Off With Their Heads at Triple Rock, 3/8/12

Off With Their Heads at Triple Rock, 3/8/12
Photo by Erik Hess

Off With Their Heads
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis

Friday, March 8, 2013

It's been ten years and hundreds of shows for Off With Their Heads. Friday night, however, stands among the most memorable for the semi-local four-piece. With a line-up consisting of five bands that hit across the full punk spectrum, it was a night of gathering friends, having fun, and just celebrating music in general. All set to the tune of a record release show combined with a tenth-anniversary hullabaloo.

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Slideshow: Off With Their Heads at Triple Rock, 3/8/13
Off With Their Heads return home

Preceded by four openers, all of whom had long-running connections with Off With Their Heads, the band finally took stage at about 12:45 a.m. This wouldn't seem late under usual circumstances, as the band's sets are usually in the 30 to 45-minute range, but Friday was a special night to showcase some of the band's direction changes over time. There were a lot of people to honor and a lot of songs to be played.

When Ryan Young, Robbie Swartwood, Ryan Fisher, and John Polydoros took the stage, they announced the order for the evening. It removed some surprise, but necessarily prepared the crowd for events later on, when Young would call out for an ex-member to come onstage.

Off With Their Heads at Triple Rock, 3/8/12
Photo by Erik Hess

First, the show started with a complete rendition of the new album, Home, which most of the audience hadn't yet heard. This was evident by watching the sweaty mass on the floor, which would later hit every raised fist and sing-along on cue but struggled with the unfamiliarity of the new material. This was well exemplified when the band hit their eighth song, "Janie." The older song is featured again on Home (with an updated recording), but the familiar words were a call to action for the crowd, raising the level of energy noticeably. That is not, however, to say the swarming pit on the floor didn't enjoy the new stuff -- anything but, as the previously released single "Nightlife" had 'em singing along upon the first chords.

The energy in the room was palpable all night. The crowd was there for the entire line-up, jumping around to acts such as In Defence and The Slow Death and playing along with their antics, but it was clear that Off With Their Heads' visit was the impetus behind their night, and the energy level, flying beer cans, and stage dives increased notably during the headliners' set.


After playing Home, the band mixed it up by pulling one-time members Paddy Costello and Justin Francis onstage for some sloppy tunes that devolved into a Cleveland Bound Death Sentence cover set. These unpracticed jams added entertainment and a unique feel to the night, but they did suck some life out of the room before, to cherry pick a quote from Young, they went back to the "real band."

Off With Their Heads at Triple Rock, 3/8/12
Off With Their Heads at Triple Rock, 3/8/12
Photos by Erik Hess

Here, they played a typical night's set, mixing from their discography, talking very little in between songs, and generally whipping the audience into a frenzy. The clock seemed to speed up as they crammed so much into an hour-plus set, and only a few guest musicians took to the stage, including original guitarist Mike Rose, who hadn't played with the band in almost eight years. The songs were much tighter than with Costello, and it was clear that Rose enjoyed the moment, even if he did vanish from the stage the second his songs ended.

With just a few minutes left to savor the night, Young added, "[this] was one of the best shows I've been to in my whole life," and pulled the primary line-up back for a big, if rushed, finish. He announced two final songs at about 1:55, burned through them, and quickly ripped into a closing "Clear the Air" before the lights came on. It was a fast evening for Off With Their Heads, and one that, although they were the spotlight act, was fittingly shared with old friends, from bands who toured together, shared basement stages, and have become family members in a tight-knit scene. All things considered, it indeed felt like the band had come home for the evening.

Critic's Bias: I've seen this band live in so many venues and cities that I've lost count.

The Crowd: Anxious, young, and sweaty. Getting older toward the back of the room.

Overheard In the Crowd: Upon exiting the club: "I don't want to go back to St. Cloud."

Start Walking
Focus on Your Own Family
Altar Boy
Don't Make Me Go
Come Find Me
Seek Advice Elsewhere
Always Alone
Stolen Away
Take Me Out
Call the Cops *
Big Mouth*
Drain *
Baltimore *
I Am You
The Eyes of Death
Theme Song
Self Checkout
I Just Want You to Know
Their Own Medicine
Keep Falling Down**
Heroin in New York City***
Jackie Lee***
Fuck This, I'm Out
Clear the Air

* with Justin Francis and Paddy Costello
** with Jimmy Suicide of In Defence
*** with Mike Rose

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