Image credit: Ana Santos
Hardly anything ever happens in Gainesville, FL outside of football games. It’s a small town with a big town mentality and our biggest bragging rights belong to the University of Florida and their sports team, the Gators. I guess people sometimes forget (or just don’t know at all) that Gainesville is also home to some pretty big names in music like Less Than Jake, Against Me!, Tom Petty, and Bo Diddley. So when I heard that frnkiero andthe cellabration added Gainesville’s own High Dive to their tour date list, I knew I had to be there.
I joined the queuing crowd at about 6:40 pm. There may have only been about 60 people at that time, but it gave me a chance to listen in (eavesdrop shamelessly, I mean) on the various excited conversations, and the crowd continued to steadily grow as time passed.
Regardless, this was promising to be a very intimate show, and that filled me with such excitement. But that’s Gainesville for you; everything is intimate, but everything is exciting, especially when it concerns live bands. It’s a classic small-town community thing.
The lights went out at 9:01 and the first opener, Roger Harvey, took the stage. The bass was thundering and you could feel it in your bones, and that’s a feeling I love. Heads started bobbing all across the venue, mine included. Harvey has an undeniable draw with his music and stage presence. As they rolled into the next song, the overpowering bass worked in Harvey’s favor. It helped build up the energy for the rest of the show to come. Showcasing his abilities, Harvey slowed things down with a solo number. His two band members joined him to close up the song before rolling right into the next number with some seriously pounding bass. I’d become invested Harvey’s vocals and started falling for his voice, and I needed to hear more. Fortunately, he just released his first record, Twelve Houses. You can find it on Spotify, or grab yourself a copy through iTunes.
Jared Hart who, like Iero, also hails from the Garden State, was the second opener. Hart’s set was pretty chill, and incredibly uncomplicated. He played by himself, just singing and playing his acoustic guitar. His vocals are a little rough for me, but there is a simplistic appeal to his music that draws you in. He did a cool cover of Rancid‘s “Poison” and introduced us to the work of his full band, The Scandals, by playing their material acoustic, which he prefers. You can stream his solo album, Past Lives and Pass Lines, on Soundcloud (official release is on December 3rd), and The Scandals can be heard on Spotify or purchased on iTunes.
After the openers wrapped up, the anticipation was high for the main event of the night. The lights went out and a soft orchestral track played over the sound system. The entire venue was suddenly on their feet as frnkiero andthe cellabration took the stage. The band wasted no time in kicking into the first song of the night, “Tragician.” The entire venue seemed to suddenly burst into life, singing along, hands in the air, phones taking pictures and video. That energy only climbed higher as the band played “Neverenders” and “Weighted.” The crowd’s collective volume rose so much during “Weighted” that they actually drowned out Iero’s vocals. Clearly, this song was the crowd favorite.
The band took a quick break for Iero to talk about how they’ve been wanting to play in Gainesville for some time, which invoked a sense of hometown pride in our local souls. Iero was clearly having a ball, as he routinely would spin away from the mic towards the drums, then sort of ping-pong back to the mic again. This ritual only became more energized as the cellabration rolled right into “Blood Infections.” The cellabration’s Evan Nestor (guitar) and Rob Hughes (bass) heartedly backed Iero up on vocals, as Matt Olsson (drums) pounded out the beats that served to electrify everyone in the venue. Armed only with a smartphone to take pictures (and terrible ones at that), I could not grab a clear picture of Iero or the band until the next song, “Guilt Tripping.” As frustrating as it was to fail so miserably at taking pictures, it was heartening to see some of Iero’s energy from his days with My Chemical Romance carrying over into his performance tonight.
Iero calmed down a bit for the next song, which I admit I wasn’t entirely familiar with, but the crowd was, and happily joined in with Iero’s vocals. This is where things got really calm. The lights suddenly focused on Iero as he stepped up to the mic to perform my personal favorite off the Stomachaches album, “Stage 4 Fear of Trying.” There were some strong emotions in the crowd as many just listened, and a few quietly sang along.
Hardly a beat between this quiet moment and the full-throttle “Smoke Rings” as the energy cranked up to 11 and the venue came alive. Bodies flailed around and voices continued to sing along as the band rolled right into “All I Want Is Nothing” and the most punk rendition of a lullaby that I’ve ever heard, “You Are My Sunshine.”
“Stitches” changed the lighthearted punk aura into a more dark punk feel as Olsson kicked things off with a gut-punching beat, followed up by Hughes’ grungy bass riffs and Nestor’s distorted guitar notes. It didn’t last long, however, as Iero led us into “She’s the Prettiest Girl at the Party, and She Can Prove It With a Solid Right Hook,” returning that lighthearted punk feeling for the rest of the show. During “Best Friends Forever (But Not Now),” I really got the sense that Iero’s love for his family is a huge part everything he does. I also couldn’t help but notice at this point that he had played nearly the entire concert with his eyes closed, but yet the entire experience was nothing short of amazing.
The night’s event was wrapped up with “Where Do We Belong? (Anywhere But Here)” and “Joyriding.” During the final song, the crowd gave it their all to back up Iero as he and the band gave this one last burst of raw energy.
I have no doubt that this concert will go down in Gainesville’s local history as a night to be remembered. I truly hope that frnkiero andthe cellabration continue to keep this small town as a stop on future tours.
This was only the sixth stop on this tour and it was followed immediately by an Orlando show at The Social on 11/08. Be sure to check if frnkiero andthe cellabration, Jared Hart, and Roger Harvey are headed to a venue near you. If so, do yourself the favor of attending what promises to be an intimate and exhilarating show.
- 11/11 — New Orleans, LA @ The Parish at House of Blues
- 11/12 — Houston, TX @ Walters Downtown
- 11/13 — Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill
- 11/14 — Austin, TX @ Stubbs Jr.
- 11/16 — Pheonix, AZ @ Joe’s Grotto
- 11/17 — San Diego, CA @ VooDoo Room at House of Blues
- 11/18 — Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
- 11/19 — Pamona, Ca @ The Glass House
- 11/20 — Fresno, Ca @ Strummer’s
- 11/21 — San Luis Obispo, Ca @ SLO Brewing Company
- 11/22 — San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
- 11/25 — Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
- 11/27 — Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre
- 11/28 — Columbia, MO @ Rose Music Hall
- 11/29 — Chicago, IL @ The Metro
- 11/30 — Pontiac, MI @ The Crofoot Ballroom
- 12/01 — Cleveland, OH @ The Grog Shop