Last night, The Menzingers stopped by Cincinnati by way of Bogart’s in celebration of their latest album, Some Of It Was True. Earlier this year, the band was in town making up a date from their 10-year anniversary tour for their breakthrough record, the beloved On The Impossible Past…, so they had a high bar to live up to. Along with tourmates Rodeo Boys, Cloud Nothings, and Microwave, they did the damn thing, and it was great.
The Menzingers remain one of the best live bands actively touring - high energy, super fun, they play to their audience well while sticking to the album cycle they’re touring on by mixing in new material with fan wants and needs. Really, all the best qualities of a great touring band - and not once have I been disappointed after leaving one of their shows (and I’ve been covering them for CincyMusic for close to a decade now).
Openers Rodeo Boys - making their second appearance with The Menzingers at Bogart’s this year - got started earlier than anticipated, but absolutely crushed it from note one. Their blend of poppy punk tinged rock and roll was a perfect way to kick things off. Riffs aplenty, amusing and smile-inducing stage chemistry (there really is nothing better than watching a band just let go and have fun doing what they’re doing), and a strong focus on their latest (and terrific) album, Home Movies, out now on Don Giovanni Records.
I really, really like this band and hope they keep coming through town as much as they can. My thanks to the band for being so nice to my oldest and their friend, as well. It was their first show and it really couldn’t have been a better experience.
Cloud Nothings were a whole different vibe - raw, a little gnarly, more garage punk with alt flavor, fast paced and a bit more frenetic. It was a fun transition from one band to the next, but, to be honest, I wasn’t super sure about how it would translate until the next band played. The sonic space Cloud Nothings occupy is a swirling, complex, but brutally pared down, more insistent, I guess, versus Rodeo Boys playfulness. It was good, don’t get me wrong, and great to see and hear live. It wasn’t until Microwave played that I really got it, though, realizing just how well curated the tour as a whole was. I would love to see this band in a smaller space, like the Revival Room at Southgate House Revival - they feel like a band that would decimate that room in the best ways possible.
Knowing that folks were real jazzed about Microwave being in town, I held off on listening to them so I could hear what they were all about live first. What a totally unexpected but absolutely lovely experience. Melding post-hardcore, emo, and indie into something not just infinitely listenable but arguably great, the band hit all the right notes for me with their set.
Reminiscent of bands like Colour Revolt, Paper Rival, and Manchester Orchestra, and All Get Out, they managed to bring an artsy angst to the show that I wasn’t at all anticipating. Their set was a heavy-ish mid-tempo mashup of vocal fried screams, soaring choruses, and, somehow, breakdowns that helped tie the whole tour together. Where Rodeo Boys were fun and friendly in their stage presence and sound, and Cloud Nothings were there to just melt faces and play a ripper of a set, Microwave bridged some interesting gaps leading into The Menzingers entertaining frenzy. They were my teenager’s favorite band of the night and merch of choice, so that’s a big win, too.
I’m not sure what I can say about The Menzingers that I haven’t already said a dozen times over - if you’re a fan, these shows are everything you want in a live experience and more. If you’re not a fan, you will be by the end of their set. Full venue singalongs, boundless energy and smiles, occasional bodies flying gracelessly through the air, lots of fists pumping and air drumming to favorite moments in every song… it really is an experience, and one that I hope to never have to miss when they come through.
Their set leaned heavily on their latest album, Some Of It Was True, but from opener “Hope is a Dangerous Little Thing” I could tell that the crowd was fully invested, immediately so. The Menzingers know how to get their fans invested even before they take the stage, last night being no exception.
If you’re seeing this outside of Cincinnati and you’re on the fence about going to the show, just… go. I promise you’re going to leave smiling, probably loaded up on merch, and heavily invested in at least one of the openers from there on out. For folks in Cincinnati, as always, I hope you had as much fun as I did.
My thanks to the bands for making it such a good night, and, of course, to the staff at Bogart’s for being so great. It’s nice to feel so welcome at a venue I’ve been catching shows at for 25 years now.