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Miracle on W. 19th Street

Twilight Creeps/Taken Days/Mesa Riot/Nights Like Thieves

Location: The Wayfarer. Costa Mesa, CA

Attended, Written and Conceived by G. Scott Hughes

If you haven’t been to The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, CA, you need to rectify that quickly. The place has a serious “this is home” feel to it. The staff is top notch and this joint is just sleazy enough to make you want to start up a mosh pit should the need arise. The stage is large enough for a 10-piece ska band. And the lengthy, upholstered couch located stage left is a welcome relief to tired feet between bands. I’ll even go on record to say that it is the preferred place to see live music in Orange County.

The sound guy (Alex) is competent and has a zeal for dialing in the sound for an artist. Did I mention that there is ample parking available? If you’re feeling a bit peckish while you’re there, do not despair. Their menu offerings are a welcome relief in the morass that is modern-day barfood. Hmm…? I just noticed the word Barf in barfood. Crazy. And thankfully, at The Wayfarer, this is not the case. Their Carne Asada tacos hit the spot. As does the blackened bleu cheese burger and fries. That being said, it made sense that I should conclude this years’ live music adventures at this venue.

Nights Like Thieves might come off as just another emo band. Let me set the record straight- there is a raging, shredding beast lurking deep within the cockles of this band. And said beast will pummel you into submission. Their songs roam between tear-jerking ballads (This Broken Satellite) to songs about fake friends (Magic Eyes) to “what were we thinking back then” songs (Their Flag Planter and my favorite-Red Roses). I dare anyone to find an unsigned band that has a higher production value on their recorded music. The layers to each of their songs bring an added dimension when one listens to them with headphones. Live, these guys don’t waste time. They dominate the stage with a quiet confidence that most bands secretly wish they themselves had. Do not sleep on these fine gents.

I’ll go on record to say that I knew absolutely zero about Mesa Riot when they hit their first note. Word on the street is that they don’t play live much. And that is a damned shame. These guys bring it. Their energy is infectious. Their songs are uber catchy. They skirt the edge of both ska and punk but they don’t stray too far off course into either genre. Would I see them again? Totally.

Taken Days is like a bad penny. They seem to be on all the bills in and around Orange County. And I am not complaining. Sure, It’s just simple power pop punk. But it is simple power pop punk done 120% correctly. Imagine if you will, Blink-182, Alkaline Trio and The Offspring had a torrid, passionate tryst, Taken Days would be the result. Their lyrics are self-deprecating yet heartfelt. And sometimes, very soulful. It has been my pleasure to see them evolve from a meh punk band without much direction to the polished juggernaut they have become.

For the longest time, Twilight Creeps presented yours truly with a conundrum. That conundrum being that for such heavy, ominous lyrics and themes, (e.g. Nights filled with demons and The Texas Chainsaw Family) they don’t play heavy. Matter of fact, they play a hybrid NWOBHM-influenced punk style (with stellar harmonies) to counterpoint the gruesome lyrical content. And finally, I realized that this fact alone is where their genius lies. Does that mean the songs aren’t catchy? No. They’re really, really, seriously, ridiculously catchy.

Normally, they have three axe slingers. I am all good with this new guitar army thingamajig that seems to be all the rage in modern-day punk rock. This night they only had two. That gave them a punchy/cut to the bone sound. On more than one occasion I caught myself looking at their setlist to memorize the song titles. By the end of the show, my conundrum was dearly departed.

All in all, a great way to end my year in live rock n' roll. Give me a break on my photography skills. Any real photogs want to give me a live tutorial, feel free to contact me with a comment. I'm always looking to up my pic game.

And please, please, please..remember that you are loved and that you matter during this time of year. Focus on the positive. Now I'm done.

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