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Off With Their Heads, THICK, Spit-take

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$15 – $18

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The State House

310 State Street

New Haven, CT 06510

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11.17.21

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Tiny Box Booking presents:

Off With Their Heads

Off With Their Heads’ new album, Be Good, distinguishes itself from the rest of the band’s catalog with one very unique characteristic: It’s actually good. Frontman Ryan Young thinks so, anyway.

“It’s the first record I’ve ever made that I like,” laughs Young. “Because there was no reason to make it anything other than what I wanted it to be.” The band has been relatively quiet over the last few years, largely because Young was tending to an ill family member who ultimately passed away last year.

But through mourning came inspiration.

“She was a photographer, and at the wake were all these photos she took,” he remembers. One of those photos struck him immediately. It shows a Mennonite family enjoying a sunny day at the beach while an ominous cooling tower looms in the background. “I said: That’s gonna be the cover of the album that doesn’t exist yet.” That photo captures the spirit of Be Good. While all of Off With Their Heads’ previous work shares a common thread of being rooted in Young’s fatalistic view of the world, Be Good at least allows a tiny glimmer of hope to peek through.

“All the other records were about moping around and feeling sorry for yourself,” says Young. “This one is less about feeling sorry for yourself and more about accepting how goddamn miserable you are.”

Forced acceptance is big theme of Be Good, though it’s a hard-learned one, often emerging in the form of primal screams in the band’s trademark style of gruff-punk. “Hands up to the sky and shout at the top of your lungs, til the floor falls out!” Young yells on the title track, sounding somewhere between motivational speaker and hard-nosed therapist.

Much of the self-deprecation that defined the band’s previous work has been adjusted. It was the years spent out of the van, developing a life at home in Chicago, that gave Young his newfound, slightly more positive perspective. “Not being on the road 250 days a year, actually trying to develop some sort of life outside of playing shows and drinking, you’d be surprised what that does,” he says. “I’ve lost a bunch of weight, I’ve been going to a gym every day, trying not to kill myself all the time.”

Young and the band members—bassist Robbie Smartwood, guitarist John Polydoros, and new drummer Kyle Manning—holed up for two and a half weeks at Pachyderm Studios, a mid-century mansion in Minnesota where Nirvana recorded In Utero, to make Be Good. Young produced the record himself, and it was the first time he enjoyed the process, or at least tolerated it. “I don’t like how the old records sound, and I hate recording so much,” he says. “You could just hear all the dumb shit on them where I waslike, whatever, just let it go, I want to get out of here.”

Be Good will be released by Epitaph Records on August 16 and, if ever there was a time for Ryan Young’s distinct brand on cautious optimism, it’s now. “The title is an answer to that question of what you’re supposed to do now that the world is so awful and the climate of this stupid country is so shitty,” he says. “Be good, be loud—that’s sometimes all you can do, I guess, as cheesy as that sounds.”

https://dasowth.bandcamp.com/

THICK

On their debut album 5 Years Behind, THICK confronts the countless disappointments and injustices they deal with every day: the reckless hypocrisy of people in power, social media’s erosion of genuine connection, dudes who feel inexplicably entitled to share their most loathsome opinions. But even in their most exasperated moments, the Brooklyn-based punk trio sustains ferocious energy and untamed joy, ultimately turning every song into a wildly cathartic anthem.

“A lot of these songs came from feeling stifled in silence, but then the song itself is an answer to that,” says Black. “It’s us saying, ‘I have my opinion, and I’m going to share it no matter what.’ Instead of keeping things all bottled up, it feels so much better to face everything head-on, and just be really loud about it with your two best friends.”

The follow-up to their 2019 self-titled effort—THICK’s third EP and first release for Epitaph Records—5 Years Behind came to life at Studio G Brooklyn with producer/engineer Joel Hamilton (Iggy Pop, Jolie Holland). In a departure from their previous work, the band took a more spontaneous approach to the album-making process, sometimes completely reworking songs at the eleventh hour in order to channel the most immediate emotion into each track. “It was really important to us that the songs feel emotionally connected to our reality, so that it feels as natural as possible to play them,” notes Black.

