Hyenas called it quits. A few years later, Brannon, along with former Hyenas bassist Ron Sakowski -- who also worked with the Necros -- formed Easy Action, a blend of amped-up Detroit garage rock, the rusty-nail blues of the Hyenas, and the scraped-knuckle aggression of Negative Approach. Easy Action proved to be a way for Brannon to howl as demonically as he had in the early and mid-'80s and still croon when the mood struck. The band released its first two singles on Reptilian Records in 2000, then followed a year later with a self-titled album, also on Reptilian.

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