Last Thursday, emo pop-punk band Citizen played at the Ottobar in one of the last stops on their six-week tour. They were supported by a bevy of similar bands, including Sorority Noise, Turnover and Milk Teeth.
The audience at this show skewed toward the younger side, which was reflected by the early set times. (It began at 6 p.m. and ended by 11 p.m.) There was a certain level of respect for everyone that maintained the safe-space vibe of the Ottobar.
As for the bands, Citizen formed in 2009 in Michigan. The band is a four-piece featuring lead singer Mat Kerekes, guitarist Nick Hamm, drummer Jake Duhaime, guitarist Ryland Oehlers and bassist Eric Hamm. The band released their debut album, Youth, in 2013 after they were signed to acclaimed punk label Run for Cover Records. The band released their sophomore effort Everybody Is Going to Heaven in 2015, and this tour was partially in support of that.
The Ottobar was most packed when Citizen took the stage, and the band reciprocated the energy by tearing through song after song.
Anyone who attended the show can attest to the fact that Citizen represents the more aggressive side of both the pop-punk and emo genres.
They have more in common with Balance and Composure than, say, other stalwarts of emo’s past like Cap’n Jazz or American Football.
The audience was most energetic during Citizen’s performance, with a few mosh pits starting here or there in the center of the crowd. For the most part though, people thrashed their heads as Citizen played their hits.
Preceding Citizen was Turnover, a band from Virginia Beach which consists of vocalist Austin Getz, guitarist Eric Soucy, bassist Danny Dempsey and drummer Casey Getz. The band faced a change in sound after the release of their second album, Peripheral Vision. Although they stayed true to their pop-punk roots, the band embraced a more shoegaze or dream-pop-orientated sound, creating a colorful mix that is rarely seen.
The performance emulated the guitar work of bands like Real Estate or Craft Spells. Their set garnered a number of cheers but seemed to have less energy than a few of the other bands that played, although that might just have been a result of the more abstract sound the band was going for.
Sorority Noise had the second-best response of the night. The group boasts a four-man lineup (vocalist/guitarist Cameron Boucher, bassist/vocalist Ryan McKenna, guitarist/vocalist Adam Ackerman and drummer Charlie Singer) and a strong seven-release back catalog.
The band was formed by members of two bands, Old Gray and Prawn, in Connecticut in 2013, although they currently represent Philadelphia. So far they have had a meteoric rise to success, including two studio albums, Forgettable and Joy, Departed, a split with cult-punk stars Radiator Hospital and several other releases.
The band’s brand of emo pop-punk was well-received by the audience. The cheering began once the band got on stage and didn’t end until five minutes after it left the stage.
A rather intimate moment occurred prior to the final two songs they played. As a silence fell over the crowd, Boucher thanked everyone for coming out to support them but in a special way. He briefly spoke about his history of manic depression and his difficulty leaving home to play a show. He thanked any crowd member who was going through a tough time fighting suicidal urges, and to a round of applause and cheers, he thanked everyone for coming out.
As for the band’s performance, the manner in which they progressed from song to song was quite intriguing. Although its performance was high-energy with the half-singing, half-screaming that has been embraced by the emo genre, the band utilized quiet interludes between each song to seamlessly transition from one song to another.
Finally, the first opener was British band Milk Teeth. The band formed in Gloucestershire in 2013 and consists of vocalist/bassist Becky Blomfield, guitarist Chris Webb, drummer Oli Holbrook and guitarist Billy Hutton. After releasing two EPs, one in 2013 and another in 2015, the band released their first full-length effort, Vile Child, this past January.
Milk Teeth’s punk sound would’ve gone over better had the crowd been larger. As the opening band, they had to contend with the lowest attendance of any of the bands that performed. However, the band members did the best they could, and even though attempts to get the venue moving were largely for naught, Milk Teeth’s fun styling of the punk genre went over well with those who attended.
Citizen’s tour reached Baltimore during its second half, but none of the bands seemed burned out, and it was fun for all who attended.