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Review: Hot Water Music reunites for a night of punk nostalgia at the Orpheum in Tampa




It makes sense that Hot Water Music’s first show of their 20th anniversary and first headlining tour in eight years would take place in Tampa.

The band, which originated in the Bradenton area, has never forgotten the Floridian blood coursing through their veins. They started playing shows in small venues like Tampa’s 403 Chaos, developed a following through fan favorite songs like Free Radio Gainesville and eventually moved to that city.

Tampa returned the favor Wednesday at the Orpheum, turning out in droves with a line still going strong nearly an hour after doors opened. And although plenty of those people were there to see the familiar faces of the gruff Gainesville punkers, a large part of the crowd came from a different, more surprising generation.

First up was The Menzingers, the Pennsylvania band whose Epitaph debut On the Impossible Past was named Punknews’ best album of the year. The set was heavy on that album’s melodic tracks, and set the tone for the rest of the show of double vocals, plaid and facial hair.

If The Menzingers represented the “punk” aspect of Hot Water Music’s emotional-punk designation, then La Dispute was the “emotional.” The band’s post-hardcore sound didn’t resemble the other two bands much, as singer Jordan Dreyer swayed, shouted and spilled out confessional lyrics that reduced at least one nearby girl to sobs.

And those heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics are seemingly what accounted for the flood of surprisingly young concertgoers. (If you want to feel old at about any age, hear someone say, “I haven’t been to the Warped Tour in a while, since like 2010.”)

The crowd almost felt like a high school, with the Hot Water Music fans interspersed throughout looking uncomfortable, bearded substitute teachers. A fight even briefly broke out between an overzealous stage-diver and an irritated concertgoer.

Sure enough, once La Dispute left the stage, the floor immediately shifted from the younger crowd to twenty-and-thirtysomething punkers. And after an introduction of radio noise, reggae and Joe Strummer clips, the band took the stage.

Nostalgia was the prevailing mood, as Hot Water Music played behind a backdrop of their much-tattooed logo and bassist Jason Black sported a shirt of fellow reunited ’90s act Quicksand. The band kicked off their set with Remedy from 2002’s Caution, as if to assure, “we haven’t gone anywhere.”

The setlist was split pretty evenly between songs from their 2012 comeback album Exister and older material. Among the older songs uncorked were Fuel for the Hate Game’s Turnstile and No Division’s Rooftops.

Frontman Chuck Ragan commanded a presence not unlike a punk Ron Swanson (although he’d never allow Ragan’s long, messy locks), sporting facial hair and a maritime themed-shirt. He was similarly terse, mostly only speaking to say that “it’s good to be back in Ybor City” and thanking the fans and bands.

Over the course of their set, Hot Water Music managed to shake up the crowd like a rattled can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Then they were on their way again, back on the road like old times.

-- Jimmy Geurts, tbt*

[Last modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:44pm]


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