As a result of fearlessly following their instincts, THICK manage the impossible feat of coming off confident and carefree even as they expose their deepest insecurities. On the album’s dynamic yet delicate title track, for instance, the band shifts from furious intensity to harmony-soaked melancholy as they reflect on certain overwhelming societal pressures. “It’s about how we always feel five years behind in life, at least as far as the expectations of the world around us,” says Sisti. “It’s something we’re constantly battling, but at the same time we know that there’s no real timeline—there’s no time limit for doing what we want to do.”

THICK’s most politically charged work to date, 5 Years Behind offers up tracks like “Mansplain”—a blistering, brilliantly sarcastic takedown bookended by a sound collage of massively infuriating comments from men (e.g., “Girl bands are really in right now,” “Here, let me help you carry your amp,” “Are those your boyfriend’s drums?”). “Those are all things that men have actually said to us or our friends at shows,” Page points out. On “Fake News,” the band lets loose a 49-second blast of pure punk vitriol, spiked with scathing social commentary. And on “Bumming Me Out,” 5 Years Behind delivers a bouncy but bittersweet epic that perfectly captures the pain of feeling powerless in the face of endless horrors happening in the world (sample lyric: “Never knew I’d be so tired/Fighting for what I believe”).

Closing out with the unrestrained fun of “Party With Me”—as in “Just take your clothes off and party with me/In the backyard of New York City”—5 Years Behind also finds THICK looking back on their early days and on the increasingly endangered all-ages scene that birthed the band. To that end, the tenderly detailed “WHUB” unfolds as a heavy-hearted tribute to “all the DIY venues that are shut down now,” as Page puts it. All originally from New York State, THICK’s three members forged their friendship in those venues, with Sisti and Page forming the band in 2014 and Black joining the lineup two years later. Along with playing live as often as they could—and purposely focusing on DIY/all-ages spaces all around New York—THICK made their debut with the 2016 EP It’s Always Something​…, put out their sophomore EP Would You Rather? in 2018, then signed with Epitaph later that year. “For a long time we didn’t have management or a booking agent or anything—we just worked our butts off and stayed true to ourselves, and it got us to where we are now,” says Sisti.

Over the years, THICK has earned recognition as an unstoppable live act, with their show typically spawning a mosh pit described by Stereogum as “more like an aggressive hug.” As they dreamed up the tightly crafted yet uncontainable sound of 5 Years Behind, the band kept the live experience at the forefront of their minds. “When we write, we write toward the emotions of the audience,” says Sisti. “I know that lyrics play a huge role in connection, but I’m personally more focused on visualizing how people might physically respond to a song—what it would make them feel in the moment and how it might make them move or dance.”

Now gearing up for a national tour in support of 5 Years Behind, THICK aspire to strengthen the palpable sense of inclusivity that’s defined their shows from the start. “We want people to feel safe in the mosh pit, and hopefully connect with each other,” says Page. “We’ve made so many friends at the shows we’ve played, and we’d love it if people could build some kind of community from coming to see us.” And in the making of their first full-length effort, THICK aimed to instill an undeniable feeling of solidarity into each of the album’s tracks. “In a way, the theme of all our songs is: ‘We’ll get through this. We’re not going to be kept down,” says Black. “I hope when people listen to the album, it gives them that same feeling. And I hope they feel like, if they ever needed it, we’d absolutely have their back.”

https://thick.bandcamp.com/

Spit-take

Spit-take is a three-piece indie rock band from New Haven, CT. Formed in Willimantic, CT in 2013, Spit-take features former members of a host of now-defunct DIY punk bands, including Book Slave, Osier Bed, and Secret Parts.

https://spit-take.bandcamp.com/

NOTE: Proof of full COVID-19 Vaccination (14 days past second shot) OR proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test (received within the past 72 hours) required for entry. If vaccinated, please bring your vaccination card or clearly legible photo of your vaccination card on your phone and a valid photo ID. If unvaccinated please bring printed or digital proof of your recent negative PCR test. Masks are required for all ticket holders and staff despite vaccination status. You may pull your mask down when eating or drinking only. These policies will remain in place until further notice.

The State House | 310 State Street | New Haven, CT

7 PM DOORS | $15 ADV / $18 DOS | All Ages

Accessibility: Staircase to front door. Entry ramp on side of building. All bathrooms ground floor & gender-neutral.

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The State House

310 State Street

New Haven, CT 06510

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Contact the organizer to request a refund.

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

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