PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Lagwagon: Live in a Dive

Stephen Haag

Pop-punk lifers thank their fans with a live disc. Everyone else can sit this one out.


Live in a Dive

Label: Fat Wreck Chords
US Release Date: 2005-02-08
UK Release Date: 2005-02-07
Amazon affiliate

With the exception of Green Day, pop-punk has returned to its cult-level status after a brief bump in the late '90s thanks to the likes of Blink-182 and its bratty ilk. And while plenty of bands didn't survive the purge as the postmillennial rock New World Order shifted to New New Wave, a handful of lifers who were pogo-ing on stage in ironic t-shirts, oversize shorts, and Vans sneakers long before it was cool are still alive and kicking, popular trends be damned.

F'rinstance, take Santa Barbara, CA, quintet Lagwagon. They've been mixing punk, pop, and hardcore since their 1992 debut, Duh -- they were the first band signed to genre stalwart Fat Mike's label Fat Wreck Chords, so they've got the cred -- and they've been releasing solid, if unspectacular albums to a small but devoted horde of fans ever since. The band's output has slowed of late, as they've released only one studio album -- 2003's Blaze -- since 1998. Nevertheless, Lagwagon recorded two performances from the House of Blues in Hollywood waaaay back in May 2003, and those shows are now seeing the light of the record store on Live in a Dive, a treat for the band's longtime fans, but a document of little interest to the casual fan who long since abandoned the scene for hipper pastures.

But give Lagwagon -- currently, bassist Jesse Buglione, drummer Dave Raun, guitarists Chris Flippin and Chris Rest, and singer Joey Cape -- credit for persevering. And on Live in a Dive they sound great; kudos to mixer/engineer Ryan Greene. Buglione's bass and Raun's drum kit anchor a rock solid, superfast (they do dabble in hardcore, after all) rhythm section, allowing "left" and "right" guitarists Rest and Flippin, respectively, to churn out their punky riffs. Meanwhile, Cape's nasal vocals are often a ringer for Blink-182's Tom DeLonge, and he's met on every track by the crowd which seems to know every lyric...but also doesn't sound overly enthusiastic at the prospect of attending a Lagwagon show -- maybe the fans are protesting the, uh, lag in the band's recent album output rate. On numerous occasions, the band has to resort to cheap applause tactics -- mentioning marijuana, reminding fans that the show is being recorded for posterity -- to get a rise out of the crowd. And it's a shame the crowd isn't more raucous, because for every serviceable pop-punk song ("Making Friends", "Bombs Away"), Lagwagon busts out some genuinely clever songs. "Razor Burn" is a funny and poignant break-up song, with lyrics like "She has a new man / I have a new moustache" and "I grew this beard of shame". "Falling Apart" is a clever take on that hoariest of rock song tropes, life on the road: "I'll never be Ozzy / Onstage when I'm 50" Cape promises, before listing numerous ailments that would befall him (Osteoporosis, glaucoma and neurosis among them). It's not just lyrics that the band nails when they try hard. On "Coffee and Cigarettes" and "Give It Back" Flippin and Rest veer into Sum-41-esque speed metal; sonically, it's the band's best incarnation.

Of course, the operative phrase above is "when they try hard". Despite these flashes of near-brilliance, there are too many goofy, throwaway numbers on the album; they nearly sink the set. Who knows, maybe the band was feeling silly in the live environment. I can understand the naïve charm of "Beer Goggles", an ode to hitting on less-than-attractive women, from their first album (a tune they rarely play these days), but hardcore/screamo parody "Mister Bap" isn't worth the 40 seconds it takes to listen to it. Meanwhile, "Coconut" is a harmless exercise in white-boy island reggae, and the less said about the toilet-themed cover of "Mama Said Knock You Out" (here, "Back One Out"), the better. These dumb songs make the perils-of-drinking-and-driving cautionary tale/closing track "Stokin' the Neighbors" even more of a buzzkill than it already is.

That's Lagwagon in a nutshell, though: clever, puerile, thoughtful, and oblivious. While the band's time may have passed -- hey, the music scene is fickle -- they're still passionate when they put their mind to it, and they've still got their fans...even if those fans need a little cajoling to get excited these days.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.