Face to Face Buffalo, NY 5/26/15: More Than Just a Nostalgia Show

I have a terrible habit of buying tickets to see shows, and then when the day finally comes I dread going. Maybe it’s my age?  I guess I’m just easily irritated.  About two weeks ago, I had read online that Face to Face was coming to a small venue here in Buffalo, NY.  At that moment, I had decided that I needed to see this show. Face to Face is quite possibly my favorite band of all time, so I was interested in going for sure.

As the years have gone by, Face to Face has pretty much become a generational punk band like Bad Religion, minus roughly ten years.  I had seen them a few times, but the last time I saw them I was around 20 years old. I oddly remember most of it, which is impressive considering the state I was in at the time.  The show was in Rochester, NY and Dashboard Confessional was opening for them.  I was keeping it real back then, with my hair dyed blonde (and totally falling out), studded bracelets, ripped jeans – the whole thing.  I was also piss drunk and utterly disgusting.  I remember there being a few times where I was rescued by a good friend of mine, from making out with some girl that I insisted was insanely hot.  Without harping on physical appearances, let’s just say my judgement was way off.

Roughly 17 years later.  After watering the flowers and taking out the trash, I cooked my wife and daughter planked salmon for dinner, changed my kids diaper, gave them both kisses, and headed to the show. I was still amazed that I wasn’t dreading having to go.  The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was mainly because I was going solo.  I didn’t have to show up on time and if it was terrible, I wouldn’t have to stay.  I could basically do what I wanted.  I found this appealing!

The doors opened at 7pm, and I arrived around 8:30.  It was being held at a smaller venue called, “The Waiting Room,” which was a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere.  This means a lot coming from a guy who’s constantly uncomfortable.  What was also awesome, was that they had a decent beer selection on tap.  While they had Genny and Pabst for the kids, they also had some delicious craft IPA’s for guys like me.  This made it easy for me to sit through the opening bands.

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Face to Face came out to play at around 9:45.  They looked great. Trever Keith is getting pretty heavy, but they looked like they had loads of energy.  They played song blocks from their first three albums, and everything they played sounded incredible.  The crowd was pretty amped up, and there were plenty of older dudes breaking it down in the pit.  I understood.  The songs were so good and they were being played so well, I actually had the urge to get busy, but I didn’t.  Come on man, I’m 37 years old.

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When they got to their self-titled album, Keith openly joked about not wanting to listen to people asking why certain songs weren’t being played, attributing it to the fact that they have so many songs, and how it would be impossible to play them all.  To me this basically meant, they didn’t want to play “I Won’t Lie Down,” which was one of the more popular songs on the album (also featured on the Mortal Combat Movie Soundtrack Remixed.) I was correct in assuming that, as it was not played.  I had no complaints though, the set list was phenomenal.

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The encore was slightly embarrassing, but was saved by the fact that the band came out and mocked the shitty, unenthusiastic cheers they were getting to come back out.  I hate encores.  I think everyone does actually.  I saw Louie C.K. a few years ago, and at the beginning of the show, he came right out and said that he wasn’t doing an encore.  He basically said they were stupid, and that when he’s done with his act, he’s just leaving and we can all go home.  I loved that.  It should be no different with music.  Nobody wants to sit there and beg for a band to come back out, in fact, most of the time it’s getting late and everyone’s annoyed that it’s taking so long.  Aside from that, they ended the show with covers of “Painted Black” by The Rolling Stones, and “Bikeage” by The Decendents, which was incredible.

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Face to Face was that rare show that actually took you back to your youth, that energized your soul, and that really made you feel like everything is alright. At an age where things can get pretty stressful, where the people in your life are narrowed down to a select few that you love more than anything, somehow the deafening sounds of those West Coast power-chords became the most comforting sounds on earth.  They were just as good as they were 17 years ago, the only difference for me was that now during the opening bands, I sip craft beer at the bar and thumb through pictures of my wife and daughter on my phone.

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Life is pretty damn good.

Beer Review: Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin

Around two years ago, Ballast Point started distributing their beers in the Buffalo area.  They did the usual introductory tap takeover at a local bar, which my step-dad and I gleefully attended.  We pulled our usual hijinks, getting into the tasting area early like a couple of groupies.  Ballast Point came to the event with an arsenal of beers, but one in particular knocked our socks off – Habanero Sculpin. 

If you are a fan of West Coast IPA’s, Ballast Point Sculpin is one of the more superb IPA’s you can get your hands on regularly.  It’s expensive, about $14.99 a six pack, but is insanely fresh, citrusy, and hoppy.  It’s very good.  Ballast Point took this IPA, and infused it with habanero peppers.  This was also very good.

Up until that point, I hadn’t had a hot pepper infused beer before.  This beer was fantastic. It had the hoppy, citrusy, deliciousness that the Sculpin IPA has, but with a kick of heat after you swallow.  No other hot pepper beer I’ve had measures up to it.  It’s not just the heat, its the overall balance of flavors that coincide with the heat.  Other pepper infused beers fail at achieving this delicate balance.

Just recently, this has now become available in the bottle.  I’m not sure how available, but we managed to get our hands on a few six packs.  Would the bottled version measure up to what I tasted 2 years go?  You bet your ass!  If you can find yourself some, I highly recommend this beer.

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Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin

7% ABV  70 IBUs

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA

Walking into our local Wegmans, I couldn’t help noticing this beer on display.  It was an IPA, slightly over-priced, and touted something I wasn’t exactly familiar with – “Brewed from farm distilled hop oil.”

These days, everyone is coming out with a gimmic IPA.  Stone releases a new one every month and quite frankly, it gets a bit ridiculous after a while.  Had this been something from Stone, I would have passed on it.  Not because it wouldn’t have  been good, but because I’m bored with it.

Over the past year, Sierra Nevada has impressed me.  They have taken some bold steps to stay relevant in an over-saturated craft beer industry, successfully putting out some solid beers and collaborations.  With Hoptimum being one of my favorite Imperial IPA’s from Sierra Nevada, I had good reason to give Hop Hunter a try.

Hop Hunter is brewed with an all new method, steam distilling wet hops before they leave the fields.  According to Sierra Nevada’s scientist and hop genius, Tom Nielson, the technique allows the brewery to procure hop oil right from the hop farms, as opposed to the brewery.

The brewery retrofitted machinery that used to be used to extract oil from mint plants.  Multiple trailers store the freshly picked hop cones.  With the normal hop process, the hops are dried from 75% moisture down to 10%.  A lot of flavor is lost during this process, so these trailers were designed to steam the hops, collect the vapor, distill it, and then separate the oil from the water.

So how was this beer?  The first time I had it, I was taken back.  I found it to be a little bitter and it definitely had a taste that was different from your normal IPA.  I was not a fan.

A few days later, I had another.  I found the flaver to be the same, but not nearly as bad as the first time.  I was still not a fan.

About a week went by, and one afternoon I decided to give it one more try.  Third time’s a charm right?  Yes actually!  Something about this beer clicked with me on the third time around.

Beer Advocate gives this about a 91%, and I think that’s a fair assessment.  If you try this and don’t like it at first. give it a few more tries.  It’s not a technique I normally use with beer, but I found this to be an original enough concept to give a fair chance.

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