For the Love of the Dogs

Pets are a member of the family. They are taken in and loved like any one of our children, and sometimes are the only children we have. However, there are situations where this is not the case. People who think they have time for taking care of one until the realization they don’t and, in some cases, worse mistreatment lands many of our favorite canine’s in animal shelters. That is where AZ K9 charity comes in, to educate and support adoption of shelter dogs that need a home. In its second year, Pits and Punks puts on a show that benefits this organization. For my first and this year’s lineup, we were graced with the talents of Critical Miss, Madd Dog Tannen, Torn at the Seam, Squared, and FoL.

You probably have caught Critical Miss in the past couple months unless you were living under a rock. She has been increasing in appearances, namely in front of punk rock, and had just come off a week and a half long tour before this show.

That isn’t even mentioning that she released her fantastic new album back in December. It found its way onto my favorite local albums of 2018 too. Her performance this night was her trademark acoustic punk and folk punk, blending covers and originals. I have found there is always a “Code Blue,” by T.S.O.L., somewhere in the mix. Critical Miss made for a fine way to open up these festivities.

Following her was Madd Dog Tannen in a little different form. Since I last watched them in front of Authority Zero, they had their guitarist, Kevin, leave the band. Instead of replacing, they went forward as the three piece I watched tonight. While down a man, they sounded as good as before. Personality and energy is their strong suit that clearly does not need any fourth member to exude.

They dressed the part invoking style and the movie their name harkens to, Back to the Future III. Another thing that started at the end of their set and would continue through the sets was a tribute to Billie Russell, who had passed nearly a year prior to this show. It included inviting former members like Jeremy and Meatbag up to cover Contradiktion in his memory. It was super heartwarming and a wonderful way to close the Madd Dog Tannen set.

Torn at the Seam has been becoming a pretty killer sounding Ska Punk the last couple years. This lineup manages to go a notch further down the Ska path. The inclusion of Captain Squeegee’s Danny Torgersen’ trumpet in addition to Saxy Tuff’s saxophone is what is furthering that. It feels as if Torn at the Seam are maturing to the sound that, I assume, Todd has been aiming for ever since they started.

The set consisted mostly of a blend of newer and older songs, as a few old song requests were shouted through the set. Their part of remembering Billie was a song dedicated to him as his Contradiktion brother, Jeremy, is a permanent member of Torn at the Seam. The band continues to impress as their sound only improves.

Following them is a band that has expanded by two members and dropping an Alex from the name, since last I wrote about them, Squared. Energy is in no shortage when you watch them perform. This resonates from their original members, Gio and Meatbag, alone. That pair are full of sarcasm and jokes while bouncing around.

The addition of Dave, from FoL, and Tyler Silva, of Rundown Roommates, only add to the amount of character bursting at the seams of this band. It made for one of the most exciting sets of the night up there. They managed to get showgoing regular, Pam, up on stage early in the set to sing a cover in part revenge for trying to call Gio at 5 in the morning. The set bookended by another Contradiktion song tribute, in which included Creepy Don jumping up to sing with. There is no doubt that Squared is one of my favorite bands to catch at any time.

Then tasked to follow that up and close it out, was FoL. Bringing the charm of Dave for another set alongside the vocals and talents of Chris and the guitar goliath we call Aaron. I don’t know where Dave channels it from, but he didn’t miss a beat in enthusiasm after already one full set. In a twist on the script, our up and coming Logan ended up performing a NOFX cover with FoL. In the past, I had become accustom to seeing him with Madd Dog Tannen.

This one ended with Chris jumping off drums to vocals, while Billy Stephens, of Contradiktion and Vices to the Grave, took over drums. Jeremy was back on the bass, Meatbag with a guitar, and Gio on the mic once more. All of this to send out our love one more time with a Contradiktion cover for the late Billie Russell. I don’t think the dogs could have asked for a more exciting night to promote donations and charity in support of them than this.

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